Archives for category: Standardized Testing

If you have not read Rachel Aviv’s “Wrong Answer” in The New Yorker, drop everything and read it now.

Aviv tells the story of the Atlanta cheating scandal through the ideas of one man, one teacher, who cared deeply about his student. Step by step, he got sucked into the data-driven obsession with test scores, thinking that if he raised the children’s test scores, it was a victimless crime. He knew that his students had needs that were even greater than their test scores, but the law’s absurd requirement that scores had to go up year after year drew him into a widespread conspiracy to falsify test scores.

One day will we look back on the Atlanta cheating scandal as the wake up call that made us think about how successive administrations and members of Congress have given their approval to laws and goals that hurt children and warped education? Or will we continue on the present path of destruction?

In Carmen Fariña’s short time on the job, she has ended promotion tied solely to test scores and eliminated school report cards based primarily on tests scores.

However, there are two critical areas in which state testing continues to deform and distort our children’s education.

Chancellor Fariña, we implore you to:

1. Direct all middle schools and high schools to eliminate the results of state standardized tests from their admissions criteria.

2. Fight at the state level to eliminate test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness.

This petition was started by parents at PS 29 in Brooklyn, the very school were Carmen Fariña once taught. We join with public school parents and advocates across New York City and beyond to ask her to stand up and lead the transformation of the New York City public school system into a model of equity, fairness, and innovation.

As a legendary educator, Fariña knows that teachers are equipped with student work and assessments, which, in comparison to a flat test score, can provide far more accurate and comprehensive information with which to gauge students’ qualifications for school admissions. She also knows that volumes of evidence prove that using test scores is an ineffective way of measuring teachers’ competence.

Please add your name to the petition and share it.

Thank you!

Michael Berman, Michelle Kupper, Jamie Mirabella, and Peter Rothberg

An update on the spread of the movement against over-testing and the misuse of those fallible instruments:

The rapid pace of strong news stories and commentaries about assessment reform campaigns continued uninterrupted through the long Independence Day weekend. More and more media outlets are reporting the widespread grassroots response to testing overkill: “Enough is Enough!” And, some politicians are starting to listen.

Remember that back issues of these weekly news summaries are available at:

Common Core Testing Rebellion Sweeps Nation

Task Force Appointed to Review Colorado Testing System

New Florida Test May Be Worse Than Discredited Old Exam

Is Florida “Nuts” to Pay Utah $5 Million for Test Questions,0,1483645.story

Florida Requires Creation of 700 New Tests to Assess Teachers — Misses Deadline to Help Districts

Racial Disparities Continue to Georgia Gifted-and-Talented Programs

Battery of Exams Leaves Indiana Students Little Time for Learning

Common Core Testing Fight Pits Louisiana Governor Against State’s School Chief and Board of Ed

Debate Over New Jersey Standardized Testing Puts Gov. Christie in No-Win Situation

New Mexico Teacher Turns Down $5,000 Test-Based Bonus

Some Ohio School Districts May Be Able to Opt-Out of State Standardized Test Mandates

Testing Company Fired in Oklahoma Had Similar Problems in Indiana

Most Oklahomans Oppose Basing Third-Grade Promotion on Test Score

Pennsylvania State Rep. — Stop Use of Exams for Graduation

Rhode Island Multi-Year Grad Test Moratorium Becomes Law

Controversy Swirls Around Value of Tennessee Test Results

Texas Governor Proposes Another Delay in Including Standardized Test Scores in Final Grades

Virginia Legislature Establishes Committee to Overhaul State Testing System

Washington State Study: Tests Stressed Too Much

Federal Testing Mandate Hurts Washington State Students

Wyoming Test Changes Delay Score Release

NEA Launches Campaign Against “Toxic Testing”

Teacher Union President: Current Testing System “Will Crumble”

Teachers Fear Common Core Testing Will Be Worse Than “No Child Left Behind”

Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Needed

Arne Duncan: The Emperor is Naked

Replace Arne Duncan With Bill Gates — Satire Warning!

“Accountability” vs What We Want For Our Children

Restore GED Fairness: Campaign to Replace Pearson’s New Common Core Linked Exam

Standardized Tests Not Required: More Schools Join Test-Optional Admissions Movement

New Film Offers Student Perspective on America’s Testing Culture

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 teacher laments the explosion of testing in school, which has reduced or eliminated time for play, recess, and activities. This is the brave new world of Common Core and PARCC:

H/she writes:

“The Common Core and PARCC will ruin education as we know it..And, of course, it is all part of the overall plan. My school starts PARCC this next school year. My 2.5 hour paper and pencil test (in only one subject).. will be replaced by three (3) two hour “tasks” in February. (My students will have to sit down at a computer THREE times at 2 hours each in February.) I’m not done yet….In May my students have to sit down at the computer for two (2) hour tests on the computer. My 2.5 hour paper and pencil test is now replaced by 10 hours of testing for only one subject. My students will also do the same amount of testing in three (3) other subjects. My students now will be completing 40 hours of testing on a computer in a given year. Oh, and my students are only 11 and 12 years old. They yearn to go outside and play kickball and basketball at recess. But, they have no recess. They only have 10 extra minutes after they finish lunch to play outside.

