Archives for category: Testing

Ira Shor is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and rhetoric. Shor understands that standardized testing is the foundation on which the entire “reform” project rests. Take away the test scores, and the data-driven teacher evaluation collapses, along with the ambitious plans for privatization.

Shor writes:

“Opt-Out: The REAL Parent Revolution”

We parents can stop the destruction of our public schools. We can stop the looting of school budgets by private charters and testing vendors. We can stop the abuse of our children by the relentless hours of testing. We can stop the closings, the co-locations, the mass firings, the replacement of veteran teachers with short-term Teach for America newbies, the shameful indignity of public schools told they have 24 hours to clear out so a charter can seize their classrooms. To do this, we have to opt-out our kids from the new testing regimes—refuse to let the schools test our kids with PARCC or Smarter Balanced, boycott the pointless and punitive tests which make the best years of our kids’ lives into a digital hell.

I opted-out my 10-year-old son from all state tests this year and will continue to do so when the useless and costly PARCC tests arrive next year. I will encourage other parents to join me in boycotting such standardized tests, which Diane Ravitch has rightly called “junk science” because they cannot accurately report a student’s achievement, learning process, or academic needs, or a teacher’s competence. For commercial and political reasons, it pleases Duncan, Gates and Co. to spread such tools from coast to coast, but they offer no evidence that such tools can do the job they claim, despite the constant promotion financed by Gates’s millions to the two teacher unions, to the national PTA, to “Education Week” magazine, and other key players working on his side.

Neither CCSS nor PARCC can make our kids “college and career ready.” This is impossible from the rigidly-defined, narrow Common Core State Standards(CCSS) skill-sets or from the hours of standardized testing, which over-produce metrics that don’t amount to teaching or learning. First, of course, I ask, Who can predict what the job market will be like when my 10-year-old enters it? Also, school curricula which narrowly focus on skills under-develop the critical habits of mind and communication which children need to make sense of the world as they find it. Employers, in fact, report that narrow subject matter is not what they look for in candidates, preferring instead future employees who have learned how to learn, how to ask questions and to make sense of situations, how to ask for help, how to work in groups, how to learn from others by example, and how to communicate. Hours of standardized testing cannot lead to these outcomes.

The national CCSS-machine also ignores the most important factor in a child’s test scores: family income(widely-discussed since 1966 and the famous Coleman Report, reiterated again and again by social research.) SAT/ACT/high-school and college graduation rates have always correlated closely with family income. Because our society has the highest rate of child poverty of any developed nation(about 35% of Black and Hispanic kids, about 11% of white kids), our national averages on standardized tests are pulled down. The strongest policy, then for raising average scores would be an anti-poverty program, what Christopher Jencks 40 years ago called “an incomes policy,” that is, equalizing family incomes. When he proposed equal izing incomes, policy in the U.S. tilted towards the bottom 80%, especially the bottom 20% of families, as research by Saez and Piketty and by Robert Reich have shown; in that era, Black kids closed about 20% of the “achievement gap” with their white peers(see Jencks’s “The Black-White Achievement Gap.”) CCSS and its PARCC testing will fail just like NCLB and RTTT failed before them, fail to close the achievement gap, fail to produce deep learning for the vast majority of children, fail to close the huge income gap.

Because our children are in this together, so are we. Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!” Tell that to Bill Gates, to Arne Duncan, to Eli Broad, to Daniel Coleman, to Michelle Rhee, to Wendy Kopp, to Eva Moskowitz, to Govs. Cuomo and Christie, to the hedge-funders in Democrats for Education Reform, who send their own kids to test-exempt private schools with small classes, well-paid veteran teachers, handsome campuses, and field trips so that their kids “feel at home in the world,” as the elite prep of certain kids is sometimes called.

If we parents opt-out, we remove our kids from the commercial machine invading and destroying public schools. We refuse to let our kids become mass subjects tested to distraction. We insist that inspired teaching and complex learning and rich arts should be at the center of every school.

Authorities count on our quiet compliance to cement their plans into place. We need defiance instead, for the sake of the kids and for the sake of the public sector without which democracy cannot survive. When we opt-out we rescue our kids, our public schools, and our society at the same time. Our opposition will force authorities to retreat, if we stick together, get tough on behalf of our kids, and insist that public schools belong to us for the public good, not to the private sector or to the commercial parasites stealing our children’s futures.

Go to United Opt Out and learn more about how to join the cause.

