By March 18, 2014 Uncategorized 4 Comments

As you may have heard, the Oklahoma State Department of Education today announced a new Assistant Superintendent of Assessments.

Lisa Chandler, who served in a similar capacity in the Texas Education Agency from 2003 through 2006, will replace the outgoing assessment director, Dr. Maridyth McBee.

From the OSDE’s release:

“Ms. Chandler has many years of experience in developing high-quality, statewide assessments,” said state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi. “Her leadership as the state assessment director in Texas has been evident in the strong legacy of quality assessments administered over the years there. We are thrilled she is joining our team as we continue to focus on providing the best for Oklahoma’s children.”

One thing Ms. Chandler will quickly discover once she hits the ground is there is a significant social media presence in our fair state. And, due directly to Dr. Barresi’s egregious leadership of the department, there exists a high level of skepticism about nearly everything she does. As a result, quite a few of us are quick to scrutinize and evaluate every decision emanating from 2500 North Lincoln Boulevard.

It did not take long for my fellow blogger okeducationtruths to post a quick review of this announcement HERE. I did enjoy the Peggy Hill reference!

I agree with OKTruth’s initial assessment of Ms. Chandler’s qualifications. To me, it does seem like we are taking a step back in qualifications from someone like Maridyth McBee, a respected psychometrician with a Ph.D., to a new individual who just now earned her Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration. While I suspect Ms. Chandler has taken some coursework in Statistics and maybe a course in Quantitative Analysis, she certainly lacks the academic credentials of her predecessor.

However, she must be more comfortable taking orders from Janet’s mystery man from Indiana, Wes Bruce, who will undoubtedly continue to Skype and email directives from his home office in Indianapolis. I am sure this was a condition of her employment.

I also took a few minutes to peruse the internet in an effort to find out a little more about our new testing director. What struck me the most was the relative paucity of information on the web about Ms. Chandler. With all of the controversy surrounding the Texas Assessment for a Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), I would think there would have been a large number of stories involving the state assessment director. If there were any so-called skeletons in Ms. Chandler’s closet, someone has done an effective job scrubbing them from Google.

I did find this ARTICLE discussing the results of an investigation into rampant cheating by Texas schools on the TAKS. The story was originally published by Joshua Benton and Holly Hacker in the Dallas Morning News in June 2007 and was reposted on a Texas Equity blog written by professor, Dr. Angela Valenzuela.

Towards the end of the article, I found this interesting snippet:

“If it works, we would absolutely look at it,” said Dr. Cloudt, the TEA associate commissioner. She assumed oversight of the state’s testing program earlier this year after the state’s assessment director, Lisa Chandler, was forced out.

However, I was unable to find any related stories that elaborated on reasons why Ms. Chandler was reported by the state’s second largest newspaper to have been “forced out” of her job.

The only other articles I could find relative to Chandler’s departure from the Texas Education Agency was THIS ONE from the Houston Chronicle. Here is an excerpt:

Lisa Chandler resigned from her position as the Texas Education Agency’s director of assessment on Dec. 29 (2006). She is scheduled to join Pearson, which handles the production and grading of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, in March.

So, which one is it: forced out, resigned, or a little of both? If the former, is there something we need to know? To be fair, there have been quite a few good folks “forced out” from the Oklahoma State Department in the past three years. This story could just represent good judgment on Chandler’s part.

I will say something about Ms. Chandler that may come in handy in her new role as the Oklahoma testing chief. She is apparently quite familiar with the concept of schools and parents wanting relief from demands of excessive field testing. This ARTICLE from the Houston Chronicle reports on school leaders’ angst over the amount of Texas item tryouts in 2006. This experience may come in handy as she tries to deal with a large number of parent opt outs from Oklahoma “item tryouts” this year.

Anyway, welcome aboard Lisa! I wish you smooth sailing but I would suggest keeping that life vest very near. You’ve just boarded an out-of-control vessel with a perpetually petulant and narcissistic dentist at the helm. The waves of public dissent are only going to get higher over the next few months. Hold on tightly!

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