Archive for the ‘high stakes testing’ Tag
Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.
Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!
I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.
Dear Principal and Teachers,
Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.
I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.
I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.
I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.
Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.
(–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)
Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.
164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.
A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.
A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.
There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.
WHY DO PARENTS WANT TO OPT OUT OF COMMON CORE TESTING?
1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive.
2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control.
3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5.
4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason.
5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time.
6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.
Today, Alisa and I spoke with Chicago History teacher Paul Horton about Common Core and his group, Citizens Against Corporate Collusion. A few highlights:
1. What’s wrong with high stakes testing?
2. How does Common Core turn teacher artisans into teacher widgets?
3. Dept. of Ed Secretary Arne Duncan graduated from the high school where Horton teaches; what does Horton say about Sec. Duncan?
4. Why does Pearson Company stand to face legal trouble?
5. What does Horton see Bill Gates doing Common Core pushing for?
6. Why are Democrats and Republicans increasingly seeing eye to eye on the need to stop common core?
Here’s the segment.
The Garfield Stand and the Common Core
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is in part republished here, with permission from the author.
What is the Garfield Stand? It is what the teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School are doing—they are taking a stand on important issues related to student assessment.
You can read about it in the letter from teachers at Garfield High School and at additional links provided below.
Teachers at another school, Ballard High School, are not just in sympathy with their Garfield colleagues; they are taking the same stand.
…Read the letter from the Garfield teachers.
The Ballard teachers wrote a letter supporting their Garfield colleagues. That letter is copied below.
In a few years how many of the statements below will have a ring of truth if MAP is replaced with SBAC or PARCC assessments [Common Core national tests]?
25 teachers at nearby Ballard High School signed a letter against continuing to use the MAP test,
and in support of our Garfield colleagues
- The MAP test is a resource expensive and cash expensive program in a district with very finite financial resources,
- The MAP test is not used in practice to inform student instruction,
- The MAP test is not connected to our curricula,
- The MAP test has been repurposed by district administration to form part of a teacher’s evaluation, which is contrary to the purposes it was designed for, as stated by its purveyor, making it part of junk science,
- The MAP test has also been repurposed for student placement in courses and programs, for which it was not designed,
- The MAP test was purchased under corrupt crony-ist circumstances (Our former superintendent, while employed by SPS sat on the corporation board of NWEA, the purveyor of the MAP test. This was undisclosed to her employer. The initial MAP test was purchased in a no-bid, non-competitive process)
- The MAP test was and remains unwanted and unneeded and unsolicited by SPS professional classroom educators, those who work directly with students,
- The MAP test is not taken seriously by students, (They don’t need the results for graduation, for applications, for course credit, or any other purpose, so they routinely blow it off.)
- The MAP test’s reported testing errors are greater than students’ expected growth,
- The technology administration of the MAP test has serious flaws district wide which waste students’ time,
We, the undersigned educators from Ballard High School do hereby support statements and actions of our colleagues at Garfield High School surrounding the MAP test. Specifically, the MAP test program throughout Seattle Public Schools ought to be shut down immediately. It has been and continues to be an embarrassing mistake. Continuing it even another day, let alone another month or year or decade, will not turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
…It is unfortunate teachers feel the need to take such a stand.
Should they, and other teachers across the country, be making more of the decisions that will directly effect their instructional practices and their students’ education or should those decisions continue to be made by… state departments of education, business and corporate offices, wealthy foundations, and Washington, D.C.?
Links to further reading on the topic:
Seattle Ballard High School teachers have followed suit: No MAP test!
The letter from the teachers at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test
Letter of support for Garfield High School teachers from Diane Ravitch
Garfield High School teachers say “NO!” to high stakes testing
Standardized test backlash: Some Seattle teachers just say ‘no’
Garfield High teachers won’t give required test they call flawed
Garfield High teachers refuse to give standardized test
Garfield High teachers refuse to administer District-mandated reading and math test
Garfield High School teachers boycott MAP assessment test
This article was originally published January 12, 2013 on The Underground Parent at http://undergroundparent.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-garfield-stand-and-common-core-will.html and is republished here with permission from the author.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah has decided to spend $39 million on American Institutes for Research’s version of Common Core testing. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/55349773-78/tests-state-system-students.html.csp
Here’s the website of AIR, if you want to see who they are. http://www.air.org/reports-products/index.cfm?fa=viewContent&content_id=2154
While I feel grateful we did not go with Pearson (Sir Michael Barber) or with ACT (David Coleman) I don’t know if this is any different –the AIR group appears to be, just like Pearson and ACT, just another D.C. global-citizen indoctrination institute.
