Hundreds of students at Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque walked out to protest the PARCC tests. In their march to another high school, they blocked traffic.

http://krqe.com/2015/03/03/protests-continue-against-parcc-test/

Some students complained that they would be denied a diploma based on this one test. One student said it was so difficult that not even the teachers could pass it.

Meanwhile the Albuquerque school board warned students who walked out that they would be given a zero and would face other consequences.

Texas Republican leaders in the state senate unveiled their ambitious plan to enact the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) agenda for privatization of public education.

With the help of Texans for Education Reform and a battalion of highly paid lobbyists, the Republicans will promote charters, school choice, and accountability measures to stigmatize public schools.

Texas schools have high numbers of students who are poor and who are Enflish language learners. The senate has no new funding measures, despite the fact that $5 billion was cut from school funding a few years ago.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is a voucher advocate. “On Tuesday, he said “148,000 students, approximately, today, are trapped in 297 school campuses across our state that have been failing for more than two years.”

His agenda includes school choice and other items, including:

“Giving letter grades (A-F) to individual public school school campuses each year based on their performance — something already done for districts;

A stronger “parent empowerment” law, often called “the parent trigger,” that would allow parents to petition for new management schools that have been failing for two years rather than five;

Removing limits on full-time virtual schools and online courses;

Making sure high school students can take more courses that count for college credit;

Creating a “college and career readiness” course for Texas middle schoolers.”

The spokesman for teachers was critical:

““None of the proposals offered by Sen. Taylor and the lieutenant governor would give teachers and students the time and resources they need to improve teaching and learning,” said Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria. “The Taylor-Patrick agenda fails to meet the needs of five million public school students whose schools have been inadequately funded by the very legislators who are eager to declare schools a failure based on standardized test scores.”

The Taylor-Patrick agenda is a grab-bag of failed ideas cribbed from the ALEC play book. None of them has been beneficial to students or successful anywhere.

Mercedes Schneider was invited to contribute to the Néw York Times’ blog “Room for Debate.” The subject was “What Makes a Good Teacher?” Eric Hanushek said evaluation must be tied to retention and rewards. Amanda Ripley said that teachers’ colleges must be more rigorous and selective. Jal Mehta said that teacher education must be like a medical residency. Kaya Henderson said that the key to great teachers is respect.

Mercedes said that it was time to stop punitive evaluations and let teachers focus on their students, not their scores. She was the only classroom teacher in the debate.

Two organizations–In the Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy–have proposed reforms for charter school accountability that would remove the most frequent criticisms of charter schools.

 

They recommend an 11-point agenda that would strengthen oversight, transparency, and accountability. There are a few missing points that I would add, such as, capping the salary of charter school executives to be no higher than that of the local superintendent; prohibiting for-profit management of charter schools; and barring the use of taxpayer funds for political lobbying or campaign contributions.

 

 

The Charter School Accountability Agenda An 11-Point Program for Reform

Accountability

  • Require companies and organizations that manage charter schools to open board meetings to parents and the public, similar to public school board meetings.
  • Require companies and organizations that manage charter schools to release to parents and the public how they spend taxpayer money, including their annual budgets and contracts.
  • Require state officials to conduct regular audits of charter schools’ finances to detect fraud, waste or abuse of public funds.

Protect Neighborhood Schools

Protect Taxpayer Funds

       • Before any new charter school is approved, conduct an analysis of the impact the school will have on neighborhood public schools.

      • Ensure that neighborhood public schools do not lose funding when new charter schools open in their area.

  • Require charter schools to return taxpayer money to the school district for any student that leaves the charter school to return to a neighborhood public school during the school year.
  • Prohibit charter school board members and their immediate families from financially benefiting from their schools.
  • Prohibit charter schools from spending taxpayer dollars on advertising or marketing.
  • Stop the creation of new charter schools if state officials have not shown the ability to prevent fraud and mismanagement.
  • Require all teachers who work in taxpayer funded schools, including neighborhood public schools and charter schools, to meet the same training and qualification requirements.
  • Require charter schools to serve high-need students such as special education

 

 

As Congress continues to take steps to protect the status quo of high-stakes testing, resistance to this misguided approach to education continues to build. When the public is not heard by its elected officials, the public finds ways to be heard. It was public demonstrations that built the civil rights movement; it was public demonstrations that built the anti-war movement in the 1970s. Keep your eye on what the public is doing. The politicians don’t hear or see until the noise is deafening and the sights cannot be hidden by blindfolds.

