Archives for category: Testing

The school board of Colorado Springs District 11 has voted to opt most students out of Common Core state testing and to seek permission from the state to administer sample tests.

“The Board of Education in Colorado Spring District 11 is taking a different approach than Lee. It voted to opt most students out of Common Core testing and then ask the state government for permission to assess a randomly selected group of students — enough to meet federal requirements. The tests involved the Common Core test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success.

“The resolution that passed unanimously this week also gives permission to parents to opt their own children out of these tests. KOAA-TV quoted Superintendent Nicolas Gledich as saying the district hopes to devise its own assessment system within the next three years.”

Read the full link for the resolution.

Mercedes Schneider here compares two organizations that graded state standards: the American Institutes for Research and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. When AIR reviewed state standards and assessments, it concluded that the stands were so variable that common national standards and assessments were necessary, that is, the Common Core standards. She notes that AIR is very “scientific,” but recommends CCSS in the absence of any evidence. Fordham grades state standards without regard to their relationship to NAEP scores, and they conclude that what is needed most is Common Core standards.*

Fordham, as is well known, is funded by the Gates Foundation to advocate for CCSS.

AIR, though usually considered a research organization, has significant contracts to create CC assessments. AIR has a contract for $220 million to prepare assessments for Florida. It has a contract for $14 million as one of the developers of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. And more: “AIR has collected over $65 million from the Gates Foundation in the form of 23 grants since 2003.”

So, those who graded the state standards concluded that the Common Core was the very best thing even though there was no evidence for what they might accomplish, if anything.

*Note: I chaired the program committee at the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute until 2009, when I resigned from the board. The state standards’ ratings referred only to the academic content of state standards, without reference to the states’ performance on NAEP. I recall giving a speech in some state in the 1990s in which I criticized the academic insufficiency of their state standards. Someone in the audience got up and pointed out the state’s high scores on NAEP. I confess I was stumped. The point was that the quality of the state standards was unrelated to student performance. The lesson, I now realize (which I could not admit in those days), is that the Common Core standards is unlikely to have any effect on student achievement, as Tom Loveless pointed out in 2012. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/04/18/28loveless_ep.h31.html

JOIN US FOR THE FIRST PUBLIC EDUCATION NATION ON OCTOBER 11!

NBC has abandoned its annual “education nation” funded by Gates and featuring the leaders of privatization and high-stakes testing.

Now is our hour! We are here for you! We are here for the millions of students, teachers, parents, and administrators who are part of public education. We are here permanently. We are not going away.

Coming Saturday, Oct.11

PUBLIC Education Nation

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

Just Two Weeks Away! The first-ever PUBLIC Education Nation

This time we own the table, and we will bring together educators, parents and students to tell the truth about what is happening in our schools, and what real reform ought to be all about.

Next Sunday, October 5, will be our major money bomb online fundraiser for the event. This is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Bloomberg or Walton foundations – it is sponsored by US – each and every person who cares about the future of public education. Please donate here, and spread the word.

If you are in the New York area, and would like to attend the October 11 event in person, please show up by 11:30 am at 610 Henry St at Brooklyn New School/Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and register here in advance. You can also sign up for the online event on Facebook here.

Follow us on Twitter at @PublicEdNation & @NetworkPublicEd

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

One of the highlights of the event will be the very first panel,

Testing and the Common Core, which will be moderated by New York’s high school Principal of the Year, Carol Burris. Burris has written extensively about equity in schools and the impact of the Common Core, and will bring her many years as an educator to the table. She will be joined by the following education experts:

Alan A. Aja, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor & Deputy Chair of the Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies in Brooklyn College. His research examines race, gender and class disparities between and among Latino and African American communities; immigration/education policy; social and economic segregation; sustainable development and collective action/unionization. Before academia, Aja worked as a labor organizer in Texas, an environmental researcher in Cuba, a human rights organizer in Argentina and in a refugee hostel in London. He is a public school parent and elected member of the SLT (School Leadership Team) of PS264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Dr. Aja will discuss the impact of common core aligned testing in New York, Kentucky and other states on marginalized communities, with attention to blacks, Latinos, ELLs, special ed/learning and disability students. He will present the early evidence to demonstrate that the Common Core and its testing is not resulting in the closing of the achievement gap, but may, instead be leaving disadvantaged students even further behind. He will also discuss alternative ways to increase student and school performance.

Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at CUNY’s Lehman College. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in the Bronx.Her research examines the theory and practice of leadership in small schools in urban settings in order to create socially just and equitable schools for Black and Latino students. Dr. Rivera-McCutchen’s research has appeared in an edited book entitled Critical small schools: Beyond privatization in New York City urban educational reform.

Dr. Rivera McCutchen will focus on the moral imperative of leading for social justice in the face of CCSS and high-stakes testing. She will highlight the challenges leaders face in resisting, and focus on the strategies that leaders have used in mounting successful campaigns of resistance.

Takiema Bunche Smith is the Vice President of Education and Outreach at Brooklyn Kindergarten Society (BKS), where she oversees educational programming and outreach initiatives at five preschools located in low-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. In both her professional and personal life, Ms. Bunche Smith is involved in various advocacy efforts that relate to early childhood care and education funding and policy, and the push-back against the overemphasis on high stakes testing in public schools. She has been a classroom teacher, teacher educator, content director for Sesame Street, and director of curriculum and instruction. She attended NYC public schools for 3rd-12th grade and is now a public school parent and member of the SLT at Brooklyn New School.

Ms. Bunche Smith will discuss the early childhood education implications of the Common Core and how it affects schools, students and parents. She will discuss various parent perspectives on the Common Core as well as critically highlight those who are not part of the conversation around Common Core.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, you can tune in online here at SchoolhouseLive.org to the live broadcast starting at 12 noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time.

The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.

The Network for Public Education is hosting this event. It is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Walton or Bloomberg foundations. It is sponsored by YOU, each and every one of the people who care about our children’s future.

Can you make a small donation to help us cover the expense of this event? We are determined to create the space not ordinarily given to voices like these. But we need your participation. Please donate by visiting the NPE website and clicking on the PayPal link.

A live-stream of the event will be available on Saturday, Oct. 11, starting at Noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time at http://www.schoolhouselive.org.

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The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.

Over the past year, donations to The Network for Public Education helped us put on out first National Conference – an incredible success. In the coming year, we will hold more events, webinars, and work on the issues that our members and donors care about the most!

To become a Member or to Make a Donation, go to the NPE website and click on the PayPal link. We accept donations using PayPal, the most trusted site used to make on-line payments.

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A teacher left this thoughtful comment:

“I recently participated in professional development on the Smarter Balance test (SBAC), the newest of the assessments to measure student proficiency in competencies aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). One of my responsibilities as a language arts teacher of high school juniors is to prepare students for this high-stakes assessment. I also provide my students with SAT and ACT test-taking strategies.

“I left the workshop convinced that the classroom teacher has not had a meaningful voice in the assessment process. Let me explain: For SBAC’s multiple choice section, students must identify all possible correct answers or receive no credit. For the SATs, ACTS, and some AP multiple-choice sections, students choose the best answer. Furthermore, SBAC results seem to be tied to federal funding, high school rankings, and teacher performance. How does SBAC and related test preparation benefit my students?

“I asked the facilitator how much the state had to pay to administer this test. (Students also require computer access because the test is administered online; for schools where technology resources are limited, scheduling can be a nightmare). The facilitator did not know how much the test cost; she did advise that for schools which adopted the Common Core, federal funding was an incentive. It is my understanding that a school which opts out of adoption of the CCSS and test administration risks losing those coveted federal funds. In the corporate sector, such incentives would be considered extortion. Since when is extortion a permitted practice?

“Let me offer a portrait of the classroom from a practitioner’s standpoint. Most secondary Language Arts instructors focus on teaching critical read of texts—fiction and nonfiction—encouraging students to corroborate every statement with textual evidence. Often at the high school level, we have to push them beyond the reader-response model common in middle school where students often discuss about what the text means to them. The more advanced critical reader asks what is the author’s purpose and how does the author convey that message. We also emphasize analytic and argumentative writing. However, I have students, who at the high school level cannot write a complete sentence. When I explain to them every sentence needs a subject and a verb, too many stare blankly at me.

