Search results for: "rhode island MCAS"

Rhode Island State Commissioner Ken Wagner says that the state will drop the unpopular Common Core exam PARCC and adopt instead the Massachusetts test called MCAS. After all, if Massachusetts is the highest-achieving state in the nation, it must be because they have the best tests! So soon, you can expect Rhode Island to be up at the top of NAEP alongside Massachusetts because testing must be the key to their success, especially since Massachusetts has used more or less the same tests for two decades. Stability and the same test. Magic!

Now if every state adopted MCAS, then every state would be at the top!

Thanks to reader Sheila Resseger, who sent this article about the low PARCC scores in Rhode Island.

Here were the results for the kids with the greatest need for support:

Less than 22 percent of black and Latino students scored proficient in English compared to a statewide average of almost 38 percent on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a challenging test rolled out last year amid dismal results.

Less than 9 percent of English language learners reached the state standard, and that number fell to less than 6 percent for special-needs students.

The achievement gaps widened.

The State Commissioner of Education, Ken Wagner (formerly deputy commissioner in New York state), is quoted.

Less than 22 percent of black and Latino students scored proficient in English compared to a statewide average of almost 38 percent on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a challenging test rolled out last year amid dismal results.

Less than 9 percent of English language learners reached the state standard, and that number fell to less than 6 percent for special-needs students.

Related content R.I. educators urge stay the course on standardized testsIn an interview yesterday, State Education Commissioner Ken Wagner said poverty was not to blame for the chronically low scores among urban school districts.

“If you go back 40 years, we’ve always been at a 30- or 40-percent plateau,” he said, referring to the percentage of students reaching proficiency in English and math. “Part of the story is we need to stop changing our minds. We need take a common-sense approach and stick with it for the long haul.”

Rhode Island, unlike Massachusetts, has switched state tests. It has reversed course on whether passing a test should be a high-school graduation requirement. Legislative leadership has undermined the work of education commissioners.

Math scores increased by 5 points this year, with nearly 30 percent of all students meeting the standards. Students improved in every grade level. In English, scores improved by two percentage points, with almost 38-percent reaching proficiency. Students improved in five out of eight grade levels.

Tim Duffy, the executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, said Rhode Island is moving forward but “not fast enough.”

“The anxiety about the PARCC seems to have dissipated,” he said. “But the scores are stagnant at the upper grade levels, which reinforces that the test has to be part of the graduation requirements.”

Wagner moved this year to drop the PARCC as a graduation requirement after widespread criticism that urban students were not adequately prepared to take it, among other concerns.

The PARCC, which was originally adopted by 24 states, is down to seven. Rhode Island is the only state in New England to stick with the test, which has been confounded by technical problems and a huge opt-out movement in states like New York. Massachusetts switched to a hybrid of the PARCC and its own test, the MCAS, this past year.

Wagner denied that the test is too hard, a common criticism. Instead, he said Rhode Island has much work to do to put a rigorous curriculum in every school, ramp up teacher training and redesign the way schools, especially high schools, are structured.

High-school students across Rhode Island performed poorly on the tests. In Providence, every high school but Classical scored in the single digits on the math and English PARCC tests.

But it wasn’t just the urban schools that underperformed. At Burrillville High School, only 17 percent of the students scored proficient on the English test. In North Kingstown and South Kingstown, approximately a third scored proficient and in Westerly, 21 percent did.

Wagner says the tests are not too hard. Surely that can’t be an excuse for the vast majority that “failed.” Can’t blame poverty.

The real problem, he says, is that we need to stick with the PARCC no matter how many kids fail.

Tim Duffy of the state’s school committees wants PARCC to be a graduation requirement (Wagner disagrees). What will Rhode Island do with all those kids who never pass? At this point, it would be a very large majority. Will they drop out? Will they get jobs without a high school diploma? Will they stay in third grade or fourth grade until they pass? Will third grade become a huge parking lot where few students make it to fourth grade?

Please, someone, explain how this would work. And Commissioner Wagner, how many years will it take until most students in Rhode Island “pass” the PARCC test, a feat not accomplished by any other state except Massachusetts? Will students with disabilities stay in school for the rest of their lives?

Thanks to the energetic leadership of Marla Kilfoyle, who is former executive director of the BATS, the Network for Public Education has developed a strong grassroots network. Here is her report:

The Network for Public Education 

Grassroots Education Network-November 2020 Newsletter

The NPE Grassroots Education Network is a network of over 155 grassroots organizations nationwide who have joined together to preserve, promote, improve, and strengthen our public schools. If you know of a group that would like to join this powerful network, please go here to sign on. 

If you have any questions about the NPE Grassroots Education Network, please contact Marla Kilfoyle, NPE Grassroots Education Network Liaison, at marlakilfoyle@networkforpubliceducation.org

Notes from Marla

November saw us on the precipice of a historic election.  With the incoming Biden/Harris administration, we hope that we can finally get someone in the USDOE that stands strong for our public schools, our public schools students, and our public school parents. We need a USDOE secretary rooted in equity and a vision that will get our public schools what they need to serve all of our children and families.  With that being said, NPE and our amazing partners launched the Keep Your Promises this month. We congratulate President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, on their historic victory. We look forward to working with them as they fulfill their promised commitment to our nation’s public schools. The promises made during the campaign drew support from public education advocates across the nation. With those promises in mind, we listed the top five K-12 priorities that they should keep at the forefront as they govern. In order to this, we need Pro-Public education leadership in the Department of Education. Let’s make sure that Joe Biden chooses a public education advocate for the next Secretary of Education. We need a leader who rejects corporate reforms, high-stakes testing, and school privatization. It is time to rebuild our public schools. We are encouraging people to please send an email to the Biden team. You can use our letter or create your own.  We make it easy and fast using Action Network.  Go here to send your email today, and please share. 

National Organizing

Network for Public Education President Diane Ravitch and Executive Director Carol Burris wrote a powerful piece in the Washington Post about who education advocates want to see as the next Education Secretary.  NPE also hosted another Conversation with Diane episode this month.  Diane hosted Kevin Welner on November 12th.  They had a great conversation about his new book Potential Grizzlies: Making the Nonsense Bearable and much more. To view that conversation, go here. Defending the Early Years proudly announced that Kisha Reid has joined their advisory board. Kisha has been an early childhood education advocate for years.  She is the founder and director of the Maryland-based Discovery Early Learning Center. Listen to In the Public Interest’s executive director Donald Cohen on Feet to the Fire podcast with James Lardner. Donald spoke about the importance of building trust in public institutions as the new administration ramps up its plans. The Journey for Justice Alliance podcast On The Ground, hosted by Jitu Brown, airs every Monday at 6 PM CST. J4J also released powerful videos from their Town Hall last month. You can see them here, here, and here. Fairtest publishes a newsletter each week about the misuses and flaws of standardized testing. They are a valuable resource and clearinghouse for everything testing and test reform. Fairtest has published a list of test-optional universities and colleges.  Head over to their open Facebook page for updates and their weekly newsletter. Rethinking Schools released the very powerful Teach the Struggle for Voting Rights this month. It is a must-read and share. The Parent Coalition for Student Privacy is a valuable resource for all that is student, parent, and educator privacy.  Check out their website for valuable toolkits on the topic. Parents for Public Schools published a fantastic new article on their blog this month. The article titled Family Involvement vs. Family Engagement: What’s the Difference? Is a must read and share. Parents Across America provides position papers and key documents on their website.  It is a great list to keep handy for advocacy work in your area. Congratulations to The Schott Foundation who received a $2.25 million grant from the Nellie Mae Foundation!  

