Archives for category: Standardized Testing

As Stephanie Simon of politico.com put it, it’s been a bad week for the Common Core. Yesterday, The conservative journal Education Next showed a precipitous drop in support by teachers in only one year–from 76% to 46%. It seems that the more they learn about the standards, the less they like them.

Then today the annual poll by the Gallup organization and Phi Delta Kappa revealed growing public opposition to the Common Core. Last year, most people were not sure what they were; now, as they know more, support is diminishing. The most important reason for opposition: people say the Common Core standards limit the flexibility of teachers to do what they think is best. While 60% of the public oppose the Common Core, 62% of public school parents oppose them.

Some other important findings in the Gallup/PDK poll:

Local public schools get high marks from public school parents at the same time that American public education gets low marks. This seeming paradox shows the success of the privatizers’ relentless attacks on public education over the past decade. For years, the public has heard Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, and other supporters of privatization decry American public education as “broken,” “obsolete,” “failing.” Their message has gotten through. Only 17% of the public gives American education an A or a B.

At the same time, however, 67% of public school parents give an A or B to the public school their oldest child attends.

Public school parents do not like standardized tests. 68% say they are not helpful. 54% of the public agrees.

Approval of President Obama’s “performance in support of public schools” has plummeted since 2011, when it was 41%. In 2014, approval of the President was down to 27%.

The public is confused about what charter schools are, but 70% favor them. About half think they are public schools and that they are free to teach religion. 57% think they charge tuition, and 68% think they select students based on their ability. My guess: as the public learns more about the misuse of public funds by some charter schools, about frauds, nepotism, and conflicts of interest, these numbers will decline.

Only 37% of the public and public school parents support vouchers.

Here is the Washington Post summary of the poll.

Here is coverage of the Gallup poll from Edsource in California.

At its annual meeting, the Oklahoma PTA called for a ban on high-stakes testing. As parents and grandparents, no one can remember a world in which standardized testing is as important as it is today, thanks to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Parents in Oklahoma said: Enough is enough.” The following was reported in the Oklahoma PTA journal.

“July 18, 2014 – Tulsa: Over 340 delegates at the Oklahoma PTA’s annual convention voted unanimously to adopt resolutions that call for a ban on policies that force the state’s public schools to rely on high-stakes testing and put an end to mass administration of field tests.

“One in five students suffer from high test anxiety. A further 18% have mid-level anxiety,” stated Jeffery Corbett, Oklahoma PTA President. “Our children are not just a test score. They are so much more.”

“In addition, the resolution calls for elimination of any requirement that teacher evaluations be based on Oklahoma State Assessments and to develop a system of teacher evaluations which does not require extensive standardized testing.

2014 Convention Resolutions (Adopted)

1 Comment to “Oklahoma PTA Demands Moratorium on High-stakes Testing” ADD COMMENT

CJ Rowe July 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

I want to thank the PTA for taking a stand against the insane state of testing that has developed in our country. I have taught for over twenty years and have seen the toll it has taken on students, teachers, and administrators. To judge the efforts of a school year entirely on one questionable measurement is ridiculous and has caused more harm to education in Oklahoma than anything I have seen in my career. We have turned from placing the focus on developing students who are capable of questioning and thinking and are excited about learning to drilling students on test-taking skills and material tested. Testing used to be a way to tailor instruction and target areas needing improvement in a positive manner. Now it is a stressful nightmare that consumes and drives all aspects of education. We have actually been told not to teach concepts that do not appear on the test, even though they are important in developing a well-rounded learner. When paired with test companies that don’t even set a passing level until all tests are taken and “normed”, how can they be a reliable measure of progress? Especially when test companies have a stake in results being poor so that they can sell remedial products. I taught twice as much to students before this all began and had engaged learners who enjoyed school instead of the burned-out victims of this toxic climate of prep and test for high stakes. It is not the concept of testing itself, but how that testing is being used that is the problem. Thank you for taking a step in changing the test process to one of positive development and collaboration to meet educational needs instead of the punitive. repercussions of the current system.

The Lee School Board in Florida wants to opt out of all standardized testing. They have listened to parents. They are tired of enriching Pearson.

“FCAT. Florida Standards. Common core.

“No matter what you call it, the school board wants it gone.

“Board members unanimously expressed their disdain for standardized testing at the school board meeting Tuesday, pledging to research the possibility of “opting out” the entire district from standardized testing.

“There needs to be a come-to-Jesus meeting … to talk about these issues point blank,” Chairman Tom Scott said.

Board member Don Armstrong said the district cannot afford to continue testing at the current rate.

“A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won’t say names,” he said. “But on this board or not on this board, I won’t stand for it anymore.”

Dozier asked the board to vote to “opt out” the entire district from testing. Some school districts have done this in Texas, but none in Florida.

“Why can’t we be the first?” Dozier asked, prompting an applause in the audience……”

“State assessments have been designed for kids to fail,” Fischer said. “I’ve worked in school since 1960. Just follow the money, look it up on the Internet, it’s about people making billions of dollars.

“Scott urged the public to get involved.

