Archives for category: Standardized Testing

Jamaal Bowman, principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx (New York City), wrote on Mark Naison’s blog about the fundamental errors of the “no excuses” charter schools that operate in high-needs communities like the Bronx, Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and wherever there is a concentration of children living in poverty.

Bowman is emerging as one of the most articulate critics of corporate reform. His credibility is enhanced by the fact that he is in charge of a school and is trying to forge a better alternative to the status quo.

Charters, he says, carefully select their students and set requirements to weed out and discourage unmotivated families. They can fire teachers at will and have high teacher turnover. Their model is sustained by Teach for America, whose members don’t plan to teach more than two years.

Based on what I know, as they are currently constituted, charters, TFA, and yearly standardized testing are wrong for our high need communities. We should stop funding them all unless they agree to make major adjustments to how they do business. Why? Because that money can be spent on giving all students a quality holistic education. Charters, TFA, and yearly testing infuse anxiety, disunity, and even worst, standardization into the psyche of society. They are trying to recreate a 21st century idea of “empire.” Keep the masses, and “lower class” under control while the elite continue to rule. A standardized mindset will always be controlled. Whereas in schools like Riverdale Country School, there are not state standardized assessment, no TFA and no need for a charter, and they are taught to lead and change the world.
Consider KIPP’S first graduating class. Ranked fifth in NYC in mathematics in the 8th grade, but only 21% graduated college. Why? Because KIPP test prepped the kids to death and the kids never built their character or learned to manage their own freedom. KIPP and many charters standardize and try to control everything from how kids walk through the halls to how they ask to go to the bathroom. But teaching and learning is organic; it is human. When are we gonna ask ourselves why must poor communities of color be treated like this, whereas middle class and upper class parents would NEVER go for this treatment!
WE HAVE TO hold politicians and private citizens who invest in education accountable to the true needs of our at-risk communities. We must give our communities a true voice. If charters, TFA, and the state really cared about our children being their very best, show us, by investing in daycare, Montessori, music, sports, counselors and everything in between. Charters should take all children and TFA should change everything! If not, the powers that be will continue to fatten up the district school kids to be slaughtered and fed to their private school bosses as adults.
For the rest we have jail cells waiting for them #wemustunitenow

Jonathan Pelto, former legislator and current courageous blogger in Connecticut, says that his daughter will not take the SAT test required of all juniors.

In response to parental objections to the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment, Connecticut dropped SBAC and replaced it with the Common Core-aligned SAT.

“Thanks to a contract signed by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell and approved by Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education, Connecticut taxpayers will be shelling out in excess of $4.3 million in scarce public funds, over the next three years, to the College Board, the company that owns the SAT. In return, the College Board will allow students to take their NEW SAT — a test that has yet to be validated and has come under increasing criticism because, despite their claims, the SAT fails to adequately predict how students will do in college.

“This latest debacle started last spring when, in the face of growing opposition to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, the Connecticut General Assembly and Governor Malloy decided to replace the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory 11th grade SBAC test with a new mandate that all high school juniors take what is likely to be an equally unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory NEW SAT.

“However, neither Governor Malloy, his Commissioner of Education nor the legislators had ever seen the NEW SAT that they are now trying to force 11th grader to take. They hadn’t seen it because the new version of the SAT isn’t even being released until March 2016.

“As the College Board website proclaims, students across the United States can take the NEW SAT for the first time on March 5, 2016 which means that Connecticut’s 40,000 juniors are truly little more than an initial round of guinea pigs for a testing company whose revenue is already in excess of $841 million a year….

“In my daughter’s case, of the dozen or so colleges that she is considering applying to, the majority DO NOT require an SAT test.

“For those schools that do require a standardized test score, my daughter will be taking the old version of the SAT on February 20, 2016. The last date for taking the old version of the SAT was supposed to be last week (January 23, 2016) but due to the snow storm on Saturday, the testing was postponed until the end of February….