The Badass Teachers Association (BATs) appears on The Rick Smith Show every Wednesday night.  Head over to this link to access show and date information. Trinational Coalition to Defend Public Education (USA) has a public Facebook group that features information from Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. about how communities are navigating the worldwide COVID crisis. The Ontario (Canada) Secondary School Teachers Federation released a statement on how the Ford government budget fails students, parents, education workers, and teachers. Wear Red for Ed has an active open Facebook page that tracks the Red for Ed movement nationwide. It is also tracking education issues that are surfacing due to the shutdown of our schools. Be sure to check out the Uniting to Save Our Schools (USOS) event tab on their website. This month they held a Zoom meeting on what it means to return safely to school. First Focus Campaign for Children wrote a letter this month to candidates and elected officials asking them to commit to kids. Kinderchat continues to host its popular Twitter chat every Monday night at 9 PM EST. The chats are informative and provide great resources for teaching kindergartners during school closures. Check them out on Twitter at #Kinderchat. Kinderchat also has a fantastic website full of resources. Instituto Nueva Escuela focused on their Montessori Public campaign this month. To learn more about this campaign, visit their Facebook page. Be sure to check out Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood blog Teach Over Tech. The blog features articles from educators, academics, parents, and students, Teach over Tech is a platform for sharing solutions to screen overuse in schools. Topics range from equitable access to high-quality learning, opting out of EdTech, outdoor teaching and learning, to parenting during distance learning, and more. Check it out here.  Equal Opportunity Schools shared and supported, the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color 2020 Fall and Winter series. This month they hosted a Virtual Gathering of Leaders: It’s Time to use Your Influence for the Liberation of School Spaces. Dr. Angela M. Ward led this interactive session on personal and collective decision making. When Public Schools Reopen has launched its new website!  Uniting for Children and Youth (Canada)  hosted a Child Friend Community Conference this month. We will have updates on that in our next newsletter. National Educators United signed onto the network this month. We are honored to do this work with them. To learn more about their work, check out their Twitter feed and their page on Instagram.  If you are an educator, please ask to join their closed Facebook group to help with organizing.  

NPE Grassroots Education Network – State Organizations Support  Public Education

Please use this clearinghouse of information to inform people in the various states about the NPE Grassroots Education Network organizations.  Please encourage people to join them and support their work! Call on family, friends, and colleagues to join the fight to save public education. This section is also a place to get great ideas on organizing and actions. 

Alabama

SOS (Support our Students) was excited to announce that Little Free Libraries would be installed outside every school in Birmingham’s District 2. They asked the public to please help them build the book selection.  

Arizona 

Voices for Education shared information on why Prop 208 was a lifeline for public schools in Arizona. Arizonans for Charter School Accountability update their website frequently about charter corruption across the nation and in Arizona. Save our Schools Arizona hosted a talk this month called Addressing Education & Health Disparities in Latinx & Native American Communities. We will post the archived video in our next newsletter. Arizona Educators United, along with all of the organizations in Arizona, celebrated the passage of Prop 208.  

California

California Educators United shares how labor is rising up to meet the challenges we face in our communities and schools.  Check out all the news on their open Facebook page.The Public Core program, Between Two Teachers, is informative. To view all their archived programs, go here. If you live in the Los Angeles area, or know anyone who does, encourage them to connect with The Association of RAZA Educators.  They hold organizing meetings each month. Check out Bay Area Collective Keeping Privatizers Away from Community Schools (BACKPACS) on Facebook to keep up with all their movements in fighting back the charter lobby in the Bay Area. 

Colorado

Pueblo Education Coalition co-hosted a police-free schools Zoom event late last month with the National Education Policy Center and the CU Research Hub. They have been compiling Pueblo specific data to help guide a discussion on moving toward police-free schools. 

Connecticut

Children Are More Than Test Scores share, and discuss, information about testing in a public Facebook group of 3500 members.  Head over there and join the conversation. 

Re:public Ed informs Connecticut residents about the state, local, and federal education policies that impact teaching and learning. New London Parent Advocates updates their open Facebook page weekly with all that is happening in the New London Public Schools.

Florida

Please go to Facebook and follow  Fund Education NOW, Florida BATs, and Broward BATs to keep up with all that is happening in Florida education. Be sure to give Pastors for Florida Children a follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all their actions and movements. Make sure to check in with the Florida Council of Churches Facebook event tab. They support, promote, and conduct powerful events in the state of Florida. Opt-Out Florida Network continues to fight the use of tests to rank and sort children, and schools. Pinellas Parents Advocating for School Improvements organizes on a private Facebook page. If you know of anyone in the Pinellas area, have them join to connect. Protect Our Public Schools, Manasota believes that free, quality public education is a right for all children and is necessary for the optimal functioning of a democratic society. To keep up with their movements during the COVID-19 crisis, go here

Georgia

If you live in Georgia, or know someone who does, make sure they connect with Public Education Matters Georgia.  Moms and Dads Now Enduring Surrealistic Stupidity (MADNESS) has a vibrant public Facebook group that discusses how education in Georgia is going during the COVID crisis. If you are interested, here is the link to that public group. Opt-Out Georgia organized the opt-out movement in Georgia via a closed Facebook group of over 8,000 members. If you live in Georgia or know someone who does, encourage them to connect with this group. The Georgia Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) was founded in 1990 to bring together individuals from all academic levels and disciplines and from diverse educational institutions and other organizations, occupations, and communities who had an interest in multicultural education. NAME is committed to a philosophy of inclusion that embraces the basic tenets of democracy and cultural pluralism. To keep up with their movements visit their website

Hawaii

Parents for Public Schools Hawaii shared a powerful audio diary of how Hawaii’s children are weathering the pandemic. 

Illinois

Illinois Raise Your Hand sends brief email newsletters with updates and upcoming events. To read all the updates about LSC Elections and CPS Quarter 2 PreK & cluster programs go here. Illinois Families for Public Schools informed the public that when the amendment to the Illinois Student Online Personal Protection Act goes into effect next July, for the first time schools and ed tech companies will be legally required to notify families when student data is breached. 