 

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest writes:

 

Across the U.S. the testing resistance and reform movement is rapidly expanding as annual standardized exam begin in many schools. This week’s stories from more than half the 50 states clearly show the significant impact that parents, students, teachers, administrators and community leaders are having on policy makers in the fight against testing misuse and overuse.

 

FairTest Opt Out Resources
http://fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out
Fact Sheet: Why You Can Boycott Testing Without Fear of Federal Penalties for Your School
http://www.fairtest.org/why-you-can-boycott-testing-without-fear

 

National Poll: Parents Give Standardized Tests an “F” Grade
http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/poll-parents-give-standardized-test-f-grade
New Video: Parents Opting Their Children Out of Common Core Tests
https://vimeo.com/120619448
Opt Out Movement Surges Across U.S.
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2015/02/opt_out_national_movement_grow.html
Grade-Span Exams Would be Better
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article11232887.html

 

Alabama Retrenching on High School Testing
http://www.dothaneagle.com/news/education/state-retrenching-on-high-school-testing/article_aa6ede52-bd30-11e4-a845-2b67604bd0bb.html

 

Arizona Schools Balk at Being Forced to Buy Pricey Equipment for New State Tests
http://tucson.com/news/local/education/school-districts-forced-to-buy-equipment-for-azmerit/article_8e5435cd-2644-576e-87a6-330c28fdd1f4.html

 

California’s Poor Children Need More Help, Not More Standardized Tests
http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article11177228.html

 

Colorado Opt-Out Movement Says “No” to New Tests
http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27618088/opt-out-movement-just-say-no-new-colo
Colorado Testing Has Not Improved Education Quality for Communities Most in Need
http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_27590042/guest-commentary-operating-at-margins-learning

 

Ed. School Deans Say Connecticut Must Stop Bashing Teachers and Relying on Tests
http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-basmadjian-dont-blame-teachers-0225-20150224-story.html
Connecticut Teacher Explains Flaws of Annual Exams to U.S. Senator
http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/27/op-ed-sen-blumenthal-please-put-and-end-to-high-stakes-standardized-testing/

 

Parents, Teachers Push Back Against Delaware Testing
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/02/27/parents-teachers-push-back-testing/24146775/

 

Problems Plague Debut of New Florida Online Test
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/os-school-testing-trouble-day-1-20150302-story.html
Legislators Under Pressure to Overhaul Florida School Testing
http://www.winknews.com/2015/02/26/florida-legislators-under-pressure-to-alter-school-testing/

 

Georgia State Super Explains Problems with Federal Testing Mandate to Arne Duncan
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/27/georgias-education-chief-has-some-words-for-arne-duncan/

 

lllinois Educators Leery of New State Achievement Test
http://www.pjstar.com/article/20150225/NEWS/150229494/11669/NEWS
How to Refuse PARCC in Illinois and Promote Opt-Out Legislation
http://us8.campaign-archive2.com/?u=16d71997b1c1711b098bb21c8&id=57bb2e24ae&e=5444f96919

 

Parents, Educators Express Concerns About Indiana Tests, Score Misuses
http://www.tristatehomepage.com/story/d/story/parents-educators-express-concerns-over-istep-acco/30836/DOuFt0nkBEakvuSAlLhSpA

 

Louisiana Parents Opt Children Out of PARCC Tests
http://www.wafb.com/story/28203752/louisiana-parents-opt-children-out-of-parcc-testing

 

Maine Families Push Back Against Standardized Testing
https://bangordailynews.com/2015/03/01/education/testing-the-test-mainers-push-back-against-standardized-testing/
Super Says Maine Students May Not be Ready for Common Core Tests
https://bangordailynews.com/2015/02/26/news/bangor/superintendent-webb-says-bangor-students-may-not-be-ready-for-new-common-core-tests/

 

Bipartisan Group of Maryland Legislators Challenges Excessive Testing
http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/maryland-excessive-testing-schools-challenged-legislators/2015/03/02

 

Standardized Tests Taking Toll on Mississippi Schools
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/03/01/standardized-tests-taking-toll-mississippi-schools/24239399/

 

Judge Rules Missouri’s Common Core Testing Pact is Illegal
http://m.ky3.com/missouri-judge-rules-pact-with-common-core-testing-illegal/21050392_31458122

 

Thousands Opt Out as Controversial Testing Begins in New Jersey
http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20150302_Monday_the_day_for_controversial_student_testing_in_New_Jersey.html
New Jersey Parents Want PARCC Test “Parked”
http://www.centraljersey.com/articles/2015/02/25/cranbury_press/news/doc54d4f7348aa55959092090.txt

 