New York City’s Public Advocate Letitia James wrote the following letter to John King but has received no answer. King believes that children must be tested as a matter of civil rights. James, who is also African American, does not agree. What do you think?

PUBLIC ADVOCATE FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK

Letitia James

June 25, 2014

Commissioner John King
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234

Dear Commissioner King:

I am writing you to express my concern regarding the New York State Education Department (SED) stand-alone field testing policy. I am strongly recommending that the New York State Education Department ban field testing for all New York City students. SED’s $32 million, five-year contract with test publisher Pearson did not include stand-alone field testing of multiple-choice items in math and English language arts (ELA). Pearson’s approach to test development is costly and unworkable and uses our students as guinea pigs.
My office met with educators, parents and advocates who are concerned about stand-alone field tests. They are frustrated with the SED lack of transparency and the pressure for teachers to teach to the test. High stakes testing has put unnecessary pressure on many families and educators and averts schools from developing curricula that promotes critical thinking. Stand-alone field testing is yet another test that takes teachers away from the classroom. In a 2011 report to Congress, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed America’s test-based accountability systems and concluded, “there are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress.”

The data generated by students taking a stand alone field test is unreliable and does not provide Pearson with meaningful information needed to design a valid test. This flawed approach is evident in the poorly developed 2012 and 2013 ELA and math exams. As field tests continue this June, these problems will still be prevalent and irrelevant exams will continue to be produced. Teachers and parents have publicly criticized testing materials stating that the items were not aligned with children’s developmental levels.

Rather than administering field tests, schools should focus on spending more time in the classroom to improve performance and encourage students to reach their potential. I trust that you understand the pressures that these students must be experiencing and urge you to stop field-testing in our state.

Please feel free to contact my office with any further questions and I look forward to your reply.
Sincerely,

(signed)
Letitia James
Public Advocate of the City of New York

1 CENTRE STREET NEW YORK NY 10007 TEL 212 669 7200 FAX 212 669 4701 WWW.PUBADVOCATE.NYC.GOV

The regular report from Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest:

The accelerating testing resistance and reform movement is beginning to produce modest victories across the country. Reflecting constituent pressure, more politicians are speaking out against over-testing. A few have established commissions to investigate the problem (and solutions). Several state legislatures have voted to cut back the number of tests and reduced their consequences. Classroom teachers have pushed their national associations to adopt stronger positions. More news stories and opinion columns recognize the failure of test-and-punish policies and examine alternatives. The grassroots movement continues to build power as local activists plan to be even more effective in the 2014-2015 school year.

Of course, much more fundamental changes are needed — an interim goal should be a moratorium on high-stakes testing, allowing time to develop and implement better assessment systems. That, in turn, will require an overhaul of both state and federal testing mandates, which will increasingly be organizers’ focus in the coming year.

California Governor Brown Denounces Testing Overkill

http://www.aft.org/newspubs/news/2014/071114brown.cfm

Colorado Test Review Commission Begins Work

http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/07/15/as-a-state-panel-convenes-to-examine-state-testing-a-look-at-the-big-issues/#.U8VMp2OTHZc

Critics of D.C. Education Policies Question Reported Test-Score Gains

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/critics-of-dc-education-policies-question-test-score-gains/2014/07/09/fa0cf064-0789-11e4-8a6a-19355c7e870a_story.html

Orlando School Board Member Says Purpose of Florida Test is to Flunk Kids, Build Support for School Privatization

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-fcat-sour-note-myword-071514-20140714,0,5203556.story

Choosing Between Testing and True Learning in Illinois Classrooms

http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/28420660-452/choosing-between-testing-and-true-learning.html#.U8EhwWOTHZc

Kansas Won’t Release Any Scores From Disrupted 2014 State Test Administration

http://www.kansas.com/2014/07/08/3544578/kansas-wont-release-data-from.html

Michigan’s Deceptive Private School Test Scores

http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2014/07/julie_mack_test_scores_school.html

New Jersey Rolls Back Test-Based Teacher Evaluation Rules; Commission Will Study Role of Exams

http://www.northjersey.com/news/christie-delays-use-of-student-test-scores-in-teacher-evaluations-1.1051272

New Mexico to Correct Flawed Teacher Evaluation Scores

http://www.abqjournal.com/428843/news/corrected-teacher-evals-due-before-school-starts.html