Indiana

The Indiana Coalition for Public Education shared a summary of what the Indiana Governor promised public education. Indiana Coalition for Public Schools – Monroe County informed the public that the Indiana Department of Education is seeking public comment on its request to the US Department of Education to waive certain federal requirements pertaining to federal accountability for the 2020-2021 school year. This request is in response to the direct impact of COVID-19 on the ability to produce valid, reliable, and comparable accountability data and results for the 2020-2021 school year. Information on the request is available on IDOE’s website! Public comments should be submitted. The Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education published a powerful essay by Stu Bloom on their open Facebook page. 2020 Medley #25 – It’s Always Been About Relationships is a must read! If you know anyone in Northwest Indiana, have them connect with Northwest Indiana Coalition for Public Education by sending them a message on Facebook. They hold monthly organizing meetings and so much for the children, and public schools, of NW Indiana. 

Iowa

Do you know anyone in Iowa?  If so, make sure they join Iowans for Public Education.  Send them here to join and connect. You can also follow their movements on their open Facebook page .

Kansas

Game On for Kansas Schools exposed dark money involved in their elections. 

Kentucky

Here is the latest Dear JCPS and Kentucky SOS podcast. They cover important topics such as local and statewide election results.  Be sure to give the Pastors for Kentucky Children a follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all of their movements. 

Louisiana

Step Up Louisiana  continues their fight for living wage jobs, sustainable community schools, affordable housing, stopping city worker furloughs, and public defender equity. They are encouraging citizens to submit a public comment on the city budget. Also this month Step Up Louisiana had a Facebook live event called Is School Choice the Real Choice for Public Schools in New Orleans?  You can view that event here

Maryland 

The Baltimore Algebra Project signed onto a petition last month with the Baltimore Movement of Rank and File Educators for Police Free Schools.  

Massachusetts

Citizens for Public Schools continue to advocate for cancelling the MCAS.The New Bedford Coalition to Save our Schools shares a wide array of events happening in their area on their open Facebook page.  Be sure to check it out weekly for new updates. 

Michigan

The Michigan Network for Equity in Education shares up-to-date information about their State Board and local boards addressing COVID and safe workplaces. 

Save Michigan’s Public Schools notified their members who are educators and work in districts where students are virtual, but staff is still being required to report to the buildings to work that the Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Administration (MIOSHA) initiated a “statewide order calling for employers to allow workers to stay home whenever possible” as required by Emergency Rule 5(8). Michigan Parents for Schools discuss, and organize, in a public Facebook group.  If you are from Michigan, or know someone who is, head over there and join the discussion. MI Ed Justice hosted a meet and greet this month to share their goals, work, and upcoming events. Give Trusted Voices ED a follow on Twitter to keep up with their events and issues. 

Minnesota 

Parents for St. Paul Schools continue to work hard to get a charter moratorium passed in their state and city.  Visit their open Facebook page for all the latest.  Minnesota Collective for Educational Equity published a report last month detailing how the overwhelming majority of learning disabilities in MN have been identified using discredited methods. This practice continues to this day and will persist until MN amends 3525.1341.  

Mississippi

Parents for Public Schools – Moss Point continues to support their community with information about storm resources, education, meals, and much more. Parents For 

Public Schools of Greenwood and Leflore County are still hosting Early Childhood Development programs for their community. They have been doing this since March. For more information on their programs, go here. Parents For Public Schools of Philadelphia advocates for children and schools in the Philadelphia Public School District. Make sure you give them a follow on Facebook. Parents For Public Schools of Starkville is a local organization working to strengthen public schools in Starkville. They promote the great work being done in the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District.

Missouri

Keep up with the Missouri BATs by giving them a follow on twitter. Columbia Parents for Public Schools promotes parent engagement to improve education and build public support for public schools in Columbia. 

Nebraska

Stand for Schools reported on the Nebraska Legislature Education Committee, which seems to be open to allowing privatizers in. Read more hereNebraska Loves Public Schools new film, Standing Up to Covid is out.  

Nevada

Educate Nevada NOW issued a public comment for the Commission On School Funding.

New Hampshire

Barrington Educators Association is the local chapter of the New Hampshire-NEA.  You can view updated work here.  To contact them about issues happening in NH, go here

New Jersey

Save our Schools NJ shared that the Education Law Center (ELC) and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) are urging Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration to improve data collection and public reporting on the presence of police in New Jersey schools and the use of public school funding for such purposes.

Be sure to check out the The Newark Students Union events tab on their Facebook page. They post events that students can take part in to have their voices heard. 

Delran Education Association is a local organization committed to ensuring excellence in public education. Give them a follow on Facebook.  If you are a resident of Elizabeth, ask to join the Elizabeth Parents and Students Care closed Facebook group to connect. Montclair Cares About Schools uses its open Facebook page to inform the community about school openings and the COVID crisis. Give Our Children Our Schools a follow on Twitter to keep up with any future events. South Orange-Maplewood Cares About Schools organizes in its closed Facebook group. If you live in this area or know anyone who does, please ask to join the group here. Paterson Education Fund works hard to keep the community informed about Board of Education meetings and food distributions. Go here for more information and share it with anyone you know who lives in Paterson. 

New York

Class Size Matters, New York Allies for Public Education, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy are working together this month to survey parents about which online apps or programs are being employed by schools throughout New York state and whether they are sufficiently protective of children’s privacy. LI Opt-Out, the national leader in the Opt-Out movement, has a vibrant public Facebook page. There are important discussions going on about school reopening on Long Island. NYC Opt Out also has a public Facebook group that is currently having important conversations about the reopening of NYC schools. If you live in NYC, go here to connect. The Alliance for Quality Education launched a campaign to tell NYS legislators to support solutions not suspensions this month. Give Change the Stakes a follow on Facebook to keep up with what is happening in NYC education during the COVID crisis. Be sure to check out the NY BATs open Facebook page. They post upcoming events and actions. Keep up with FUSE (New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees) by checking out their news and views. MORE-UFT announced that in collaboration with union leadership and educators within the Movement of Rank and File Educators and Black Lives Matter at Schools NYC Group, the following resolution is being presented at the next UFT delegates assembly. Jackson Heights People for Public Schools supports, and shares, important events for their community and the surrounding area. Parents for Public Schools- Syracuse has been posting important information about special education events in their area. Croton Advocates for Public Education (CAPE) advocates for fair assessments, enrichment opportunities, and funding for their schools. The Port Washington Advocates for Public Education closed Facebook group is a place to connect and organize if you live in Port Washington, NY. North Country Alliance For Public Education works to end the reliance on high stakes testing and to stop the privatization that is taking over their schools. If you live in the North Country of New York, consider joining their closed Facebook group to connect. Visit the Rochester Coalition for Public Education website for all that is happening with Rochester education. 

North Carolina

Public Schools First NC and Wake County hosted a webinar called School Psychologists: Supporting Children In School, At Home, and In Life this month. We will have the archived video in our next newsletter. North Carolina Families for School Testing Reform launched a petition this month to keep High School students safe and waive the end of course (EOC) exams. Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods hosted a Organizers Circle this month with special guest Dr. Valerie Johnson, Dean of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities at Shaw University. Dr. Johnson, who also serves as a Professor of Sociology and as a fierce advocate for HBCUs, joined Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods to discuss how we can make the connection between hot topics in environmental justice and the community. Pastors for North Carolina Children joined the Moravian Board of Cooperative Ministries in a discussion about how churches can get involved in education.  Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County hosted an online chat with  Hope Middle School parents this month. PPS Pitt County continues to host community forums so that parents and the community can share their  experiences with Pitt County Schools. 

