In my article today about how San Diego Unified is taking a different path to school reform than the federal government is promoting, I quoted Arun Ramanathan, a former San Diego Unified official who asked, “Is there one aspect of the Obama education agenda they’ve aligned with?”

I put the same question to school board President Richard Barrera. He said he didn’t have all the details about President Obama’s proposed remake of No Child Left Behind or other reforms, but he did see some common ground in the president’s push to improve school tests to measure deeper skills such as critical thinking. San Diego Unified is still trying to determine how it might do that internally; the feds are weighing it too.

Obama has also sought to change testing to measure year-to-year growth, something that we’ve reported that San Diego Unified has also been keen to explore.

But both of those are potential changes in how schools are measured, which are typically imposed by the federal and state government anyway. Agreeing with them is nice, but it doesn’t affect anything.

The big question for San Diego Unified and other school districts leery of other Obama school reforms is whether the federal government will insist on those changes for districts to get federal money. Education Week has an interesting article on how California and other states would be required to track teacher effectiveness using test scores and change evaluations, but what it means for individual districts isn’t clear.

— EMILY ALPERT

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