Archives for category: No Child Left Behind

The New York Times is convinced that No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have been a great success, and the editorial board urges Congress to stick with annual high-stakes testing. The editorial is couched in terms of the wonderful things that have happened to children of color, echoing the “reform” theme of testing as a “civil right.” This editorial is so out of touch with reality that it is hard to know where to begin. States are now beginning to test little children for 10-12 hours to see if they can read and do math; the amount of testing and the stakes attached to it are not found in any high-performing nation in the world, only here. The billions of dollars now devoted to standardized testing is obscene, especially when many of children who need help the most are in overcrowded classes and in states that have slashed the budget and/or opened charter schools and handed out vouchers to drain funding away from the public schools.

 

For a different point of view, read Carol Burris’s strong article about why it is time for civil disobedience, why parents should refuse to allow their children to take the tests.

 

Burris writes:

 

It has become increasingly clear that Congress does not have the will to move away from annual high-stakes testing. The bizarre notion that subjecting 9-year-olds to hours of high-stakes tests is a “civil right,” is embedded in the thinking of both parties. Conservatives no longer believe in the local, democratic control of our schools. Progressives refuse to address the effects of poverty, segregation and the destruction of the middle class on student learning. The unimaginative strategy to improve achievement is to make standardized tests longer and harder.

 

And then there are the Common Core State Standards. Legislators talk a good game to appease parents, but for all their bluff and bluster, they are quite content to use code names, like the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards, to trick their constituents into believing their state standards are unique, even though most are word for word from the Common Core.

 

The only remedy left to parents is to refuse to have their children take the tests. Testing is the rock on which the policies that are destroying our local public schools are built. If our politicians do not have the courage to reverse high-stakes testing, then those who care must step in. As professor of Language and Composition, Ira Shor, bluntly stated:

 

Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!”

 

In contrast to the New York Times, which argues for the status quo on grounds of helping minority students, Burris sharply argues:

 

The alleged benefit of annual high stakes testing was to unveil the achievement gaps, and by doing so, close them. All that has been closed are children’s neighborhood schools. In a powerful piece in the Huffington Post, Fairfield University Professor Yohuru Williams argues that annual high-stakes testing feeds racial determinism and closes doors of opportunity for black and brown children.

 

Last year, Alan Aja and I presented evidence on how the Common Core and its tests are hurting, not helping, disadvantaged students. (The links to both articles are in Burris’s article.)

 

Burris concludes:

 

I am a rule follower by nature. I have never gotten a speeding ticket. I patiently wait my turn in lines. I am the product of 12 years of Catholic schools–raised in a blue-collar home where authority was not to be questioned. I was the little girl who always colored in the lines.

 

But there comes a time when rules must be broken — when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now. The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.

This is a terrific short video, created by the BadAss Teachers Association. In images, it simply explains the blight that has descended on American public education because of the misguided policies of George W. Bush, President Obama, and Arne Duncan, because of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Lots of kids have been left behind, and the Race to the Top was won by Pearson and McGraw Hill.

 

 

This post, written by Joseph Ray Lavine, gives an account of Anthony Cody’s speech at the University of Georgia. Cody told the audience that programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top had squandered billions of dollars, and that methodologies like “value-added measurement” could not measure what mattered most in education. Teachers want students who can engage in critical thinking, collaboration, and who can persevere, but the testing regime does not promote or encourage these qualities, nor can it measure them. We are not raising the bar, he said; we are actually lowering expectations by relying so heavily on high-stakes testing.

 

Cody recently published a book about the Gates Foundation and its influence on current failed reforms. The book is “The Educator and the Oligarch”; it describes his exchanges with the foundation and his efforts to persuade it to change course.

The school board of the San Diego Unified School District voted 5-0 to urge Congress to eliminate the federal mandate of annual testing, Read their full statement below.

 

Remember that one of the crucial elements in the grassroots movement to roll back the tide of high-stakes testing started in Texas, when school board after school board voted to oppose high-stakes testing, and eventually more than 80% of the state’s school boards voted against high-stakes testing. The legislature heard the voters, and pulled back from a proposal to require 15 tests for high school graduation.

 

This is how a movement grows. Congress is rewriting NCLB as you read this. It is said to be on a fast-track for reauthorization in both the Senate and the House. Almost all the D.C.-based interest groups have joined to demand that YOUR children and YOUR students be tested annually. The best way to stop this out-of-control train of failed policies is to organize, speak up, speak out, demonstrate. Urge your school board to adopt a resolution akin to the one passed unanimously in San Diego. Visit the offices of Senator Patty Murray, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Al Franken, and all the Congressmen and Senators who are about to pass legislation keeping NCLB intact for another seven years. Make your voice heard.