Ohio

Ohio BATs organize in a closed Facebook group of over 2000 members.  If you live in Ohio or know someone who does, send them this link to connect. It Takes A Village To Tackle HB70 and It Takes A Village hosted a statewide town hall on the future of public education this month.  Here is the archived video. Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education shared a powerful piece by Sylvania teacher, Kelly Duwve, TPS Administrator Jim Gault, and Northwestern OEA Exec Director about educating students during the pandemic. Public Education Partners (PEP) are encouraging Ohio citizens to contact the Senate Finance Committee and tell them to bring the Fair School Funding Bill before the full Senate before the end of the year. Parents For Public Schools of Greater Cincinnati post upcoming events on their open Facebook page. 

Oklahoma

Pastors for Oklahoma Kids announced that Gov. Kevin Stitt removed the president of the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board who recently led the initiation of termination proceedings against Epic Charter Schools. To read more on that go here

The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee serves as an umbrella organization for local PLAC groups and affiliated organizations that advocate for a strong public education system in Oklahoma. If you know anyone who lives in Oklahoma please have them connect with OKPLAC. Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education & Oklahomans for Public Education organize in a private group on Facebook.  If you live in Oklahoma or know someone who does, join up to connect. Oklahoma Teachers – The Time Is Now organizes in a private Facebook group of over 64,000 members. The purpose of the group is to unite all educators in the state of Oklahoma, so they can come together and educate, collaborate, and discuss what options they have moving forward to improve Public Education. If you know any Oklahoma educators, send them to this group to connect. 

Oregon

Community Alliance for Public Education (CAPE) shared a fantastic event in their area called Sacred Breath: Writing and Storytelling by UW Department of American Indian Studies. To learn more, and to keep up with their supported events, go here

Check out Oregon Save Our Schools on Facebook for all the latest in Oregon education. Oregon BATs organizes in a closed Facebook group.  If you are an Oregon teacher or community member, ask to join and connect.

Pennsylvania

The Keystone State Education Coalition publishes a daily PA education policy roundup.  Pennsylvania School Board Association video EDition Chief Advocacy Officer John Callahan and CEO Nathan Mains discussed surprises and implications of the 2020 election results this month. Talks turned to state budget possibilities and what to watch for in the coming weeks. The Pittsburgh Task Force on the Right to Education topic in this month’s webinar was Recommendations for Positive and Effective Parent-School Parenting During Covid 19. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, or know someone who does, share The Pittsburgh Task Force on the Right to Education Facebook link with them to connect. Education Voters PA co hosted 

a webinar this month with the Education Law Center of Pennsylvania and Public Interest Law Center about Pennsylvania’s school funding lawsuit. Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools has been unbelievably busy this month. First they are staying on top of the situation with Renaissance charters schools. To read more about that go here and here. Second, they also have their eyes and ears on the Board of Education. To learn more about that go here

Rhode Island

The Providence Student Union is publishing a new monthly newsletter that is for  youth by youth. Check it out for upcoming programs, events, resources, and more! Want to contribute to the newsletter by sharing an art piece? Your project? Maybe even some free thought? Read on to see how you can share. To keep up with what is happening in Rhode Island, give the Parents Across Rhode Island Facebook page a follow. 

South Carolina

The Quality Education Project is a fantastic group doing great work in South Carolina.  If you know anyone in South Carolina please share this information about their monthly meetings so they can connect. 

Tennessee

The Momma Bears have a great blog full of information about the fight for public education in Tennessee. Check it out here. Make sure to give Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) a follow on Twitter to keep up with all that is going on in Tennessee education. Pastor Ladd, who is a Board chair for Pastors for Tennessee Children, is doing amazing work in Chattanooga, where churches have come together to serve underprivileged children during the pandemic. To read more about Pastor Ladd’s work go here. Tennessee Strong administrator and journalist Andy Spears reported Gov. Bill Lee has selected former State Rep. Bill Dunn to serve in an advisory role to embattled Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. Dunn has been a long-time critic of public education and a full time cheerleader for Lee’s voucher scheme.  

Texas

Pastors for Texas Children hosted an election eve conversation on Facebook live. Go here to view that conversation. The Baptist News Global interviewed PTC Executive Director Rev. Charles Foster Johnson. In the interview Rev. Johnson reflected on what he anticipated could happen in a Biden administration. CFISD Community Leadership Committee is a volunteer group of parents, business people, and retirees who believe that having a strong independent school district is important to the economic well-being of the Cypress-Fairbanks community. To keep up with their actions and events, visit their website. The Coalition for Public Schools Texas will be hosting a conversation about Virtual Vouchers next month. To register for this free event, to be held on 12/3, go here. Texas Kids Can’t Wait are advocates for equitable and adequate funding for Texas public schools and for a sane assessment system.They strongly oppose the corporate takeover of public schools. To follow their movements go to their open Facebook page. RootEd publishes a monthly newsletter called The Branch. Go here to view their newsletter from last month. If you know of anyone in the Houston community, please have them connect with Parents For Public Schools of Houston. They post important activities for the Houston community on their open Facebook page. 

Community Voices For Public Education has an open discussion page on Facebook.  To keep up with all that is happening in Texas public education, go here to join in the discussion. Keep up with Our Schools San Antonio on their open Facebook page. 

The Coalition for Equity in Public Education shares information on the elimination of the STARR exam in Texas. Texas AFT reported that in  just over two months, educators, employees, parents, & community members have submitted more than 3,600 reports to their #StopTheSpreadTX COVID-19 tracker.Texas AFT will continue to use these reports and stories in statewide and local fights, and they noted that they appreciate all those who are speaking out and shining a light on the situations at their campuses.

Vermont

Keep up with the The Vermont Coalition for Equity in Education on their open Facebook page and on Twitter. They are a new group, so make sure you give them a follow on both platforms and share their work. 

Virginia

Virginia Educators United conducted a webinar this month on Virginia’s COVID OSHA rules. Virginia BATs took part in a rally this month to protect students and teachers from unsafe school openings. Support Our Schools-Shenandoah County organizes to fight for public education in that region. You can connect here. To learn more about the Virginia Public Education Partners visit their Facebook page or give them a follow on Twitter.  

Washington State

WA BATs has an active Twitter feed full of powerful graphics. Check it out here

Washington Paramount Duty celebrated good news for Washington state public schools. They continue to push the Governor and the state legislature to tax the rich to ensure that students and teachers can recover from this devastating pandemic.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Education Network announced in a press release that the Department of Public Instruction budget proposal provides the support “our kids deserve.” Schools and Communities United are asking parents, guardians, and students to please take a few minutes to fill out a survey and let them know how remote learning is going.Survey results will be shared at a meeting and with Milwaukee Public Schools.Parents for Public Schools Milwaukee shared an article that Wisconsin lags the nation in education spending. To read that article go here

NPE Grassroots Education Network – Resources and Graphics

The NPE Grassroots Education Network has compiled a list of resources to help communities navigate the COVID pandemic.  We created a list of c3 organizations you can donate to help others in need. We have created a space for resources to help educators and parents trying to navigate remote learning. Finally, we are collecting stories highlighting how Public Schools are helping their communities. 