Test Scores Are No Sure Guide to What New York Students Know

http://online.wsj.com/articles/test-scores-are-no-sure-guide-to-what-students-know-1405122823?mod=rss_US_News

Grassroots Revolt Against Test-Driven “Reform” Changes Oklahoma Politics

http://www.okgazette.com/oklahoma/article-21757-education-for-the-pe.html

Portland Oregon School Board to Call for Delay in Common Core Test Based Evaluations

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/07/portland_school_board_poised_t.html

Rhode Island Legislators Did Right Job in Voting for Grad Test Delay

http://www.providencejournal.com/opinion/commentary/20140712-gregg-amore-assembly-did-its-job-in-necap-delay.ece

Tennessee Educators Criticize Use of Standardized Tests as “Be-All, End-All” of Education

http://www.claiborneprogress.net/news/opinion_columns/5218828/Professional-Educators-of-Tennessee-releases-statement-on-TCAP-results

Meaningless Texas Test Scores

http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/07/the-story-of-tom-ratliffs-daughter-one-data-point-about-texas-testing.html/

Number of Required Virginia Tests Reduced

http://www.fauquier.com/news/article/public_schools_ease_pressure_for_students_cutting_number_of_standardized_te

Beyond Bubble Tests: Why We Need Performance Assessments

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2014/07/beyond_the_bubble_test_why_we_need_performance_assessments.html

What Would Mark Twain Think About Common Core Tests?

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/07/what-would-mark-twain-have-thought-of-the-common-core/374114/

Why is Arne Duncan Still Pushing The Dangerous “Low Expectations” Myth?

http://www.alternet.org/education/why-arne-duncan-still-pushing-dangerous-myth-low-expectations

When Will the Testing Obsession End?

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2014/07/when_will_the_testing_obsession_end.html

One Reason Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/07/why-poor-schools-can-t-win-at-standardized-testing/374287/

AFT Escalates Fight Against Common Core Assessments

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/american-federation-of-teachers-common-core-108793.html

NEA Advocates Cutback in Federal Exam Mandate — Cyber-Lobbying Link

http://www.nea.org/home/59488.htm

Teachers Unions Latest to Back Away From Common Core Testing Embrace

http://voiceofrussia.com/us/news/2014_07_12/Major-Teachers-Union-Latest-to-Back-Away-from-Common-Core-Support-2363/

Special Education Taken Over By Testing Frenzy

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/07/special_education_taken_over_by_testing_frenzy_letter.html

Here’s Why We Don’t Need Standardized Tests

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/07/09/36jouriles.h33.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

Zephyr Teachout, who is opposing Governor Cuomo in the New York Democratic primary, explained her strong opposition to the Common Core standards, which Cuomo supports.

She writes:

“Common Core forces teachers to adhere to a narrow set of standards, rather than address the personal needs of students or foster their creativity. That’s because states that have adopted the standards issue mandatory tests whose results are improperly used to grade a teacher’s skill and even to determine if he or she keeps their job. These tests have created enormous and undue stress on students, and eroded real teaching and real learning. What’s more, there’s sound reason to question whether these standards even measure the right things or raise student achievement. No doubt, many teachers have found parts of the standards useful in their teaching, but there is a big difference between optional standards offered as support, and standards foisted on teachers regardless of students’ needs.

“Widespread outrage from teachers and parents has led Gov. Cuomo to tweak the rules around the implementation of the Common Core and call for a review of the rollout. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not addressed the real problem with Common Core.

“The fundamental issue is not the technicalities of how the standards are implemented. It is not even that Gov. Cuomo allowed this regime even as he was stripping schools of basic funding, leading class sizes to swell and forcing schools to slash programs in art and extra help. The root problem with Common Core is that it is undemocratic. It is a scheme conceived and heavily promoted by a handful of distant and powerful actors. Here in New York, it was adopted with insufficient input from local teachers, parents, school boards or students, the very people whose lives it so profoundly affects.

“Bill Gates’ coup is part of a larger coup we’re living through today – where a few moneyed interests increasingly use their wealth to steer public policy, believing that technocratic expertise and resources alone should answer vexing political questions. Sometimes their views have merit, but the way these private interests impose their visions on the public – by overriding democratic decision-making – is a deep threat to our democracy. What’s more, this private subversion of public process has come at the precise time when our common institutions, starved of funds, are most vulnerable. But by allowing private money to supplant democracy, we surrender the fate of our public institutions to the personal whims of a precious few.”

