Archives for category: Common Core

Peter Rawitsch is a first-grade teacher in New York. He is a National Board Certified Teacher. He has been trying to teach his class the Common Core standards for nearly three years. He has concluded that they are a nightmare. He wrote this opinion piece in the Albany Times Union:


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Depending on the day, my six and seven year old children might answer: “soccer player,” “princess,” or “veterinarian.” Sadly, most of them will have to put their dreams on hold because they’re too busy working on someone else’s dream of them becoming “college and career ready.” I think it’s a nightmare.

Six and seven year old children are active learners. They use all of their senses to learn in a variety of ways. Each child learns at their own pace. Play is their work. Using materials they can manipulate helps them think about how things work, use their imagination, and solve problems. They construct knowledge through their experiences.

As a 1st grade teacher with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, National Board Certification in Early Childhood, and 37 years of classroom experience, I’m deeply troubled by what is being demanded of our young learners.

For the past 2½ years I have been trying to help the children in my classroom become proficient in the 1st grade Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Because the children are at different places in their development, some have been successful with the new standards, but for too many, these new expectations are inappropriate and unfair. They’re being asked to master material they simply aren’t ready to do yet. Among the flaws of the CCSS is the assumption that all students in a given grade are capable of learning all of the same grade level standards by the end of a school year. But many of the current 1st grade standards were, just a few years ago, skills that 2nd grade students worked on.


The Gesell Institute of Child Development has studied the cognitive development of children three to six years of age since 1925. In 2010 it reported that young children “are still reaching developmental milestones in the same timeframe,” meaning, that while the learning standards have changed, the way children learn has not.



He points out that those who wrote the Common Core standards included no one experienced or expert in the teaching of the youngest learners. No one on the New York Board of Regents that adopted the Common Core had experience with teaching young children. The Common Core standards are inappropriate for young children.


He concludes that it is time for parents to take action. Learn about what your children do in school. Talk to their teacher. Find out what activities have been replaced by sitting and bubbling in answers and busywork.


How much more sitting are the children doing for reading and writing activities? How have additional paper and pencil tests affected when and how things are taught? Which activities and experiences that once enriched the school day and fostered a love of learning have been pushed out? Teachers need to talk about child development and appropriate academic standards at School Board and PTA meetings. Together we need to speak up and advocate for an education that celebrates and honors our young learners. Our children’s dreams matter.


Try this link:

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
Fact Sheet: Why You Can Boycott Testing Without Fear of Federal Penalties for Your School


National Poll: Parents Give Standardized Tests an “F” Grade
New Video: Parents Opting Their Children Out of Common Core Tests
Opt Out Movement Surges Across U.S.
Grade-Span Exams Would be Better


Alabama Retrenching on High School Testing


Arizona Schools Balk at Being Forced to Buy Pricey Equipment for New State Tests


California’s Poor Children Need More Help, Not More Standardized Tests


Colorado Opt-Out Movement Says “No” to New Tests
Colorado Testing Has Not Improved Education Quality for Communities Most in Need


Ed. School Deans Say Connecticut Must Stop Bashing Teachers and Relying on Tests
Connecticut Teacher Explains Flaws of Annual Exams to U.S. Senator


Parents, Teachers Push Back Against Delaware Testing


Problems Plague Debut of New Florida Online Test
Legislators Under Pressure to Overhaul Florida School Testing


Georgia State Super Explains Problems with Federal Testing Mandate to Arne Duncan


lllinois Educators Leery of New State Achievement Test
How to Refuse PARCC in Illinois and Promote Opt-Out Legislation


Parents, Educators Express Concerns About Indiana Tests, Score Misuses


Louisiana Parents Opt Children Out of PARCC Tests


Maine Families Push Back Against Standardized Testing
Super Says Maine Students May Not be Ready for Common Core Tests


Bipartisan Group of Maryland Legislators Challenges Excessive Testing


Standardized Tests Taking Toll on Mississippi Schools


Judge Rules Missouri’s Common Core Testing Pact is Illegal


Thousands Opt Out as Controversial Testing Begins in New Jersey
New Jersey Parents Want PARCC Test “Parked”


Thousands of New Mexico Students Walk Out of School Over Testing
Parents Join New Mexico PARCC Protests


New York City Educators Seek Parents’ Help in Fight Against Governor’s Test-Based Evaluation Scheme
Teachers’ Rally Protest’s New York Gov. Cuomo’s Testing Policies


Ohio Families Opt Out of State Tests in Droves
Critics Say There Are Too Many Standardized Exams in Ohio Schools


Oklahoma Legislators Working to Stop End-of-Course State Tests


Too Much Testing Drives Oregon Opt-Out Surge
Smarter Balanced Assessment Fails the Test in Oregon


Philadelphia Pennsylvania Parents and Teachers Slam High-Stakes Testing at Opt-Out Forum