Thousands of New Mexico Students Walk Out of School Over Testing
http://krqe.com/2015/03/02/parcc-testing-sparks-massive-high-school-walkouts/
Parents Join New Mexico PARCC Protests
http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3715951.shtml#.VO3KO-FLUZw

 

New York City Educators Seek Parents’ Help in Fight Against Governor’s Test-Based Evaluation Scheme
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/26/teachers-at-popular-school-ask-parents-for-help-this-may-sound-absurd-but-its-true/
Teachers’ Rally Protest’s New York Gov. Cuomo’s Testing Policies
http://www.oleantimesherald.com/news/local/article_25bd8e30-be9b-11e4-bc94-5f4a036cc29f.html

 

Ohio Families Opt Out of State Tests in Droves
http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/story/news/local/2015/02/24/tri-valley-parents-opt-testing-droves/23958859/
Critics Say There Are Too Many Standardized Exams in Ohio Schools
http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Critics-say-there-are-too-may-standardized-tests-for-schools-88498.shtml

 

Oklahoma Legislators Working to Stop End-of-Course State Tests
http://kfor.com/2015/02/25/oklahoma-lawmakers-working-to-end-end-of-instruction-testing/

 

Too Much Testing Drives Oregon Opt-Out Surge
http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20150226/lead-story/too-much-testing
Smarter Balanced Assessment Fails the Test in Oregon
http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/32801990-78/failing-the-test.html.csp#

 

Philadelphia Pennsylvania Parents and Teachers Slam High-Stakes Testing at Opt-Out Forum
http://thenotebook.org/blog/158275/parents-slam-high-stakes-testing-opt-out-meeting

 

Rhode Island Educators Support Parents’ Right to Opt Children Out of High-Stakes Tests
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150224/NEWS/150229622
Manifesto Against Rhode Island PARCC Testing
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150225/OPINION/150229541/13819/TOPIC

 

South Carolina Educators Say Leave NCLB Behind to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150302/PC1002/150309947/1021/leave-nclb-behind-to-revive-equal-education

 

New Tennessee Ed. Commissioner Hears Teachers’ Concerns About Testing
http://www.jacksonsun.com/story/news/education/2015/02/27/education-chief-seeks-teachers-input/24151865/

 

Resolution to Reduce Testing Passes Utah House
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865622826/Move-to-reduce-student-testing-passes-House.html?pg=all

 

Seattle, Washington School Refuses to Administer Smarter Balanced Test
http://iamaneducator.com/2015/02/24/new-seattle-test-boycott-erupts-nathan-hale-high-school-votes-to-refuse-to-administer-a-common-core-test/

 

Wisconsin School Testing Roller Coaster Takes Another Sharp Turn
http://www.kenoshanews.com/news/school_testing_roller_coaster_takes_a_sharp_turn_481542633.html

 

More Colleges Look Beyond Test Scores to Determine Admission
http://www.clickorlando.com/news/colleges-and-universities-rethink-selection-process/31498196
FairTest List of 850+ “Test Optional” Bachelor-Degree Granting Institutions
http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional

 

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing
https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/noam-chomsky-on-the-dangers-of-standardized-testing/

 

Report: New Federal Teacher Prep Rules Too Stringent
http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/26/new-teacher-prep-rules-too-stringent.aspx

 

Contentious Teacher Evaluation Policies Moving to Courtrooms
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/contentious-teacher-related-policies-moving-from-legislatures-to-the-courts/2015/02/28/6ec1f31e-b83d-11e4-aa05-1ce812b3fdd2_story.html

 

In Test-Based Systems, Even Young Children Resist Learning
http://theconversation.com/in-test-based-systems-even-young-kids-resist-learning-37569

 

Current Tests Don’t Measure What Kids Should Really Master
http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/02/26/things-every-kid-should-master/uM72LGr63zeaStOp9zGyrJ/story.html

 

 

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

Carol Burris has been an outspoken critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s baseless attacks on New York state’s educators. He is outraged that the current evaluation system rated 99% of the state’s teachers effective or highly effective. What he forgets, Burris reminds us, is that this is not an antiquated system: the current method of evaluation was created by….Governor Andrew Cuomo!

 

“Cuomo remains obsessed with teacher measurement and firing. Unhappy with the outcome of evaluations, he called them “baloney.” He forgets that when the Boars Head delivery arrived in Albany, he was driving the truck. The evaluation system he now mocks is the very one he insisted be put in place.