Teachout concludes:

“As did the founding generation in America, I believe public education is the infrastructure of democracy. The best public education is made democratically, in the local community: when parents, teachers, and administrators work together to build and refine the education models and standards right for our children.”

Meredith Broussard, a professor of data journalism at Temple University, was helping her son with his homework, and she made a discovery: he could not find “the right answer” to homework questions unless they were in the textbook. But on further investigation, she learned that the public schools of Philadelphia don’t have a textbook budget. So not only do students not have access to the answers that will be on the test, they don’t have a chance to succeed.

In an article that she wrote for “The Atlantic,” she concluded that after $1 billion in state budget cuts, the Philadelphia public schools had a budget of $0 for textbooks. These students don’t have a chance.

Writing in The Atlantic, high school English teacher David Perrin tries to imagine what Mark Twain would think about Common Core testing.

 

He begins:

 

I’ve been teaching high school English in Illinois for over 20 years, but have only recently come to believe that I am complicit in a fraud. For nearly a decade, I have dutifully prepared college-bound students for the rigors of the ACT and the Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition exam. Even though I believe there’s an undue emphasis on testing in our current school culture, I have considered this preparation an important part of my job because these tests are important to my students both academically and financially. But I question what, if anything, the new Common Core test—which will include writing components graded in part by computer algorithms—will have to offer my students.

 

Perrin has no doubt that Twain would have skewered the Common Core curriculum, as he skewered the curriculum of his own time:

 

Mark Twain had an abiding concern with education, and he treated formal schooling derisively in his writings. His 1917 autobiography describes his education in the mid-19th century, at the dawn of the public school movement; his acerbic portrayal of Mr. Dobbins in the school scenes of Tom Sawyer is based on Twain’s remembrances of his own teachers and experiences. In one scene, set on Examination Day, Twain mocks the vacuous nature of writing instruction as he shows Tom Sawyer’s classmates reading their essays aloud: “A prevalent feature in these compositions was a nursed and petted melancholy; another was a wasteful and opulent gush of ‘fine language’; another was a tendency to lug in by the ears particularly prized words and phrases until they were worn entirely out.” The examinations come to an abrupt halt when Tom and his friends hide in the garret, lower a cat on a string, and watch it snatch the wig off the teacher’s head.

In 1887, Twain penned an introduction to English as She is Taught, a parody of sorts written by a Brooklyn school teacher who had crafted together her students’ most outlandish and misinformed answers. Twain quotes his favorite passages: “The captain eliminated a bullet through the man’s heart. You should take caution and be precarious. The supercilious girl acted with vicissitude when the perennial time came.” His real target isn’t the writing itself but the school system that gave rise to such disjointed answers. “Isn’t it reasonably possible,” he asks, “that in our schools many of the questions in all studies are several miles ahead of where the pupil is?—that he is set to struggle with things that are ludicrously beyond his present reach, hopelessly beyond his present strength?” He notes, for example, that the date 1492 has been drilled into every student’s memory. In the book’s essays, it “is always at hand, always deliverable at a moment’s notice. But the Fact that belongs with it? That is quite another matter.”

 

Twain would have had fun at the expense of the Common Core standards and the computer-graded tests, writes Perrin:

 

The Common Core standards and their assessment tools would have given Twain plenty of fodder for his sardonic wit. The first “anchor standard” for writing at the grade 11–12 level declares that students will “write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.” This goal will be assessed by Pearson, one of America’s three largest textbook publishers and test-assessment companies. Pearson will, at least in part, be using the automated scoring systems of Educational Testing Services (ETS), proprietor of the e-Rater, which can “grade” 16,000 essays in a mere 20 minutes.

 

And he would have been suspicious of the profit motive of the corporations that are likely to make $1 billion or more by testing students. Perrin feels sure that Twain “would have almost certainly had something to say about essay-grading software and corporations that refuse to reveal their testing methods. With so little transparency, and with so many dollars and futures at stake, Twain might have condemned an “assification of the whole system….” He would not be one of those who stand with the corporations that stand to profit and the politicians who couldn’t pass the tests they insist upon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every state that has adopted Common Core tests has seen a sharp decline in test scores.

Maryland is the latest to discover that its scores fell thanks to Common Core tests.

“Reading and math scores on state tests for Maryland elementary and middle school students have dropped to their lowest levels in seven years, according to a Washington Post analysis of 2014 test data released Friday. Some Maryland officials expected the drop because schools are transitioning to new national academic standards that do not align with the tests.

