No Thank You to Naviance

Reposted with permission from Feral Families.

feral families

The district has designed a scope and sequence of how to use Naviance with a focus on 11th and 12th grade but actual implementation will be left school to school. Once parents have forfeited their chance to opt out there will not be any other chances to give consent for certain portions. They told me it is an all in system with individual schools being left to make decisions about how they will accommodate students who opt out….

Through my daughter’s eighth grade year, I started to familiarize myself with how high school is organized nowadays in SPS. It’s been a long time since my Ingraham days of “tennis shoe registration” where we ran station to station with little index cards and golf pencils signing up for our courses manually. So with a few weeks until school let out when I received this email from Seattle Public Schools, my interest was peaked,

Dear families,

We are pleased to announce the district’s college and career planning tool, Naviance, will be available in the 2018-19 school year to support your student’s personalized journey through high school. This is a web-based, mobile-friendly tool that you and your student can use to explore interests and options, consider post-high school plans, and ensures all students can have access to post-high school planning supports.

The Naviance college and career planning tool will allow students to:

• Research careers and colleges: Learn about career fields linked to personal interests, compare data from college admissions offices, take personalized surveys to understand strengths and goals.

• Get involved in the planning process:Build a resume, manage timelines and deadlines for making decisions about colleges and careers; organize and track documents related to the college application process, such as requesting and submitting letters of recommendation and transcripts.

• High School and Beyond Plan: Schools will be using Naviance to deliver high school and beyond plan lessons in grades 8-12.  The high school and beyond plan is a graduation requirement, which helps students and counselors make sure graduation requirements are met and are aligned to identified goals.

• Scholarship search: Students can search a database of scholarships based on their interest and goals, and organize materials for scholarship applications in one place.

Student Data and Opt-out Information

The district thoroughly vetted Naviance’s policies and practices with respect to preserving data security and student privacy. Families can choose to opt their students out of using this tool.

For students to utilize the college application support tools in Naviance, some student demographic and academic records need to be shared.  This may include gender, ethnicity, and transcripts. Students will also have the opportunity to add information about themselves when developing their high school and beyond plan and using other college and career exploratory resources within the Naviance tool.

We will be importing student information beginning on July 1 so counselors can use their training days during the summer to prepare for supporting your student in the fall. The window to opt out will be June 4-22, and will open again at the start of school.

Read more about Naviance’s commitment to data security and student privacy and opt out instructions

Each of our students is on a unique educational journey. We are committed to ensuring every one of them receives the support needed to prepare them for college, career and life. High school and beyond planning is one way we are supporting this commitment.

Thank you,

The College and Career Readiness Team

Seattle Public Schools

To which I responded,

Dear Superintendent and Directors,

I received a letter about Naviance informing me that I could opt out but not how to opt out. I found the information on the district website and it says I have to change the preferences on my Source account but I do not participate in the Source. I consulted our upcoming high school principal and guidance counselor and neither of them know how to opt out without a Source account. I also tried replying to the College & Career team but the email was sent with “no reply” options or contact info.

Please advise. The opt out window ends on 6/22.

Thank you,

Shawna Murphy

I was surprised by a quick reply from the College & Career Readiness team offering to teach me how to set up a Source account. I said no thank you and let them know that for a variety of choice and access issues they need to offer families another way to opt out. Their department sent me a computerized form a day or two later which I remember finding funny because if you don’t have computer access to use The Source, how would you fill out a computer form? By this time I had talked to several friends who wanted to opt their children out of Naviance too, but the form stopped working. I contacted the College & Career Readiness team again and it turned out THEY HAD MADE THE FORM ONLY FOR MY USE! Now I do appreciate that I am a privileged outlier but I reminded them they need a simple way for ALL families to opt out; not just the well known agitators. They thanked me for the feedback and said that they would work on that for the next opt out window of 9/5-9/19. They asked me to check back at the beginning of the school year.

On the first day of my daughter’s high school experience I emailed the SPS Director of College & Career Readiness, Caleb Perkins to loop back about what kind of outreach they were doing for families about Naviance and how one might elect to have their child opt out of this new system. Many parents of middle school and high school students I had spoken with were wary of this new system over data sharing, privacy and tracking concerns. Mr. Perkins responded to my email requesting a phone meeting we scheduled one for the following day.

I knew what questions I wanted to ask and they mostly centered on how parents will learn about this system so they can make an informed choice whether they would like to participate. My friend and educational blogger, Carolyn Leith is much more knowledgeable about some of intricate details of the system and she sent me a list of questions to use for my meeting, they are as follows,

1. How is Naviance going to be used? What classes will be using the software and what surveys will students be expected to participate in. Will the district inform parents of what surveys their students will be expected to complete.

2. Some surveys used by Naviance were intended to be filled out by students under the supervision of a parent. Will parents have access to student accounts?

3. How will students who opt out of Naviance be accommodated? How will this work if Naviance is part of a planned curriculum? For families who object to their student’s participation with Naviance, will a counselor be made available to help students navigate the last two years of high school.

4. How will opting out be handled with courses such as career essentials?

5. Does answering/ using different surveys change the data sharing agreement signed between the district and Naviance? What data is being shared (or made available for access via API’s ) and with whom?

6. What platforms ( such as Google Suite, Clever ) have access to Naviance? Does Naviance also have access to the data collected in Google Suite, Clever, and other platforms?

