Archives for category: Parent Groups

This reader, named Megan, is a teacher. She does not teach in Néw York. She is grateful to the Néw York Opt Out movement, who keep alive her hope for a return to sane education policies:

 

 

 

“We just finished SBAC 2 weeks ago followed by MAPs the very next week. I am, I guess fortunate to work in a district where test scores are not yet tied to my evaluation but the legislature is working on this very thing at present.

 

 

“We were told this year that it would be a ” no fault” year due to the fact that our district could not correlate last year’s CBM to the new test. This after initially saying they had a “special formula ” to do just that.

 

 

“Then, in the first days of the test, the whole system shut down and the largest district in our state received permission to forego the test this year. So, the rest of us took the test over two weeks. I did some online test prep in January but refused to overwhelm my students with weeks of test prep. I taught all the subjects in the curriculum normally. I will not subject my students to the stress that assemblies, daily test prep., and rigmarole I have seen in other schools, it’s just not right.

 

 

“I’m pleased to see other states such as New York sounding the alarms to what these tests do to students, their parents and schools. I am hopeful that this current movement to opt out will spread across the rest of the country.”

MaryEllen Elia, who was fired as Superintendent of Hillsborough County a few months ago, was unanimously endorsed by the Néw York State Board of Regents yesterday.

 

Valerie Strauss wrote about her selection here. She has the support of the Republican establishment in Florida (she was a member of far-right Governor Rick Scott’s transition team), as well as the support of teachers’ unions in Florida and Néw York.

 

Parent activists are wary of Elia because of her past support for high-stakes testing. To win their confidence, she must clarify her views about testing, about the Opt Out movement, about detaching test scores from teacher evaluations, about merit pay, and about Common Core.

 

In this interview, she reiterates her support for high-stakes testing, the Common Core, and using test scores to evaluate teachers. When asked her reaction to parent resistance to testing, she emphasizesd the need for better communications with parents. I don’t think that “better communications” will pacify parents who are fed up with the overuse of testing. At some point, hopefully soon, Commissioner Elia must recognize that parents know what they are doing, and they disagree with the Regents’ policy of plunging into the Common Core, high-stakes testing, and test-based accountability.

 

Commissioner Elia must understand that the problem is not a failure to communicate, but a genuine difference of opinion about how to educate children. The leaders of the Opt Out movement are not misinformed; they are very well informed indeed. Will she punish children who refuse the tests next year? Will she collaborate with parent leaders? Will she listen to parents and hear them? Will she use her influence to persuade the Regents and the Governor to reduce the importance of standardized tests? If she doubles down on Governor Cuomo’s testing agenda, she will energize the Opt Out movement. Parent leaders are disappointed by the lack of transparency in the selection process as well as the implicit message that the Regents did not listen to them. They will continue to speak out in the only way they can be heard, by refusing to submit their children to the tests.

Elizabeth Harris and Ford Fessenden wrote an article that just went online in The Néw York Times about the stunning growth of the Opt Out movement in Néw York state. Its numbers have increased dramatically in only two years.

The movement is now a potent political force:

“As the vanguard of an anti-testing fervor that has spread across the country, New York’s opt-out movement already has become a political force. Just two months ago, lawmakers from both parties, at the behest of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, increased the role of test scores in teacher evaluations and tenure decisions.

“Those same legislators are now tripping over one another to introduce bills that guarantee the right to refuse to take tests. The high numbers will also push state and federal officials to make an uncomfortable decision: whether to use their power to financially punish districts with low participation rates.”

The federal government requires a 95% participation rate on tests. Two years ago, almost every district complied. Not this year.

“Only 30 of the 440 districts where data was available met the 95-percent test participation rate called for by federal requirements, a far cry from just two years ago, when almost every district complied.”

Critics of opt out say that without the test scores, no one would know which students, teachers, and schools are “failing.” But if the tests are invalid and unreliable, as many believe the Common Core tests are, then the information they provide is worthless. Are superintendents, principals, and teachers so untrustworthy that no one knows what is happening in the schools? Are the test makers better judges than professional educators?

