Archives for category: Standardized Testing

In an action taken in the past hour or so, Seattle teachers voted to strike.

The two big issues: a salary increase; recess time for children. Many children in the district get only 15 minutes a day of recess. Teachers want children to have at least 30-45 minutes a day.

“The union is advocating for a decrease in the use of high-stakes testing. This would include forming a joint committee with the union and the district to accept or reject any standardized testing beyond the federally mandated tests and getting rid of the “Student Growth Rating” that ties tested subject teacher’s evaluations to standardized tests scores. The Seattle School District has inundated our school with dozens of tests that students have to take in their lives as K-12 students, and it’s past time that we reclaim our classrooms for teaching rather than test prep.”

Read the Washington Post’s article about the decline in SAT scores since 2005.

Scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation’s high schools.

The average score for the Class of 2015 was 1490 out of a maximum 2400, the College Board reported Thursday. That was down 7 points from the previous class’s mark and was the lowest composite score of the past decade. There were declines of at least 2 points on all three sections of the test — critical reading, math and writing.

The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven’t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say. That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.

You will see lots of speculation, but what’s missing is a straightforward question about the value of NCLB and test-based accountability. Education doesn’t start in 9th grade.

Though schoolsy are still closed for the summer in many parts of the country, the weekly testing story count is already exploding. No doubt it’s going to be a most exciting and productive year for assessment reformers. Sta with us for weekly updates and be sure to check the news clip archives (http://www.fairtest.org/news/other) for articles you may have missed.

National

Five Years of Stagnant ACT “College Readiness” Scores Show Failure of Test-and-Punish K-12 Strategies
http://fairtest.org/Five-years-flat-ACT-Shows-testandpunish-fails

Focus on Standardized Tests Hurts Learning
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/30/standardized-tests-opt-out-learning-your-say/71427338/

Most People Don’t Like Current Education Policies, So Why Do Public Officials?
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/people-dont-like-current-education-policies-so-why-do-policy-leaders/

U.S. Bars States From Offering Alternative Tests for Most Students With Disabilities
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/27/u-s-education-department-bars-states-from-offering-alternative-tests-to-most-students-with-disabilities/

Multiple States Smarter Balanced Consortium Orders Review of AIR Testing Problems
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2015/08/american_institute_for_researc.html

States

Arizona Don’t Blame Teachers for Poor Test Scores
http://www.tucsonlocalmedia.com/northwest_chatter/article_8e95e714-4b7b-11e5-b471-e725e920b4a2.html

California Governor Signs Law Suspending Graduation Exam Requirement
http://edsource.org/2015/governor-signs-bill-exempting-seniors-from-exit-exam/85533
California Legislators Consider Retroactive Diplomas for Students Who Failed Grad Test Over Past Decade
http://edsource.org/2015/lawmakers-consider-retroactive-diplomas-for-students-who-failed-exit-exam/85839
California Time to Abolish Senseless High School Exit Exam
http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20150831/marin-voice-time-to-abolish-senseless-high-school-exit-exams

Connecticut Education Commissioner Falsely Blames Teachers for Growing Smarter Balanced Exams Opposition
http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/08/25/malloys-education-commissioner-blames-teachers-for-lack-of-support-for-common-core-sbac-testing/

Florida Validity Study Concludes Computer Tests Should Not Be Used for Student-Level Consequences
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/florida-tests-shouldnt-be-used-for-student-level-consequences-report-says/2243631
Florida In Miami-Dade Schools Every Day is a School Testing Day
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article32591382.html
Florida State Headed for Testing Turbulence
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/florida/2015/08/8574987/florida-headed-testing-turbulence

Georgia Superintendent of the Year Says High Stakes Testing Is The “Fools Gold of Accountability”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/27/2015-superintendent-of-the-year-high-stakes-testing-is-the-fools-gold-of-accountability/

Indiana Too Much Riding on Standardized Tests
http://www.thestarpress.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/08/28/much-riding-standardized-tests/71345136/