7. Is Naviance interoperable with other platforms and software used by Seattle Public Schools? Will parents be informed of what data is being shared and with what programs?

8. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to put in writing that it holds student personality tests and other sensitive data collected by Naviance and does not share it and will be liable for any breaches or misuse?

9. Is Seattle Public Schools willing to make transparent what algorithms and weighted factors are used to put students on specific career tracts? Is Naviance willing to share this information?

I started the conversation casually, moved on to the questions, without recording their answers and then moved into a friendly discussion of the larger issues at stake. Mr. Perkins has committed to sending me written answers to these questions, but since the opt out window only runs until 9/19, I decided to write a blog post about our conversation now while it’s still fresh. Incidentally the College & Career Readiness team has set up five regional Naviance Information Sessions but to date they have been poorly publicized and offered only from 5:30-6:30, which is a tricky for many families.

A few things I learned at the beginning of my meeting on speaker phone with Caleb Perkins and Krista Rillo were that SPS paid a little over $600,000 total to Hobson for the use of Naviance for three years. The district paid for Naviance using a voter approved technology levy. The district believes their legal team has thoroughly vetted the contract and has stiff penalties in place for any future theoretical data breach.

The district has designed a scope and sequence of how to use Naviance with a focus on 11th and 12th grade but actual implementation will be left school to school. Once parents have forfeited their chance to opt out there will not be any other chances to give consent for certain portions. They told me it is an all in system with individual schools being left to make decisions about how they will accommodate students who opt out. In addition to The Source, families can also opt out by informing their school office. I gave strong feedback that these were not enough options. Not all families feel comfortable working with their school office and not all school office staff are going to welcome opt outs. I gave the example of how differently SBAC opt outs are handled school to school. At my daughters’ school, it was seen as no big deal with as many as 10% of our students opting out of standardized testing. But other schools are much more hostile to test refusers. At nearby Denny Middle School there was a school carnival that only students who had taken the SBAC could attend and other friends around the district reported having principals want to schedule parent conferences in response to their opt out emails. These parents were then strongly encouraged to have their students take the SBAC. I suggested publicizing a phone number that parents could call directly to opt out of Naviance.

Both Caleb and Krista talked about aspects of Naviance they are excited about. Students can apply directly to colleges, send transcripts and apply for scholarships. Mr. Perkins is especially excited about a set of videos featuring underrepresented groups in non traditional careers. I asked if parents would have access to this information. The answer was a little shocking. They said they were not building in parent access this year and that parents would potentially have “read only” account access next year. They also said that based on what types of searches and inquiries the student was making, they would receive more info in those areas. So if your student was surveyed to show interest in engineering, they would start receiving notices about STEM opportunities in the area. For me, this is a red flag for tracking, and between that, lack of parent access and the idea that my child may be sending my financial information to multiple parties through this system, I am alarmed.

The conversation then took a turn into the big picture and that’s when I really began to question what Seattle Public Schools has gotten themselves into trying to fulfill the legislature’s high school and beyond requirements. Mr. Perkins told me that there had been discussion by the School Board Directors, with some directors in opposition, to naming this new project “Seattle Ready” after the idea that in order to live in Seattle now one will need to have a high paying job. They argued that this idea is “economy driven” and I argued that the opposite is actually true. Not only is child care highly sought after in Seattle, as working class person, a child care provider making about $20, I took strong offense to this notion that students might be dissuaded from pursuing a meaningful career like mine, that gives me so much joy, and supports so many people, because it does not pay “Seattle Ready” wages. I pointed out to them that they were actually doing a disservice to their own workforce by promoting these classist and elitist ideas and I suggested they look to the example of our First Student bus drivers. A “Seattle Ready” system is never going to suggest that a student might enjoy a career as a bus driver and yet what vacancies have not been able to be filled this year and last? School bus drivers. The school bus driver shortage is wreaking havoc on our Seattle working families who’s school buses are frequently late and sometimes don’t show up at all.

Another example I gave, is the district’s own IA’s who often do not earn enough to afford housing in Seattle and have long commutes into the city. These are the same people that the district relies on to care for our most vulnerable students, a position I hold in high esteem and yet the district would deem this career not “Seattle Ready” viable.

I would rather that my student were taught the value of a day’s work and learn about social justice and organizing for better pay for all workers than be taught that some jobs are better than others. I don’t buy it. And what about my friends who ARE artists and musicians and writers but that is not the job they do for money. This early emphasis on what job we have and how it defines us is misguided at best and troubling for me as a parent of kids who dance to their own drum. My youngest has always said she will be an animal communicator and a fortune teller when she grows up and my oldest would like to write for sitcoms but is interested in retail while she starts working on her scripts. It seems highly unlikely these tracks are available in Naviance or any “economy driven” system but I want my children to be who they are, loving, kind and interesting people, who also will some day have jobs, and maybe many many different kinds of jobs; this is why I have chosen to opt out of Naviance.

-Shawna Murphy


Stealing Vocational Dreams: Pushing Career Education Too Soon

Reposted with permission from Nancy Bailey’s Education Website.


To some extent it is necessary to forecast the kinds of jobs that will be available to students when they graduate. Businesses have every right to express their needs.

But steering children into those jobs, especially at an early age, is more about business than about children.

If you have a middle school student, chances are the school they’re attending is already discussing career options. While there’s always been a place at this age for discussing a child’s hopes and dreams for the future, the push to make career-ready children is creating a lot of anxiety among parents.

