Archives for category: Parents

Parents, there is one sure way to stop the testing mania that is devouring your child’s education: Say NO to the next round of field tests, scheduled for June 2 to June 11. Don’t let Pearson and the State Education Department steal more time from your child that should be spent learning, playing, dancing, singing, and studying.

Want to learn more about the campaign to Change the Stakes? Open this link to go to the webpage of Change the Stakes. You will find practical information about how to opt out of the field testing.

Opposition to the testing madness of the Bush-Obama administrations continues to escalate, as parents, teachers, and student react to excessive testing across the nation.

Here is the Fairtest update:

An increasing number of stories report criticism of Common Core tests and rising opposition to other high-stakes standardized exams. This week’s clips include updates from 20 states, several excellent commentaries and links to important reports.

The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Testing

State Political Rifts Sap Support for Common Core Exams

The Cost of Our Testing Obsession

Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Needed . . . Now!

Competitor Sues to Overturn Pearson’ s Common Core Testing Contract

Pearson’s History of Testing Problems

Test Expert: Most California Schools Not Ready for Common Core Exams

Tryout of New California Test Plagued by Computer Problems

Common Core Testing Raises Question About Who Is in Charge of Connecticut Education

Florida Governor Approves One-Year Pause on School Grading Consequences

Student Testing a Major Issue in Idaho School Chief Election

Illinois Suburbs Push Back Against Testing,0,478278.story

Louisiana Tax Dollars at Work: Training Teachers to Administer High-Stakes Tests Which Grade Their “Effectiveness”

Why Standardized Testing is Ruining Maine Schools, Hurting Our Kids

Massachusetts Teachers Union Elects Strong Foe of High-Stakes Testing as President

A Fairer Test Score Measure for Massachusetts

Common Core Field Testing Seen as Another Unfunded Massachusetts State Mandate

Parents Boycott New Jersey ASK Test

How to Refuse New Jersey Tests for Your Child

Student: Standardized Tests Taking a Toll in New Mexico Classrooms

A Conversation About Tests New York Teachers Can’t Have

The Pseudo-Science of New York’s Common Core Tests

Ohio Teachers Seek Three-Year Delay in High-Stakes Testing

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Giving Parents a Voice in Overruling Grade Promotion Test

Testing Expert: Oregon’s Assessments Should Be Designed by Local Educators

Oregon Teachers Seek Common Core Testing Moratorium

They’ll Never Catch Pennsylvania’s Worst Test Cheating Culprits — Politicians Who Mandate High-Stakes Exams

Philadelphia “Culture of Cheating” Reflects Standardized Exam Misuse

Different Value-Added Systems Produce Wide-Range of Results in Pittsburgh Schools

Rhode Island School Board Resists Mounting Pressure to End Graduation Test

Nashville Tennessee to Take Up Anti-Testing Resolution

Another Test Cheating Probe in the Home of the “Texas Miracle” Which Begat “No Child Left Behind”

Texas Teacher Evaluation Earns a Failing Grade

Are Texas Children Allowed to Read for Pleasure Any More?

Virginia Parents Start Organizing Opt Out Campaign

How NCLB Waiver Revocation Will Hurt Washington State Schools

Obama-Duncan Testing Policies Contradict Their Own High-Sounding Statements

New Study Casts Doubt on Rating Teachers by Students’ Test Scores

Standardized Testing Focus is Part of 19th Century Model of Education

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 696-0468

This New York parent decided the state tests were useless and worthless. She went to hearings and rallies and realized that state officials made only minor changes but that her children would continue to sit for 500 minutes of state testing in grades 3-8. She thought it made no sense. So she opted her children out of state testing. Here is her letter to the editor of her local newspaper.

She writes:

“I recognize that students have always taken some form of standardized testing and that testing has a value in education. I am not saying that students should never take tests or that teachers should not be held accountable. What I am saying is that we as a state and as a country have lost our focus. What I am saying is the rules have changed and these tests are different. When No Child Left Behind was introduced in 2002, our children were federally required to take state tests in 4th grade and 8th grade. In 2006, the federal requirement changed to all grades 3-8th. In 2012, the tests changed again increasing the time, the complexity and consequences.

“The single largest change at the center of this all is that teachers are now rated on the results of these tests. Teachers are not saying they shouldn’t be evaluated – in fact – most feel that a good evaluation makes them a better teacher. There are so many things wrong with the APPR process that I would have to write another letter on this topic. Basically, our children and our teachers work hard all year. They should not be reduced to a single score.