“State and county educators said the across-the-board decline on the final Maryland School Assessment (MSA) was largely a result of the state’s move to a curriculum aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The new curriculum shifts some academic topics to different grade levels, especially in math, making the MSA obsolete.

“Students’ scores had been steadily inching up until 2013, when there were sharp declines in reading and math scores, a slide that continued this year. In 2014, overall proficiency scores in reading and math among elementary students fell 5.2 percentage points to 80 percent proficiency. Middle-schoolers fared worse — 71.4 percent proficiency, a drop of 6.5 percentage points. Drops in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties roughly mirrored the state averages.

“During the past two years, the state has shifted its instruction to prepare for the tests by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, which are aligned with the Common Core and were recently field-tested in Maryland.”

The two federally-funded tests used NAEP “proficient” as their passing mark, a standard that is equivalent to high performance, not grade-level performance.

One reason–perhaps the main reason–that so many conservatives and entrepreneurs like the Common Core testing is that they hope it will convince suburban parents that their schools are no good and create new markets for charters, vouchers, and expensive new software. In other words, the Common Core tests are designed for failure.

Stephen Sawchuck did a good job reporting the heated debate about the Common Core standards at the AFT convention. The Chicago Teachers Union wanted to dump them. The head of the New York City United Federation of Teachers mocked the critics of the standards. One union official said that the critics represented the Tea Party. That’s pretty insulting to the Chicago Teachers Union and one-third of the AFT delegates, as well as people like Anthony Cody, Carol Burris, and me.

As far as I can tell, no one explained how states and districts will find the hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for hardware and software required for “the promise of Common Core.” Early estimates indicate that Pearson will have a contract of $1 billion to develop the PARCC tests. Who will pay Pearson? Who will be laid off? How large will class sizes go?

There were no Martians on the committee that wrote the Common Core standards, but there were also no classroom teachers, no early childhood teachers, no special education teachers. There were a number of testing experts.

Frankly the best and only hope for the future of these standards is that they are totally decoupled from testing. It is not likely to happen because doing so would deny the privatizers the data to prove that schools are failing and must be closed at once. That’s where the next big fight will occur.

Will they prepare all children for college and careers? Nobody knows. Will they help prepare our children for “global competition?” Not likely if the global competition works for $2 an hour for 18 hours a day under unsafe conditions.

The Common Core standards will never be national standards. They were developed in haste, paid for by one man (the guy is Seattle who thinks he knows everything), sold to the public via a slick PR campaign. They were never tried out. The tests connected to them are designed to fail most kids. Arne Duncan and Bill Gates thought they could pull a fast one and bypass democracy. Sorry, boys, you are wrong. Public education belongs to the public. Children belong to their parents. Neither public education nor children are for sale.

Pearson, the British megacorporation, appears to have won the PARCC Common Core contract, which is worth about $1 billion. Its tests will be administered to 6-10 million children in 14 states. The third grade tests will take eight hours. The high school tests will take 10 hours. PARCC is also developing tests for kindergarten, first and second grades.

FAIRTEST has compiled a catalogue of known Pearson errors:

PEARSON’S HISTORY OF TESTING PROBLEMS

compiled by Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Updated May 5, 2014

1998 California – test score delivery delayed

1999-2000 Arizona – 12,000 tests misgraded due to flawed answer key

2000 Florida – test score delivery delayed resulting in $4 million fine

2000 Minnesota – misgraded 45,739 graduation tests leads to lawsuit with $11 million settlement – judge found “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting.” http://www.news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200211/25_pugmiret_testsettle/ (FairTest consulted with plaintiffs’ attorneys)

2000 Washington – 204,000 writing WASL exams rescored

2002 Florida — dozens of school districts received no state grades for their 2002 scores because of a “programming error” at the DOE. One Montessori school never received scores because NCS Pearson claimed not to have received the tests.