 

The resolution adopted by the school board of the San Diego Unified School District on February 10:

 

SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

RESOLUTION IN THE MATTER OF SUPPORT

TO REMOVE THE ANNUAL TESTING REQUIREMENT FROM THE ELEMENTARY

AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA)

AND MAKE OTHER MODIFICATIONS AS CONGRESS CONSIDERS REAUTHORIZATION OF ESEA (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND) )

 
RESOLUTION
WHEREAS, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” was due for reauthorization in 2007, and the U.S. Congress has not reached a bipartisan agreement that will ensure passage to streamline existing federal requirements and allow states and local educational agencies to develop and implement policies that will best support students; and
WHEREAS, there are several significant aspects of ESEA that should be amended during the Act’s reauthorization, including the elimination of sanctions and unintended consequences; granting states and local educational agencies greater local flexibility; the elimination of federally mandated, annual standardized testing; and maintaining provisions of ESEA that support its original intent of supporting students with the greatest needs; and
WHEREAS, the nation’s future, social well-being and economic competitiveness relies on a high- quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship, and lifelong learning; and
WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to contribute and thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that high-stakes standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness, and the over-reliance on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing student’s love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, the San Diego Unified Vision 2020, long-term strategic plan, Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood, supports and provides for quality teaching, access to broad and challenging curriculum for all students, closing the achievement gap with high expectations for all, and is committed to using multiple formative measures of success that go beyond standardized achievement tests; and
WHEREAS, the ESEA Discussion Draft repeals the long-standing Title I Maintenance of Effort (MOE) and the Title IX General Provisions MOE requirement, and without them, state and local education funding could be lowered by states with no consequences to the state’s ongoing receipt of federal aid; and
WHEREAS, the ESEA Discussion Draft freezes funding for reauthorized programs for Fiscal Year 2016 through Fiscal Year 2021, eroding the investment of federal funding for public education that would result in reductions in services to student subgroups that require additional investments and support systems, including low-income, English learners, and students of color; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” eliminate the federally- mandated, annual testing requirement in each of Grades 3 through 9, and at least once in Grades 9 through 12; promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability; and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress to reinstate the current Maintenance of Effort requirements in ESEA to protect the integrity and benefits of federal ESEA programs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports a ESEA reauthorization bill that provides states and local educational agencies with additional flexibility to design their own accountability systems, including how states identify schools that are under-performing and determine appropriate interventions or technical assistance to support student growth and achievement, and support the use of multiple measures and growth models of academic achievement that reflect a well-rounded education necessary for success in the 21st century; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports a ESEA reauthorization bill that provides school districts the flexibility and resources needed to respond to the educational challenges in local communities, and provides greater local flexibility in the use of ESEA funding for Titles I, II and III as states and school districts are in the best position to make spending decisions to facilitate local innovation and student achievement, without placing undue burdens on districts that would adversely impact effective governance; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports an ESEA reauthorization bill that eliminates the inflexible sanctions and prescriptive actions that currently result in more schools being identified as Program Improvement if one or more student subgroup misses Annual Yearly Progress, as without the sanctions, districts would have more flexibility to use Title I funds to develop and/or implement programs and services that have evidence of improving student outcomes and advancing academic progress of all student subgroups; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress to remove the funding freeze for reauthorized ESEA programs that would severely cut services over the next six years, and urges the passage of a modernized version of ESEA that is fully supported by federal investments in Title I, which has been woefully underfunded for decades.

 
Adopted and approved by the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District at the regular meeting held on the 10th day of February 2015.

The latest from Politico on NCLB reauthorization: Democrat Patty Murray saves annual testing. Wonder if George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, Sandy Kress, and Pearson will thank her.

“GRADE-SPAN’S LAST GASP?: Now that Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray are working together [http://politico.pro/1zMZ2Zn ] on a No Child Left Behind bill, it’s all but certain that any deal will keep the federal annual testing mandate. Nonetheless, anti-testing advocates are more vocal than ever: Over the weekend, congressional education staffers’ inboxes were flooded with more than 1,000 emails sent by Save Our Schools New Jersey asking Congress to roll back the federal testing requirement and “stop using test scores to punish students, teachers and public schools.” Save Our Schools NJ volunteers told Morning Education that they didn’t intend to bother the aides. They had asked New Jerseyans to copy the aides on letters they were sending to their legislators and stopped once they realized the blunder. The fact that so many Garden State residents “contacted their federal legislators in one day,” the volunteers wrote in an email, “says a lot about how passionately people feel about the negative impact that high-stakes standardized testing is having.”