Maryland Teachers Group Launches TV, Radio Ad Campaign on Testing
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/31/maryland-teachers-group-launches-ad-campaign-on-te/
Maryland “Less Testing, More Learning” Campaign
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-school-testing-20150831-story.html
Maryland State Comptroller Blasts Pearson Testing Contract
http://marylandreporter.com/2015/08/26/franchot-flips-out-over-standardized-testing-contract/

New Mexico You Can Do Something About Testing Overkill
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_28695808/rep-bill-mccamley-you-can-do-something-about

New York State Education Commissioner Says Parents Have a Right to Opt Kids Out of Tests
http://wamc.org/post/ed-comm-says-parents-have-right-opt-out-kids-tests#stream/0
New York Why So Many Families Opted Out of Standardized Exams
http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/letter-there-are-many-reasons-why-students-opted-out-of-tests-20150826
New York Gropes for Alternatives to Sanctions to Slow Surging Opt-Out Movement
http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/news/article_b59e92f0-4bf0-11e5-a426-bb5a41f55d91.html

North Dakota State to Recover More Than $316,000 for Testing Glitches
http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/education/3827308-nd-recover-more-316000-testing-glitches

Oregon Opt Outs Hold Participation Rate Below 95% in 21 School Districts
http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/3461266-151/common-core-21-districts-miss-mark-for-test
Oregon Students Return to Changing Testing Environment
http://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-schools-standardized-tests/
Oregon Kindergarten Testing is Bad for Kids
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/08/kindergarten_testing_is_bad_fo.html

Pennsylvania Don’t Let Muddled Test Strategy Determine Our Children’s Future
http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20150826_Don_t_let_muddled_test_strategy_determine_future_of_students.html
Pennsylvania The Wrong Way to Get Teacher Evaluations Right
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/08/getting_teacher_evaluations_ri.html#incart_river

Rhode Island Graduation Test Requirements May Get Second Look
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150825/NEWS/150829615/13748/NEWS

Tennessee The Obvious in School Test Scores
http://www.chattanoogan.com/2015/8/26/306959/The-Obvious-In-School-Test-Scores.aspx

Texas Many Students Now Graduate Without Passing STAAR Exit Exams
http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/education/2015/08/28/many-texas-students-graduate-after-flunking-staar-tests/71285686/

Washington 48,000 Students Opted Out Across the State
https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/48000-students-refused-the-testocracy-in-washington-state-by-opting-out-this-isnt-an-anomaly-its-an-uprising/
Washington Testing Is One of Top Issues in Teacher Contract Negotiations
http://kuow.org/post/seattle-teachers-say-recess-testing-are-among-top-issues-contract

Canada Mega-Testing Creates Illusion of Badly Failing Schools
http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1308459-mega-testing-merely-creates-illusion-public-education-is-failing

Bad News for Testing Advocates
http://themerrowreport.com/2015/08/25/bad-news-for-testing-advocates/

Student Teachers Are New Casualty of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/30/a-new-casualty-of-high-stakes-testing-student-teachers/

Free Copies of “Defies Measurement” DVD Available on Request
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/08/30/get-a-free-copy-of-defies-measurement-and-show-it-to-friends-and-neighbors/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director

FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

U.S. News and World Report points out that the rationale for Common Core and its tests was that parents needed to know how their child compared to children of the same age in other states.

But with two different testing consortia, and with so many states dropping out of those consortia, the rationale has been eviscerated.

Frankly, it never made any sense to argue that parents everywhere were hungering to compare their own child’s test score to children in other states. Maybe it is just me, but I never met a parent who said, “I’m desperate to know how my child’s test score compares to children in the same grade in Alaska and Maine and Florida. And to insist that having this information would somehow improve education or benefit students made no sense either. What we learn from standardized tests is that family income matters. Having the same test everywhere doesn’t change that fact. What if the same energy had done into reducing poverty and segregation? We might have made a dent. Instead, our whole country is pointed to the wrong goals.