2005 Michigan — scores delayed and fines levied per contract

2005 Virginia — computerized test misgraded – five students awarded $5,000 scholarships http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_8014/is_20051015/ai_n41291590/

2005-2006 SAT college admissions test – 4400 tests wrongly scored; $3 million settlement after lawsuit (note FairTest was an expert witness for plaintiffs)

2007-2011 Mississippi – subcontractor programs correct answer as incorrect resulting in erroneous results for almost four years during which time 126 students flunked the exam due to that wrongly scored item. Auditors criticized Pearson’s quality control checks, and the firm offered $600,000 in scholarships as compensation

2008 South Carolina –“Scoring Error Delays School Report Cards” The State, November 14, 2008

2008-2009 Arkansas — first graders forced to retake exam because real test used for practice

2009-2010 Wyoming – Pearson’s new computer adaptive PAWS flops; state declares company in “complete default of the contract;” $5.1 million fine accepted after negotiations but not pursued by state governor

http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/article_d7fae426-7358-5000-a86b-aefcae258a2a.html

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/article_263ceb44-833a-11e0-911d-001cc4c002e0.html

2010 Florida – test score delivery delayed by more than a month – nearly $15 million in fines imposed and paid. http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/florida-hits-fcat-contractor-pearson-with-another-12-million-in-penalties/1110688

2010 Minnesota — results from online science tests taken by 180,000 students delayed due to scoring error http://www.twincities.com/ci_15533234?nclick_check=1#

2011 Florida – some writing exams delivered to districts without cover sheets, revealing subject students would be asked to write about http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/testmaker-pearson-replaces-faulty-fcats-missing-cover-sheets/1153508

2011 Florida – new computerized algebra end-of-course exam delivery system crashes on first day of administration http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-05-17/features/os-algebra-test-pearson-problems-20110517_1_tests-algebra-high-schools

2011 Oklahoma – “data quality issues” cause “unacceptable” delay in score delivery — http://newsok.com/errors-in-testing-data-hold-up-results-for-oklahoma-districts-students/article/3597297
Pearson ultimately replaced by CTB/McGraw Hill http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20120714_19_A1_Afters391504

2011 Guam – score release delayed because results based on flawed comparison data; government seeks reimbursement — http://www.guampdn.com/article/20111021/NEWS01/110210303

2011 Illinois – 144 student in five Chicago schools wrongly received zeroes due to scoring error. The state sought nearly $1.7 million from Pearson, which could not explain how the errors occurred.

2011 Iowa – State Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclosure Board opens investigation of Iowa Education Department director Jason Glass for participating in all-expenses-paid trip to Brazil sponsored by Pearson Foundation — http://news.yahoo.com/formal-complaint-against-iowa-education-chief-190455698.html

2011 New York – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenas financial records from Pearson Education and Pearson Foundation concerning their sponsorship of global junkets for dozens of state education leaders — http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/education/new-york-attorney-general-is-investigating-pearson-education.html

2011 Oklahoma – State identifies 18 significant problems with Pearson’s tests leading to $8 million penalty settlement. http://newsok.com/oklahoma-education-department-reviews-contracts-in-wake-of-standardized-testing-errors/article/3601417

2011 Wyoming – Board of Education replaces Pearson as state’s test vendor after widespread technical problems with online exam (http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/wyoming/state-education-officials-choose-new-paws-vendor/article_6ba18e9f-858c-5846-8274-db31c13494c1.html)

2012 New York – “Pineapple and the Hare” nonsense test question removed from exams after bloggers demonstrate that it was previously administered in at least half a dozen other states –

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/nyregion/standardized-testing-is-blamed-for-question-about-a-sleeveless-pineapple.html

2012 New York – More than two dozen additional errors found in New York State tests developed by Pearson — http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304203604577394492500145150.html

2012 Florida – After percentage of fourth grades found “proficient” plunges from 81% to 27% in one year, state Board of Education emergency meeting “fixes” scores on FCAT Writing Test by changing definition of proficiency. http://www.clickorlando.com/news/Passing-score-lowered-for-FCAT-Writing-exam/-/1637132/13396234/-/k1ckc2z/-/index.html

2012 Virginia – Error on computerized 3rd and 6th grade SOL tests causes state to offer free retakes. http://www.newsplex.com/home/headlines/Error_on_SOL_Reading_Test_Gives_Students_Option_to_Retake_154191285.html

2012 New York – Parents have their children boycott “field test” of new exam questions because of concerns about Pearson’s process http://rochesterhomepage.net/fulltext?nxd_id=322122

2012 Oklahoma – After major test delivery delays, state replaces Pearson as its testing contractor http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=19&articleid=20120714_19_A1_Afters391504

2012 New York – More than 7,000 New York City elementary and middle school students wrongly blocked from graduation by inaccurate “preliminary scores” on Pearson tests