“I was blessed to teach in the what I now know were the “good ole days” of yesteryear. I dearly miss and mourn for those years. I was able to teach through fun and meaningful learning activities! We had TIME! (: As I go through my files over my almost 30 year career in the same subject and grade level, I don’t begin to get the material taught and covered as what I used to. I have thick files of learning activities that I never get to anymore. The curriculum director at our school has already said that he has no clue how he will get all that testing done for all of our kids. He said there is a 4 week window in February and April/May, so students will be gone at different times in my classroom. It will be a nightmare.

“It’s a shame that Pearson has to take away the childhood of our children, so they can earn their millions. I teach children. They are children. They love to run, play, draw, make faces, jump up and down, play tag, tease each other, hide, run around, make jokes, and enjoy being a child. With all of these hours of testing, I will not have time to teach anymore. The test preparation for a 2.5 hour test was bad enough, but this is totally ridiculous. Then, take the time to read over the Common Core and you will laugh to yourself. In Language Arts, they will be teaching adverbs to 3rd graders, with not much more emphasis on it after that. I think they know the Common Core will be the bullet that finally kills all public education in the U.S. The kids will not score well on this silly curriculum, which will be recorded on the teacher’s evaluation . . .and teachers will be let go. Yes, it’s all a part of the sad overall plan. It’s evident that the Common Core was created by people who knew very little about the developmental stages of our children. No one ever mentions Piaget anymore. It’s all so sad. But, Sasha and Alieah don’t have to follow these communist socialist education rules. Do they?”

John Ogozokak, a high school teacher in upstate New York, ponders here which is the more meaningful task: to clean a septic tank or to grade a standardized test:

About a half dozen years ago the septic tank lurking beside our old farmhouse went kerflooey. I dug out the top of the rusty thing and it was clear something VERY wrong had happened. I’ll spare you the graphic details but suffice to say I had to rig up a temporary pipe until the experts could arrive days later. It was a smelly, nasty job. But as I was standing there, ankle deep in crap under a beautiful spring sky, I found myself wondering……would I rather be doing THIS or dealing with some of the nonsense I encounter every day in school -like inflicting mindless standardized tests on students.

I vote for the septic tank. And, not just mine. No, I’d pull over and help a random stranger who was dealing with a similar plumbing disaster if it would save me from grading yet another useless test. At least I’d be accomplishing something real.

I face a similar situation this morning. I woke up about a half hour ago thinking about the ridiculous test I was forced to give my 12th grade Economics students on THEIR LAST DAY EVER in school: an economics “post-assessment” created solely with the purpose of trying to calibrate if I am a good teacher. I have to go look at the results this morning. (I refuse to count it for anything against these kids.)

The test is crap incarnate. (Cue Paul Simon’s first line in “Kodachrome”….. that song just keeps ringing in my head)

To make a long, boring story short: my high school again outsourced the production of this “assessment” to our county’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES.) I could have gone and helped in the construction of this nonsense. I refused since I do not want to be co-opted by this whole process…… “yes, look, teachers participated……blah, blah, blah.”

Once again, the test is crap. Outdated trivia, textbook jargon, the same old supply and demand graph about socks. I was so pissed off that after I saw the thing I stopped to visit a friend of mine who owns a business. His family works out of an old storefront and you might have seen some of their handmade products in high-end catalogues. He’s not only a super smart guy but a person I respect for his integrity and common sense. He also knows a lot more economics than me so I ran a couple of the test questions past him.

Like, for example, how many federal reserve districts are there in the United States?

Huh? We both stood there and tried to guess. Eight? Twelve? Fourteen now? WHO CARES!

I mean, is this really one of the 50 essential facts that a young adult who is entering a our deeply dysfunctional economy needs to know? The test had not one question about the scandalous burden of student loans today; nothing about the near depression these kids lived through as they innocently went through school; not a mention of the growing chasm between the wealthy and the workers that support them in this nation. (Sorry, kids, soon to be YOU doing that backbreaking work!)

I’m disgusted.

And, so Governor Cuomo decides to give some public school teachers a temporary reprieve from having their career tied to these ridiculous tests. WHO CARES?

It’s time we stop giving kids tests when we all know that some of these assessments are crap.

Here is a good example of taking facts to the public: Frank Breslin, retired teacher, writes an opinion article that explains the flaws of Common Core and standardized testing, as well as teacher evaluation based on flawed tests.