Where will the Opt Out Movement go from here? It terrifies the Establishment. It is a grassroots movement that can’t be bought out.

Now that parents have found their voice and a means of expressing their displeasure, there is nowhere to go but up. The organizing will continue, especially as the state raises the stakes on the trsts. Next year expect even bigger numbers.

Amazing news!

Long Island Opt Out, led by parent Jeanette Deutermann, endorsed candidates in yesterday’s school board elections across the two counties that comprise the Island. Fifty-seven of the 75 candidates endorsed by LIOO won their races. This includes seven of Deutermann’s liaisons for Opt Out.

Their message was: “We are taking back our schools.”

Long Island is the national hotbed for opt outs. It is a model for the nation. Parents are organized and active; they have the support of many principals and superintendents.

Jeanette Deutermann has spearheaded this effective resistance to high-stakes testing. She belongs on this blog’s honor roll as a champion of public education.

Parents in Texas rose up to fight the over testing of their children and to send a message to the Legislature. Testing is not teaching, but the Legislature seemed to think that the way to fix the schools was to add more tests while slashing billions in funding.

Reacting to parent groups like TAMSA (Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessmentt), the Legislature dropped a proposal to require students to pass 15 tests to graduate (it remains five). Almost every school board in the state passed a resolution ahAinst high-stakes testing.

And now the State Education Department (headed by a non-educator) has acted: it switched testing vendors, taking most of the state testing away from Pearson and giving it to ETS.

Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning Mews asks the key question:

“Whether students, teachers or school officials will notice the change is a question state officials declined to answer Monday.”

Does it really matter which vendor administers too many tests? Does it matter who writes theultople-choice question? Will the stakes change?

Parents Across America issued a statement opposing Common Core, PARCC, and SBAC.

1) PAA is NOT opposed to learning standards or assessment. We believe it
is important for school communities to have a shared vision and goals
for student learning, and effective tools for monitoring student
progress.

2) PAA is NOT opposed to federal involvement in public education. We
believe that the federal government and the U.S. Department of Education
have an important role monitoring and addressing issues of school
resource equity and student civil rights, and researching and promoting
best practices in education.

3) PAA recognizes that the push for national standards and tests did not
start with CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. We acknowledge the real desire of many who support CCSS/PARCC/SBAC to improve the quality of education, especially for some of the nation’s neediest children. However, we believe such efforts are based on a faulty analysis of the challenges facing public
schools and a disregard for the harmful and ineffective results of
standardized test-based accountability.

We oppose the CCSS because they are not derived from any community’s
shared vision of a quality education. We oppose the PARCC/SBAC
assessments because they are products of the same companies whose tests are being rejected daily as time-wasting intrusions on real learning by growing numbers of parents, teachers, students, and administrators
across the nation.

We oppose CCSS/PARCC/SBAC because we believe that they were designed to allow corporate interests easier access to the “educational marketplace”
and to private student and family data. CCSS/PARCC/SBAC will provide new
ammunition for the attack on teachers and the teaching profession when
scores show even more “failing” students and schools. Ultimately, this
new, even more coercive version of top-down, test-focused education will
deprive too many of our most vulnerable children – children of color,
children living in poverty, special needs students, English-language
learners – of the empowerment and opportunity that deep learning and
strong schools can offer them.

PAA calls for an immediate nationwide moratorium on implementation of
CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. This moratorium will provide states and local districts
the opportunity to step back from CCSS/PARCC/SBAC, allow for extensive
public review and input on these programs, and decide for themselves,
without federal intrusion, if or how these materials will be used.

We believe that, if used at all, CCSS should be considered as
recommendations only in the development or revision of local standards,
and that, if used at all, PARCC/SBAC tests should be voluntary for
schools, teachers and students, and have no high stakes.

For more information, please see our fact sheet, “Common Core Basics,”
http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/CCSSfactsfinal5-4-15.pdf and “Annotated References,”
http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/CCSSbibliofinal5-4-15.pdf

which provides extensive background information on our CCSS/PARCC/SBAC
position.

