Much of their assessment came from Education Week's "Quality Counts" report. The 2012 version was just released; naturally, B4K ate it all up once again.
They've made it clear they won't listen to me, so let's give someone else a shot. Susan Ohanian (the godmother of all us edubloggers) explains why no one should think this report is at all objective:
QC embraces the position that state academic standards are a positive force in schooling ( Page 45) This is an ideological position. The publication offers no evidence to support it. While most corporate and political leaders and many school leaders embrace this position, many educators and parents believe that standards constrain learning more than they enable it, that standardization of learning is an antiquated artifact of the 20th century that hinders creativity and the personalization of learning.
QC accepts the criteria of an unpublished review of state standards conducted by the American Federation of Teachers, dated October-November 2007. This review judges state standards in terms of the following attributes: “clear, specific, and grounded in content.” Here, QC is embracing an advocacy position of the AFT. To employ an unpublished document that cannot be reviewed is also bizarre for a publication that calls itself journalistic.
Read the entire thing, and thank Susan for stating her case so well. It really is amazing to think how many things both the reformy types and the commentariat will blindly accept without even the least amount of questioning.
QC awards positive scores to a state if it "assigns ratings to all schools” and “sanctions low-performing schools" ( Page 47). These are additional advocacy stances. There is no evidence that, for example, Florida's crude A-to-F rating system does anything for children other than intensify test preparation. Nor does Quality Counts offer evidence that sanctioning "low-performing schools" does anyone any good.
QC advocates for the ideological position that "all high school students . . . [should] take a college-preparatory curriculum to earn a diploma" ( Page 48). This is yet another values-based position, not reportage. While some politicians and educators support this goal, others note that a more differentiated high school curriculum is likely to better serve the very diverse high school population, particularly since a large percentage of new jobs in the decades to come will not require a college degree.