Carvalho talks tests, budgets on D.C. trip

Miami-Dade schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took the district’s concerns to the White House this week.

In Washington, D.C. to accept the National Superintendent of the Year award, Carvalho used the spotlight to talk testing, budgets and English language learners on a local level. He had the ear of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, lobbyists and the White House Domestic Policy Council, Carvalho said.

The superintendent said he was “encouraged” by the conversations and hinted policy changes may be in order, especially when it comes to the issue of testing students who are learning English.

He has been especially outspoken against the federal government’s insistence that students who aren’t proficient in the language — and their schools and teachers — can be punished for their standardized test scores from their very first year in school.

“A single year of language instruction is not sufficient to prepare a student to demonstrate proficiency at subject level,” Carvalho said. “I won’t go into many more details, but I was very encouraged by the administrations acknowledgment that a recalibration of the fed policy, specifically around English language learner accountability, was in order.”

Carvalho said he reiterated the district’s request for more funding to educate the estimated 12,000 migrant children who are entering Miami-Dade schools. A study by the district showed that educating migrant children costs Miami-Dade more than $2,000 more per student than the district receives.

Carvalho estimates Miami-Dade would need $20 million to make up the gap.

“Anything would help,” he said.

School board member Martin Karp said accolades such as the superintendent’s award help elevate the district’s concerns.

“He certainly has the ability to reach out and be heard, and I don’t think that’s something that you see in every district,” Karp said. “I think there’s an advantage, as well, in the credibility factor to get this kind of recognition.”

The superintendent said the country can expect changes in educational policy as criticism of the common core and reliance on testing grows, and as new leadership makes its way to the capitol.

“There was a significant political change in Washington, D.C., with a clear mandate,” he said. “You put all that together, and you have to expect that some of the folks who were elected at this time will have to deliver on that dissatisfaction.”

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