“While she won’t be participating in the SAT test being “mandated” by the state of Connecticut, on March 2, 2016, if we determine that she should take the NEW SAT, then there are plenty of options to take the test in the spring, summer and fall, after the initial problems with the NEW SAT have been identified and resolved.

“What we won’t do is serve as pawns for the state of Connecticut’s attempt to collect standardized tests results so that they can unfairly evaluate teachers. Governor Malloy’s “education reform initiative” requires local school district to base 22.5 percent of a teacher’s evaluation on the standardized test results of their students.

“My daughter won’t be relegated to being a test subject for the College Board’s attempt to reclaim market share.

“Instead, we will do what is best for my daughter’s college aspirations – the state and its testing obsession be damned.”

The SAT was canceled in China and Macau due to anticipated cheating. The College Board said that some students got access to the exam.

“Zachary Goldberg is the senior director of Media Relations for the College Board. Goldberg told VOA, “We act on all information.…We work…to [fight] cheating and to protect the integrity of the SAT.”

“Almost 400,000 foreign students registered to take the SAT in 2014.

“SAT cheating scandals have happened several times before. The College Board cancelled the SAT across South Korea in 2013 after finding evidence of cheating.

“Several Chinese citizens admitted in 2015 to being part of an organized SAT cheating group in the United States. International students in the Pittsburgh area would pay group members to use fake passports and take the SAT test for them.”

Parents Across America has called on states to take advantage of the Every Student Succeeds Act and abolish VAM.

 

PAA has been critical of high-stakes testing.

 

PAA also produced a one-page fact sheet to demonstrate the failure of value-added-measurement.

Veteran educator Marion Brady has written a concise guide to the privatization movement.

 

He begins with an overview of the talking points and tactics of the privatizers:

 

“The pitch

 

“Talking Points: (a) Standardized testing proves America’s schools are poor. (b) Other countries are eating our lunch. (c) Teachers deserve most of the blame. (d) The lazy ones need to be forced out by performance evaluations. (e) The dumb ones need scripts to read or “canned standards” telling them exactly what to teach. (f) The experienced ones are too set in their ways to change and should be replaced by fresh Five-Week-Wonders from Teach for America. (Bonus: Replacing experienced teachers saves a ton of money.) (g) Public (“government”) schools are a step down the slippery slope to socialism.

 

“Tactics

 

“Education establishment resistance to privatization is inevitable, so (a) avoid it as long as possible by blurring the lines between “public” and “private.” (b) Push school choice, vouchers, tax write-offs, tax credits, school-business partnerships, profit-driven charter chains. (c) When resistance comes, crank up fear with the, “They’re eating our lunch!” message. (d) Contribute generously to all potential resisters—academic publications, professional organizations, unions, and school support groups such as PTA. (e) Create fake “think tanks,” give them impressive names, and have them do “research” supporting privatization. (f) Encourage investment in teacher-replacer technology—internet access, iPads, virtual schooling, MOOCS, etc. (e) Pressure state legislators to make life easier for profit-seeking charter chains by taking approval decisions away from local boards and giving them to easier-to-lobby state-level bureaucrats. (g) Elect the “right” people at all levels of government. (When they’re campaigning, have them keep their privatizing agenda quiet.)”

 

The key weapon in the privatization campaign is standardized tests. Privatizers use tests to “prove” that public schools are failing.

 

Here is a great line:

 

“If challenged, test fans often quote the late Dr. W. Edward Deming, the world-famous quality guru who showed Japanese companies how to build better stuff than anybody else. In his book, “The New Economics,” Deming wrote, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

 

“Here’s the whole sentence as he wrote it: “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it — a costly myth.”

 

And here’s the clincher:

 

“Notwithstanding their serious problems, America’s public schools were once the envy of the world. Now, educators around that world shake their heads in disbelief (or maybe cheer?) as we spend billions of dollars to standardize what once made America great—un-standardized thought.”

 

 

 

 

 

Myra Blackmon, a regular education writer in Athens, Georgia, concludes that our current emphasis on high-stakes testing is the antithesis of good education.