“I reference young people’s lack of grammatical and syntactical awareness because this deficiency is addressed in the CCSS. The foundations of our language—the parts of speech—are taught from the early grades. Nine years from now, my students should be well acquainted with the building blocks of our language. But today, especially at the secondary level, CCSS represents more of a catch-up paradigm. Education is a process that involves human beings. Even manufacturers don’t begin production in the middle of a process; why are people asking teachers to do so and then evaluating us on our success based on student performance data? Why not launch the CCSS systematically—allow the foundation to be built K-2; 3-5, and so on?

“I chose Teaching because I love language and literature; I am committed to nurturing a similar excitement in my students. I view Education as big business; many of the acronyms one encounters in the field today come straight from the corporate sector. A manufacturing model is antithetical to the process that is education. For example, when a manufacturer receives defective materials from a supplier, it returns those materials. Its final product must meet specifications. I have no control over who enters my classroom; i.e., my “materials.” Teaching cultivates; education produces. I believe the two processes conflict; and yet, it seems to me that a manufacturing/business model predominates in my profession.

“Here is the reality, at least in my classroom: sometimes, my students lack parental support or engagement; have emotional and cognitive disabilities; or are simply uninterested in academics at this juncture in their young lives. Some come from homes where providing the necessities such as food and shelter are a challenge. Finally, some young people do not connect to academics in high school; some prefer a vocational track; others blossom in college. There is no template or prototype for the student. There is no fixed path for a young person—teachers do their best to model, guide, support, and nurture intellectual and personal growth amidst a wide range of cognitive abilities, emotional maturity, and outside-school circumstances.

“When will those who have never taught acknowledge the human component in education and its inherent complexity and variability? The majority of teachers with whom I have associated are dedicated professionals who view their position in the classroom as a vocation versus a job. Of course there are some bad teachers! Our profession is not unique in that reality. There are ineffective practitioners in all professions. Welcome to humanity and the real world.

“In conclusion, can student performance on SBAC measure my success in the classroom? Will the latest curriculum design improve my instruction and relationship with my students? Can a high-school student amass eight years of prior instruction that was not in place until recently, so that he or she can master the CCSS objectives specified for grades 9-12? Are the massive amounts of money—garnered from taxpayer dollars—lining the pockets of those affiliated with the business of education, or are they merely an expensive camouflage that will, in a few years, disintegrate, leaving both teachers and students amidst the rubble of yet another pedagogy?”

Wendy Lecker, civil rights attorney, takes Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Malloy to task for his empty rhetoric about testing. He has consistently been a fervent support of standardized, high-stakes testing. Yet now he wants to roll back one test, in the 11th grade. Who is he fooling?

 

 

Throughout his administration, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education policies have been characterized by a disdain for evidence of what helps children learn, and a refusal to listen to those closest to students — parents and teachers. While it has been proven that test-based accountability has done nothing to help learning, and has increased stress in children of all ages, Malloy callously maintained, “I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising test scores.”

 

Now, weeks before the gubernatorial election, the governor has suddenly declared an interest in the welfare of children — or some children. In a self-congratulatory news release, the governor announced that he wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to begin a “dialogue” about how to reduce one standardized test for 11th graders.

 

Malloy’s newly discovered concern for over-testing for one grade must be understood against his record on standardized testing. Just two years ago, the Malloy administration rushed through an application for an NCLB “waiver,” which exchanged some of NCLB’s mandates for many other mandates — including massively increasing standardized testing. The waiver obligated the state to administer the Common Core tests, including moving the high school test from 10th to 11th grade, and to use the widely discredited method of including standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

 

Recognizing the potential for an explosion in standardized testing, parents, school board members and teachers implored the Malloy administration not to apply for the NCLB waiver until it assessed the impact on our children and the cost to taxpayers. Yet, the Malloy administration ignored these warnings and submitted the application….