Much of this involves placing students online and gathering personal information through surveys used to align student interests to future jobs.

How must children feel when they are coerced into determining what they want to do with their lives when they are only in eighth grade, or when their reading difficulties already prevent them from moving into a career path they find interesting?

This is tracking at an early age.

One study found that middle school students (6th, 7th, and 8th grade) spent an average of one year studying the introduction into career-technical education (CTE). How time consuming.

Having taught the same 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students in a resource class, and also high school students, I know that academic and social differences between the same sixth and eighth grader can be profound!

High school students change too. By a student’s junior and senior year, students are somewhat more settled on a college and career direction. This seems like a good time to discuss careers and interests.

Most children, aside from a few prodigies, dream about and change their minds about a career. And some students don’t proclaim a college major until they are well into their college career!

So why is there such a push to stamp a career on a student before they’re ready?

Policymakers and school reformers claim they’re worried about the future economy, and schools must prepare students for future jobs. This hyperbole has been running rampant in the school reform arena for years.

Much of this hyper-focus on college and career readiness was ushered in with the Common Core State Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments.

There’s no shortage of career online testing companies that will gather personal information about children. Naviance is an example of a software provider to middle and high school which collects personal data about students, including student values. This data collection is especially worrisome.

Along with assessment, nonprofit programs have popped up to match middle school students to businesses.

While discussing middle school students and career education, Education Week showcased a program called Spark. The chief executive officer, Jason A. Cascarino, stated, Nobody knows what to do with these kids. Developmentally, it’s a challenging age. Middle school was also described in another Education Week report as The Forgotten Middle. The Bermuda Triangle. The Black Box. The Educational Weak Link.

These perceptions of middle school are not entirely true. Middle school is a challenging age, but well-prepared teachers who study preadolescent development and work with students, have succeeded at identifying student interests.

If preteens become bored and disengaged, it’s because school reform measures have destroyed the ability of educators to provide a good foundation in coursework with access to a whole curriculum. Teachers may lack resources and good preparation.

There’s possibly been too much focus on career planning and testing.

Exposure to language arts, math, social studies, science, music, and art still make the most sense for all students at this age. Middle school students also require plenty of socialization opportunities through engaging extracurricular activities.

Any kind of apprenticeship opportunities might be best offered in the summer. Students at this age like to discuss and explore careers. But businesses should back off.

To some extent it is necessary to forecast the kinds of jobs that will be available to students when they graduate. Businesses have every right to express their needs.

But steering children into those jobs, especially at an early age, is more about business than about children.

Elementary schools even obsess about career preparation. Children in kindergarten are assessed to determine a career route!

All of this is foreboding. It shouldn’t be permitted, certainly not at such a young age when students are constantly changing and reinventing themselves.

The seriousness of a career choice cannot be underestimated. But forcing this commitment onto middle school students goes way beyond what is ethically appropriate.

-Nancy Bailey


Caralee J. Adams. “Career Prep Moves Into Middle Schools.” Education Week. July 15, 2015.

Caralee Adams. “Focus on Middle Grades Seen as Pivotal to High School and College Readiness. ” Education Week. December 5, 2014.

Step-by-step Privatization and Profit: ESSA Delivers Schools to Wall Street with a Bow on Top

Reposted with permission from Educationalchemy.


ESSA was designed to open the flood gates for neoliberal profiteers to not only profit from public educations services (I,e. tests or curriculum) but to completely own it…

Social impact bond projects are very definitely privatisation. PFI/PPP projects have effectively privatised the design, finance, construction and maintenance of much public infrastructure. Now social impact bond projects potentially privatise the design, finance, service delivery, management, monitoring and evaluation of early intervention and prevention policies.”

Step One- Curriculum: Common Core standards created one set of standards (modules) (originating from a global agenda circa 1985) For a full history of support for this outline click the link.

According to a promotional flyer created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

“Education leaders have long talked about setting rigorous standards and allowing students more or less time as needed to demonstrate mastery of subjects and skills. This has been more a promise than a reality, but we believe it’s possible with the convergence of the Common Core State Standards, the work on new standards-based assessments, the development of new data systems, and the rapid growth of technology-enabled learning experiences.” 

So that…

Step Two-Testing: There can be one consistent numerical metric by which to measure student outcomes (PARCC)

So that…

Step Three- We can have modularized Competency Based Assessment: Instruction and ongoing testing can be delivered via technology ….

Competency-based education has been part of Achieve’s strategic plan for a few years, … states and national organizations that have made this topic a priority: Nellie Mae Education Foundation, iNACOL, Digital Learning Now, CCSSO and NGA.”

Pearson. “With competency-based education, institutions can help students complete credentials in less time, at lower cost.”

So that…

Step Four– We can have Pay for Success (or) Social Impact Bonds (evaluated for their “success” via the competency/outcomes based model) replace the funding infrastructure of public schools….

CTAC, the Boston-based Institute for Compensation Reform and Student Learning at the Community Training and Assistance Center partners with departments of education to develop and promote student learning outcomes (SLO’s). William Slotnik is executive director of CTAC. He advocates for VAM and merit pay schemes. “William Slotnik,… has argued that performance-based compensation tied directly to the educational mission of a school district can be a lever to transform schools.”