“I am sick to death of these demands for college and career readiness, including terrible policies of grading schools based on test scores, insisting a principal’s performance evaluation be based at least 70 per cent on test scores, and, like South Carolina did last year, making all 11th graders take the ACT college entrance examination, then evaluating them as “not ready” – even though they were still more than a year away from graduation.”

She adds,

“It is not the job of schools to make these experiences available. I did the bulk of my own career exploration through my involvement in Girl Scouts and my church’s youth group. My parents encouraged me to work, and carefully coached me on being a good employee.

“It is the job of the community to provide and support such opportunities, to help kids learn how to apply for a job, to practice interviewing and to try out areas of interest. It is the schools’ job to teach them to count money and make change, but it is the job of family and community to be sure that students understand the true value of money and hard work, to be able to choose quality merchandise, and save money for major purchases.

“We must be serious about this. We simply must stop the severe over-testing and give students real-life opportunities to be prepared for life after high school graduation. We must trust teachers to evaluate their students’ understanding using portfolios, simulation and other assessment techniques.

“If we truly want our high school graduates to be ready for the next steps in their lives, we have to let go of over-testing and support helping them learn and experience the things that will prepare them for life.”

This just in from the group that led New York’s historic opt out movement. One of every five students did not take the state tests last spring, over 220,000 students.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2015
More information contact:
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education http://www.nysape.org

Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Ed Law Repealed &
Real Change Seen in the Classrooms

The Governor’s Common Core Task Force released a list of recommendations last Thursday, Dec. 10th. The recommendations while a reflection of the parent and educator voices around the state do not alone restore trust in Albany. How the recommendations and other issues get addressed is the key and parents are watching this very closely.

Until there is a halt of the Common Core standards, repeal of the Education Transformation Act, major changes to the state tests, a reduction of unnecessary testing, protection of data privacy, and local control restored, parents will continue to Opt Out in large numbers.

The recommendations deliberately state that Governor Cuomo’s ‘signature’ legislation that enforces many of these harmful policies doesn’t need to be touched. On the contrary, this law is the prescriptive blueprint to these harmful policies that was passed by the legislature as part of the budget last spring.

One of the recommendations to put a 4-year moratorium on evaluating teachers based on the flawed Common Core state tests was officially voted into emergency regulations by the Board of Regents at today’s board meeting. Until the law is repealed, this moratorium does not reduce testing it actually does the opposite, increases testing and further puts a strain on school districts’ budgets to comply.

NYSAPE is calling on parents to Opt Out of state tests and any local tests that are linked to this corrupt and invalid evaluation system that clearly doesn’t provide value for the students, educators, or schools.

“The task force recommendations have opened the door to change. Much of these harmful policies came in through our legislature when they passed the Education Transformation Act against the will of the people they serve. Our State Assembly and Senate must now reverse this harmful legislation so that changes will be meaningful and substantial. Parents will be vigilant in following these changes every step of the way. We will continue to refuse to allow our children to participate in this system until ALL harmful reforms are removed from our classrooms,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Long Island public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out.

“Until specific laws and policies regarding standards, student assessment, teacher evaluation and school ranking are changed, parents will continue to boycott any system that ties high-stakes to standardized assessments.” Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, educator, and school board member.

Jamaal Bowman, Bronx public school parent and middle school principal said, “Although I consider the task force recommendations to be a step in the right direction, it is merely a single step. At this point, there is too much uncertainty to get excited about where we are headed in our public schools. Until we know how the recommendations will be implemented, and by whom, and until the law tying teacher evaluations to test scores is revised or repealed, we will not be able to move forward and properly meet the holistic needs of our children.”

“How the Common Core, testing, and other education policies are revamped to be in the best interest of the children will be watched very closely by parents. I will not be opting my children into any unnecessary tests including local assessments that do not provide important feedback for my children,” said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

“While there is much talk of high standards, there is little discussion of the non-curricular resources required to ensure that all students can succeed in the face of poverty and lack of adequate funding. It is disappointing that the task force failed to raise the question, if disadvantaged students were struggling prior to the implementation of the Common Core, how will simply raising the bar increase student achievement,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent, Rethinking Testing member and educator.