Rhode Island Educators Support Parents’ Right to Opt Children Out of High-Stakes Tests
Manifesto Against Rhode Island PARCC Testing


South Carolina Educators Say Leave NCLB Behind to Advance Equal Educational Opportunity


New Tennessee Ed. Commissioner Hears Teachers’ Concerns About Testing


Resolution to Reduce Testing Passes Utah House


Seattle, Washington School Refuses to Administer Smarter Balanced Test


Wisconsin School Testing Roller Coaster Takes Another Sharp Turn


More Colleges Look Beyond Test Scores to Determine Admission
FairTest List of 850+ “Test Optional” Bachelor-Degree Granting Institutions


Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing


Report: New Federal Teacher Prep Rules Too Stringent


Contentious Teacher Evaluation Policies Moving to Courtrooms


In Test-Based Systems, Even Young Children Resist Learning


Current Tests Don’t Measure What Kids Should Really Master



Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

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.


Forget about all those stories you read that said the U.S. Department of Education had/has nothing to do with promoting the Common Core standards. Forget that it is a “state-led” initiative, that the standards were “written by the governors,” and that this just bubbled up from below while ED watched from the sidelines. Months ago, Chicago Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that the district was not ready, the students were not ready, the teachers were not ready. She said she would give the tests to 10% of the students, no more. But then the hammer fell, and the hammer is in Washington, D.C. The orders from ED (the Education Department): give the tests or Illinois will lose $1.4 billion in federal money. 


Is this legal? Three different federal laws prohibit any agent of the federal government from attempting to influence or control instruction or curriculum. It is a well-known fact that tests drive instruction and curriculum. Will anyone sue to stop this apparent, alleged, probable violation of the law?

Thousands of students refused the PARCC test in Néw Jersey, including 1,000 students at Governor Christie’s alma mater, Livingston High School.

In one district, 30% of the students refused to take the test.

Hundreds of high school students walked out of Common Core tests in New Mexico, despite administrators’ threats that they may not be able to graduate. Many carried hand-lettered signs with statements like “We are not a test score.” U.S. News reports on the walkout here. 


State Commissioner of Education Hanna Skandera, who previously worked for then-Governor Jeb Bush in Florida, is an avid supporter of Common Core and the PARCC tests. She is a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and previously worked for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. The Senate in New Mexico delayed her confirmation because she has never been a teacher, which is a requirement for her post.

Earlier, Chicago Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the city schools were not ready to give the PARCC test. She planned to give the test to only 10% of students. Federal and state pressure was applied, and the city caved to threats. It’s not about what’s best for children. It is power politics, and Arne Duncan’s demand that no child go untested.

March 2, 2015 312-329-6250

CTU Statement on Chicago Public Schools’ Decision to Cower to Federal Threats and Administer PARCC Assessment

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union is extremely disappointed in the decision of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked Chicago Board of Education to administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) throughout the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district in the wake of intimidation by the Illinois State Board of Education and U.S. Department of Education. The district’s choice to back down from state and federal threats to withhold education funding if the PARCC was not administered throughout CPS allows for continued policy measures to disrupt the lives of students, handcuffs classroom educators and holds the sword of disinvestment over children and communities who need resources the most.

“This has the potential to blow up and be a tremendous failure, because CPS itself has said the district may not be able to handle a proper rollout at this time due to technical issues and frustration among students, teachers and administration over administering the test properly,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “But instead of understanding those issues, the state and the feds decided to threaten to withhold resources from a district that’s one of the most poorly resourced in the nation.”

By changing course on a previous decision to limit the PARCC to just 10 percent of CPS schools students, the district will continue to burden elementary school students with the inhumane pressure of over-testing, valuable time away from classroom instruction. A number of CPS teachers who have taken the sample PARCC test have stated that the assessment is inappropriate for the target 3rd through 8th grades, and is coyly designed for students to fail.

The district’s decision to administer the PARCC test comes nearly a year to the day after the boycott of the now-defunct Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) by teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy on March 3, 2014.


Bob Braun posts an eloquent letter written by 35 teachers at Science Park High School in Newark, one of the top schools in New Jersey.


The teachers write:


To Whoever Will Listen:


We are teachers at Science Park High School in Newark, New Jersey, and we are deeply disturbed by the thirty days of disruption being forced on our school. In the coming weeks, like the rest of New Jersey, we will be forced to administer the PARCC exam. A few weeks ago we saw the schedule: three weeks of testing in March, followed by three weeks of testing in May. This total does not include the additional week of make-up testing following each of the three-week periods. This total does not include the days of mandatory test preparation to familiarize students with the exam’s very specific computer interface. This total does not include the thousands of hours of training of teachers and administrators to plan, schedule, and execute this exam. We honestly believe that The State of New Jersey, by forcing us to administer this time-devouring test, is engaged in behavior destructive to the educational well being of our students.