“The reasons my children have not taken the state tests the past 2 years is simple: they do not help my children in any way. While the test is given in April, the scores are not received until July. There is NO data or explanation of where my child had weaknesses or strengths for that matter. The teacher will see 25% of the questions but will not have ANY information on how MY child did on those questions or on how they may help future students. These tests lack quality, as evidenced by the numerous errors and poorly worded questions. These tests are not used to determine student promotion or grades and are not included in a child’s permanent school record. The children receive a score on a scale of 1-4 which becomes a statistic used to rate teachers and schools- minimizing their educational experience to just a number. What could that number mean to me as a parent? Commissioner King and the Board of Regents are repeatedly quoted in the media saying, “Why wouldn’t a parent want to know how their child is doing?” My response is simple. If I need to know how my children are doing, I will ask their teacher!

“Our children are athletes, musicians, singers, dancers, artists, scientists, and community volunteers, among other things, none of which can be measured by a single assessment. I am not sure when or why test scores became so important. It used to be that parents looking for a place to live chose Garden City, perhaps based on the colleges that our students attend. Our children’s test scores have become a metric by which we assess our property values. The tests have somehow become “practice” in preparation for the NYS Regents Exams, the SAT’s, and ACT’s. Why have we become a society that cares more about the test scores than the quality of our child’s educational experience?”

Tony L. Talbert, a professor of social/cultural studies education and qualitative research in the Baylor University School of Education, writes in the Waco News that we as a nation have failed to recognize “the reality that our students, our teachers and our entire system of pre-K-12 public school education has been significantly and negatively impacted by the very tests we allowed to be enacted over the past 30 years through a combination of hyperbolic fear-mongering and subsequent public detachment from deliberative discourse in matters of public education.”

In short, we–as citizens–dropped out from our responsibility to maintain a public school system that aimed for values more important and valuable than our current test-based system.

Ivy started with President Reagan’s “A Nation at Risk,” which “set off a chain of subsequent predictions, monographs and reports of dire consequences for our nation’s future that could only be resolved by imposing a system of high-stakes testing, narrowly defined curriculum content (i.e., reading and mathematics) and ultimately adoption of a punitive accountability system that had the effect of stymying resistance and silencing critical questioning by educators, parents and even students on the legitimacy of such a radical shift in public education philosophy and practices.”

“As a result, for the next 30 years the American public increasingly “opted out” of direct dialogue and engagement in local, state and national public education philosophy, policy and practice debates. The impact of “opting out” of informed engagement in public education debates has been the radical shift in the quality and value-orientation of public school curriculum from a Transformation-Based Education System to an Information-Based Education System.

“In a Transformation-Based Education System the core value is the education of the whole student through a broad and inclusive humanities, mathematics, science, technology, performing arts and physical education curriculum as measured by the quality outcomes of the improvement of the student’s individual mind and life for the betterment of the collective community. In contrast, an Information-Based Education System embraces the core value of information acquisition, consumption and regurgitation of a basic curriculum by all students as measured by the quality of outcomes on standardized test performance and school ranking.”

Can we change the vicious cycle in which we are now trapped?

Yes, he insists:

“Can we recover what we’ve lost in our education system as a result of “opting out” of our responsibility as guardians of our most valuable democratic institution of pre-K-12 public education? Absolutely! We can restore the fundamental values and quality of a Transformation-Based Education System by choosing to “opt in” to public discourse and democratic action. An obvious way an informed citizenry can express intent to change the high-stakes testing education philosophies, policies and practices is by holding local, state and national elected officials accountable for education legislation at the ballot box.”

In short, my friends, become politically active. Throw out the narrow-minded technocrats that see our children as data points. Elect only those who treasure education as human development, a process of becoming in which we all take part.

Do your part. Get engaged. Be the change.

Helen Gym sent the following report. The parents at Steel Elementary School voted to remain a public school, despite an aggressive campaign to turn the school over to a charter chain. But the school’s advisory council voted 9-8 to hand the school over to privatization. The final decision will be made by the city’s School Reform Commission.

“Happy news for Monday morning!

“On May 1, 176 parents at Steel Elementary School – the last public school in Nicetown – voted on whether to remain a District public school or be turned over to the city’s largest charter operator, Mastery Charter Network. More than 70 percent of parents – 121 vs. 55 – voted to keep the school public. Mastery Charter Network did not even muster one-third of the popular parent vote, despite an aggressive year-long effort to claim Steel for itself. A botched School Advisory Council vote resulted in a split 9-8 vote in favor of the charter. At least two grievances have been filed against this vote. The School Reform Commission will make a final determination on the school May 29.