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/ed_blunder_mad_grads_JI2z8N6tA6Td0FGiwYSraP

2012 New York – State officials warn Pearson about potential fines if tests have more errors http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/fines-bad-questions-state-tests-article-1.1187220

2012 Mississippi – Pearson pays $623,000 for scoring error repeated over four years that blocked graduation for five students and wrongly lowered scores for 121 others http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20121025/NEWS01/310240052/Pearson-North-America-scoring-error-prevented-5-Mississippi-students-from-graduating-affected-121-others

2012 Texas – Pearson computer failure blocks thousands of students from taking state-mandated exam by displaying error message at log on http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local-education/computer-glitch-prevents-some-texas-students-from-/nTMCP/

2013 New York – Passages from Pearson textbooks appear in Pearson-designed statewide test, giving unfair advantage to students who used those materials http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/practice-material-found-upstate-exams-article-1.1321448

2013 New York – three Pearson test scoring mistakes block nearly 5,000 students from gifted-and-talented program eligibility http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/education/score-corrections-qualify-nearly-2700-more-pupils-for-gifted-programs.html

2013 Worldwide – Pearson VUE testing centers around the globe experience major technical problems, leaving thousands unable to take scheduled exams or register for new ones http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/04/26/pearson-vue-test-centers-experience-major-problems

2013 New York – Second error found in New York City gifted-and-talented test scoring makes 300 more students eligible for special programs http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/education/new-error-found-in-test-scoring-for-gifted-programs.html

2013 England, Wales and Northern Ireland – General Certificate of Secondary Education exam in math leaves out questions and duplicates some others http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10118879/Exam-board-apologises-over-GCSE-test-paper-blunder.html

2013 Texas – State Auditor finds inadequate monitoring of Pearson’s contract: vendor determined costs of assessment changes without sufficient oversight and failed to disclose hiring nearly a dozen former state testing agency staff http://www.texastribune.org/2013/07/16/state-auditor-finds-testing-contract-oversight-lac/

2013 Virginia – 4,000 parents receive inaccurate test scorecards due to Pearson error in converting scores to proficiency levels http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/pearson-miscalculates-scorecards-for-more-than-4000-va-students/2013/08/13/5620cc42-042d-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html

2013 New York – New Pearson Common Core textbooks are “full of errors,” including in sample test items http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/textbooks-recommended-dept-education-full-errors-teachers-article-1.1512852

2013 New York – Pearson fined $7.7 million by New York State for using its non-profit foundation arm to steer business to the firm http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/nyregion/educational-publishers-charity-accused-of-seeking-profits-will-pay-millions.html

2014 National – Pearson notifies students who took the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) in 2011 that their exams had been miscored http://dianeravitch.net/2014/04/17/pearsons-errors-matter/

2014 Florida – State education commissioner seeks penalties after schools in 26 counties suspend Pearson’s new computerized tests because server problems prevent students from logging on and freeze screens http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/pasco-hernando-schools-battling-computer-problems-during-fcat/2176268

2014 New York – Printing errors result in missing questions and blank pages in Pearson-designed statewide math assessment http://news.wbfo.org/post/missing-pages-statewide-math-assessments

2014 Texas – Pearson emails out two test questions to teachers days before the exam is administered http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/05/questions-on-two-staar-exams-were-accidentally-emailed-out-last-month.html/

If you have questions or additional examples, contact Bob Schaeffer.

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

In a day of debates, the American Federation of Teachers voted to continue its support for the controversial Common Core standards while complaining about its faulty implementation. The delegates also voted for a resolution to put Secretary Duncan on a remediation plan that would be monitored by President Obama (ha-ha, when he is not busy with foreign crises). Politico.com wrote: “The “improvement plan” would include the requirement that Duncan enact the funding and equity recommendations of the Equity Commission’s “Each and Every Child” report; change the No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top “test-and-punish” accountability system to a “support-and-improve” model; and “promote rather than question” teachers and school staff.”

After the NEA passed a resolution calling on Duncan to resign, the AFT rebuke seemed like mockery of Duncan, a bureaucrat who demands accountability of everyone but is never held accountable for his own missteps. Of course, his missteps are not mistakes but reflect his contempt for teachers and public schools. In his world-view, everyone lies about how terrible schools are except him.

