Before you read further, please picture NEA President Lily Garcia, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, AFT President Randi Weingarten, and U.S Senator Lamar Alexander sitting around my kitchen table.
What are they doing? They are playing my new socially valuable parlor game, “Multiple Measures.”©
What’s “Multiple Measures”©? Well, it’s the phrase everybody uses when they’re talking about the most reliable way of evaluating schools, teachers and students.’ After all, anybody who knows anything about education understands that a single measure (i.e., a score on a standardized test) cannot accurately capture the complexity of the enterprise.
Unfortunately, the conversation usually stops with that overused phrase, “multiple measures,” and we continue to rely heavily on one measure, scores on standardized tests.
Here’s how to get beyond the talk. Take a pile of plain index cards. Then, invite a few people from differing political camps who are solution-oriented, or at least willing to engage in dialogue, to have a cup of coffee and play “Multiple Measures.”©
Let me demonstrate at my kitchen table with Secretary Duncan, Senator Alexander and Presidents Garcia and Weingarten. First I distribute pencils and index cards to each of them, and then I explain the challenge: “What exactly do you mean when you say “multiple measures”? Your task is to write specific measures on the back of index cards. Each of you must identify three measures, then put the cards, face down, in the middle of the table.”
Mix up the cards, then turn them over. Discuss….
With that awesome foursome, the specific measures might include test scores, teacher attendance, student attendance, participation in Advanced Placement classes,extent of project-based learning, years required to gain tenure, teacher turnover, and who knows what else. A few measures would most likely appear on more than one index card.
Now repeat the process. Twelve more cards. Turn over. Discuss….
Keep playing until you have reached agreement on at least five specific measures.
The principle behind the game is simple: It’s time for us to measure what we value, instead of our current practice of valuing what’s easy to measure.
The goals of my game are threefold: general agreement on multiple ways of assessing schooling; a lowered temperature; and a commitment to work together for the benefit of children and society.
I think everyone reading this should arrange a game of “Multiple Measures”© in your community. Please take pains to include people from the left, right and center, men and women of varying ages, races and occupations. 
If you’re wondering, “Where can I buy this wonderful game?” I have good news: “Multiple Measures”© is now commercially available…..from me. The basic set, which includes a dozen index cards and four unsharpened pencils, sells for $69.95. The deluxe boxed set, available for $99.95, includes two dozen index cards, six pre-sharpened pencils and a signed photograph of my kitchen table. 
Multiple games of “Multiple Measures”© in local communities might break the logjam and chip away at the walls  we’ve built up in our polarized society, and I am excited about that.
I am also excited about making a bundle of dough. I’ve worked in non-profit enterprises for my entire career, and “Multiple Measures”© is my first effort in pure, naked capitalism. Frankly, I hope to make enough money  to allow me to retire comfortably. I’ve stockpiled multiple cases of index cards and #2 pencils, so I’m ready for the orders to pour in.
But my life-long habits of generosity and public service are hard to break, and so I have decided to donate an unspecified portion  of the proceeds to the “Save Nebraska’s Whales” fund.
Can’t wait to hear your reports about playing “Multiple Measures”©….and to cash your checks.
- 1. Extensive field studies indicate that four is the ideal number, but you may try other combinations. A basic rule that cannot be tinkered with, however, is “No Shouting!”↵
- 2. The first 100 customers will receive a set of “Multiple Measures”© coasters to protect your kitchen table from coffee stains. Hurry. Act now!↵
- 3. This is not an impossible dream. Arne Duncan and Lily Garcia have breakfast together once a month, and perhaps they will play “Multiple Measures”© next time.↵
- 4. I’m not about to cut into my profits by paying for shipping. That’s on you, so add $7.50 to the tab.↵
- 5. When I decide on the portion,I will let you know.↵