“Parents statements are below. A video about Steel is also below that:″

Today I came across a letter from a Tennessee parent that went viral. The theme, quite simply, is: Parents know best.

In it, this parent explains why she is opting her child out of state testing. Please click on the link so that Alicia Maynard and other Tennessee parents know you support them in their determination to end the testing madness.


“Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?” – Jane Nelsen, author of the Positive Discipline Series

“Dear Gov. Haslam,

“I am writing to let you know that my fourth-grader will not be taking the TCAP test. This is unfortunate for her school because she scores in the advanced range every time.

“Auria is in fourth grade at Northfield elementary in Murfreesboro, TN. This is our fourth year at this school, and between her and her sister, I have fallen in love with numerous teachers there. Murfreesboro has the best school system in the state (according to Google), and I have been highly impressed with the people and their level of care for my children.

“Third grade changed, though. My highly-intelligent, confident kid became a wreck – early in the year – over the pressure associated with the TCAP. I was confused, as I took the TCAP every year as a child and have nothing but fond memories of bubbling in the little circles. I started to notice the growing intensity leading up to the test, and I became a little disgusted. That was last year. This year it was worse. The teachers I have had the pleasure of working with are so wound up that I feel sorry for them. The teachers, the staff, the administration…everybody.

“These are obviously brilliant and creative people, and this test has taken over like a life-sucking monster. Teaching isn’t an exact science, just like parenting. Every child is different, and this terrible system is stifling all the joy and creativity that is required to really make an impact.

“Now, if I love this school and staff so much, and I know her test scores would attribute to an average boost ($$$), why would I pull her from this? She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. These teachers are already being grossly underpaid for such an important role.

“Pearson is America’s largest corporate maker of standardized testing. It has a multiyear contract with our Department of Education: For creating and implementing the TCAP and the end-of-course tests for high schoolers, we pay more than $150 million. (That’s three times what it would have cost to give Tennessee teachers a 2 percent raise.) The deepest cut of all? Teachers aren’t able to preview the test. They are neither editor nor author of the single most influential test of the whole year. It’s the educational equivalent of a slap in the face.”

- David Cook (Times Free Press)

“Auria can already make better decisions than this.

“My child’s job is to learn. The teacher’s job is to teach. But my role as her parent is more complicated. I also have to teach her when standing up for something is necessary. This system is stupid and unfair. She will be accepting a 0 as 15% of her grade for the year. But she will also be standing up for teachers and students all over the state. She will be taking steps toward bettering her future right now, and I think that’s better than just a memory of all those bubbles.

“Thank you for your time reviewing this matter,

Alicia Maynard
Murfreesboro, TN”

The above letter has been shared on Facebook over 1,140 times in the past 48 hours. Here are some of the many comments on it:


“As a teacher in metro, I love you!

“Wow! Seems I’m not alone about my TCAP feelings! Kuddos to this mom!!!

“The pressure for students, teachers, and parents is so unfair. It makes me so sad.

“This is so beautiful. It’s a must read for all parents and students.

“Maybe more parents should jump on this bandwagon!!! I would love to shake her hand and meet her in person!

“Incredible parent and letter! Hope someone listens! Something to think about where we are heading for the future of education for the little ones. Lets put Common Sense back in Education and worry bout the little ones not which pocket is getting thicker!!!!

“How many letters like this will it take to change things?

“Simply the truth. I am forbidden by law from seeing, asking or being told what is on the test my kids take. Ever. We never see the old tests. We cannot challenge bad questions…and trust me, the practice tests have bad questions. Parents can also never see the tests. Just try and ask, even after it is given. I have yet to have a teacher’s edition grammar book that did not have a wrong answer or horribly confusing practices. It happens, but now who is double checking? My kids will do well…they always do me proud in a pinch, but this is beyond ridiculous. Pearson controls education in Tennessee. Get over the outrage over the feds/Common Core (for now) and ask why in the Hell a private company gets to determine kids’ grades and teachers’ fates with ZERO oversight.

“May do this next year. Zac is flipped out about TCAP.

“This sums up my feelings on standardized testing word for word!!!!!!!

“I love how you just stand up for things that are unjust without ANY hesitation and I respect the heck out of that! TCAP tests and the like are the reasons why I did not complete my certification as a secondary educator. It’s an unfair system that pigeon-holes children into measurable data. You, Alicia Maynard, are a beautiful soul and a wonderful mother. Thank you for standing up for teachers and for teaching your children to stand up for their generation of learners.

“I applaud this mother and think it would be awesome to boycott this stupid standardized testing

“There are many, many more comments just like these above. Parents are fed up, waking up, and speaking out.”