Here is a link to our resources page. It will help you navigate resources covering a variety of topics.  This is a live document and will be updated, so check back for new resources. 

Here is a link to our graphics page. It will provide powerful visuals for you to share on social media. This is a live document and will be updated, so check back for new graphics.

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest reports the latest testing news from across the nation:

 

 

 

Two big stories as testing season gets underway in many states — the surging opt-out movement and the collapse of many states’ computerized exam delivery systems — both demonstrating the ongoing failure of politically driven test-and-punish policies.

 

National Why All Families Should Opt Out of High-Stakes Standardized Tests
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/04/03/diane-ravitch-why-all-parents-should-opt-their-kids-out-of-high-stakes-standardized-tests/
National Testing Time at Schools, Is There a Better Way
http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/04/health/school-testing-alternatives-measure-progress/index.html
National Opt-Out Movement Aims to Reach More African American and Latino Families

National Three Cheers for the Opt-Out Movement
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-thompson/three-cheers-for-the-opt_b_9606536.html

 

Multiple States Some Standardized Testing On Hold In More Than a Dozen States
http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/standardized-testing-hold-dozen-states-38090436
Multiple States Updated FairTest Chronology of Computerized Testing Problems
http://www.fairtest.org/computerized-testing-problems-chronology
Multiple States Number of Jurisdictions With High School Graduation Tests Drops Significantly, Now Just 15
http://www.fairtest.org/graduation-test-update-states-recently-eliminated

Alaska State Cancels Annual Test After Computerized Exam Failure
http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2016-04-02/state-schools-chief-cancels-test-after-connection-problems

California High School Diplomas at Last for Those Who Failed Exit Exam

High school diplomas at last for students who failed exit exam

Colorado Local Groups Educates Parents and Students About Opt-Out Rights
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/local-group-on-a-mission-to-educate-parents-and-students-on-their-right-to-opt-out

Connecticut Campaign to Rollback Test Use for Teacher Evaluation
http://news.wfsu.org/post/testing-season-has-opt-out-proponents-hoping-more-will-join

District of Columbia How Test Data Obsessed School Policies Drive Inequality
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/31/d-c-parent-how-data-obsessed-school-reform-helps-drive-rising-inequality-in-nations-capital/

Florida Computer-Based Testing Frenzy Begins
http://www.tallahassee.com/story/life/family/2016/03/29/computer-based-testing-frenzy-begins/82384142/
Florida Testing Season Has Opt-Out Proponents Hoping More Will Join
http://news.wfsu.org/post/testing-season-has-opt-out-proponents-hoping-more-will-join
Florida Teacher Letter to Students Explains That Test Scores Don’t Measure Their Worth
http://www.local10.com/education/teacher-writes-emotional-letter-to-students-ahead-of-state-testing

Georgia Tired of School Testing Overkill, Georgia Cuts Back
http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/tired-of-school-testing-georgia-cuts-back/nqyc9/

Illinois Opt-Out Advocates Organize to Expand Movement
https://www.wbez.org/shows/wbez-news/will-parents-opt-their-kids-out-of-parcc-test-like-last-year/c336d6c2-978d-4831-942f-cb1ac68caaa5
Illinois Refusing PARCC Tests: Why and How
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/winnetka/community/chi-ugc-article-concerns-about-the-parcc-tests-and-how-to-o-2016-04-04-story.html

Maine Teach to the Test Paradigm Fails to Prepare Students for Real-World Problems
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/04/03/teach-to-the-test-paradigm-fails-in-the-face-of-problems-like-global-warming/

Massachusetts How to Opt-Out of the State Tests Video

Massachusetts All School Districts Should Be Able to Adopt Test Opt-Out Policies
http://wbsm.com/if-amherst-pelham-can-opt-out-new-bedford-should-be-able-to-refuse/
Massachusetts School Board Member Opts Own Child Out of State Tests

Lawrence School Committee Member Refuses Standardized Testing for her Child

New Jersey As Testing Begins, Will Students Again Opt Out in Droves
http://nj1015.com/parcc-testing-underway-will-nj-students-opt-out-in-droves-again/

New Mexico ACLU Challenges Ban on Teacher Criticism of Tests
http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2016/03/30/new-mexico-teachers-challenge-ban-on_ap.html
New Mexico State Legislator Seeks Clarity on Opt-Out Penalty Threats
http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/senator-looks-for-clarity-in-opting-out-of-testing/article_338648dc-e4ba-5245-bb91-75e3a35d6e4e.html

New York Parents, Educators Organize to Repeat Opt-Out Success
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/parents-teachers-hope-repeat-testing-opt-out-movement-article-1.2581979
New York Black Principal Lauded for Score Growth Now Speaks Out Against Tests
https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160330/eastchester/bronx-principal-lauded-for-test-growth-now-speaks-out-against-them
New York What Does the Opt-Out Movement Want This Year?
http://ny.chalkbeat.org/2016/03/30/what-does-the-opt-out-movement-want-this-year/
New York Failed Tests Lead to Impending High School Graduation Crisis
https://biancatanis.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/failed-tests-and-new-yorks-looming-graduation-crisis/

Ohio Local Superintendents Blast Test-Based School Report Cards
http://www.athensmessenger.com/news/local-supts-state-report-card-not-an-accurate-representation-of/article_370769fb-d5fc-5d07-9acb-59f66081225e.html

Oklahoma Bill to Terminate State End-of-Course Tests Considered by Legislature
http://www.tulsaworld.com/communities/skiatook/schools/measure-to-eliminate-end-of-instruction-exams-to-be-considered/article_9d460100-574e-570e-bc3d-d7f0c6b0e11e.html

Pennsylvania Standardized Testing Opponents Forecast Increase in Opt Outs
http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/10216576-74/tests-students-opt
Pennsylvania Test Scores Are Not a Strong Predictor of School Success
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2016/03/test_scores_arent_always_an_ac.html

Rhode Island Cyber Attack Postpones Testing
Cyber attack postpones PARCC testing at Warwick schools

Tennessee State Tries to Slow Growing Opt-Out Movement
http://tn.chalkbeat.org/2016/04/04/state-seeks-to-limit-opt-out-options-emphasizes-testing-balance-as-tnready-part-ii-approaches/
Tennessee Board Agrees Schools Stressed by Testing
http://www.murfreesboropost.com/city-schools-stressed-by-tests-board-agrees-cms-44033

Texas Computer Testing Glitch Wiped Out Many Students Answers
http://www.houstonpress.com/news/staar-testing-glitch-erased-untold-number-of-students-test-answers-8285376
Texas Students Opt Out of State Testing
http://www.kiiitv.com/story/31596941/houston-area-students-opt-out-of-staar-testing
Texas My Son Is Much More Than His Test Score
http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20160330-kathleen-thompson-my-son-is-much-more-than-his-staar-test-score.ece

Teachers Will New Exams Make the Profession More Overwhelmingly White?