“This is your school district, and the more parents making noise, the more likely people are going to hear it in Tallahassee,” he told the audience. “I ask everyone here to find 10 other people who feel the way you do and start making some noise.”

“Superintendent Nancy Graham said the board should carefully research the possible ramifications of opting out.

“I’m not saying we can’t do it, but we need to think about these things purposefully and intentionally,” she said.

“Three moms in attendance from the group Teaching Not Testing echoed the board’s sentiment.

“Tess Brennan, the mother of a second-grader, said her daughter can usually read at a fifth-grade reading level. But when her daughter missed answering three questions on an exam to take a bathroom break, it significantly hurt her overall score.

“She missed three questions because she had to poop,” Brennan told the board. “It took three weeks to convince my child that she can still read. She can. She can devour a 100-page book in 45 minutes.”

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.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/chancellor-faria-lower.fb48?source=c.fb.ty&r_by=10785872

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: http://fairtest.org/news

Common Core Testing Rebellion Sweeps Nation

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/common-core-test-anxiety-108527.html

Task Force Appointed to Review Colorado Testing System

http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/07/02/long-summer-and-fall-ahead-for-testing-task-force/#.U7RdCGOTHZc

New Florida Test May Be Worse Than Discredited Old Exam

http://mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2014/7/2/school_board_member_.html

Is Florida “Nuts” to Pay Utah $5 Million for Test Questions

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/opinion/todaysbuzz/sfl-is-florida-nuts-to-pay-utah-5-million-for-test-questions-20140707,0,1483645.story

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

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2014/jul/07/collier-officials-state-missing-deadline-8212-in/

Racial Disparities Continue to Georgia Gifted-and-Talented Programs

http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/racial-gaps-remain-in-gifted-programs-ajc-analysis/ngSBq/#237d8f5e.2767361.735417

Battery of Exams Leaves Indiana Students Little Time for Learning

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20140703/EDIT07/307039997/1021/edit

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

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/07/02/36louisiana.h33.html

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

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/speak-easy/item/69971-the-debate-over-standardized-tests-has-put-gov-christie-in-a-no-win-situation

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

http://cnjonline.com/2014/07/02/education-officials-should-follow-lead-of-teacher/

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

http://ysnews.com/news/2014/07/yellow-springs-schools-aim-to-opt-out-of-tests

Testing Company Fired in Oklahoma Had Similar Problems in Indiana

http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/07/01/oklahoma-fires-ctbmcgraw-hill-as-testing-vendor/#.U7Q00mOTHZc

Most Oklahomans Oppose Basing Third-Grade Promotion on Test Score

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/poll-most-oppose-basing-third-grade-promotion-on-single-test/article_75c4f16e-400d-5671-a44e-bdc4bbdbe26f.html

Pennsylvania State Rep. — Stop Use of Exams for Graduation

http://www.dailylocal.com/opinion/20140701/the-high-school-keystone-exams-not-ready-for-graduation

Rhode Island Multi-Year Grad Test Moratorium Becomes Law

http://www.wral.com/necap-moratorium-becomes-law-in-rhode-island/13781084/

Controversy Swirls Around Value of Tennessee Test Results

http://nashvillepublicradio.org/blog/2014/07/01/muted-fanfare-tcap-results-debate-swirls-tests-reliability/

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

http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/politics/2012/11/29/perry-give-students-another-staar-grade-deferral.html

Virginia Legislature Establishes Committee to Overhaul State Testing System

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/va-committee-formed-to-reform-sol-tests/2014/07/03/bd33d344-02d7-11e4-b8ff-89afd3fad6bd_story.html

Washington State Study: Tests Stressed Too Much

http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140702/NEWS01/140709824/Study-Tests-are-stressed-too-much-

Federal Testing Mandate Hurts Washington State Students

http://union-bulletin.com/news/2014/jul/07/feds-education-mandates-hurt-state-students/

Wyoming Test Changes Delay Score Release

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/test-changes-mean-release-delay-for-paws/article_e15925d8-e622-5ace-b65e-49cc3096e783.html

NEA Launches Campaign Against “Toxic Testing”

http://www.nea.org/grants/33354.htm

Teacher Union President: Current Testing System “Will Crumble”

http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/07/02/nea-president-current-testing-system-will-crumble/#.U7R342OTHZc

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

https://www.edsurge.com/n/2014-07-02-do-teachers-really-hate-common-core-from-the-floor-of-iste-20

Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Needed

http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

Arne Duncan: The Emperor is Naked

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_26068463/school-reform-is-just-another-advertising-campaign

Replace Arne Duncan With Bill Gates — Satire Warning!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/replace-arne-duncan-with_b_5560187.html

“Accountability” vs What We Want For Our Children

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2014/07/accountability_vs_what_we_want_for_our_children.html

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

http://restoregedfairness.org/

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

http://college.usatoday.com/2014/07/07/no-the-sat-is-not-required-more-colleges-join-test-optional-train/

New Film Offers Student Perspective on America’s Testing Culture

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/04/test-j04.html

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 696-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

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.

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