I wish we’d chosen to spend that 39 million on real blessings to our kids: great libraries of books, wonderful basketball courts, more high quality teachers, field trips— actual learning supplies, instead of on high-stakes tests that will track and manage (and limit) our children’s futures all the way into their careers.
The AIR tests will be meshed with the tracking system (P-20) that manages children from preschool to workforce via the State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) that the federal government paid us almost $10 million to use. (That contributed to the U.S. debt– it was ARRA stimulus money).
Interstate and intra-state agencies, and also state-fed relationships will share access to these test scores and to the citizen profiles the tests will build.
It’s a 1984-esque citizen profiling situation that can only be halted if teachers, parents and citizens stand up and say no, loudly.
Remenber, the new tests and the mediocre Common Core standards are not our local will. There’s never been a vote. These are products of the federal and globalist will that move under the general public’s radar.
The article quoted Dr. Menlove’s reference to “federal education law”– Oh, what an example of how far off we are! What would the writers of the Constitution say about states bowing to federal laws that are clearly unconstitutional, such as those which permit federal control of state education?
I do not think that the education leaders in Utah understand that they are playing directly into the hands of those who would replace freedom and the U.S. Constitution with a Collective where the individual has no say.
Think it’s too awful to believe?
It’s like the telephone game. Utah’s education leaders are whispered to by the federal educational leaders, who have been whispered to by top “Education Reform” activists: Sec. Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, Clinton, Pearson’s Sir Michael Barber, ACT’s David Coleman, Achieve Inc., SBAC, PARCC, NGA, CCSSO, Bill Gates/UNESCO, and the U.N.’s Agenda 21 Education Reform.
It is not rocket science to see where they are pushing us.
I really don’t think the Utah leaders know it. Sadly, we all –and our children– pay for their obvious ignorance of the goals of globalist ”Education Reform”.
Even though the elementary school my son attended up until this week is one of the friendliest, most parent-involved and teacher-dedicated school I’ve ever seen, I decided to homeschool.
My decision to homeschool is not a political statement, although I am vehemently opposed to the Common Core Initiative which has taken over our schools.
It’s not an attempt to shield my son from the pegging that happens with high stakes testing; I had already opted us out of all high stakes, standardized tests at the elementary school.
Although I am a certified teacher with an up to date credential and many years’ experience teaching in schools, I am not basing my decision on that; research I’ve seen by Jonas Himmelstrand, and by others, has shown that even children taught at home by parents with low education levels turn out better educated kids, on the whole, than kids who are taught in public school systems.
My decision was not an attempt to hide from the citizen surveillance program that has recently been implemented via the SLDS and P-20 systems in each state, although I am vehemently opposed to that, too. (BTW, the fact that kids can’t attend school without being personally tracked was verified in an email to me by Lorraine, the secretary of the Utah State School Board that is posted on this site.)
I’m homeschooling because one-on-one, customized tutoring is more effective than teaching in large groups. I’m homeschooling because I can eliminate things I don’t feel are important and make more time for things I feel are important. Example: I have time to teach him things that public schools do not prioritize, such as not only reading and math and social studies, but also geography, cursive, Swedish, diagramming sentences, reading scriptures, analysis of government and liberty. I’m homeschooling because my son wants me to. He asked me to.
Friends have been asking me what I am using.
- Lined paper and a pencil, because I want him to have great handwriting, the ability to write in cursive, and no spellcheck until he’s older.
- A computer, because he can create powerpoints based on what he’s learned, and practice typing, and find maps and dictionaries, etc.
- Saxon math, because it’s “real” math, traditional math, and there’s an online placement test before you buy the text book. I love it.
- “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know” because I used this line of books when I taught elementary school a few years ago and liked it.
- CK Colorado because it’s a free website with lesson plans that match the “What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know.”
- Swedish Fairy Tales.
- The Scriptures.
- The same grammar books I used for remedial students when I taught English at UVU
- Mad Libs.
- The CIA World Factbook and maps on the internet to teach geography.