ACT/SAT Security Breaches Hamper International Admissions Test Administrations
http://www.educationdive.com/news/security-breaches-plague-international-sat-administration/416434/

What the Testing Juggernaut Gets So Wrong About American Schools
http://www.alternet.org/education/what-testing-juggernaut-americas-schools-gets-so-wrong-about-education

More Than a Score: Jesse Hagopian TED Talk

Is Education Being Measured To Death?
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/is-education-being-measured-to-death/

Politicians Think Your Kids Need Standardized Testing — But Not Theirs
http://www.thenation.com/article/these-politicians-think-your-kids-need-high-stakes-testing-but-not-theirs/

Kindergartener’s Unexpected Test Answer Is Going Viral
http://www.seventeen.com/life/school/news/a39211/this-kindergartener-hilarious-test-answer-is-so-wrong-but-so-perfect/

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

Andy Hargreaves is a professor at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. He received the Grawemeyer Award in 2015. He and two of his graduate students–Mary Bridget Burns and Shanee Wangia–wrote the following response to an editorial in the Boston Globe defending high-stakes testing.

Hargreaves, Burns, and Wangia said:

Want to improve the quality of American high school graduates? Keep testing them! That’s the recommendation of last weekend’s Boston Globe Editorial: https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/editorials/2015/06/12/moratorium-school-tests-goes-overboard/zVVfrMRHbQO0a0GyK2mhLO/story.html. The editorial blasted a proposed state bill that would implement a three-year hiatus on testing, be it the state test or the PARCC assessment. Citing concerns that the Massachusetts Teachers Association had too much influence on the legislation, and calling it a “blunt instrument” rather than a “well-drafted public policy prescription,” the editorial recommended voting against the bill. The educational performance of Massachusetts is nationally renowned, it said, and its high-stakes tests had been a big contributor to the state’s success. So why abandon them?
 
Well, it is a bit of a stretch to say that high-stakes testing contributes to high educational performance in Massachusetts or anywhere else for that matter. Massachusetts is certainly a top performer in the US and receives many visitors from all over the world who come to learn from its success. But other New England states perform just as well or almost as well as Massachusetts, yet their approaches to assessment and testing are strikingly different. Let’s look at how two of these other states compare on the well regarded National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) which is not high-stakes (in that it doesn’t have rewards or punishments attached to it), it is applied only to samples of students rather than all of them, and it cannot be manipulated by teaching to the test.
 
Among all states on the 2013 NAEP, New Hampshire shares top ranking with Massachusetts in 4th Grade reading and math and is just one or two places behind Massachusetts in 8th grade reading and math with a barely perceptible difference of 5 points or less on a scale reaching the high 200s. The only place where such a tiny difference in number of points counts as part of a very large score is in the final minutes of a basketball game!
 
Essentially, the two states perform at an almost identical level, including on other state-by-state comparisons such as child well-being where they rank first and second respectively. Yet New Hampshire has had a very different and more flexible assessment strategy to that of Massachusetts – using a suite of assessment tools as part of common standards established across Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
 
Meanwhile, over the state line from “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire, the Green Mountain state of Vermont is an equally impressive educational performer. It ranks 2nd– 5th place on different aspects of the NAEP, diverging no more than 6 points from the other two states discussed here. It is also another high scorer on child well-being. Yet, Vermont’s approach to testing is much more cautious and skeptical than that of Massachusetts. Indeed, when the Commissioner of New Hampshire and the Secretaries of Education for Massachusetts and Vermont took the stage together at Boston College last December to debate the reasons for their respective “states of success,” Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, a staunch opponent of standardized testing, criticized tests for becoming tools with harsh consequences attached, rather than ways to monitor teacher and student progress.

http://learninglab.wbur.org/2014/12/03/new-england-education-forum-highlights-concerns-about-high-stakes-testing/

So the Globe Editorial is just plain wrong when it claims that state tests explain high performance in Massachusetts. Neighboring states without this armory of high-stakes assessment have performed equally well. There is high performance with tests and also without them. If we can do well with or without the tests and the consequences that are attached to them, then perhaps we should decide whether we keep them or ditch them on other grounds.
 
Nearly a million students in Massachusetts take tests like the MCAS or PARCC assessments, at a cost of $29.50-$46 per student. By putting those tests aside, Massachusetts alone could save anywhere from $28-44 million dollars per year. The millions of dollars currently spent on testing could be reallocated instead to supporting teachers more effectively by providing more designated time for them to work together and give feedback on each others’ teaching within the school day, to improve their teaching.
 
Without the constant concentration on tested subjects, the state could also open up the curriculum beyond the relentless basics of literacy and math to include the artistic, scientific, project-based and out-of-school experiences that are an everyday experience for children of the privileged, but that should be the entitlement of everyone. We could support greater leadership stability in high poverty schools so that these schools can attract great leaders and then keep them. We could stop the revolving door of school leadership in under-performing schools, alleviating the pressure these schools feel to stave off receivership and closure before their work of their leaders has had time to have an impact. Like Canada, Finland, Singapore, and other high performing nations, we could achieve a lot more with far less testing. We can do more. We could do better.
 
Tests of all kinds can be tools for diagnosis and monitoring in the service of improvement. But they should not be the final say in a student’s academic future or a teacher’s professional career. We can test prudently rather than profligately and get equally strong or even stronger results. That’s not only what high performing countries have learned. It’s also what some of Massachusetts’ immediate neighbors have been doing for years.
 
Andy Hargreaves, Mary Bridget Burns and Shanee Wangia

Lynch School of Education

Boston College
 
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP): Interstate Comparison of 2013 Scores
 

NAEP Vermont (VT) Massachusetts (MA) New Hampshire (NH) Nation (Public)
4th Grade Reading 228 (5th place) 232 (1st place) 232 (1st place) 221
4th Grade Math 248 (4th place) 253 (1st place) 253 (1st place) 241
8th Grade Reading 274 (3rd place) 277 (1st place) 274 (3rd place) 266
8th Grade Math 295 (2nd place) 301 (1st place) 296 (2nd place) 284

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/publications/stt2013/pdf/2014465MA4.pdf

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/subject/publications/stt2013/pdf/2014465MA8.pdf

FairTest has been fighting the misuse of standardized testing since 1985. Here is their weekly update on the exploding movement to curb high-stakes testing and to opt students out of testing to send a message to policymakers:

The assessment reform movement gains momentum across the U.S. and even beyond national borders, as parents, students, teachers, administrators, and school board members say “Enough is enough” to standardized exam misuse and overuse. Now is the time to ratchet up pressure on members of Congress and state legislatures to roll back test-and-punish mandates!