Class Size Matters
Please distribute to all parents!


Parents and elected officials are holding a press conference Tuesday May 6 at Tweed to speak out against the new state law that gives any new and/or expanding charter free space either in our public school buildings or in private space paid for by the city .


Meanwhile, many thousands of NYC public school students are sitting in vastly overcrowded schools, subjected to excessive class sizes, in trailers or on waiting lists for their zoned schools, with an underfunded capital plan. This is one of the worst charter giveaways ever passed into law, and will create even more inequitable conditions in our city going forward.
Eva Moskowitz charter chain, Success Academy, raised more than $7.5 million in one night, from Jeb Bush and her Wall St. buddies, while claiming she could not afford to rent her own space. Instead, the DOE is being forced to rent three parochial schools for her, and pay for renovations to suit her specifications. Here is yet another shameless ruse in which Success Academy is planning to make big sums off the stock trades of their billionaire supporters.
Clearly the charter lobby wants to drain as much resources and space from the public schools in order to destabilize and further overcrowd the system, or else they would pay for space themselves.
A flyer for our press conference is posted here:
Please invite your City Council reps and other elected officials to attend as well.
Hearings follow the press conference at 10 AM at City Hall on the lack of charter accountability, including their egregious practice of suspending and pushing out large numbers of high need students.
Meanwhile, comedian Louis CK’s tweets have made a huge splash on the Common Core math materials given his children as test prep; see Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker, and the tweets themselves. Cynthia Wachtell bewailed the lack of poetry on the Common Core curriculum and exams. Rebecca, Cynthia and Louis are all public school parents, and welcome voices in this debate. Take a look and join the discussion!


We just heard today’s 3rd grade math exam was awful. What did you hear from your kids?


Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

This just in:


More Information Contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123;
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190;
New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE)

NYS 3rd Grade Test Invalid, Chancellor Merryl Tisch & Education Commissioner John King Must Resign

The leaders of the New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of more than 45 parent and educator groups from throughout the state, are calling for the NYS 3rd Grade math test to be deemed invalid, since many questions were missing today from one of the four forms. This week, once again, parents are reminded of the grossly inappropriate practice of subjecting 8 and 9 year olds to 6 to 12 hours of testing over the course of six days. In light of the high stakes attached to these tests for children, schools and teachers, an error of this magnitude calls NYSED’s leadership and relationship with Pearson into serious question. This is yet another major misstep by our Commissioner of Education and the Board of Regents who oversee NYSED.

Commissioner King and the Board of Regents have been criticized extensively for not listening to parents or educators on the need to revamp the Common Core standards, lessen the focus on testing, and to cease and desist from thrusting one-size-fits-all statewide curriculum on local schools. And despite repeated issues with its testing vendor, NYSED has failed to take meaningful action, ignoring criticism from all corners of the state.

After repeatedly witnessing NYSED and the Board of Regents leadership fail to act within their authority, New York State Allies for Public Education now calls for the termination of Commissioner John King and the resignation of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. The concerns of parents and educators throughout New York State have been casually dismissed at the detriment of their children for far too long.

“This comedy of errors has gone on too long. From the overly long, obscure and confusing ELA exams, with commercial product placements, and now with missing questions from the math exam, it is clear that the educrats at NYSED who have flunked, not our children,” said Chris Cerrone, Springville parent, Western New York Educator and founding NYSAPE member.
“While NYSED is eager to impose high-stakes on our schools and our teachers, where’s the accountability for them?” asked Jeanette Deutermann, North Bellmore public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out, “We need to stop the excessive testing and test prep, with defective modules and exams, and get back to educating our children once again.”

“Even as Louis CK has brought attention to the inherently flawed nature of the Common Core test prep materials this week, parents throughout the state are opting out their children in even larger numbers. In our school district, more than 48% refused to take the math tests. But it is unfair to all children and teachers to be assessed and compared with others through an invalid exam with missing questions. Enough is enough! John King and Merryl Tisch, resign!” said Stacey Serdy, Worcester Central School District parent and founder of Worcester Community for Education.