 

Though Malloy professes concern about over-testing 11th graders, in reality he plans to increase testing for everyone. In May, his PEAC commission announced a plan to use multiple standardized tests in teacher evaluations going forward. Not only does this plan double down on the flawed practice of using standardized tests to measure a teacher’s performance, it also vastly increases testing for children. The SBAC interim tests, which the Malloy administration recommends, will likely double the standardized testing that already exists.

Against the reality of his policies, Malloy’s letter to Duncan proves to be nothing more than political posturing.

 

 

 

 

 

I had a message from a relative who works in a program helping youngsters in Harlem apply to college. The kids are wonderful, she says: bright, ambitious, and energetic. Their biggest stumbling block, she says, is the SAT.

I contacted Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest, which maintains a database of colleges and universities that do not require the SAT.

He wrote:

“A complete database of the more than 830 accredited, bachelor-degree granting colleges that will make admissions decisions about all or may applicants without regard to ACT/SAT scores is online at: http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional — the list includes 160+ colleges and universities ranked in the top tiers of their respective categories.”

Here is the weekly update from FairTest, which monitors the use and abuse of standardized testing. The movement to curb the abuses is multiplying.

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest writes:

Another incredible week for the assessment reform movement — school boards adopting strong resolutions calling for a suspension of high-stakes testing, candidates speaking out against standardized overkill, new Congressional legislation to reduce federal mandates and many excellent commentaries at the same time parents, teachers and community organizers continue to speak out! Keep the heat on.

Remember that back issues of these weekly updates and other timely resources are archived at: http://fairtest.org/news

Another Test is Not Best Strategy to Help Arizona Students Learn Civics

http://www.yumasun.com/opinion/another-test-not-best-answer-for-learning-civics/article_5f212266-41d9-11e4-80e5-0017a43b2370.html

Future of California High School Exit Exam Undecided

http://edsource.org/2014/fate-of-high-school-exit-exam-undecided/67604#.VBwVicmwRrs

Why My Kids Will Opt Out: Colorado’s State-Mandated Tests Do Not Support Learning

http://www.reporterherald.com/opinion/letters/ci_26560294/state-mandated-testing-does-not-serve-learning

Colorado Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Tests

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/09/colorado_teacher_refuses_to_gi.html

11 Large Florida School Boards Agree: “Suspend High-Stakes Testing”

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/education/2014/09/19/lee-school-board-members-travel-west-palm/15844939/

One of Nation’s Biggest School Districts Calls on State, Feds to End Testing Overkill

http://extracredit.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2014/09/18/read-pbc-school-boards-2-page-hate-testing-letter-to-fl-gov/

Broward County Florida Schools Could Be Required to Administer 1,500 New End-of-Course Tests

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/education/highered/fl-b-end-of-course-testing-20140917,0,4782939.story

Editorial: Too Much Testing in Florida

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140917/OPINION01/140919699/-1/news300

Florida PTA Calls for Overhaul of State Testing System

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/florida-pta-calls-for-changes-to-states-school-accountability-system/2198088

Georgia Ed Superintendent Candidates Agree: Too Much Testing

http://onlineathens.com/breaking-news/2014-09-18/too-much-testing-state-school-superintendent-candidates-say

Iowa Letter to the Editor: Time to End NCLB

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/09/20/end-child-left-behind/15936169/

Feds Allow Kansas to Withhold Scores From Disrupted Exam Administrations

http://m.cjonline.com/news/2014-09-16/us-department-education-allows-kansas-withhold-test-data#gsc.tab=0

Worcester Massachusetts Teachers Call For Three-Year Moratorium on Common Core Tests

http://www.golocalworcester.com/news/worcester-teachers-union-decry-public-school-testing-decision

Santa Fe School Chief Seeks Delay in New Mexico Test-Based Teacher Evaluation

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/boyd-s-call-to-fix-evaluations-faces-its-own-challenges/article_a0c9abd7-701c-5950-8f34-4e763ed456cc.html

New York Assessment Reform Activists Say 250,000 Will Boycott 2014-2015 State Tests

http://www.nysape.org/nys-parents-fight-to-reclaim-student-education-from-excessive-testing-and-data-collection-250000-high-stakes-test-boycotts-planned-statewide.html