 

“In 2012, Cuomo called the new evaluation system, APPR, “one of the toughest in the country.” He referred to it as “groundbreaking” and “exactly what is needed” to transform schools. New York Students First, gave Cuomo credit for the teacher evaluation system—it was “because of the governor’s leadership” that this “groundbreaking agreement” came to be.”

 

Since the loudest complaints about Cuomo’s latest bad idea are coming from educators on Long Island, Cuomo has turned his hatchet towards them. But Long Island is home to some of the state’s most successful public schools:

 

“Part of the Cuomo strategy of reform is the shaming of districts and counties where teacher evaluations indicate a high-quality teaching force. The governor’s latest target is my region, Long Island. Cuomo’s aide, Jim Malatras, has called for an investigation of Long Island teacher scores, which he implies were deliberately skewed for success. There is no acknowledgement that the flaws in the system his boss rammed through left Long Island with an unworkable system. Malatras also ignores how comparatively successful Long Island schools are. Good teacher evaluations make sense.

 

“Long Island’s 2014 four-year graduation rate is 89 percent. The New York State rate is 77 percent.

“If Long Island numbers were not included, New York’s rate would drop to 73 percent, placing New York fifth from the bottom in national ratings.

“Not only are Long Island schools doing an overall good job in getting all students to the finish line—they do a better job than the state as a whole achieving equitable outcomes. Long Island is composed of two counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Unfortunately, the state Report Card website does not provide enough data to combine the counties on these measures, so I report them separately below. Here are three examples:

“Four-year graduation rate for students who are economically disadvantaged:

Nassau County: 80 percent

Suffolk County: 77 percent

New York State: 67 percent

“Four-year graduation rates for black students:

Nassau County: 81 percent

Suffolk County: 75 percent

New York State: 62 percent

“Four-year graduation rates for students with disabilities:

Nassau County: 70 percent

Suffolk County 67 percent

New York State: 50 percent

“The black/white graduation rate gap for the state is 25 points. For Nassau County, the gap is 14 points. Keep in mind that the New York State percentages include Long Island. Every one of the above state rates would drop without Long Island schools.”

 

Cuomo’s vendetta against the teachers’ union is payback for refusing to endorse him. His vendetta against Long Island teachers and public schools lacks a shred of rationality. He is like an angry little boy, stamping his feet and throwing his weight around, knowing that he can’t be reined in by “the little people.”

Dawn Neeley Randall is a fifth grade teacher in Ohio. She speaks forthrightly on behalf of her students. She asks: Why are we inflicting this barrage of deceptive, confusing, demoralizing testing on our children? Parents need to know that today’s tests are not like the tests we took in school when we were children. They take time away from instruction–lots of it. They are designed to fail most students. They will crush the children’s spirits and their interest in learning.

 

“Probably the bravest thing I’ve done in my entire 25 year career. Let the chips fall where they may.

 

“Blubbered on the way home after the first round of English Language Arts testing today. Got pretty choked up in the back of the room during the test itself and I think the principal who was in the computer lab administering the tests probably wondered if she was going to need to deal with a full-fledged teacher meltdown (I worried about that myself). This is just all so, so wrong. This is only Day 3 of testing and we still have months to go. Some districts (not mine, thank GOD) in our own state are bullying parents who are refusing to allow their children to sit through tests. Some superintendents (again, NOT mine!) are getting their messages out loud and clear to teachers that they are not to talk about this testing situation with parents. Some schools are making students “sit and stare” after finishing testing in order to make them work longer during the tests. Some schools are offering incentives to students testing (like gift cards and trips to a water park), but disqualifying students whose parents preferred them not to take take these tests and now they will be left behind from a day with their peers.

 

“A teacher in another county told about her third grader crying during yesterday’s test and a local principal told about his child awaking in the middle of the night with anxiety about the upcoming tests. Why are we allowing this? I’ve been begging for help from legislators since last March. I’m done with that. As much as I hate to see myself on video (oh, boy, do I)…I’m going to try to do the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my professional career and tell you how a teacher truly feels. I bet there are a whole lot more out there feeling just like me.

 

This is one of the strangest political alignments ever: George W. Bush put annual testing into federal law, a practice unknown in the high-performing nations of the world. And Democrats–including President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Washington State Senator Patti Murray–are fighting to keep George W. Bush’s policy in place. In the case of Senator Murray, her role is especially puzzling because Washington State has been a stronghold of opposition to high-stakes testing–from the Garfield High School teachers’ refusal to give the MAP test to the Legislature’s refusal to evaluate teachers by test scores, which led to Duncan withdrawing the state’s waiver from NCLB. Now, in accordance with NCLB, every public school in the state of Washington is a “failing” school, having not reached the goal of 100% proficiency on state tests of math and reading. But Senator Murray blithely defends the obnoxious annual testing policy that has so infuriated educators in her home state.