I sent this to each Senate Committee member:

 

 

Dear Sen. xxxx

 
I am a TN educator and I’d like to ask that you consider some facts about public education reform in TN generally and the proliferation of charter schools in particular.

 

The testing & accountability measures in TN were written by ALEC and by for-profit entities that have an interest in privatizing public education.

 

The value-added model (TN version is TVASS), marketed as an indicator of teacher quality, is junk science according to the American Statistical Association and by a majority of independent researchers: The lit review is here:

 

http://vamboozled.com/recommended-reading/value-added-models/

 

How can an education system improve if Congress allows junk science to dictate the direction of our education system? Test scores are designed to sort & rank. Testing is not learning- it’s a tool that teachers know when & how to use. Congress doesn’t dictate to any other profession how to use the tools of their profession. Why should teaching be any different?

 

All around the country VAM & standardized test scores are being misused to close schools, disperse, destabilize poor communities, sort out high needs (e.g. expensive children in SPED or at-risk) and privatize. The Dept of Education is now promoting VAM junk-science for colleges of Education.

 

Accountability has been in short supply for TN’s charter authorizer Achievement School District (ASD) and for outside consultants sucking up our tax dollars for invalid teacher evaluations and useless standardized tests(e.g., TEAM/TAP was developed by convicted felon Michael Milken & his brother and has no valid research line to support it’s claims)

 

Here are some persistent problems with charter schools & education privatizaion that deserve greater accountability and compliance.

 

1. Increased Segregation

 

• The vast majority of high-poverty charters fail due to racial & socio-economic segregation. The high-poverty model has not met with success at a national level.

 

• The most comprehensive study of charter schools completed to date found that only 17% of charter schools outperformed comparable traditional pubic schools.83% of public schools are better than charters. New Orleans Charter Schools have the lowest ACT scores in the country.

 

• Many families now believe- as do virtually all leading colleges & universities- that racial, ethnic, & income diversity enriches classrooms.

 

• The main problem with American schools in not their teachers or their unions, but poverty & economic segregation.

 

Reference:

 

Kahlenberg (2013). From all walks of life: New hopes for school integration. American Educator. Winter 2012-2013, pp. 2 – 40.

 

2. Sanctioned Discrimination or Whose Choice?

 

• The first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school; it is unclear how this bill supports that choice. In fact, we have seen how the rapid expansion of the charter sector has undermined neighborhood schools, drawing resources from them and at the same time expecting them to serve our most at-risk students. –

 

• Charters take public money yet have the legal status of private schools.

 

• Charter organizations have gone to court to protect themselves from educating & retaining ALL children.

 

• Charters discriminate against children with disabilities, children who do not test well, or who do not fit into inflexible discipline policies. Such children may be admitted to bolster enrollment but are expelled or counseled out after BEP funds are distributed, Public schools lose $6,000/child and face class overloads near testing time.

 

• Charters advertise ‘choice’ but overwhelmingly exclude parent voice.

 

• Parents have no legal recourse to challenge harmful charter school practices. Charters may legally ignore the key aspect of parent involvement: school level decision- making.

 

• Parents and the public are consistently misled about the community desires for a charter school. Charter waitlists cannot be confirmed and many records are slipshod.

 

• In New Orleans where all public schools have disappeared, the most difficult to teach children have been abandoned.

 

References:

Green, P. C., III, Baker, B. D., & Oluwole, J. O. (2013) Having it both ways: How charter schools try to obtain funding of public schools and the autonomy of private schools. Emory Law Journal, Vol. 63.303.

 

Parents Across America (PAA) http://parentsacrossamerica.org/parents-america-hr2218-%e2%80%9cempowering-parents-quality-charter-schools-act%e2%80%9d/#sthash.Ch0TKntq.dpuf

 

Welner, K. G. & Miron, G., (2014). Wait,wait. Don’t mislead me! Nine reasons to be skeptical about charter waitlist numbers. National Education Policy Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/charter-waitlists

 

Gabor, A. (2013) The great charter tryout. The Investigative Fund. http://www.theinvestigativefund.org/investigations/politicsandgovernment/1848/

 

What we support:

 

More community schools just like the highly successful Pond Gap in Knoxviile, TN.