- Virtual Field Trips (online: to an apple cider factory, woolen mill, surfboard factory, museums worldwide, Machu Piccu via National Geographic YouTube, etc.)
- Real Field Trips (there are so many things close by– university art and science museums, farms, airports, libraries, historical sites)
And, to ensure he’s not socially left out, I also have him in karate three times a week, boy scouts, church, and I encourage neighbor and sibling play time all afternoon, and I’ve joined the Utah County homeschooling association and will probably do things with them as well.
Ironically, in the October 15, 2012, issue of the National Review, there’s an article called The Last Radicals“The Last Radicals: Homeschoolers Occupy the Curriculum” that came out, ironically, the same week that I decided to homeschool my own fourth grade son.
The author, Kevin D. Williamson, writes:
<!—-> There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.
In the public imagination, homeschooling has a distinctly conservative and Evangelical odor about it, but it was not always so. The modern homeschooling movement really has its roots in 1960s countercultural tendencies; along with A Love Supreme, it may represent the only worthwhile cultural product of that era. The movement’s urtext is Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, by A. S. Neill, which sold millions of copies in the 1960s and 1970s. Neill was the headmaster of an English school organized (to the extent that it was organized) around neo-Freudian psychotherapeutic notions and Marxian ideas about the nature of power relationships in society. He looked forward to the day when conventional religion would wither away — “Most of our religious practices are a sham,” he declared — and in general had about as little in common with what most people regard as the typical homeschooler as it is possible to have.
“People forget that some of the first homeschoolers were hippies,” says Bob Wiesner, a counselor at the Seton Home Study School, a Catholic educational apostolate reporting to the bishop of Arlington, Va. In one of history’s little ironies, today most of homeschooling’s bitterest enemies are to be found on the left. “We don’t have much of a problem from conservatives,” Wiesner says. “It’s the teachers’ unions, educational bureaucrats, and liberal professors. College professors by and large don’t want students who can think for themselves. They want students they can indoctrinate, but that’s hard to do with homeschoolers — homeschoolers push back.”
Full Article here: https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/328699/last-radicals
Many people are upset about federally imposed ”education reforms” that leave teachers and parents out of decision making. There’s now a nationwide ”Dump Duncan” movement that’s petitioning President Obama to fire the Secretary of Education.
Dump Duncan was started by two grandfathers, one in Washington State and one in New York, who are upset about what is happening to the public schools of the nation. Those who have signed the Letter to Obama include parents, teachers, college professors, and other citizens.
The petition asks the President for: a Secretary of Education who is a lifetime educator; a meaningful voice for teachers, parents and administrators in Dept. of Education decision making that affect them; an end to the compelling of municipalities to use student test data as a basis for evaluating teachers, and more.
“Dump Duncan” has a Facebook page, a “Dump Duncan” website and a petition at http://dumpduncan.org/ . It even put on an “Occupy the Department of Education” event this year.
There’s a collection of teacher-written poetry on the ”Dump Duncan” poetry contest page, and a lot of creative graphics uploaded by various petition signers. So far, there are about 6,000 Dump Duncan petition signers. This is what the full petition requests:
Dear President Obama,
We, the undersigned, a cross section of the nation’s teachers and their supporters, wish to express our extreme displeasure with the policies implemented during your administration by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Although many of us campaigned enthusiastically for you in 2008, it is unlikely that you will receive continued support unless the following three dimensions of your administration’s education initiatives are changed:
- The exclusion of teachers from policy discussions in the US Department of Education and from Education Summits called under your leadership.
- The use of rhetoric which blames failing schools on “bad teachers” rather than poverty and neighborhood distress.
- The use of federal funds to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores in the evaluation of teachers and as the basis for closing low performing schools.
Because of these policies, teachers throughout the nation have become discouraged and demoralized, undermining your own stated goals of improving teacher quality, upgrading the nation’s educational performance, and encouraging creative pedagogy rather than “teaching to the test.”
We therefore submit the following measures to put your administration’s education policy back on the right track and to bring teachers in as full partners in this effort:
- The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
- The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
- An immediate end to the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student test scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
- Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.
We believe such policies will create an outpouring of good will on the part of teachers, parents and students which will promote creative teaching and educational innovation, leading to far greater improvements in the nation’s schools than policies which encourage a proliferation of student testing could ever hope to do.