We believe that the thirty days of disruption could just as easily be called the thirty days of destruction. Science Park High School is a Blue Ribbon school. We, like many teachers in Newark and throughout New Jersey, have dedicated huge parts of our lives to making certain that our students receive an excellent education. We come in early. We stay late. We give up our weekends. We wouldn’t change our dedication because we love what we do. We love the students we teach. Our love forces us to say something.


We do not believe that parents and administrators who work for the State of New Jersey understand the destructive impact this testing will have on our ability to teach students. Some teachers will be removed from their classes for a week. The second week that same teacher may not have any students because they are being tested. In the third week they may have only partially filled classes. The disruption will continue with some students still absent from class during the fourth week of make-up exams. Then we have spring break, three weeks of teaching in April, and in May we test for a second three-to-four week period. We say again, in May we test for a second three- to four-week period!


We value our time in the classroom with our students. Teachers are important to the educational process. It is wrong to stop the educational process for close to 17 percent of the year to administer an exam. We could talk about further objections, like the use of a confusing computer interface, or the use of an exam that many highly educated and successful people have difficulty completing. But thirty days of testing is sufficiently outrageous and — we believe — indefensible.


There are three questions this schedule raises that demand answers:


1. Why is 30 days of testing disruption more beneficial than 30 days of classroom instruction? We have never heard a pedagogical justification for this and could not imagine what one would be. Explain to us how this is about the education of our children.


2. How much are the State of New Jersey and private foundations spending on the creation, training, execution, and grading of this exam, and who is financially benefitting from this? There is so much in education that we cannot afford, that we must fund out of our own pockets. There are so many teachers and clerks and drug counselors and attendance counselors who have been laid off, in our own building, in our district, in our state. What is the financial bottom line?


3. If this PARCC exam is so valuable and good, how many of New Jersey’s top private schools have adopted it? Is Delbarton or Newark Academy or Pingry subjecting their students to the “educational benefits” of this exam?


Although we, the undersigned education workers, do not represent the entire faculty at Science Park High School, we are confident that every member of our faculty shares our critique of this exam. We are even confident that many principals and superintendents not brought in by the current regime share our critique. Yet many are afraid to speak out because they fear retaliation against themselves, their principal, or even the entire staff or school if they dare voice their honest, professional opinion.


We who have signed this letter cannot live in fear. We are offended by the situation in which we find ourselves, in which education policy is dictated by billionaires who never taught a day in their lives, while our patiently gained professional expertise is ignored. Even worse, we are offended by a situation where many honest, hard-working education workers feel afraid to voice their professional opinion for fear of backlash.


What type of teachers would we be if we taught our students about the First Amendment, yet did not voice our professional opinion? What type of teachers would we be if we taught our students about civil rights movements, yet neglected to defend them from this exam? With these questions in our conscience, we are not afraid to issue this clear statement.


We love teaching. We love our students. Our collective educational opinion is that PARCC’s thirty days of disruption is bad for our schools and bad for our children.


[Bob Braun’s note: Due to technical difficulties, I was unable to reproduce the signature pages of this statement. However, these are the names appended to the statement. Because the names were hand-written, I may not spell some correctly. Corrections are requested and will be made ASAP. My apologies for any mistakes. Here is the list of names in the order they appear on the statement:]



Branden Rippey

Hubert McQueen

Filip Spirovski

Kim Schmidt

Jose Gomez-Rivera

Anthony Moreno

Luan Goxhaj

Patrick Farley

Ana Serro

Cheryl Bell

Jonathan Alston

Randy Mitchell

Claudia Amanda Pecor

Justin Mohren

Cristiano Liborio

Carolina Parasiti

Doretta Sockwell

Aziz Kenz

Marta Ilewska

Veronica Naegele

Richard R. Selander

Chaunte’ Killingsworth

Jim McMahon

Marcellus D. Green

Michelle Benjamin

Peter Wang

Mario McMiller

Ben Patiak

Lisa Bento

Lorenzo Cruz

Jeanina Perez

Pamela Cole

Ana Aranda

Joseph Okil

Philip Yip

Florida has a bigger problem than opt outs: early this morning many districts experienced major technological problems with the state exams.


Miami-Dade (the largest district in the state), Palm Beach County, Pasco County, and Okaloosa County have suspended testing due to computer failures.


Look for updates here on the Facebook page of Parents Across Florida.


Jeb Bush, the father of Florida’s punitive testing and accountability system, was expecting to get a big boost for his campaign from the Common Core testing. He is the leading proponent of computer-driven everything; his Foundation for Educational Excellence (now headed by Condaleeza Rice) is funded by major tech corporations who are heavily invested in educational software and hardware.


Here is the first story about the breakdown of state testing in major school districts.




Michael Elliott is an excellent film-maker whose children attend public schools in New York City. He understands the fight against high-stakes testing. Here is a short video he created to tell the story about how parents feel about PARCC.


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