 

Here is the latest from Politico.com:

 

GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR NCLB?: No Child Left Behind’s spectacular sputter in the House last week overshadowed headway being made in the Senate: HELP Committee aides working to craft a bipartisan NCLB bill have been inching closer to an agreement on Title I, according to several aides and lobbyists. An announcement could come as soon as today. What will the compromise deal look like? Tough to say. But HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray has been firm about keeping statewide annual tests and getting rid of the bill’s Title I portability provisions, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Washington Democrat is ready to give up to strike a deal.
- Of course, getting a bill through both chambers won’t be easy. Take last week’s House debate. Members approved an amendment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would allow local assessment systems but chose not to take a recorded vote. It signaled that Democrats and Republicans expected the amendment to pass easily, and potentially with ample Democratic support. And it’s a sign that even if the Senate preserves annual statewide testing, the House may rebel and demand more flexibility for local districts.
- One more testing note: Political advocacy group Education Reform Now, a partner of Democrats for Education Reform, is calling out the National Education Association for a video [http://bit.ly/1BQeiZF] aimed at persuading lawmakers to scrap the annual testing mandate. ERN’s own video [http://bit.ly/1zBwyyA] tries to “fact check” the NEA ad – and warns the union’s stance “could cost you your child’s future.”

A comment on the blog:

 

“I am a 4th grade teacher in NYS. There is absolutely no consequence for students if they opt out. It does not impact report card grades. It does not impact advancement to next grade. (FYI public schools do not want to retain students – it costs money!). In our district this would not even impact whether a student got into an accelerated program because that is based on a different test altogether (not a state test)! There is no student consequence. The only way this madness is going to end if parents in droves refuse the tests. They won’t listen to teachers. But parents have a voice. Let’s get back to teaching and doing great projects in schools. We must end the testing insanity!”

The New York State Education Department released educator evaluation results on February 26, and once again, the overwhelming majority of teachers received effective or highly effective ratings. State officials were deeply disappointed by the overwhelmingly positive results. They seem to operate under the assumption that poor test results must be caused by “bad” teachers, and that their evaluation program should identify them so they may be fired.

 

The SED found that:

 

The final evaluation results show more than 95 percent of teachers statewide are rated effective (54 percent) or highly effective (42 percent); 4 percent are rated as developing; 1 percent are rated ineffective. Ninety-four percent of principals are rated effective (66 percent) or highly effective (28 percent).

 

The results were somewhat different in New York City, which used a plan imposed by then-State Commissioner John King:

 

New York City, whose evaluation plan was imposed by former Commissioner King when the New York City Department of Education could not reach agreement on the terms of the evaluation plan with the teachers union, showed greater differentiation than most districts in the State. Although New York City teachers and principals were evaluated on the same overall subcomponents as the rest of the State, the three subcomponents used different scoring ranges to determine the subcomponent rating categories (i.e., Highly Effective, Effective, Developing, Ineffective). Less than 10 percent of teachers in the city are rated Highly Effective, while 83 percent are rated Effective, 7 percent are Developing and 1 percent are Ineffective.

 

The leader of the state Board of Regents expressed disappointment at the high proportion of teachers found to be effective or highly effective:

 

“The ratings show there’s much more work to do to strengthen the evaluation system,” Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said. “There’s a real contrast between how our students are performing and how their teachers and principals are evaluated. The goal of the APPR process is to identify exceptional teachers who can serve as mentors and role models, and identify struggling teachers to make sure they get the help they need to improve. The evaluation system we have now doesn’t do that. The ratings from districts don’t reflect the struggles our students face to achieve college and career readiness. State law must be changed to build an evaluation system that supports teaching and learning in classrooms across the State. Our students deserve no less.”

 

Chancellor Tisch, like Governor Cuomo, assumes that the proportion of students getting low scores should somehow be matched by a similar proportion of low-rated teachers. It would be useful if Chancellor Tisch and Governor Cuomo reviewed two basic documents: the American Statistical Association statement on the uses and misuses of value-added measurement (VAM) and the joint statement of the National Academy of Education and the American Educational Research Association. It is unfortunate that the Board of Regents and the Governor proceed without regard to research on the effects of out-of-school and in-school factors that affect test scores. Were they to familiarize themselves with the two documents cited, they might develop a very different action plan, one that helps both students and teachers.

 

See state ratings here.

 

 

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