This is the press release in which AFT explained its continued support for the Common Core, which will drain states and districts of billions of dollars for the testing industry while teacher layoffs increase:

“LOS ANGELES— AFT members today passed a resolution at the union’s national convention reaffirming the AFT’s support for the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards as a way to ensure all children have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century while sharply criticizing the standards’ botched implementation. The AFT’s resolution lays out key actions needed to restore confidence in the standards and provide educators, parents and students with the tools and supports they need to make the standards work in the classroom.

The resolution, “Role of Standards in Public Education,” resolution passed following an intense, extended debate on the convention floor. Educators expressed their frustrations and anger with how the standards were developed and rolled out, without sufficient input from those closest to the classroom and without the tools and resources educators need to make the transition to the new rigorous standards, even as states and districts rushed to test and hold teachers and students accountable. AFT members also voiced their distrust of efforts by those seeking to make a profit off the new standards. No matter where members stood on the issue, there was clear anger over the deprofessionalization of teachers throughout the implementation process. At the same time, however, many educators shared how they’ve witnessed, when done right, how these standards more from rote memorization to provide children with the deeper learning the standards were designed to produce and that the standards remain the best way to level the playing field for all children. Proponents of the resolution made clear that it resolution offers solutions to fix the poor implementation and includes a call for greater teacher voice.

“We heard a lot of passion today—all in support of student needs and teacher professionalism,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “And where our members ended up is that we will continue to support the promise and potential of these standards as an essential to tool to provide each and every child an equitable and excellent education while calling on the powers that be in districts and, states and at the national level to work with educators and parents to fix this botched implementation and restore confidence in the standards. And no matter which side of the debate our members were on, there’s one thing everyone agreed on—that we need to delink these standards from the tests.”

The resolution lays out key action steps the AFT is taking to make the standards work for kids and educators, including:

• Rejecting low-level standardized testing in favor of assessments aligned with rich curricula that encourage the kind of higher-order thinking and performance skills students need;

• Supporting efforts by affiliates to hold policymakers and administrators accountable for proper implementation;

• Advocating that each state create an independent board composed made up of a majority representation of teachers and education professionals to monitor the implementation of the standards;

• Fighting to ensure that educators are involved in a cohesive plan for engaging stakeholders, and, that they have a significant role in the implementation and evaluation of the standards in their schools, and that there are adequate funds provided by all levels of government to ensure successful implementation of the standards; and

• Reaffirming the call the AFT made more than a year ago for a moratorium on the high-stakes consequences of Common Core-aligned assessments for students, teachers and schools until all of the essential elements of a standards-based system are in place.
“What educators and parents are saying is,: ‘Yes, we want our children to have the knowledge and skills they need for life, college, career and citizenship.’ But to make that a reality, our voices need to be involved in a meaningful way, and we actually have to focus on the learning, and not the obsession with testing,” said Weingarten.

###

Here are my thoughts;

If the standards are decoupled from the tests, as the AFT hopes, the standards will be a very costly and very toothless tiger. With or without the tests, they will drain every district of desperately needed resources.

One very promising idea to emerge from the conference was Randi Weingarten’s proposal to give grants to groups of teachers to revise the standards. This makes sense, especially in light of the fact that the writing committee for the Common Core standards did not include a single active classroom teacher nor anyone who had experience teaching early childhood edition nor anyone who had taught children with disabilities.

To those who say that the standards can’t be revised because they are copyrighted, I say nonsense. Let’s see if the National Governors Association or Achieve or the Council of Chief State School Officers has the gall to sue the AFT or its surrogates for trying to fix the CCSS. Bring it on.

No matter how many resolutions are passed at this or any other convention, the Common Core standards are going nowhere. State after state is dropping them or the federal tests or both. The standards ignore the root causes of low academic achievement: poverty and segregation. There is no proof that they will fulfill their lofty goals. They will end up one day as a case study in college courses of the abuse of power: how one man tried to buy American education and bypass democratic procedures. Even in states with high standards, like Massachusetts and California, there are large achievement gaps. Even in the same classrooms with the same teacher, there are variations in test scores.

We live in an age of magical thinking, of unrealistic expectations and of lies dressed up as goals and promises. For more than a dozen years, politicians have insisted that testing and accountability would leave no child behind. Then in 2009, the politicians said that testing and accountability would create a “race to the top.” Now we are told that common standards and common tests will bring about equity and excellence. What fools these mortals be. The politicians never run out of excuses or slogans. At some point, the public will tire of their know-nothing meddling. Let us hope that day will come soon.

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