According the National Governors Association (NGA): “CBE can be a way for states to pay for the outcomes they want if supported by a funding formula that allocates dollars based on student learning, not simply time spent in a classroom or full-time equivalency”

ESSA was designed to open the flood gates for neoliberal profiteers to not only profit from public educations services (I,e. tests or curriculum) but to completely own it. See Fred Klonsky who concurs with Mercedes Schneider that “these bonds are an open door for the exploitation of children who do not score well on tests.” Social Impact Bonds have been criticized as a central piece of ESSA as noted by BATS: “‘Pay for Success’ from Every Student Succeeds Act as it is located in Title 1, Part D, Section 4108, page 485. Social Impact Bonds favor financial investors and NOT KIDS! In Title IV, A in the section titled Safety and Healthy Students, page 797, Social Impact Bonds are defined as ‘Pay for Success.’ Investors are paid off when a student IS NOT referred to special education. ”

The entire system of reforms over the last three decades have been a step by step sequence of actions designed to privatize public education as a for- profit enterprise of Wall Street investments.

Social impact bonds are a development in the mutation of privatization … The new emphasis on financialising and personalising services to create new pathways for the mutation of privatisation recognised that health, education and social services could not be sold off in the same way as state owned corporations. It ensured marketisation and privatisation were permanent and not dependent on outsourcing, which could be reversed by terminating or not renewing contracts (Whitfield, 2012a and 2012b).”

Again, the NGA: “In addition, leadership, promotion, and pay structures might look different in a CBE system that asks educators to take on new, specialized roles. Underpinning many current policies are labor contracts, which specify the educator’s role based on specified amounts of class time. Such policies would not only be unnecessary in a CBE system but would significantly impede the adoption of such a system.”

You dismantle labor unions on a global scale, which was, the goal of ALEC and the World Bank back when they began devising these policies. The following is an outline from the World Bank link on Global Education Reform,  summarizing what they think are key issues:

  1. Decentralization & School-Based Management Resource Kit
    Directions in Development: Decentralization Series

Financing Reform

  1. Vouchers
  2. Contracting
  3. Private Sector
  4. Charter Schools
  5. Privatization
  6. Private Delivery of Services

Teacher Reform

  1. On-line resources related to teacher career development
  2. Teacher Evaluation as part of Quality Assurance

Curriculum Reform

  1. Country Examples of Curriculum Reforms
  2. Accountability in Education
  3. Standard in Education

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

One report I found by Pauline Lipman (2012)  summarizes all of this quite nicely:

 “Under the Global Agreement on Trade in Services, all aspects of education and education services are subject to global trade. The result is the global marketing of schooling from primary school through higher education. Schools, education management organizations, tutoring services, teacher training, tests, curricula online classes, and franchises of branded universities are now part of a global education marketEducation markets are one facet of the neoliberal strategy to manage the structural crisis of capitalism by opening the public sector to capital accumulation. The roughly $2.5 trillion global market in education is a rich new arena for capital investment …and testing is a prominent mechanism to steer curriculum and instruction to meet these goals efficiently and effectively.”

The 2011 ALEC Annual Conference Substantive Agenda on Education shows their current interests:

“…the Task Force voted on several proposed bills and resolutions, with topics including: digital learning, the Common Core State Standards, charter schools, curriculum on free enterprise, taxpayers’ savings grants, amendments to the existing model legislation on higher education accountability, and a comprehensive bill that incorporates many components of the landmark school reforms Indiana passed this legislative session. Attendees will hear a presentation on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ initiative to grow great schools, as well as one on innovations in higher education.”

According to one European white paper: “Philanthrocapitalism is the embedding of neoliberalism into the activities of foundations and trusts. It is a means of marketising and privatising social development aid in the global south. It has also been described as Philanthropic Colonialism … It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity. But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The replacement of public finance and grants from public/foundations/trusts to community organisations, voluntary organisations and social enterprises with ‘social investment’, requiring a return on investment, means that all activities must be profitable. This will have a profound impact on the ability to regenerate to meet social and community needs. The merging of PPPs, impacting investing and philanthrocapitalism would be complete!”

-Morna McDermott

What’s the big secret about the SBAC and PARCC test questions?


Back in the day, after I took a test and it was graded, I got my test paper back to see what questions I got wrong. It was part of the learning process.

It seems these days that Pearson doesn’t want the students or teachers to know what the questions are, therefore what questions each student needs to review and focus on to further educate themselves.

It has now gotten to the point where if ANYONE shares one question on the PARCC or SBAC tests, they are to be censored and threatened with legal action.

This is education?

An article was written by a teacher about the Common Core Standards PARCC test (the equivalent of the SBAC used in Washington State) and posted on the blog Outrage on the Page. It described the type of questions given, with examples of specific questions and critiqued each one superbly.

The people at PARCC/Pearson, weren’t happy about this and threatened the publisher of the article with legal action.

Because of the threats, the questions were deleted from the article.

Tweets about the article were taken down and Diane Ravitch’s post on the article disappeared off of her blog overnight. Because of these actions, I and other education journalists are reposting the original article that was written by the teacher and sharing it broadly on our websites as well as twitter and Facebook.

Please share widely the following thoughtful article written by an educator about the PARRC test.

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according toScholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

 Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. EvenCCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says:“Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

censored money

Post script by the editor:

I just came across this cartoon on Facebook and wanted to share it.