PAA has very different ideas about what’s needed in education than those
embodied in CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. Please see our position paper, “What is a Quality Education?”

http://parentsacrossamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/QualityEdfinal12-2014.pdf

In a story published in the New York Times, Kate Taylor and Motoko Rich describe test refusal as an effort by teachers’ unions to reassert their relevance. This is ridiculous.

Nearly 200,000 students opted out. They were not taking orders from the union. They were acting in the way that either they wanted to act or their parents wanted them to act.

I emailed with one of the reporters before the story was written and gave her the names of some of the parent leaders of the Opt Out movement, some of whom have spent three years organizing parents in their communities. Jeanette Deutermann, for example, is a parent who created Long Island Opt Out. I gave her the names of the parent leaders in Westchester County, Ulster County, and Dutchess County. I don’t know if any of them got a phone call, but the story is clearly about the union leading the Opt Out movement, with nary a mention of parents. The parents who created and led the movement were overlooked. They were invisible. In fact, this story is the only time that the Times deigned to mention the mass and historic test refusal that cut across the state. So according to the newspaper of record, this was a labor dispute, nothing more. Not surprising that this is the view of Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the Board of Regents, and of everyone else who opposes opting out.

By taking this narrative as a given, the Times manages to ignore parents’ genuine concerns about the overuse and misuse of testing. Not a word about the seven to ten hours of testing for children in grades 3-8. Not a word about the lack of transparency on the part of Pearson. Not a word about data mining or monitoring of children’s social media accounts. To the Times, it is all politics, and the views of parents don’t matter.

The great mystery, unexplored in this article, is why the parents of 150,000 to 200,000 children refused the tests. Are the unions so powerful as to direct the actions of all those parents? Ridiculous.

How could they get it so wrong?

Governor Andrew Cuomo has called for an investigation of teacher ratings on Long Island.

This follows a “Newsday” report that the portion of ratings under local control were “skewed” towards effective ratings.

Cuomo wants evaluations to count student scores as 50%, instead of the present 40% (only 20% is based on state tests, the other 20% on local measures

For some reason, Cuomo is determined to find some teachers he can fire. He is certain–despite evidence to the contrary–that low scores are caused by teachers.

He must have had terrible law school professors. There have been numerous reports that he failed the bar exam four times. If this is true, I hope he sued his law school for hiring ineffective professors.

Leonie Haimson lists here the best and worst education events of 2014.

She cites the demise of inBloom as one of the best and the Vergara decision as one of the worst.

What would you add to her list?

Apparently Congress doesn’t care about the privacy of student data and doesn’t think that parents need to know which vendors are getting their children’s confidential records.

The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy issued this statement:

OUR RESPONSE TO THE MARKEY/HATCH STUDENT PRIVACY BILL INTRODUCED 7.30.2014
JULY 30, 2014 ADMIN

For immediate release: July 30, 2012

Rachael Stickland, 303-204-1272; info@studentprivacymatters.org
Leonie Haimson: 917-435-9329; leonie@classsizematters.org

On the Markey/Hatch student privacy bill

Rachael Stickland, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, said: “Though we appreciate the effort that Senators Markey and Hatch have undertaken on behalf of better privacy protections for students, their proposed legislative fix falls short of what’s needed; it sets no specific security standards for the storage or transmission of children’s personal information, allows unlimited disclosures and redisclosures to for-profit vendors and other third parties without parental consent as long as the data isn’t used for marketing purposes, and doesn’t even require that schools and districts inform parents as to what personal information is being shared with which particular vendors. Thus the clause that requires that parents be able to amend the information held by the vendor is nonsensical as its unclear how they would even know who to contact.”

Said Leonie Haimson, the other co-chair of the Parent Coalition, “Nothing in this bill would have stopped the outrageous data-grab of inBloom, or any of the other companies set to take its place. We need a far stronger bill to do the job that parents are demanding: protecting their children’s privacy and safety from breaches and unwarranted data-mining.”

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http://www.studentprivacymatters.org/?p=193

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