 

To improve the schools we have, rather than shutting down or turning around traditional schools to make way for more charter schools.

 

All charter schools to have neighborhood boundaries and accept all children from within those boundaries whose parents choose to enroll their child at the charter school. Charter school enrollment processes should be consistent with and as simple as those of neighborhood public schools.

 

Charter schools should be held accountable for their enrollment, discipline, transfer, and other practices.

 

Charter schools and all other schools receiving public funds must be equally transparent and accountable to the public.

 

Finally, TN has a shameful 45% child poverty rate. My state has one of the highest rates of low wage & minimum wage jobs in the country. Our public schools in TN need resources- not privatization- to compensate for failed political & economic policies.

 

Thank-you for your work & consideration,

 

 

Joan Grim

The Néw York Times posted a blog debate about how to “fix” NCLB.

I was one of the contributors. My view is that the best way to fix the law is to remove its testing and punishment mandates. Testing is a state function.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress tests national and state samples of students. It reports state-to-state comparisons. It disaggregates data by race, English language learners, gender, disability status. It reports on achievement gaps. In effect, it audits learning in every state.

Restore ESEA (aka NCLB) to its original purpose: Equity. Sending money to poor kids’ schools. Helping the neediest children.

Congress is waiting to hear from you! The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is working on a reauthorization of NCLB. They have solicited feedback from the public, but the deadline for input is February 2nd. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander has said he wants to finalize a draft bill by the end of February.

Over 1,500 NPE supporters have already written to Congress to #EndAnnualTesting. Our goal is to get 2,000 letters by the February 2nd deadline.

Click here to write your letter today!

NPE’s letter writing campaign makes it possible to send your letter with just a few clicks. Send our sample letter, create you own using our helpful talking points, or go it on your own; the choice is yours!

NPE has been following the hearings closely, and will continue to keep you updated on the issues that matter to you. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the first two hearings is that at both the Senators have had the opportunity to hear powerful teacher voices.

Please take the time to watch NYC filmmaker Michael Elliot’s gripping short film, featuring teacher of conscience Jia Lee, and her testimony before the first hearing of the HELP Committee.

At the second hearing, National Board Certified teacher and NEA member Rachelle Moore provided Senators with another strong example of teacher voice. Moore, an advocate for training and retaining quality teachers, masterfully fielded questions from the Committee.
You can read her written testimony here or watch the entire hearing here.

“We are highly trained and committed professional, the ones most invested in student success, the ones in direct contact with students day in and day out. Listen to our voices. Invest in us. Trust and support us.”
NPE thanks Jia Lee and Rachelle Moore for their courage, and for so eloquently representing teacher voice in Washington, DC.

Don’t miss this opportunity to make your voice heard.

Time is running out to join NPE in asking Congress to #EndAnnualTesting. Send your letter today!

Today is the last day to take advantage of Early Bird Registration rates for the 2nd Annual Network for Public Education Conference!

Register today, and be a part of the movement to save our schools!

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

WE ARE MANY. THERE IS POWER IN OUR NUMBERS. TOGETHER WE WILL SAVE OUR SCHOOLS.

Despite the lack of evidence for tying teacher evaluation to student test scores, despite the hundreds of millions spent to implement it without success, this is Arne Duncan’s line in the sand. He insists on mandated annual testing, because without it, his idea of teacher evaluation crashes. He doesn’t care that most teachers don’t teach tested subjects. It is not the annual tests he loves, it is the teacher grades based in annual test scores.

 

In this thoughtful article in Education Week, Alyson Klein explains the dilemma of states. They need an NCLB waiver, but to get it they must follow Duncan’s orders on teacher evaluation. If the new Congress reauthorizes NCLB, all of this might be swept away. So the US DOE is trying to lock states into plans that last until 2018, long after this administration is gone. Once Duncan is gone, most states will abandon his mandates if they can.

 

 

Klein writes:

 

 

Congress is moving full steam ahead on a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act that could undo nearly of the Obama administration’s K-12 policy priorities, including state goals for student achievement, dramatic school turnarounds, and evaluating teachers through test scores—and maybe even the tests themselves.

 

But, even the most optimistic prognosticators don’t expect the final legislation to make it across the finish line until the summer.

 

That means states with waivers from the No Child Left Behind law—42 plus the District of Columbia—will still have to negotiate the finer points of their accountability plans with the department for waiver renewals that could last through 2018-19, well beyond the end of the Obama administration.