A related article:

NJ Teachers Union President: PARCC Is a Flawed Assessment





From the Vermont Education Agency to parents: These SBAC test scores don’t mean anything


These tests are based on a narrow definition of “college and career ready.” In truth, there are many different careers and colleges and there are just as many different definitions of essential skills. In fact, many (if not most) successful adults fail to score well on standardized tests. If your child’s scores show that they are not yet proficient, this does not mean that they are not doing well or will not do well in the future.

We also recommend that you not place a great deal of emphasis on the “claims” or sub-scores. There are just not enough test items to give you reliable information.

From the Washington Post:

Vermont to parents: Don’t worry about your child’s Common Core test scores. They don’t mean much.

It’s not common for education policymakers to tell parents that they can give short shrift to their child’s scores on Common Core standardized tests (or on pretty much any test, for that matter), but that’s what the Vermont State Board of Education has just done.

Meeting earlier this week, the board, which includes the state’s education secretary, Rebecca Holcombe, approved a remarkable message for parents about scores on the 2015 Common Core tests known as SBAC, for the multi-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which created the exams.

The SBAC, along with tests created by another multi-state consortium, the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, were designed to be more sophisticated and better able to evaluate what students have learned than earlier-generation standardized tests. But the exams are not the “game-changing” assessment instruments the Obama administration — which funded their creation — had predicted because of time and money constraints.

With the recent release of the 2015 scores from tests taken in the spring, Vermont’s State Board, of which Holcombe is a member, approved a memorandum telling parents and guardians not to worry about the results because their meaning is at best limited. It says in part:

We call your attention to the box labeled “scale score and overall performance.” These levels give too simplistic and too negative a message to students and parents. The tests are at a very  high level. In fact, no nation has ever achieved at such a level. Do not let the results wrongly discourage your child from pursuing his or her talents, ambitions, hopes or dreams.

These tests are based on a narrow definition of “college and career ready.” In truth, there are many different careers and colleges and there are just as many different definitions of essential skills. In fact, many (if not most) successful adults fail to score well on standardized tests. If your child’s scores show that they are not yet proficient, this does not mean that they are not doing well or will not do well in the future.

We also recommend that you not place a great deal of emphasis on the “claims” or sub-scores. There are just not enough test items to give you reliable information.

Here’s the full letter:

Seattle opt-out numbers for 2014-2015. It’s on!


Seattle had an incredible first year resisting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

To see what occurred statewide, see 48,000+ students refused the testocracy in Washington State by opting out. This isn’t an “anomaly”, it’s an uprising.

Let’s take a look at the final numbers for Seattle and see what happened. It’s also worth noting Seattle’s opt out numbers turned out to be higher than what was initially reported by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in July.

11th Grade

Seattle’s 11th graders captured the media’s attention with their willingness to step up and opt out. This became such a phenomenon John Oliver mentioned Nathan Hale in his profanity laced take down of high stakes testing.

What do the final numbers look like? A mind blowing 76.1% of 11th graders opted out of the English Language Arts test (ELA) and 80.5% for Math.

For ELA, this translates into 2,425 students.

For Math, this translates into 2,557 students.


What’s also interesting is a significant number of 3rd through 8th grade students opted out. After the OSPI press release, the narrative became parents of 3rd through 8th grade students must be OK with the SBAC.

Granted, the final numbers aren’t as stunning as the 11th grade. That said, the final count was high enough to throw a wrench into the system. Each grade, from 3rd to 8th, failed to meet the 95% participation requirement. That’s quite an accomplishment for the first year of resistance to a brand new assessment.

It’s important to remember that these are the kids who will face the SBAC as a graduation requirement. Now is the time to rise up and push back on it, before more harm is done.

Below is a break down of the opt out numbers by grade for Seattle Public School (SPS) students. (Click on the image to enlarge. Opt outs are listed as “No Score”)

3rd Grade

OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade” ELA. Student refusal = 118.
In final report, total students with no score = 235. Total refusal rate of 5.3%
 OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade Math”. Student refusal = 121.
In final report, total students with no score = 245. Total refusal rate of 5.5%
4th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade ELA”.  Student refusal = 145.
In final report, total students with no score = 235.  Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade Math”  Student refusal = 144.
In final report, total students with no score = 247.  Total refusal rate of 5.8%
5th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 167.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.0%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade Math”. Student refusal = 171.
In final report, total students with no score = 269. Total refusal rate of 6.7%
6th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 178.
In final report, total students with no score = 206. Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade Math”. Student refusal = 200.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.5%
7th Grade
OSPI Not Tested Report for 7th grade ELA. Student refusal = 235.
In final report, total students with no score = 284. “Total refusal rate of 8.3%”
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 7th grade Math”. Student refusal = 238.
In final report, total students with no score = 275. Total refusal rate of 8.1%
8th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 312.
In final report, total students with no score = 359. Total refusal rate of 10.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade Math”. Student refusal = 346.
In final report, total students with no score = 386. Total refusal rate of 11.4%

Another interesting trend, the higher the grade, the larger the refusal rate. Third grade starts out with a solid refusal rate of 5%, by eighth grade the refusal rate climbs to 10% for ELA and 11% for math.

How many SPS students opted out of the SBAC?

For the ELA assessment, the number is 3,985.

For the Math assessment, the number is 4,220.

Not a bad start resisting a new assessment many parents had never heard of.

you can

Carolyn Leith

48,000+ students refused the testocracy in Washington State by opting out. This isn’t an “anomaly”, it’s an uprising

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.59.48 AM

How many students opted out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) in Washington State?  Short answer: More than you probably imagined.