State Claims More Money Needed to Release Additional Test Questions

http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/schools/king-state-ed-would-like-to-release-more-test-questions-20140918

Local Ohio School Board Seeks Delay of Test-Based Teacher Evaluations

http://onlineathens.com/opinion/2014-09-16/frye-lawmakers-should-delay-implementation-states-new-teacher-evaluation-system

Oklahoma School Grades Don’t Reflect Student Progress

http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepage5/tulsa-area-educators-grading-of-schools-doesn-t-reflect-student/article_e4df5343-5a5a-55de-b783-cdbb3c230552.html

Rhode Island to Hold Hearings on Longer Exit Exam Delay

http://www.browndailyherald.com/2014/09/18/state-hold-hearings-whether-delay-exam-graduation-requirement/

Inconsistent Utah Test Standards Don’t Help Improve Education

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865611285/Inconsistency-in-school-test-standards-doesnt-do-anyone-any-good.html

Virginia Replaces Five Statewide Tests With Local Assessment Flexibility

http://www.yourgv.com/news/local_news/article_257d582e-3f7a-11e4-94c3-abdd4b3e4c54.html

Washington State Schools Are Not Failing, NCLB Is Failing Us — Petition Campaign

http://www.ourschoolsarenotfailing.org/

Congressional Proposal Would Put Brakes on Federal Testing Mandates

http://www.theislandnow.com/opinions/our-views-put-the-brakes-on-testing/article_4acca736-3f4f-11e4-8abb-cbc7e12a38d1.html

Most Americans Don’t Support Rating Teachers on Student Test Scores: New Survey

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/most-dont-support-rating-teachers-on-student-score/nhPFJ/

Yong Zhao Dissects Marc Tucker’s “Plan to Fix Our National Accountability System”

http://www.livingindialogue.com/time-give-yong-zhao-responds-marc-tucker/

Linda Darling Hammond on Equity, Diversity and Deeper Learning

http://azednews.com/2014/09/16/linda-darling-hammond-on-equity-in-education/

A Message From a Teacher Thinking About Quitting About the Real Impacts of Testing Overkill

http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=7236

Many Nations Rethinking Emphasis on Standardized Testing

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2014/09/rethinking_the_emphasis_on_standardized_testing.html

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

Educators in Worcester, Massachusetts, spoke out against the school committee’s decision to adopt the federally-funded Common Core test, at least partially, splitting the district between PARCC and the established Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). PARCC was field-tested last year in Massachusetts. See what the teachers say about it. The Commissioner of Education in the state, Mitchell Chester, is chairman of the PARCC governing board, which the teachers consider a conflict of interest.

The following is a Press Release from the EAW. Please Read.

EAW DOES NOT SUPPORT WORCESTER SCHOOL COMMITTEE’S “YES ON PARCC” VOTE

The Worcester School Committee, in 5-2 vote, recently elected to split Worcester Public Schools (WPS) between two different standardized tests: the established MCAS test; and the PARCC pilot test. This “Yes on PARCC” vote goes against the Educational Association of Worcester (EAW)’s publicized March 2014 vote of No Confidence on PARCC and its vote to pause PARCC.
The EAW, comprised of WPS teachers, is not alone in its public position on pausing PARCC. In May 2014, delegates of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) passed items calling for a three-year moratorium on PARCC testing at its annual convention.

Also, over 66% school districts in Massachusetts have chosen the MCAS test option over the PARCC pilot test for 2014-2015.
PARCC started with 23 states in their consortium; four years later, 13 states have dropped out. That’s a drop of 44 percent.
The EAW stands behind its vote of No Confidence on PARCC, and believes Worcester Public Schools should put a three-year pause on PARCC and re-assess high stakes testing.

In light of the Worcester School Committee’s recent “Yes on PARCC” vote, the EAW supports parents/guardians and students who choose to refuse the PARCC pilot tests in their respective schools. Because PARCC is still in a test year, Worcester students can to refuse to participate in the PARCC “research study” without punishment; and designated PARCC schools will not be penalized for any pilot test refusals.

