Archives for category: Washington State

Something amazing is happening. Parents have discovered that they have the power to bring corporate reform to a halt. They do it by telling their children not to take the test. No test, no data. No data, no punishments for teachers, administrators, schools. Opting out is a vivid demonstration of the power of the powerless.

In Washington State, an unprecedented 48,000 students opted put.

Most of the opt outs were in 11th grade.

Carolyn Leith calls this an “educational uprising.”

If state leaders don’t listen to stents, the uprising will spread.

The highest court in the state of Washington announced that it would fine the state $100,000 per day for failing to comply with a previous order to fund the public schools fully.

“The state’s highest court Thursday delivered a unanimous order sanctioning the state for failing to come up with a plan to fully fund K-12 education per the court’s 2012 McCleary decision. Lawmakers and the governor are meeting Monday to begin work on it….

“The development comes as the state Supreme Court Thursday morning delivered a unanimous order sanctioning the state for failing to come up with a plan to fully fund K-12 education per the court’s 2012 McCleary decision. The court in September held the state in contempt of its decision and threatened sanctions then.

The order requires a fine of $100,000 per day and encourages Inslee to call a special session so that lawmakers can finish their work. The justices want the penalty money to be held in a special account, “for the benefit of basic education,” according to the order. But the fines will be halted if Inslee calls lawmakers into a special session and they succeed in addressing the issues the court raises….

“In their order, justices took issue with lawmakers’ progress over reducing K-3 class-sizes, as well as the lack of a plan by the state to address teacher compensation.

Jonathan Pelto reports a very important story from Washington State. As we have learned to expect, a majority of the students in the state “failed” the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Why?because the testing groups set the “cut score” (passing mark) unrealistically high.

Remarkably, the state board of education lowered the cut score so that most students would be able to graduate.

Pelto writes:

“Yup, you read that correctly, after taxpayers were forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing the Common Core and the Common Core Tests and students and teachers wasted unfathomable amounts of time prepping and taking the tests that were designed to label the vast majority of students as failures, the “lead” state behind the SBAC testing scheme simply threw out results.

“Instead of going with the cut score that was adopted by the SBAC coordinating committee last November, an unfair rating system that was adopted with the support of [Connecticut] Governor Dannel Malloy’s representatives, the Washington State Board of Education choose a new “passing” level , “where about as many kids are expected to pass the exams as passed the state’s previous tests.”

Now, Pelto wonders, what will Connecticut do?

His answer:

“Okay everyone – now would be a good time for Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers to start screaming out of utter frustration and anger!

“And then let’s go get the pitchforks!”

The reality is that no one knows how the cut scores were set, whether they actually predict college and career readiness, or why they were set so high that most students fail in every state.

Washington State officials acknowledged that 53% of high school juniors opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Yesterday early estimates predicted the number was 27-28%. Obviously a gross underestimate.

Participation rates in 3-8 were high.

The revolt against high-stakes testing continues in a big way in Washington State.

Nearly 30% of 11th grade students refused to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the test of the Common Core standards paid for by federal funds.

“Over one quarter of eligible Washington state high school juniors opted out of taking the Smarter Balanced exams this past spring, according to preliminary statistics released by the state education department—but in reality, the opt-out rate could be much higher.

“Officially, 27.4 percent of eligible students were “confirmed refusals” for taking the Smarter Balanced English/language arts exam, and 28.1 percent of them were confirmed refusals for the math exam. However, the percentage of potential refusals for the state could actually be much higher—the department puts the share of “potential refusals” at anywhere between 28 percent and 53 percent for both the math and E/LA tests, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

“That means more than half of juniors didn’t take the test. But the state isn’t yet sure whether some of them officially refused the test or didn’t take it for some other reason.”

A reader shares this information with us. The state will administer assessments to children in kindergarten but parents have the right to opt out. Will the parents know? If you live in Washington, make sure you inform parents of their right to opt out their children from this unnecessary assessment. Let the children play.

 

 

So here in the Pacific North West, our legislature just finished a special session and they’re now into the third. One part of our legislature, the House, just passed Washington HB 1491…”Expand Early Childhood Education Across the State” and has nice fine print related to testing kindergarteners and 3-4 year-olds. That’s right. TESTING. FOR KINDERGARTENERS. Section 2, [2][a] “Improve short-term and long-term educational outcomes for children as measured by assessments including, but not limited to, the Washington kindergarten inventory of developing skills in RCW 28A.655.080. The only saving grace? RCW 28A.150.315 is in force WITH THE EXCEPTION OF STUDENTS WHO HAVE BEEN EXCUSED FROM PARTICIPATION BY THEIR PARENTS OR GUARDIANS. That’s right. The K-12 public schools will now HAVE to administer the test with all the attendant costs and time suck but, as a parent, you won’t be hearing how you can opt-out. Lots of more work to do. Then again, I’m so pissed about it that it gives me the energy I need to fight, fight, fight.

Thousands of teachers marched in Seattle to demand better funding for the schools.