Now that the final numbers are out, let’s dig in and see what happened.

11th Grade

We knew the opt out numbers were going to be huge. Last week’s OSPI report confirmed that. Across the state, the opt out rate for 11th grade was 49.3% for ELA and 52.9% for Math. This translates into:

37,112 students opted out of the English Language Arts (ELA)

39,444 students opted out of Math


(Opt outs are reported as “No Score”. Click image to enlarge.)

Now let’s do a quick run down on the other grades. Although the numbers lack the dramatic impact of the 11th grade, these figures are higher than what was reported by OSPI in July.

3rd Grade

1,590 opted out of the ELA

1,680 for Math


4th Grade

1,579 opted out of ELA

1.702 for Math


5th Grade:

1,588 opted out of the ELA

1,683 for Math


6th Grade

1,733 opted out of the ELA

1,898 for Math


7th Grade

2,298 opted out of the ELA

2,341 for Math


8th Grade

2,676 for the ELA

2,953 for Math


Some thoughts.

First, if you opted out your elementary or middle school student, you’re far from being the only one. There are potential allies at your school, parents who have also taken the leap. You just need to find them. Organizing is more fun when you do it with friends.

Also, bring more parents into your newly formed opt-out circle. Talk to parents you don’t know. Reach out. Be open about opting your child out, share the why and how of what you did. Be respectful if they’re unsure. Challenging the status quo is frightening and takes practice. You’ll be surprised how many people will approach you later with questions and asking for advice.

Second, when you combine the opt-out numbers for grades 3 through 8, the figure is not insignificant.

For ELA, the total of students 3rd through 8th grade who opted out is 11,464.

For math, that number is 12,257.

Adding another 10,000+ opt outs to the state total isn’t something to be ignored. That’s a strong initial opt out base. These are the kids who will face the SBAC as a graduation requirement. Now is the time to rise up and squash it, before more harm is done.

All of this brings us back to the question: How many students opted out of the SBAC? Here is the answer.

For ELA: 37,112 11th graders + 11,464 grade 3-8  = 48,576 students

For Math 39,444 11th graders = 12,257 grade 3-8  = 51,701 students.

Randy Dorn thinks this year’s opt-outs are an “anomaly”. I see 48,000+ opt outs as an education uprising.

-Carolyn Leith

House Bill 2214 : Randy Dorn is not doing us any favors: Tax dollars for a Common Core Standards PR campaign and more


House Bill 2214: “AN ACT Relating to increasing academic rigor and streamlining 2 assessment requirements for high school students.”

Just how far are we going to allow the state to determine local curriculum, how the curriculum is taught and how a student’s performance should be assessed?

I didn’t know we had educators in Olympia. Oh, that’s right, they’re POLITICIANS with various agendas and beholden to donors more so many times than their constituents.

House Bill 2214 was introduced “by request of Superintendent of Public Instruction” Randy Dorn who is beholden to Bill Gates to push through the Common Core Standards and the concomitant SBAC tests. This bill is not dead and if it doesn’t go to the House for a vote this time around, it will raise its ugly head next year.

Mr. Dorn is on the board of the private entity Council of Chief State School Officers(CCSSO) which is an organization receiving $84M from Bill Gates to promote the Common Core Standards. See: State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s “interpretation” of the Common Core SBAC testing and opting out: Truthiness in education.

The first item that stood out in this bill is that Randy Dorn wants to reduce the amount of required graduation tests from 6+ assessments (tests) to three tests and all three of them are the Common Core Standards SBAC tests. Coincidence? I think not.

First of all, why does there have to be ANY test to graduate from high school? Back in the day in California, where I attended public school, if we passed our classes successfully, we received our diploma and moved on.

Why now are there a battery of tests that seniors are subjected to while many of these students are taking the SAT/ACT and writing lengthy essays for college applications? Do these people not understand that students are humans too?

So now the legislators are doing us a favor by cutting the number of exams in half? Are they not merciful.

Randy Dorn and the legislators who signed onto this bill are not doing our students any favors.

The politicians who have put their names to this bill are:

Representatives Reykdal, Taylor, Pettigrew, Shea, Gregory, G. Hunt, Pollet, Holy, Ryu, Haler, Sells, Santos, Farrell, Tarleton, Bergquist, Appleton, Moscoso, Takko, Peterson, Dunshee, Riccelli, Sawyer, Tharinger, Condotta, Gregerson, Stanford, Robinson, Fitzgibbon, Kilduff, Orwall, Ortiz-Self, Van De Wege, Goodman, Kirby, Blake, Wylie, Moeller, Fey, McBride, Hurst, Schmick, S. Hunt, Griffey, and Youn.

After digging further into this bill, we found more party prizes.

First this section:

Each student shall have a high school and beyond plan to guide the student’s high school experience and prepare the student for postsecondary education or training and career. A high school and beyond plan must be initiated for each student during the eighth grade. In preparation for initiating that plan, each student shall first be administered a career interest and skills inventory. The plan must be updated annually during the high school grades to review transcripts, assess progress toward identified goals, and revise as necessary for changing interests, goals, and needs. School districts are encouraged to involve parents and guardians in the process of developing and updating the high school and beyond plan. The high school and beyond plan must include the following minimum elements: 

(i) Identification of career goals, aided by a skills and 24 interest assessment; 
(ii) Identification of educational goals; 
(iii) A four-year plan for course-taking that fulfills state and local graduation requirements and aligns with the student’s career and educational goals; 
(iv) Identification of assessments if needed to graduate from high school and achieve the postsecondary goals chosen in the high school and beyond plan; 
(v) By the end of the twelfth grade, a current resume or activity log that provides a written compilation of the student’s education, any work experience, and any community service and how the school district has recognized the community service pursuant to RCW 36 28A.320.193.