Less Testing: More Teaching — Contact U.S. Senators April 8 National Day of Action for “No Child Left Behind” Overhaul
http://fairtest.org/national-day-action-april-8

Fact vs Threat: Schools Unlikely to Lose Federal Funds Due to High Opt Out Numbers
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/04/02/will-schools-lose-federal-funds-if-kids-dont-take-mandated-tests-fact-vs-threat/

Atlanta School Test Cheating: Lessons Policy Makers Ignore
https://dianeravitch.net/2015/04/06/bob-schaeffer-of-fairtest-on-atlanta-cheating-scandal/

Are Exit Exams Necessary?: More States Say “No”
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/04/03/are-high-school-exit-exams-necessary-more-states-are-saying-no/

Join the Obamas to Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/join-the-obamas-and-optou_b_7009588.html

California Testing Companies Fight for Assessment Contract
http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article17481269.html

Colorado Districts Report High Opt-Out Levels
http://www.reporterherald.com/ci_27829826/16-percent-opt-out-parcc

Colorado Students Use Test Opt-Out Time for Education
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2015/04/03/readers-how-our-students-spent-their-opt-out-time/#.VR7WI5NLUZw

Delaware Parents Protest Standardized Exams; Support Opt-Out Bill
http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/education/2015/04/01/parent-group-protests-standardized-testing/70805516/

District of Columbia Test Cheating: How Did it Differ from Atlanta
https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/what-exactly-were-the-differences-between-cheating-in-atlanta-under-beverly-hall-and-the-cheating-in-dc-under-michelle-rhee/

Florida Senate Passes Bill Curbing State Testing Amid GOP Anger
http://www.wptv.com/news/state/florida-senate-passes-testing-bill-amid-gop-anger

High Time for a Testing Timeout
http://staugustine.com/opinions/2015-04-04/editorial-high-time-testing-timeout#.VSBc5kZLUZw

Georgia: Atlanta Cheating Verdict Reveals Education “Reform” Failure
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/01/atlanta-cheating-scandal-education-reform
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2015/0402/Atlanta-teacher-convictions-Do-standardized-testing-pressures-foster-cheating-video

Indiana Students Organize Screening of Anti-Testing Film
http://www.pantagraph.com/news/local/students-organize-screening-of-anti-testing-film/article_dda5a78d-6a78-572f-88d8-0d306f833f74.html

Louisiana: Debunking the Post-Katrina “Miracle”
http://www.alternet.org/education/debunking-new-orleans-miracle

Maryland Parent Explains Why So Many Families Are Opting Out of Testing
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-parcc-letter-20150403-story.html

Massachusetts: Tell the Schools, “No PARCC For My Kids”
http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/letters/ci_27826889/tell-schools-no-parcc-my-kids#ixzz3W4L0Gv7G

Massachusetts Students Explain Test Flaws
http://wgbhnews.org/post/and-you-thought-mcas-was-controvertial-get-ready-parcc

Minnesota Governor Continues Effort to Reduce Testing After Rejection by Feds
http://www.inforum.com/news/education/3714072-dayton-seeks-options-reducing-testing

Mississippi Common Core Testing A Battleground Issue
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/04/04/6159459/qa-common-core-student-testing.html

New Hampshire Districts Develop Performance Assessment Systems
http://nhpr.org/post/districts-experimenting-new-tests-writing-questions-only-half-task

New Jersey PARCC Test Refusals Top 50,000
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/in-our-schools/2015/03/31/parcc-refusals-top/70720628/
Nearly 40% of Montclair Students Opted Out from PARCC Test
https://dianeravitch.net/2015/04/01/39-of-students-in-montclair-new-jersey-opt-out-of-parcc-tests/

New York Districts Forced to Drop “Sit and Stare” for Students Who Opt Outhttp://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/amherst/amherst-drops-sit-and-stare-policy-for-students-who-opt-out-of-testing-20150331

Thousands of New York City Families Will Boycott Math, Reading Exams
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/nyc-familes-boycott-state-math-reading-exams-activists-article-1.2174033

North Carolina School Grading System Should Be Erased
http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article17248595.html

North Carolina Teachers Tell Board There’s Too Much Testing
http://www.heraldsun.com/news/x626360898/DPS-teachers-believe-there-s-too-much-testing

Ohio Auditor Continues Probe Into Test Score Manipulation
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/04/03/painstaking-probes-into-datascandal-still-rolling.html

Ohio First Year of PARCC Implementation No Picnic
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/04/06/experts-first-year-of-testing-no-picnic.html

Oregon Sees More Than a Thousand Opt Outs So Far
http://www.opb.org/news/article/hundreds-of-portland-area-students-opt-out-of-new-state-exams/

Oregon Letter Blasts Damage to Education From “No Child Left Behind” Testing Law
http://www.eastoregonian.com/eo/letters/20150401/letter-no-child-left-behind-had-negative-effects-on-us-students

Pennsylvania High-Stakes Testing Has Many Problems
http://www.dailyitem.com/opinion/my-turn-problems-with-high-stakes-standardized-testing/article_d8ea31a2-d7e6-11e4-8412-fbe7a22385bd.html

Less Testing, More Teaching: A Great Move for Pennsylvania Schools
http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/more-teaching-less-testing-a-good-move-for-pa-schools/article_cd3550be-d4bf-11e4-9ab5-7745642245a9.html

Rhode Island Students and Teachers Find Faults With PARCC Test
http://www.warwickonline.com/stories/Students-teachers-find-fault-with-PARCC-test,101207

Texas Anti-Testing Push Continues at State, Local Levels
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Anti-testing-push-continues-at-state-and-local-6182214.php

Texas Families Start STAAR Opt-Out Movement
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Opting-out-Houston-parents-say-no-to-6171277.php

Washington State Tests Useless for Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/test-are-useless-for-measuring-teacher-effectiveness/

Washington Parents Protest Use of Non-Validated Smarter Balanced Exams
https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/pearson-is-exploiting-our-children-by-using-them-to-verify-the-validity-of-the-sbac/

Canada Testing the Idea of Scrapping High-Stress Exams
http://www.thestarphoenix.com/health/Testing+idea+scrapping+high+stress+exams/10945661/story.html

United Kingdom Teachers Endorse Boycott of New Test of Four-Year Olds
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-3025151/NUT-debate-tests-4-year-olds.html

“Hocus Pocus” and the History of High-Stakes Testing in the U.S.
http://www.livingindialogue.com/hocus-pocus-and-the-history-of-high-stakes-tests/

The Lost Purpose of School Reform
http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2015/apr/02/lost-purpose-no-child-left-behind/

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

Congratulations to the Providence Student Union, which exposed the inadequacy of the NECAP (New England Common Assessment Program) as a high school graduation test. As a result of their activism, the Boston Globe today opposed the use of NECAP for that purpose.

Instead of just protesting or writing letters to the editor or to elected officials, the PSU engaged in political theater. They invited 60 accomplished professionals to “take the test,” a test made up of released math items. And of that group, 60 percent would not have received a high school diploma.

Way to go, Providence students!