Tom Scarice, superintendent of schools in Madison, Connecticut, here speaks out and names the criminal corruption of education into a test-taking industry that has no goal other than test scores. He knows that as the stakes go higher, people succumb to the pressure to teach to the test or even to cheat. Campbell’s Law is relentless. The same things happen in other fields, when the goal of profit becomes more important than the endeavor itself.

Scarice compares present practices to those that destroyed Enron. He writes:

“Without question, measures, qualitative and quantitative, representing a variety of indicators that mark the values of an organization, are necessary fuel for the engine of continuous improvement. High-quality tests, specifically used for the purposes for which they were designed, can and should play a productive role in this process. But, measures are not goals. Regrettably, just as Lay and Skilling did in bringing a multibillion dollar corporation to its knees, in this era, the shallowest of thinkers have passively accepted the paradigm that measures are goals.

“And finally, we are left with the greatest crime committed against the professional practice of education as a result of the corrosive effect of the high-stakes testing era. In an effort to thrive, and perhaps, just to survive, in a redefined world of quality education, a soft, though sometimes harsh, distortion of pedagogy, has perniciously spread to classrooms, just as the Enron executives distorted sound accounting practices to meet high-stakes targets. This will indeed be our greatest regret.”

When test scores on standardized tests take precedence over the larger humanistic and aesthetic goals of education, over the needs of children, over creativity and ingenuity, then education itself becomes a cheapened enterprise.


The Gates Foundation

When: June 26th 5PM

Where: Rally at Westlake Park (401 Pine St, Seattle)

March to Gates Foundation (440 5th Ave N, Seattle)

Our schools are under attack from the mega rich who seek to reduce education to standardized test scores while busting unions & denying at-risk youth a rich and holistic school experiences. To broaden and deepen public awareness about this, the BadAss Teachers (BATs) of Washington & allies are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday June 26th.

The Gates Foundation is a symbolic site because many of their experimental ‘reforms’ have done untold damage to our school system. Over-testing, charter schools, replacing teachers with computers, competitive grants, Teach for America, new standards profiting publishing companies instead of funding basic education; these will continue until we rise up & say NO. Educators should lead education, profit-driven entities & their foundations should not.

The monetary power of this one foundation has changed the face of our country’s school policy and agenda.

With this protest we galvanize a coalition of supporters to demand that teacher assessments are measuring student learning, that education policy is transparently & democratically created, & that every child’s needs are met in their public school.

Our Demands:

Redirect monies spent on experimental school reforms to empower citizens and promote whole child education. Further, we demand that philanthropists and the rest of the 1% pay their fair share for a socially just society.

Speakers: Anthony Cody (prolific education leader from CA) & Kshama Sawant (speaking as a teacher & city council member) will engage the crowd by connecting public education issues to larger issues of democracy vs. oligarchy. Morna McDermott & other education heroes will also make the case for school transformation, not corporate reformation.

From Westlake Park we will march to the corner of 5th AVE N and Mercer with chants and our chorus leading songs about positive education themes.

The RALLY to Save Education is an initial step in the movement to reclaim public schools from corporate interests. We are protesting The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Thursday June 26 but after that public demonstration, organizers are gathering to plan next steps. We are building a coalition, you are needed.

Anthony Cody will be speaking at 10:30 on Friday June 27th at the University of Washington HUB Room 332. His talk about the education ‘reform’ movement and how to reclaim our schools will be live streamed @

There will then be three breakout sessions for you to choose from (these are as valuable as YOU make them! We aren’t teaching you what to do, we are asking you to plan next steps for yourselves & to inspire others new to organizing):

Opt Out planning in your locale: Why & How?
Creating 21st Century Schools-what is our vision?
Coalition Building with other organizers who see Gates as a threat to social justice

Following those three work groups we will show the movie Standardized. A panel of speakers will do some Q & A following the movie.

Details here:

Location here:

Rally has been formally endorsed by:

Network for Public Education

United OptOut
Parents Across America
Seattle Education Association
Renton Education Association
Highline Education Association
Tacoma Education Association
Marysville Education Association
Reynolds Education Association
Social Equality Educators (SEE) of SEA
Chicago Teachers Union CORE Caucus
Save Our Schools national organizing committee, (event is publicized on their action network-
National BATS

Online Presence:

Facebook Group:

Facebook Event (RSVP here or on Weebly site below):

Flashmob Info (everyone is welcome! Practices are on Saturdays but dance can also be learned online!)

In a big victory for the Providence Student Union, the Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a three-year moratorium on the use of a high-stakes graduation test. The vote was 63-3. A similar bill was passed earlier by the State Senate. The legislation now goes to Governor Lincoln Chafee.