Along with budget cuts to our schools went many of our counselors. Just exactly who is to assist the students in putting together these plans? Is there money that will be provided by the state to fully fund this for all the school districts in the state of Washington? Money will be required not only for additional counselors but also cash for these assessments on an on-going basis. We can’t even get these folks to adequately fund education in our state for existing classes, programs, teachers, libraries, counselors, nurses and support staff. The few counselors we have been able to keep have their hands full, playing the role of nurse, psychologist (we could use some of those in our schools if for no other reason then to deal with the stress all of this puts the students under), guidance counselor and general support for students and families facing debilitating poverty, homelessness, illness and psychological traumas.

One parent who has read through this bill thinks the requirement of a high school and beyond plan starting in 8th grade is “creepy and Orwellian”. Shouldn’t students in 8th grade instead be exploring various subjects and enjoying the process rather than coming up with a 24 point plan to a specified career goal at age 13?

As one parent said, “It turns public education into a job training program, nothing more. I really doubt Lakeside has a required “high school and beyond plan”. Lakeside kids are being groomed to lead, public school kids are being taught to become a cog in the machine.”

On page 14 of this bill:

The superintendent of public instruction shall also develop subtests for the end-of-course assessments developed through the 2014-15 school year that measure standards for the first two years of high school mathematics that are unique to algebra I, integrated mathematics I, geometry, and integrated mathematics II. The results of the subtests shall be reported at the student, teacher, school, and district level. 

So far we have the SBAC battery of tests, the MAP and Amplify, which they are now giving to 2nd graders in Seattle Public Schools by the way, WA KIDS and DIEBELS . Is there any room for a test provided by a teacher who is actually teaching the class? And now, Mr. Dorn is to come up with ANOTHER set of standardized tests? Do they think we have children or automatons?

On page 11:

Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, students in grade twelve who have not earned a score of level 3 or level 4 on the high school English language arts assessment and mathematics assessment identified in RCW 28A.655.070 or have not earned a certificate of individual achievement under RCW 28A.155.045 must take and pass a locally determined course in the content area in which the student was not successful. The course shall be rigorous and consistent with the student’s educational and career goals identified in his or her high school and beyond plan, and may include career and technical education equivalencies in English language arts or mathematics adopted pursuant to RCW 28A.230.097.

A response from a parent about this clause: “I thought the legislature wasn’t funding enough class periods for high school and if a kid fails any class it’s difficult if not impossible for them to graduate on time. How are schools going to fit all the kids who fail or refuse the SBAC into another, higher level math class? What happens to the other kids who need to take these courses? Who is going to pay for this?”

These legislators love to pile on education policy requirements with not one iota of an idea of how anything will be paid for. If nothing else, please contact your Representative and ask them the simple question…”How is the state going to pay for this?”

And here’s the icing on the cake, a Common Core Standards/SBAC (and anything else Gates can think up) PR program paid for by us:

Subject to funds appropriated for this purpose, the office of the superintendent of public instruction shall develop and conduct an ongoing campaign for career and technical education to increase awareness among teachers, counselors, students, parents, principals, school administrators, and the general public about the opportunities offered by rigorous career and technical education programs. Messages in the campaign shall emphasize career and technical education as a high quality educational pathway for students, including for students who seek advanced education that includes a bachelor’s degree or 33 beyond. In particular, the office shall provide information about the following:

(a) The model career and technical education programs of study developed under RCW 28A.700.060;
(b) Career and technical education course equivalencies and dual credit for high school and college;
(c) ((The career and technical education alternative assessment 2 guidelines under RCW 28A.655.065;
The availability of scholarships for postsecondary workforce education, including the Washington award for vocational excellence, and apprenticeships through the opportunity grant program under RCW 28B.50.271, grants under RCW 28A.700.090, and other programs; and high-demand programs.

(d) Education, apprenticeship, and career opportunities in emerging and high-demand programs.

(2) The office shall use multiple strategies in the campaign depending on available funds, including developing an interactive web site to encourage and facilitate career exploration; conducting training and orientation for guidance counselors and teachers; and developing and disseminating printed materials.

(3) The office shall seek advice, participation, and financial assistance from the workforce training and education coordinating board, higher education institutions, foundations, employers, apprenticeship and training councils, workforce development councils, and business and labor organizations for the campaign.

Just when you thought you had enough, there is more.

Representative Chad Magendanz takes it even further with his amendment which basically prescribes in excruciating detail what teachers should teach and how they should teach it. If you haven’t read his amendment, please do so. It’s frightening in its breadth. Magendanz has taken over the role of School Board Director, Superintendent, Principal and teacher with his document.

Magendanz is NOT someone you want to have determining education policy.

For more on Magendanz, see Charter School Myths, Thoughts on the Washington State PTA Convention, and Apartheid House Bill 1860: No one wants to split Seattle in two except for Reps. Santos, Pettigrew and oh yeah… Magendanz. Remember him?.

For more on Dorn, see:  Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why, and Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s scare tactics re: Opting Out of the Common Core SBAC.