Says U.S. News:

Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core’s fundamental goals.

What began as an effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told state leaders in 2010 that the new tests would “help put an end to the insidious practice of establishing 50 different goal posts for educational success.”

“In the years ahead, a child in Mississippi will be measured against the same standard of success as a child in Massachusetts,” Duncan said.

Massachusetts and Mississippi students did take the PARCC exam this year. But Mississippi’s Board of Education has voted to withdraw from the consortium for all future exams.

“The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.”

However, if you want to compare state performance, you can always look at the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which has been comparing states since 1992. NAEP also compares a score of urban districts every other year.

Hello, parents of New York, you have the right to opt your child out of state testing. So says the State Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Forget what you heard last week about threats and sanctions. That was then. This is now.

” State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia says she won’t prevent parents who want their children to skip the state’s standardized tests from doing so. The commissioner detailed her views on the controversial Opt Out movement in an interview with public radio and television….

“Commissioner Elia says parents “absolutely” have the right to opt their kids out of state standardized tests, but she says she still wants to talk to them to try to bring them back to the fold.

“We haven’t done enough communication,” Elia said. “But if parents understand it and they still want their child to opt out, that certainly is their right.”

“Robert Lowry, the spokesman for the New York State Council of School Superintendents, says some superintendents did indeed ask for help. Others are trying on their own to convince students to participate. But he says many more believe that the tests themselves are fundamentally flawed.

“The real issue is that the tests have to change,” Lowry said. “Parents are upset for a reason.”

“Lowry says the preparations was not well thought out, and schools get too little information on results too late.”

This is a work in progress.

Message to parents: do what you think is best for your child.

The following letter was sent to teachers in Patchogue-Medford, Long Island, in New York state by the superintendent, Dr. Michael J. Hynes. Hynes is a hero of public education. He joins the honor roll of this blog for his thoughtfulness, his care for his staff and students, and his willingness to stand up and speak out. When State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia met with Long Island superintendents to help them understand why they must take a firm position against opt outs, Superintendent Hynes of Patchogue-Medford, Superintendent David Gamberg of Greenport-Southold, Superintendent Steven Cohen of Shoreham-Wading River, and Superintendents Joe Rella of Comsewogue, were not invited. All have been outspoken against the state’s misuse of standardized testing. Gamberg and Cohen did not encourage opt outs, but they both sent letters home to parents explaining that there was no penalty for opting out.

August 28, 2015

Dear Ms. ——-,

The purpose of this letter is to let you know that I DO NOT CARE what your state growth score is. Let me be clear … I DO NOT CARE. It does not define you. Please know that I understand nobody likes to be reduced to a number.

The fact is, you are much more than a number; not only to me, but most important to the children and parents you serve. Keep your head up and your eye on what is more important … your students and your teaching craft. The Patchogue-Medford School District fully supports you as an educator, regardless of what this meaningless, invalid and inhumane score states. Let me know what you need and it is my sincere hope you have a great year.

With warm regards,

Signature
Michael J. Hynes, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Shannon Puckett, the producer and director of the pro-public education film “Defies Measurement” is offering free copies to anyone who wants one.

She writes:

I would like people to know that I am offering Defies Measurement (for free) to anyone who would like to use the film as a fundraiser event in support of public education. All proceeds can be used to support public schools or organizations that support public schools. My website has a page dedicated to “how to host a screening” where anyone can learn more about planning a community event.

The film continues to get great reviews from supporters of public education. Articles have appeared in Daily Kos, Education Week, Inequality.org and Caflifornia Teacher. It is also being offered on KweliTv. (The mission of Kweli Tv is “To enhance knowledge, encourage self-empowerment, and promote positive change within the global black community through challening, inspiring and thought-provoking video content.”)