In Newark, hundreds of students marched and blocked traffic to protest the destruction of their public schools

This just in from teachers in Everett, WA:

A RESOLUTION OF DISAPPROVAL OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT

WHEREAS, the motto of Mariner High School is to “provide an excellent education to every student;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each 11th grader to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, there are not enough computers to test the students in a reasonable amount of time and it is unacceptable for computers to be unavailable to non-testing students for such a long period of time; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is going to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test will in no way be indicative of their learning and instead this test must be given to meet arbitrary, antiquated and poorly considered state/federal mandates; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant shift, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests is unacceptable; in addition to other assessments during the last seven weeks of school we must administer two weeks of AP testing, many weeks of 11th grade SBA testing, the 10th grade ELA exit exam, the Biology EOC exam, the Geometry EOC exam, and the Algebra 1 EOC exam; many of these exams are required for graduation or could possibly earn students college credit; moreover, during this time we are also required to teach our students and administer year end finals and projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on the school schedule and more importantly student learning cannot be justified simply to meet a superfluous bureaucratic requirement; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the members of the Mukilteo Education Association at Mariner High School object to the administration of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to providing an excellent education to every student.

Passed Unanimously 3/6/2015

This just in:

Local Teachers Condemn New Standardized Tests

REDMOND, Washington-March 26, 2015-Teachers at Redmond Middle School in the Lake Washington School District have publicly announced their objection to the “Smarter Balanced Assessments” to be administered to students this spring. Their announcement comes as educators across the nation have begun to react against standardized testing and its negative effects on teaching and learning.

“For me, it’s a matter of social justice,” said David Sudmeier, a twenty-eight year veteran teacher at Redmond Middle School. “We might as well pass out scores on the basis of family income. These tests pretend to offer an objective measure of student learning, but really discriminate against students who have parents working multiple jobs, who have limited home resources for activities that support learning, and who may go home to a bare cupboard instead of a warm, nourishing meal.”

“We care deeply about student learning,” remarked Shell Lockwood, who is about to end a long career as a teacher of gifted students, “but we don’t get any useful information from these tests. By the time scores are reported, those students have moved on. Every group of students is unique, and we can’t assume that the next group will have the same needs or abilities. These tests are more a distraction from productive teaching and learning than anything else.”

Some people might find it odd that teachers who object to the test are going to administer the test anyway.

“Our kids are the bottom line,” said Lockwood. “We want the public to know that we stand by our students to support them in a no-win situation. To abandon them just as testing begins would be unthinkable.”

So what can parents do in this situation? “Many of us are parents, too,” said Adam Wujick, math teacher at RMS. “I am disappointed in the lost instructional time for both my own kids and my students. I know that some parents are opting their children out of standardized testing entirely.”

It’s quite apparent that these teachers are determined to make their voice heard. “We have confidence in the wisdom of parents and the public,” said Sudmeier. “Now we just need our state legislators to heed our state constitution and lift public education to its rightful position as the paramount concern.”


From members of the Lake Washington Education Association of Redmond Middle School, east of Seattle, and part of the Lake Washington School District:

A RESOLUTION OF DISAPPROVAL OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT

WHEREAS, the stated mission of the Lake Washington School District is that ”Each student will graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each student to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, student computers and district infrastructure are unreliable and it is unacceptable for students to have learning time diverted to an activity so likely to be plagued with technical issues; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is likely to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test is unlikely to be indicative of learning, but very likely to correlate directly with family socioeconomic status; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant flux, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests and End of Course exams deprives teachers of adequate time to provide instruction and for students to learn; and

WHEREAS, some of these exams may impact high school graduation; and

WHEREAS, during the testing window teachers are also administering unit tests, year-end finals and facilitating summative projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on school schedules, student learning, teacher and administrative work time is out of proportion to the limited value of the test results; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, we, members of the Lake Washington Education Association at Redmond Middle School object to the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to assisting students to “… graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society.”

David Sudmeier

Denise Gross

Shell Lockwood

Sacha DeBeaumarchais

Kristin Rhode

Heidi Knable

Adam Wujick

Kaylee Hansen

Mary Chandler

Melissa Brown

Dena Kernish

Carol McCaig

Eric Fredlund

Ben Pinneo

Sara Hall

Scott Nelson

Quinn Thompson

Paul Neet

Kelly Konicki

Meg Town

Kris Kornegay

Chris Fleharty

Dora Taylor, public education activist in Seattle, can’t understand why two elected officials want to split Seattle into two school districts that are likely to intensify racial segregation.

 

For Dora Taylor, this is personal:

 

“I feel very strongly about this bill because my dad had no other choice but to live in the Central District when he was growing up in Seattle because of a city covenant that did not allow African-Americans to live outside of a boundary determined by the city. That meant little opportunity for my dad to grow beyond that border. He was fortunate enough to have a high school coach, at Franklin High School, who saw his talent and with his coach’s help, my dad, Brice Taylor, was one of the first three African-American students to attend the University of Southern California even against the wishes of the college president, but that’s another story.

 

“My dad went on to become the First All American at USC in football and that opened doors for him. Not everyone had that kind of opportunity. That’s why, what I term the Apartheid Bill, hits home for me. Some people find fault in my use of the term “Apartheid” but that is how I perceive it, through my lens.

 

“The Seattle Public School system reverted back to neighborhood schools not long ago which re-segregated our schools. Then with transportation cuts, it became even more difficult for students to attend special programs outside of their neighborhoods.

 

“Now, Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew want to split the city in half along racial lines again, through legislation, into two separate school districts, separate but not equal. This is why politicians should not determine education policy. Either they don’t know enough to make an informed decision or they are following through on a donor’s agenda.”

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