What should happen next in New York after the Common Core testing debacle?

I won’t share my thoughts here, which are strong, but instead share the views of an experienced educator. Jere Hochman is superintendent of the Bedford Central school district in Westchester County. This is what he concludes:

“Schools have always used standards, designed curriculum, taught kids, and assessed learning and acknowledged there is a lot of room for improvement. Still, SAT, ACT, and AP participation and scores are up as is college attendance and hundreds of thousands, millions of student success stories.

“But after the “Nation At Risk Report” in the ‘80s and other critiques going back to the late ‘90s, politicians and CEOs saw an Achilles heel that would advance their interests on the backs of kids and teachers while ignoring administrators and local school boards. Well intended efforts to “level the playing field” and “a new civil rights movement” were about as sincere as billionaires using the momentum of sincere Tea Party activists and the same billionaires converting the original Peace Corps mission of Teach for America into a business model to bust unions and segregate and oppress kids.

“Since 1999, since 2009, and since last spring, many of us have written about the attack on public education in the form of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the most recent New York reform measures. While trying to make them work and being supportive, protecting local norms and curriculum, and making the best of bad laws, this week the politicos and CEOs chicken little mantras came home to roost.

“So What?
“After numerous position papers, calls for cost-benefit analyses, pleas to slow down, and cries for communication; the convoluted efforts of Race to the Top became the proverbial and overused perfect storm: unproven college and career ready standards, excessive standardized testing, and a rushed teacher and principal evaluation plan. And, the storm hit this week when kids became collateral damage of tests that said, “You used to be smart – not so much now.”

“Yes, “We told you so.” We told you so when NCLB was railroaded under the shadow of 9/11. We told you so when we pointed out that RTTT was just the carrot version of the NCLB’s stick approach. We told you so when we illustrated APPR was not “building the plane while flying it” but rather a train wreck about to happen. We asked for information, explanations, test samples, and definitions. We asked for seats at the table, time, communication, and input.

“So, here we are. We hold our students to high standards and we have the data and work products to prove it. We hold ourselves to high professional standards. Maybe we needed to be hit over the head with a two-by-four to get our attention to high academic standards and meaningful professional evaluation. So, yes, you got our attention but then kept hammering away. And, all the while, you diverted funds from our schools and championed segregated, regimented, uniformed, information regurgitated charter schools.

“Now What? In order to be part of the solution that raises standards and expectations constructively, uses professional evaluation, and fair and meaningful testing, demand that the Board of Regents and Governor

“Re: CCSS and State Testing

1. Declare a one-year moratorium on State testing
2. Implement State testing only in transition grades 3, 5, 8, and 10 beginning in 2014-2015
3. Utilize transition year testing as benchmarks for student and cohort progress in multi-year clusters and review of curriculum implementation and alignment
4. Analyze 2013 tests and result for validity, reliability, and grade level match
5. Provide opportunities for teachers and principals to analyze all test questions, results, and standards for alignment and gaps
6. Utilize 2013-2014 to field test common core standards aligned state tests
7. Provide an extensive comment period reviewing PARCC assessments and other testing options

Re: APPR

1. Declare a one-year moratorium on the 40% tested subject and local assessments component of APPR
2. Utilize 2013-2014 to concentrate on rubric application confidence and inter-rater reliability
3. Utilize 2013-2014 for school districts and BOCES regions to field test local assessments
4. Provide irrefutable evidence for the use of Value-added measures or declare the application ceased

Re: RTTT, CCSS, State Testing, APPR, and State Reform Efforts

1. Report a complete expenditure review of RTTT funds
2. Provide a cost-benefit analysis of all components of CCSS, APPR, and state testing
3. Provide irrefutable evidence of privacy assurances on all aspects of data collection
4. Develop a revised timeline leading to 2014-2015 implementation with bi-weekly communications to the field
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