In the 5 months that Defies Measurement has been available for free online, it has reached close to 18,000 people in 92 countries. (you know as well as I do that that doesn’t mean all of these people have watched it, but I do know that nearly 6,000 people have played the film in 59 countries). It has also inspired passionate discussions within communities after screenings. Teachers unions, PTAs, teachers, parents, organizations and college professors have all used the film to create dialogue around the important issues facing public education.

This would be a great back-to-school party!

You can reach Shannon at shannon@shineonpro.com

See her website: http://www.shineonpro.com/index.html

You can watch the video there, for free

Fred LeBrun of the Albany Times-Union warns State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia that she is making a huge mistake by her confrontational tactics with the parents of the 225,000 children who opted out of mandated state tests last spring.

He predicts that if she doesn’t change course, the number of opt outs will grow in 2016.

She assumes that the parents need a lecture (“it’s the law!”) or information (they just don’t understand how important these tests are).

Neither is true, writes LeBrun. The law days the state must give the tests, but the law does NOT say that students must take them.

And the opt out parents in Long Island and upstate New York are not uninformed. They know exactly what they are doing and why they are doing it.

LeBrun writes:

“Remember the state Education Department’s own statistical analysis of Opt Outers, the one-third of eligible upstate and Long Island third through eight graders who chose not to take the standardized tests last spring. Their families are white, solidly middle class, well educated, generally from low needs — that is to say, not impoverished — school districts. Regardless of what the new standardized tests might suggest about them — more would fail than pass — these students routinely grow up to hit the appropriate SAT benchmarks, graduate and go on to two- and four-year colleges.

“These are not the kind of parents who are likely to be intimidated by vague assertions that, as Elia now suggests, a reason to take the standardized tests is because, ”listen, it’s the law.” It may be the law that public schools must offer the tests. But nothing I’ve read even suggests it’s the law a student must take them. Parents do have rights. If anything, Elia’s tack is likely to throw fuel on the fire rather than quell it in terms of opting out. Likewise, any back handed attempt to paint the Opt Out movement as being fanned by teachers is as insulting to the legions of parental volunteers who are Opt Out’s core, and know it, as it is to teachers. Nor is Elia’s condescending suggestion that fuller knowledge of what Common Core is and these standardized tests are about will turn Opt Outers around.”

Writing in the progressive journal, “In These Times,” Colleen Kimmett reports the findings of a three-month investigation into the New Orleans school reforms. It is not pretty.

“Test scores, high or low, are only a piece of the story. In a three-month investigation, In These Times interviewed teachers, parents and students to find out how they feel about the charterization of public education in New Orleans.

Community members mourned the closures of public schools that had served as neighborhood hubs. Students at no-excuses charters described feeling like they were in prison, or bootcamp. Teachers felt demoralized, like they didn’t have a voice in the classroom. Parents complained about a lack of black teachers. In interview after interview, people said the same thing: The system doesn’t put children’s needs first.

As we know very well, the story of the New Orleans reforms is the central subject of data wars. Its advocates applaud it, without qualification, as a dramatic transformation of a low-performing district. Its critics punch holes in the data and say that there is more hype and spin than truth.

We may have to wait another ten years to get an unbiased account of what happened to the schools and the students.

Readers of this blog know that I am critical of the idea that schools will improve if you fire all the teachers and replace public schools with private management. This is a formula, in my view, not for education reform but for chaos and disruption, inflicted on schools by outsiders who have a plan and are certain that they know what’s best for other people’s children. When their plans don’t work, they never admit they made a mistake. That seems to be the mark of a reformer these days; never say “I was wrong.”

The state of Connecticut finally released the results of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment.

As expected, most students in Connecticut “failed.”

As I previously explained, the developers of the tests chose a passing mark that was designed to fail most students.

On the federal NAEP, Connecticut is one of the highest scoring states in the nation. Its failure rates were not as bad as in other states. But even so, a majority of students in every grade did not reach “proficient.”

Failure by design.

Time for parents in Connecticut to opt out in 2016.

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