Archive for the ‘standardized tests’ Tag

Yes, You Can Opt Out of Common Core Tests   30 comments

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.

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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.

Signed…

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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.

Jenni White: Common Core Makes School Choice No Choice   Leave a comment

School Choice?  What’s That?

By Jenni White

There is no way choice and the Common Core can exist simultaneously.

See:  Restore Oklahoma Public Education  http://restoreoklahomapubliceducation.blogspot.com/2013/01/school-choice-whats-that.html

This week is School Choice Week across the nation. For a number of years now, Republican-based organizations from Heritage Foundation to Friedman Foundation to our own OCPA, have been calling for School Choice.

We here at ROPE believe that parental choice is of ULTIMATE importance in the creation of education that works for students and families. Gone should be the days in which children are locked into districts whose Board of Educations are NOT responsive to the needs of their students and parents.

After much study, however, we also believe that until the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS (CCSS) are removed from the states that have adopted them (including OKLAHOMA) THERE CAN BE NO CHOICE IN EDUCATION! In fact, there is no way Choice and the CCSS can exist simultaneously.

Why would you, as a parent, move your child from one school to another when the same COMMON standards shape the curriculum at EVERY school in the district or city? Yes, one school may have a better teaching staff, or one might be perceived to be ‘safer’, but if the teaching curricula of all schools are derived from the same COMMON standards, how can one school produce a more exceptional student than another? How can schools in states who have adopted the CCSS really differentiate themselves one from another when the basis of all educational knowledge is derived from the same COMMON standards? Where is the ability for any school to create a student that excels beyond what is “common”?

Sadly, it’s not simply government schools that are effected by the COMMON CORE phenomena.

Did you know that private schools and charter schools are turning to Common Core so they will have books to use that contain “COMMON” curricula developed for the standards so private school students will have the same advantage as government school kids on tests such as ACT – which are being shaped to match the standards?

Many large textbook companies like Pearson, threw their lot in with the Council of Chief State School Officers (a private national association) and the National Governor’s Association (also a private association to which NOT all governors belong) to create and insinuate the CCSS in American government schools. The free market is wonderful, but in this case, textbook companies with smaller market share are forced to mold their materials to the CCSS or lose business to those companies producing CCSS-aligned texts.

This also works with education retailers. Did you know that companies who sell to the home school market, like Mardel, are selling Common Core materials?

Not only that, but what if home school students are forced to test to the Common Core as they are implemented across states? What if universities will no longer take transcripts of home school students if they haven’t been taught using the COMMON standards or they haven’t taken the CCSS standardized tests? In fact, the Home School Legal Defense Association has condemned the CCSS for these and other reasons.

In closing, why follow blindly behind School Choice advocates when there is really NO CHOICE in education as long as states are perpetuating the CCSS?

It is important – no necessary – to make sure Republicans pushing these Obama/Duncan overreaching education reforms understand that parents understand the issue of Core vs Choice. Let’s let legislators, the media and School Choice advocates know we will NOT raise COMMON children here in Oklahoma and that Common Core is NOT OK!

Every child deserves better than a COMMON education!

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Thanks to Jenni White of Restore Oklahoma Education (ROPE) for sharing her research.

Yin Zhen Zhi Ke: Drinking Poison to Quench Thirst   Leave a comment

 

Earlier this year, in an interview with World Observer, Yong Zhao likened the current educational mania sweeping America (Common Core and its national testing program) to the Chinese proverb: Yin Zhen Zhi Ke.

It means “Drinking poison to quench thirst.”

The Chinese saying warns not to take measures that may appear to solve an urgent problem in the short term but in effect the solution is more damaging than the problem.

Zhao calls the most pressing problem in American Education today an obsession with standardized tests, which distorts and confuses education. High-stakes testing, he says, does more harm than good: “Using standardized tests to measure student performance in a few subjects distorts the whole picture of education, confuses test scores with real education that prepares competent and responsible citizens, and reduces education to test preparation.”

Zhao’s answer to how Americans can serve children, when we are fraught with money being poured down the testing companies’ coffers, is simple:   Abandon the idea of test-based accountability via high-stakes testing.

“We should completely abandon the idea of test-based accountability, that is, get high stakes standardized testing out of education, do not use it to evaluate schools or teachers. Second, we need to return autonomy to local schools and teachers. Let educators do their job… “

Zhao has written extensively about Common Core. “The simple message is that they will not improve education,” he says, and calls Common Core “an expensive and futile exercise” that will “cause more damages in terms of narrowing the curriculum and leading to more teaching to the test.”

To read more, here is the full text of the interview :

http://worldobserveronline.com/2012/05/23/yong-zhao-in-conversation-education-should-liberate-not-indoctrinate/

Christopher Tienken on Common Core as Education Malpractice   4 comments

Professor Tienken of Seton Hall University has been writing about the follies of education reform for many years. He simply doesn’t put up with the ongoing unreferenced claims that proponents of Common Core are parroting one to another.  He writes:

“Connecting an individual’s education achievement on a standardized test to a nation’s economic future is not empirically or logically acceptable and using that mythical connection for large-scale policymaking is civically reckless. When education leaders and those who prepare them parrot that argument they actually provide credence to that anti-intellectual myth. When school administrators implement programs and policies built on those faulty arguments, they commit education malpractice.”

-Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

More by Dr. Tienken:

http://mathforum.org/kb/servlet/JiveServlet/download/323-2289422-7524512-690019/att1.html

http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Newsletters/JSP_Winter2011.FINAL.pdf

http://www.aasa.org/uploadedFiles/Publications/Journals/AASA_Journal_of_Scholarship_and_Practice/Winter_10_FINAL.pdf

More about Dr. Tienken:

http://thebellnews.com/2013/01/07/debunking-the-common-core-the-emperors-new-clothes-narrative/

http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2013/01/best-research-award-winner-says-common.html?spref=fb

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