 

Dear Linda,

This just in: The Boston Globe published an Editorial  this morning calling on Rhode Island’s Department of Education to reconsider using the NECAP as a graduation requirement!
You’ve got to read this.

EDITORIAL

Flunking the test

  APRIL 11, 2013

STARTING THIS spring, Rhode Island high school seniors will have to pass the New England Common Assessment Program to get their diploma. The new requirement is the latest effort by the Rhode Island Department of Education to improve low-performing high schools. But does high-stakes testing ensure the state’s students are properly prepared to succeed in a 21st century workforce? A group of local high school students is raising the question.

  

The Providence Student Union, a student-led advocacy group, last month organized an event at which 50 prominent Rhode Islanders took a shortened version of the math NECAP. Sixty percent of the test-takers – among them elected officials, attorneys, scientists, engineers, reporters, college professors, and directors of leading nonprofits – failed to score at least “partially proficient,” the standard education officials have set for graduation. Under the new rules, many of those 50 successful individuals would not have been allowed to graduate.

  

The good news is Rhode Island’s 11th-graders do score slightly better than the adults. In October 2012, 40 percent failed to achieve “partially proficient” for math, and 8 percent fell short in reading. And those who didn’t pass will have another chance to take the test next fall.

  

The fundamental problem, though, is that the test wasn’t originally designed to be a graduation requirement and isn’t suited for that purpose. Schools need more high standards and accountability, and the NECAP was designed not to evaluate individual students’ proficiency, but to rank the quality of the schools they attend. Unlike tests meant primarily for student assessment, such as the MCAS in Massachusetts, the NECAP expects a certain portion of test-takers to fail. Research suggests that percentage will likely come from low-income, working-class neighborhoods – the students who are least likely to return for a fifth year of high school, even if skipping it means going without a diploma.

  

Plus, as the adults’ mock exam suggests, the NECAP may not even be testing the right skills. The Rhode Island Department of Education should reconsider its graduation requirement – and not only to salve the embarrassment of so many high-salaried professionals.

Wow — strong words and strong points from The Boston Globe!
More and more community leaders, testing experts, and publications are beginning to join students in questioning this misguided policy. But if we’re going to change this diploma system, we need you to make your voice heard.
Will you take one minute to call Governor Chafee’s office at 401-222-2080 and tell him to repeal the NECAP graduation requirement?
 
Thanks. We can’t do this without you.
Sincerely,
Aaron
P.S. When you’re done calling the Governor, please take a few more seconds to leave a message for Chairwoman Mancuso at the Board of Education, 401-456-6002!

As we saw in the previous postTom Sgouros explained in detail why it was wrong for Rhode Island to use the NECAP as a graduation requirement. It was not designed for that purpose, and many students will fail who should have passed.

State Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist said Sgouros was wrong because he is not a psychometrician. She did not explain why he was wrong, not did she understand that psychometricians would likely agree with Sgouros. The cardinal rule of testing is that tests should be used only for the purpose for which they were designed.

Here is Sgouros’ account (if I hear from Gist, I will print hers):

Gist Offers Logical Fallacies On NECAP Value

By Tom Sgouros on March 20, 2013

I was on the radio ever so briefly this afternoon, on Buddy Cianci’s show with Deborah Gist. Unfortunately, the show’s producer hadn’t actually invited me so I had no idea until it had been underway for an hour. I gather they had a lively conversation that involved belittling the concerns about the NECAP test that I expressed here.

While I was on hold, I had to get on a bus in order not to leave my daughter waiting for me in the snow. Then Buddy said the bus was too loud but he’d invite me back on. So I was only on for about five minutes, long enough to hear Gist say I may be good at math, but I’m no psychometrician.

Guilty as charged, but somewhat beside the point.

I’ve heard the commissioner speak in public in a few different ways since I published my letter last week. She tweeted about it a couple of times last week and over the weekend. She was quoted in the paper this morning about how it was an “outrageous act of irresponsibility” for adults to take the NECAP 11th grade math test at the Providence Student Union event on Saturday. And today she spent a while on the WPRO airwaves insulting me.

But I have yet to hear any of the points I’ve made taken on directly.

Only what is called the argument from authority: I’m education commissioner and you’re not. Or in this case: I’m education commissioner, and you’re not a psychometrician.

As a style of public argument, this is highly effective, especially if salted with a pinch of condescension. It typically has the effect of shutting down debate right there because after all, who are you to question authority so?

The problem is if you believe, as I do, that policy actually matters, this is a dangerous course to take.

After all, the real point of any policy discussion is not scoring debate points, but finding solutions to the problems that beset us. This is a highly imperfect world we live in, filled with awful problems, some of which we can only address collectively. If you don’t get the policy right, here’s what happens: the problems don’t get solved. Frequently, bad policy makes the problems worse, no matter how many debate points you scored, or how effectively you shut up your opponent.

So, do I care that Deborah Gist thinks I’m an inadequate excuse for a psychometrician? It turns out that, upon deep and lingering introspection, I can say with confidence that I do not. But I do care about the state of math education in Rhode Island, and I believe she has us on a course that will only damage the goal she claims to share with me.

Now I may be wrong about my NECAP concerns, but nothing I’ve learned in the past week has made me less confident in my assessment. On the one hand, I’ve seen vigorous denunciations of the PSU efforts, and mine, none of which have actually addressed the points I’ve raised. These are specific points, easily addressed. On the flip side, I’ve quietly heard from current and former RIDE employees that my concerns are theirs, but the policy is or was not in their hands.

Those points again: there are a few different ways to design a test. You can make a test to determine whether a student has mastered a body of knowledge; you can make a test to rank students against each other; you can make a test to rank students against each other referenced to a particular body of knowledge. I imagine there are lots of other ways to think about testing, but those are the ones in wide use. The first is a subject-matter test, like the French Baccalaureate or the New York State Regents exams. The second is a norm-referenced test like the SAT or GRE, where there are no absolute scores and all students are simply graded against each other on a fairly abstract standard. NECAP is in a third category, where it ranks students, but against a more concrete standard. The Massachusetts MCAS is pretty much the same deal, though it seems to range more widely over subject matter.

The problem comes when you imagine that these are pretty much interchangeable. After all, they all have questions, they all make students sweat, and they all require a number two pencil. How different could they be?

Answer: pretty different. If your goal is ranking students, you choose questions that separate one student from another. You design the test so that the resulting distribution of test scores is wide, which is another way to say that lots of students will flunk such a test. If your goal is assessing whether students have mastered a body of knowledge, the test designer won’t care nearly so much about the resulting distribution of scores, only that the knowledge tested be representative of the field. (The teacher will care about the distribution, of course, since it’s a measure of how well the subject has been taught.) The rest was explained in my post last week.

The real question is, if you don’t know what the NECAP is measuring, why exactly might you think that it’s a good thing to rely on it so heavily as a graduation requirement?

Deborah Gist is hardly the first person to call me wrong about something. That happens all the time, as it does for anybody who writes for the public about policy. But like so many others who claim I am wrong, she refuses to say — or cannot say — why.