The PSU engaged in numerous acts of political theater to demonstrate their opposition to the use of a standardized test as a graduation requirement. They held a “zombie march” in front of the Rhode Island Department of Education, they invited accomplished professionals to take a test composed of released items from the NECAP test (60% failed), they delivered a “state of the student address,” and they found many other creative ways to dramatize their cause. They proved to the world that kids today are amazing!

The Providence Student Union issued this statement:

“Today, the Rhode Island House of Representatives took a powerful step toward improving education statewide by approving H-8363, a three-year moratorium on the misuse of the NECAP exam as a high-stakes graduation requirement. The bill echoes S-2059 passed by the Senate on May 14th. If signed by Governor Chafee, these bills will ensure that no students from now through the Class of 2017 will be barred from graduating simply because of their score on the state assessment.

“We are so excited by this huge step, and grateful to everyone – students, parents, teachers, legislators, and more – who worked so hard to make this possible. We urge Governor Chafee to side with Rhode Island students and families and sign this moratorium into law,” said Providence Student Union student leader Sam Foer.

“This victory caps the Providence Student Union’s two-year campaign to change Rhode Island’s high-stakes testing graduation requirement and increase public demand for more student-centered alternatives. From zombie marches, guinea pig rallies, and the “Take the Test” event, to State House testimonies and meetings with the Governor, Speaker of the House, and more, the Providence Student Union’s youth membership designed and delivered a highly effective advocacy campaign that those involved attest was key in winning this passage.

“Yet students agree this legislation is just the beginning. As PSU student leader Cauldierre McKay said, “The Providence Student Union will continue to focus on winning the truly high standards, the investments, the student-centered learning, the rigorous performance-based assessments, and the meaningful opportunities all students deserve.”

Fairtest reports on the trench warfare against the measure-and-punish mentality inspired by NCLB and Race to the Top. Test lovers are offering the olive branch of a moratorium on the punishment phase, but the warriors for better education are not appeased.

Bob Shaeffer reports:

There’s no “summer break” for testing resistance campaigns as pressure builds on policy-makers across the nation to end standardized exam misuse and overuse. Note, especially, the political diversity of states with major activity. The assessment reform movement cannot be described accurately using conventional terms such as “liberal” vs “conservative” or “left” vs “right.” Opposition to test-and-punish educational strategies spans the ideological spectrum

Alaska Repeals High School Exit Exam, Plans to Award Withheld Diplomas

New Connecticut State Tests Mean Less Time for Teaching and Learning

One Florida Mother Has Had it With High Stakes Testing

Union Challenges Florida’s Test-Based “Merit Pay” Law as “Irrational”

Indiana State-Federal Assessments Stand-off Illustrates Politically Driven Testing Charade

Louisiana School Grades Distort Picture of Education

Gov. Jindal Wants to Pull Louisiana Out of Common Core Testing

Maine School Grading System Has Major Flaws

New Massachusetts Teacher Union President Supports Three-Year Moratorium on Standardized Testing

New Jersey Testing Concerns Grow as PARCC Phase-In Begins

More Questions on Accuracy of New Mexico Teacher Evaluations

Upstate New York School Districts Say “No” to Pearson Field Tests

Field Test is Exercise in Futility

Just Say “No” to NY Field Tests

New Yorkers Demand Release of Test Questions for Public Inspection

New York Republican Legislators Promote Plan to Review Common Core Assessments

Bill Would End Pearson’s Common Core Testing Contract

Why I Despise North Carolina’s End-of-Grade Tests

Ohio’s Standardized Tests: What’s the Point?

Oklahoma Schools Challenge Flawed Writing Test Scores!UfudR

Standardized Tests for Tennessee Learning Disabled Students Make Little Sense

Bringing Transparency to Tennessee Testing

Vermont to Develop Local Proficiency Standards, Not State Exit Exam

Virginia Kids Are Not “All Right” Due to High-Stakes Testing—the-kids-are-not-all-right/article_f7d8f824-72a3-5763-a7d9-2a6704d30bab.html

NCLB Falsely Labels Wyoming Schools as “Failing”

Obama-Duncan Education Policies Test Our Patience,0,3100945,full.column

What Happens When a Student Fails a High-Stakes Test

This Is Not a Test: Jose Vilson’s Vision of Race, Class and Education in the U.S.

You Don’t Fatten a Pig By Weighing It

Testing Overkill Won’t Draw In Better Teachers

Correcting a Harmful Misuse of Test Scores

Morality, Validity and the Design of Instructionally Sensitive Tests

Common Core Assessment Sales Job is a Hoax

National Principals Groups Seeks Pause in Common Core Assessments

“We Will Not Let an Exam Decide Our Fate”

I Am a Scientist with Learning Disabilities, And That’s OK

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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105,981 other followers