Note that the Worcester School Committee, in March 2014, voted to allow parents/guardians of WPS students selected to take PARCC to refuse the test. WPS Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone informed parents/guardians of their right to refuse the PARCC pilot test via letter.

MCAS was developed and vetted by Massachusetts teachers. Massachusetts DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester is also Board Chairman of PARCC, Inc., the organization controlling the development and promotion of the PARCC test – a clear conflict of interest for the children and schools of Massachusetts, because he has a completely biased opinion towards implementing PARCC in the Bay State.

Massachusetts currently has the best standards in the country. By moving to PARCC, a national test, our schools will be forced to lower standards to make it fair for all states involved.

During the 2013-2014 school year, PARCC was field tested on numerous children around Massachusetts. Identified issues include:

· 72% of schools need more devices to test all students

· Almost 50% of teachers said their training was inadequate for administering PARCC on computers.

· 61% of students reported that the Math test was more difficult than their school work (28% for ELA)

· only 70% of students said the test questions asked about content they had learned in Math (87% in ELA)

· 41% of kids said it was hard to type answers for Math

· 46% of kids experienced tech-related problems with Math (31% ELA)

Student scores on the PARCC pilot tests are not be shared with students, parents/guardians, schools, or states. PARCC Inc. uploads student scores for use in data mining and storage.

If Massachusetts eliminates MCAS and moves toward PARCC, the state will no longer control its own assessment system. The PARCC test will be controlled by multiple other states and management that the citizens of Massachusetts did not elect.

Again, the EAW stands behind its vote of No Confidence on PARCC, and believes Worcester Public Schools should put a three-year pause on PARCC and re-assess high stakes testing. All parents/guardians and students should, once again, be notified in writing by WPS Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone on how to refuse the PARCC pilot test.

Marc Tucker recently published a position paper arguing that our current system of test-based accountability, testing every student every year in grades 3-8, has failed and that we need a new approach. His approach, as Anthony Cody argued, would test at transition points but would still have high stakes and would test more subjects. Tucker wrote a post criticizing Cody and me and arguing that high-stakes testing is necessary to raise test scores and improve education.

Yong Zhao here weighs in with a brilliant response to Tucker, sharply disagreeing with him on the value of high-stakes testing.

Zhao points to Tucker’s inconsistency thus:

“Why does one who condemns test-based accountability system so much want more test-based accountability? The inconsistency exemplified by Marc Tucker does not make sense to me at all. Yet it is widespread so it must make sense in some way. I try to put myself in the shoes of Tucker and other similarly minded people and learned the chain of reasoning underlying their inconsistency:

“Premise #1: Education quality matters to individual and national prosperity.

“Premise #2: Education is a top-down process through which students are instilled the prescribed content and skills (curriculum) deemed universally valuable by some sort of authority.

“Premise #3: Teachers and schools are responsible for the quality of education, i.e., instilling in students the prescribed knowledge and skills.

“Premise #4: How well students master the prescribed knowledge and content is measured by tests.

“Conclusion #1: Thus test scores measure the quality of education, and thus the capacity for individuals and nations to be economically prosperous.

“Conclusion #2: American students have lower test scores on some international tests, thus American schools offer a lower quality education than countries with higher test scores.

“Conclusion #3: Therefore, American teachers must be less effective than their counterparts in other countries.

“Conclusion #4: Therefore, to prepare Americans to succeed in the global economy, American teachers and schools must be held accountable for improving the quality of education, which is to raise test scores (Tucker’s goal: “the only acceptable target for the United States is to be among the top ten performers in the world” [I assume top 10 on the PISA league table]).

“Conclusion #5: Hence we must improve the test-based accountability system, which then leads to higher quality education, which then leads to economic prosperity.

“Bait and Switch

“Marc Tucker’s objection to Anthony Cody’s questioning his assertion that “the economic future of our students will only be guaranteed if we educate them better” is a standard bait-and-switch tactic, playing with the afore-mentioned logic. It starts with the premises. Education is a term that has a positive connotation, but in practice it has many different, sometimes, contradictory, incarnations, in the same way the word “democracy” is used in reality. For example, some of the worst dictatorial countries claim to be democratic. Thus whether education matters to the prosperity of individuals and nations depends entirely on what it means.