 

Already states, including Texas and Maine, have been told they need to make changes to their teacher rating systems—or provide the department with much more information—before submitting their renewal applications at the end of March. Neither state’s waiver has been put on high risk status just yet. (More below.)

 

The administration, though, may be entering into the waiver-renewal process with a severely weakened hand, especially when it comes to holding states’ feet to the fire on the policy that seems nearest and dearest to its heart: crafting teacher evaluation systems that take state test scores into account, and align with the administration’s vision.

 

“I think there’s going to be so much state pushback on that that the department may have to be open to negotiations on what states put in for teacher evaluation,” said Terry Holiday, Kentucky’s education commissioner who, coincidentally enough, is testifying at a Senate NCLB reauthorization hearing on Tuesday on teacher quality…

 

What’s more, once the waivers are a thing of the past—either because NCLB has been reauthorized or because a new president has gotten rid of them—states aren’t likely to continue with teacher evaluation through outcomes on assessments, Holliday said.

 

I think we’d all quickly abandon all the work on tying teacher evaluation to test scores,” he said.

Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is conservative; he believes in state and local control of education. He doesn’t think that Washington knows best. He favors legislation to encourage states but not to compel them to do what Washington wants. In this article, he expressed his strong opposition to Arne Duncan’s favorite initiative, evaluating teachers by test scores and offering waivers only to states that agree to do it. Let me be clear that I disagree with his praise for the Teacher Incentive Fund (merit pay), because merit pay has never worked anywhere. The TIF was a waste of $1 billion, and now more money will be thrown at a failed policy. I have no doubt that I won’t like whatever is in the final bill to support privatization and profiteering, but I like Alexander’s clear dismissal of federally mandated teacher evaluation, which is a poison pill invented by Duncan and opposed by every major scholarly organization (the American Statistical Association, the American Education Research Association, the National Academy of Education). Leaving it (teacher and principal evaluation) to the states raises the possibility that some states will be even more heavy-handed and punitive than Duncan, but it’s hard to imagine how.

 

He said, in part:

 

Given all of the great progress that states and local school districts have made on standards, accountability, tests, and teacher evaluation over the last 30 years—you’ll get a lot more progress with a lot less opposition if you leave those decisions there.

 

I think we should return to states and local school districts decisions for measuring the progress of our schools and for evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of teachers.

 

I know it is tempting to try to improve teachers from Washington. I also hear from governors and school superintendents who say that if “Washington doesn’t make us do it, the teachers unions and opponents from the right will make it impossible to have good evaluation systems and better teachers.”

 

And I understand what they’re saying. After I left office, the NEA watered down Tennessee’s Master Teacher program.

 

Nevertheless, the Chairman’s Staff Discussion draft eliminates the Highly Qualified Teacher requirements and definition, and allows states to decide the licenses and credentials that they are going to require their teachers to have.

 

And despite my personal support for teacher evaluation, the draft doesn’t mandate teacher and principal evaluations.

 

Rather, it enables States to use the more than $2.5 billion under Title II to develop, implement, or improve these evaluation systems.

 

In a state like Tennessee, that would mean $39 million potentially available for continuing the work Tennessee has well underway for evaluating teachers, including linking performance and student achievement.

 

In addition, it would expand one of the provisions in No Child Left behind – the Teacher Incentive Fund that Secretary Spellings recommended putting into law and that Secretary Duncan said, in testimony before the HELP Committee in January 2009, was “One of the best things I think Secretary Spellings’ has done…the more we can reward excellence, the more we can incentivize excellence, the more we can get our best teachers to work in those hard-to-staff schools and communities, the better our students are going to do.”

 

And third, it would emphasize the idea of a Secretary’s report card—calling considerable attention to the bully pulpit a secretary or president has to call attention to states that are succeeding or failing.

 

For example, I remember President Reagan visited Farragut High School in Knoxville in 1984 to call attention to our Master Teacher program. It caused the Democratic speaker of our House of Representatives to say, “This is the American way,” and come up with an amendment to my proposal that was critical to its passage. President Reagan didn’t order every other state to do what Tennessee was doing, but the president’s bully pulpit made a real difference.

 

Thomas Friedman recently told a group of senators that one of his two rules of life is that he’s never met anyone who washed a rented car.

 

In other words, people take care of what they own.

 

My experience is that finding a way to fairly reward better teaching is the holy grail of K-12 education—but Washington will get the best long-term result by creating an environment in which states and communities are encouraged, not ordered, to evaluate teachers.

 

Let’s not mandate it from Washington if we want them to own it and make it work.

 

 

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