“After so much time and money has been wasted in forced implementation of flawed policy, students and educators of New York have been hurt and trust has been broken. We must repeal the APPR imposed by politicians who did not understand the domain. Scholars in schools of education and professional educators should design the best systems to achieve goals for public education,” said Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County, principal.

Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator and BATS’ executive director said, “Teachers and parents do not trust NYSED, the ‘Tisch’ Regents’ majority, the legislature, or the Governor to be in charge of education. What they have done to our public education system and to our children is unconscionable. I have been an educator in NY for over 25 years and the mass destruction their policies have caused will take years to repair.”

NYSAPE, a grassroots organization with over 50 parent and educator groups across the state, is calling on parents to continue to opt out by refusing high-stakes testing for the 2015-16 school year. Go to http://www.nysape.org for more details on how to affect changes in education policies.

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The Journal News of the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, referred to as Lohud, has been critical of the mess that Andrew Cuomo has made with his constant meddling in education policy.

 

Today, Lohud praised Cuomo’s task force for listening to the parents who opted their children out of the Common Core testing. The number of children who opted out were about 225,000. That is a huge number of people expressing no-confidence in the state’s testing regime.

 

Lohud thinks the task force listened to parents and educators and hit all the right notes:

 

The task force released a report Thursday that accurately and even passionately captures the confusion and disarray unleashed on schools by Albany over the last several years. Consider this slap at New York’s educational leadership, which sounds like it came from a group of outside critics:

 

“The implementation of the Common Core in New York was rushed and flawed. Teachers stepped into their classrooms in the 2012-2013 school year unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the new standards, without curriculum resources to teach students, and forced to administer new high-stakes standardized tests that were designed by a corporation instead of educators.”

 

Hey, that’s what happened.

 

We messed up

 

Without naming names, the report is a pretty stunning rebuke of Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch and former state Education Commissioner John King (soon to become acting U.S. education secretary), who refused to heed the legitimate and plentiful concerns of educators and parents. As a result, New York will wind up spending more than a decade rewriting education policies over and over, without any guarantee that students will be better off in the end….

 

Interestingly, the report does not explore the merits and failings of New York’s teacher-evaluation system, which is perhaps most controversial for grading teachers, in part, on student test scores. Instead, the task force recommends that test scores not be used to evaluate teachers or students until 2019-2020. (State law already bans including the test scores on student transcripts or using them to make student placement decisions through 2018.)

 

This rather vague recommendation leaves the teacher-evaluation system in place, and would likely require school districts to replace test scores with another measure for the next several years.

 

The task force did not take the next, necessary step of declaring the evaluation system a failure and calling for the development of a new system that would not only hold teachers accountable but give them the information they need to improve their performance and student achievement. But the panel covered a lot of ground in a few short weeks, and it should not be up its 16 people to solve all of New York’s problems.

 

Should Cuomo and the state Legislature move ahead with the development of new standards and testing, a new evaluation system would have to be next. Otherwise, the education wars will continue.

 

There’s no telling, at this point, whether Cuomo will endorse the task force’s work in whole or part or whether the recommendations would be carried out in such a way as to win back the loyalty of disenchanted parents and educators. We’ll likely find out where the governor stands when he delivers his State of the State address next month.

 

Unless the Legislature repeals or amends the law that was passed last June and tucked into the state budget, teachers will still be evaluated by test scores, counting for up to 50%, then local measures will not replace what the law requires. Their evaluations won’t lead to punishments, but presumably they will go onto their permanent records. Thus, for the task force’s recommendations to have any teeth, the Legislature must act to change the objectionable law. The task force’s recommendations do not trump state law.

 

Lohud credits the parents for forcing the task force to listen. Now, let’s see what Governor Cuomo does. It would be nice if he walked back his statement that he hopes to bust the “public education monopoly,” which he said right before he was re-elected.  That would be a good start, especially for the parents of more than 90% of the children in the state who attend public schools.