Three public school teachers and parents signed up for “Camp Philos,” the meeting in the Adirondacks where Governor Cuomo plans to meet next week with other politicians committed to privatizing our nation’s public schools. The three say they were turned away. By limiting attendance at this event to those with deep pockets and to political sympathizers, the sponsors of the event— Democrats for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, and Governor Cuomo—have made clear that they do not want to hear the voices of parents and educators. How can the event’s featured panel discussions about “Groundbreaking Approaches to Teacher Preparation” and “Collaborative Models for Changing State and Local Teacher Policies” be fairly addressed without the participation of educators and parents? Who cares more about the children-their own parents or elected officials? Who knows the children best–their own parents or Governor Cuomo? Who knows more about the needs of schools–teachers or elected officials? Would you let Governor Cuomo or any of the other elected officials babysit for your children? Why would you trust them to redesign the nation’s education system? Governor Cuomo never attended public school, never sent his children to public school, and never taught. Exactly what are his qualifications for reforming the nation’s or his own state’s schools?



Bianca Tanis wrote the following report:


We are deeply dismayed by what seems to be a deliberate attempt by the organizers of Camp Philos to exclude members of the teaching profession and public school parents from their retreat. By limiting attendance at this event to those with deep pockets, corporate influence and “insiders,” Democrats for Education Reform, Governor Cuomo and the hedge fund billionaires who contribute to both have made it clear that the voices of those on the front line in education are not invited. How can the event’s featured panel discussions about “Groundbreaking Approaches to Teacher Preparation” and “Collaborative Models for Changing State and Local Teacher Policies” be fairly addressed without the participation of educators? What does Governor Cuomo have to hide?
When Bianca Tanis, a parent and educator and one of the founders of NYS Allies for Public Education went to register on April 17th, she noticed that the online registration was no longer available and the website said to call the event administrator. Although Bianca left 3 messages with the administrator, she never received a call back. Today, April 22nd, She managed to reach Sean Anderson, the Chief of Staff for Democrats for Education Reform. She did not identify herself as an educator. He stated that even though “they are pretty full, there are still openings.” He advised Bianca to email Kate Gavulis as she was handling “the arrangements.” Bianca emailed Kate Gavulis and quickly received a response indicating that there were no openings.
The same day, Bianca spoke with Gail DeBonis Richmond, a retired teacher, who had registered successfully on April 15th and received two confirmation emails. Suddenly, with no explanation, Gail received a refund on April 17th. When she inquired about the refund, Gail was told that they had filled to capacity before she registered. Unlike the organizers of Camp Philos, Gail had engaged in complete transparency and had listed her affiliation as “retired teacher.”
In an article published on April 19th in which Joe Williams, president of Education Reform Now and the executive director of Democrats for Education Reform, was asked whether teachers would be attending the retreat. Williams responded that “teacher administrators” would be there. This begs the question, which ones? Will they be educators pre-selected by Teach for America or by Educators for Excellence, corporate reform organizations aligned with DFER’s ideological positions? Will they be charter school administrators, or perhaps John King, the NYS Education Commissioner and a former charter school operator himself?
( You can read the article here:
Three weeks ago, Marla Kilfolyle, a parent and educator, emailed the organizers of Camp Philos to request that they waive the $1,000 fee and allow her to attend. While Marla emailed the organizers in good faith, hoping that they would see the value in including the voice of an experienced educator, she never received any response to her email or request.
The exclusive nature of this meeting makes it clear that contrary to their claims, DFER and the Wall Street financiers who fund the group are not interested in collaboration, but are intent on using their wealth and access to wield disproportionate influence over public education. This is despite the fact that they have no teaching experience and in the main, do not send their children to public schools.
New Yorkers have had enough of secret deals and politicians serving the narrow interests of billionaires. It is time to open up the education debate to include true stakeholders, public school parents and teachers, who know best what is wrong and what is right with our public schools. Camp Philos is an egregious violation of the public trust and of the ideals of public education. The benign image of a rustic, Adirondack retreat to discuss how best to serve public school children belies the sinister nature of this brand of “education reform.”
Gail DeBonis Richmond
Marla Kilfolye
Bianca Tanis


Republicans have been pushing vouchers in Florida, despite the fact that voters turned them down in 2012 by a decisive margin.

Republicans have been calling for STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at the same time that they want children to go to school where creationism is taught as science.

Republicans claim they want more accountability but schools receiving vouchers will not be held to any accountability standards.

Republicans say they want a “great” teacher in every classroom but teachers in voucher schools need not be certified.

Bob Sikes points out the contradictions in this post.

Voters still oppose vouchers by a 55-42 margin, according to recent polls.

Sikes writes that as more privatization zealots assume high rank in the legislature, “The drip, drip, drip of revelations which continue to discredit Florida’s voucher program may be the only thing standing in the way of the republican agenda to crush the state’s public school system.”

That and Florida’s alert parents, who do not want their children or their taxes to underwrite religious schools or charter corporations.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108,174 other followers