He concludes:

“When economies change, as Tucker notes, so fast and on a global scale, it has become even more difficult to predict the skills and knowledge that matters in the future. But one thing seems to be clear. Even if Americans are equipped with the same skills and knowledge as Chinese and Indians, America’s favorite competitors, Americans won’t have an economic advantage simply because it costs much less for these countries to develop the same skills. So more of the same skills and knowledge won’t work, neither will the same education. America does not need a quantitatively better education, it needs a different kind of education.

“There are of course other problems with Tucker’s chain of reasoning; for example, are American teachers truly worse educators than their counterparts in other countries? Again it depends on the definition of education. Is education about test scores? Or is it about cultivating diverse, creative, passionate, and curious innovators and entrepreneurs?

“Tucker has much faith in this plan. “We know this form of accountability will work because it is already working at a national scale in the countries that are outperforming us.” Even if Tucker were right, America will at best outperform the top performing country—China. But is that what we want? My answer is NO and my reasons are in my book ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World.'”

Another Douglas County group–the Douglas County Parents– objects to the local school board’s proposals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

++++++++++++++++

September 15, 2014

Today, Douglas County Parents (DCP) announced their concerns regarding the resolution passed by the Board of Education (BOE) on September 2, 2014, authorizing the submission of Innovation Waiver requests to the State Board of Education (SBE).

Grounded in the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, which gives local schools the ability to apply for a waiver from the SBE to opt out of state mandated standardized tests, this resolution could also transform the Douglas County School District into a “District of Innovation.”

Harmful consequences of becoming a “District of Innovation” include:

The Douglas County BOE would have the power to terminate non-core teachers and staff at will, and to waive teacher licensing requirements.

The Douglas County BOE would have the ability to dictate curriculum.

Innovation schools would have the same autonomies as charter schools, without the full responsibilities for operations and human resources that charter schools have. This would drive the demand for charter school enrollment down, potentially hurting the charter school communities in Douglas County.

DCSD would join “turnaround” districts such as Denver, Pueblo and Kit Carson, whose innovation schools have failed to achieve the intended goals of the program. DCSD would no longer be compared with districts such as Cherry Creek, Boulder, Littleton and JeffCo.

High schools would no longer be eligible to compete for “top lists” which are measured by state standardized tests.

Millions of public tax dollars would be spent to create yet another new system to comply with state and federal accountability measures.

As mandated by the Innovation Schools Act, “it is required that the prospective innovation school receives majority support from teachers, administrators and School Accountability Committee (SAC) members; as well as a statement of the level of support from classified school staff, parents, students and the surrounding community.” Because this resolution was passed without public community input, DCP believes that this majority of support was not sought, received, or proven.

“We firmly believe that the parents, teachers, staff and community of Douglas County have the right to choose whether or not they want this designation for our district,” said Cristin Patterson, spokesperson for DCP. “There are grave, irreversible consequences for choosing this path, and we implore the district to hold a public discussion on what this would mean for our schools and community. Upcoming state legislation may provide changes in state testing procedures, so we do not understand why district leaders would risk so much when the state is already pursuing a viable solution.”

About Douglas County Parents:

DCP is a growing local advocacy group made up of over 1,350 parent, teacher, student, and community member volunteers of all political affiliations, ages and professions who are concerned about the policies that the Douglas County Board of Education and district administration have forced upon our community. DCP’s community outreach efforts include sharing facts backed by documentation garnered through the school district and Colorado Department of Education websites and publications, Colorado Open Record Requests, and attending a variety of meetings. Please contact spokesperson, Cristin Patterson, at cristin@douglascountyparents.com for updates and statements relating to DCSD issues. You may also find more information at DouglasCountyParents.com.

Thank you for your time,

~ Cristin Patterson ~
Douglas County Parents
Spokesperson/Media Contact
cristin@douglascountyparents.com
http://www.DouglasCountyParents.com

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