 

 

 

 

Peter Greene is not impressed with the Cuomo Task Force report on the Common Core, the tests, and teacher evaluation. He calls it a “nothing Sundae.” 

 

He goes through the recommendations one by one. But his big beef is that the report does not question the value of the CCSS, does not question the testing, and does not get to the problem of test-based accountability for teaching. The report assumes that the problem all along has been poor implementation, not that any of the fundamental ideas need to be changed or dropped or replaced.

 

 

Another blogger points out that the Task Force report includes this curious statement:

 

The Education Transformation Act of 2015 will remain in place, and no new legislation is required to implement the recommendations of the report, including recommendations regarding the transition period for consequences for students and teachers. During the transition, the 18 percent of teachers whose performance is measured, in part, by Common Core tests will use different local measures approved by the state, similar to the measures already being used by the majority of teachers.

 

The blogger writes:

 

Yes, tests will still count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation.

 

 

Nicholas Tampio, a professor of political science at Fordham University, argues that the Every Student Succeeds Act is a sham. Instead of dismantling the harmful policies of corporate reform, it shifts the burden of imposing them to the states. By his reading, the warped soul of NCLB and Race to the Top was preserved with their emphasis on high-stakes testing.

The opt out movement must grow and grow until every state government and Congress recognizes that parents won’t tolerate the worship of high-stakes testing. We will not sacrifice our children and grandchildren to the gods of testing. The achievement gap is a product of standardized tests. The standardized tests faithfully reproduce family income, not the ability to learn. American students need a great education, like the one Bill Gates wants for his children at the Lakeside School, like the one Rahm Emanuel wants for his children at the University of Chicago Lab School, like the one President Obama wants for his children at the Sidwell Friends School. An education that includes the arts, foreign languages, history, science, physical education, literature, civics, time for play, time for exploration, time for projects, time for recess. NOT an “education” that is centered on standardized tests, where children are rated and ranked by their ability to mark the correct bubbles. We want an education that encourages children to ask question, not an education that prepares them to give the “right” answer.

 

He writes:

 

How can people say that the new bill is a U-turn from the education policies of the past 14 years? Under it, the federal government would not be able tell states what academic standards to adopt or how student test scores should be used in teacher evaluations. Nonetheless, states would have to submit accountability plans to the Department of Education for approval, and these accountability plans would have to weigh test scores more than any other factor. Furthermore, under the act, states would have to use “evidence-based interventions” in the bottom 5 percent of schools, determined, again, by test scores.

 

In short, states would be free to choose test-based accountability policies approved by the secretary of education or lose access to federal Title I funds that sustain schools in low-income communities across the country. In a move that belies Alexander’s claim about local control, the Department of Education has offered to establish “office hours” for states or districts that wish to meet its “policy objectives and requirements under the law.”

 

Does the bill at least permit states to escape the Common Core? It is hard to see how. According to the bill, each state would have to adopt “challenging state academic standards.” The Obama administration’s testing action plan stipulates that assessment systems should measure student knowledge and skills against “state-developed college- and career-ready standards” — which has long been code for the Common Core. So, yes, states could invest hundreds of millions of dollars to write new academic standards and make aligned tests, but there is no guarantee that the secretary of education would approve standards or tests that implicitly chastise the administration’s education policies.

 

Advocates of high-stakes Common Core testing have applauded the Every Student Achieves Act. Catherine Brown, the director of education policy at the Center for American Progress, said, “At the end of the day the bill appears to allow the department to set parameters in key areas and enforce statutory requirements.” John Engler of the Business Roundtable likewise applauded the bill for keeping test scores “a central feature” of state accountability systems. Lanea Erickson at Third Way praised the bill for throwing “some much-needed water on the political firestorm around testing.”

 

These advocates have not changed their minds about the Common Core or testing. They are just happy to shift the responsibility for administering it to the states rather than the federal government if that would help defuse parent and educator animosity. They misunderstand the justified anger that fuels the test refusal movement.

 

 

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