When are we going to say enough is enough and stop politicians from determining how our children are taught and tested?

Dora Taylor

Common Core Standards SBAC testing, the bully principal…and more


Public school is based on the the principle of inclusion, not exclusion. Kids are accepted however they arrive through the front door. Different ethnic backgrounds, economic status, personal triumphs or challenges –everyone is on equal footing. Most importantly, serving the needs of each and every students is job one. Excluding children or using them to meet the personal objectives of the adults who run the school or district, violates the core mission of our public schools. That’s why we find two recent events at Denny Middle School so disturbing.

First, Jeff Clark, Principal of Denny International Middle School and promoter of Teach for America populating his school, made the controversial decision to deny kids –whose parents had opted them out of the SBAC–access to the school carnival. Principal Clark’s decision has provoked understandable outrage in the parent community. This story was first reported by Melissa Westbrook on Save Seattle Schools Community Forum, after a parent contacted her reporting the incident.

Follow up reporting included an explanation by Jeff Clark of his actions and a response by Director Marty McLaren, school board member for District 6, West Seattle.

From Principal Jeff Clark:

The 2015 My Best Performance Carnival at Denny International Middle School


In addition to many special activities throughout the year, for the past ten years, Denny has hosted a carnival at the end of the state testing period for those scholars who have given their best performance. The scholars’ effort is tracked on a form called the “My Best Performance Rubric,” a copy of which is located in their student planners. The rubric includes categories such as:


·        positive attitude

·        time management

·        reading instructions carefully

·        making an attempt on every task and persevering

·        resourcefulness

·        using resources and tools

·        written presentation


After each testing session, scholars fill out their assessment of how they performed in all these areas.


The rubric is then turned into their teacher for review. At the end of the testing period those rubrics are submitted to administration that accumulates the results to establish the eligibility list for the carnival.


For this activity, due to the way in which eligibility is earned through self-reflection and teacher review every day of testing, scholars who did not give their best performance and those who opted not to participate for non-medical reasons were not eligible.

With every incentive that we have at Denny, based on our systems, scholars have the opportunity to practice agency and appeal in order to participate. This year all of the scholars who opted out for non-medical reasons and appealed were granted entry into the carnival.


We had a record high number of scholars participating this year at the carnival. Our school community worked very hard throughout the entire testing period. The My Best Performance Carnival was a great success and enjoyed thoroughly by all.

And then from Seattle School Board Director Marty McLaren:




RE: Opted out students and Denny

Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2015 19:34:01

Thanks so much for this clarification, Stacy.

I attended the multi-cultural potluck/welcome event for new families at Denny last Thursday, and can bear witness to the fact that Mr. Clark and his staff have created a vibrant sense of belonging, community, and mutual respect at Denny.  This is the foundation on which the academic success of Denny students is built.


Hosting a “My Best Performance Carnival” sends a clear message to kids: do what the adults want or you will be punished. No amount of spin about “rewarding scholars” can remove the taint from this type of sort and punish incentive.

Now, onto the second example of students at Denny Middle School being used to meet the personal objectives of adults in positions of authority. Turns out, testing is far from over at Denny Middle School for 116 ELL students. Why? Because one of Denny’s “grantors to our City Year program needs the data from MAP as part of the funding requirement for next year and they won’t accept SBAC or any of the other data that has been produced this year.” To learn more, please read the following letter sent to the blog:

As a passionate believer in public education I am obliged to sound an alarm because not doing so is a moral failure. What I’m seeing play out in my school right now is indeed alarming.

We currently have two weeks of school left and another round of standardized testing has just been scheduled. Since April the library, which has two class sized computer labs, has been given over completely to testing. Instead of having students come to the library because it has the densest concentration of resources in the school with it books and technology, students are coming because it is a testing center. That is a misapplication of the funding the people of Washington, through its legislature, believe was allocated to promote reading and assist students with research and the completion of class projects, in other words a library program.  

To be fair, students have been able to check out books and on a very limited basis to print papers. This is largely because I am a strong advocate for student access to library resources. But it is easy to imagine a zealous administration bent on completing the necessary 95% tested requirement that is in force from OSPI, completely eliminating student access to maintain a “proper testing environment”.  

Right now SBAC has been completed but the ELL students are taking the STAMP test, and teachers have started sending students into the library to print, figuring that the testing has eased up. But, yesterday we learned that we need to test 116 students because one of the grantors to our City Year program needs the data from MAP as part of the funding requirement for next year and they won’t accept SBAC or any of the other data that has been produced this year. Here is the explanation for this late entry into the data race from the principal’s email,   “At the start of this year, we had planned to take the Amplify test for literacy and MAP test for math for all scholars.  

The Amplify testing has been completed for some time.  The spring math MAP had been planned for June for all scholars to show growth between fall and spring, as we have done for many years in a row.  It had also been written into some of our grants. This year, due to the scope of the SBAC, I decided to try to reduce the amount of math spring MAP testing.  To do this I needed to work with two major grant organizations, the City of Seattle Seattle Families and Education Levy and the Diplomas Now grant.  The City of Seattle staff were able to switch our grant to remove Spring Math MAP.  

The Diplomas Now partnership receives Federal AmeriCorps funding as a major source of funding to pay for City Year Corps members—for this grant, we were not able to make the change to remove Spring Math MAP.  Additionally, we also need to include literacy MAP for scholars on the focus lists.  The end result of this is that we have reduced the number of Denny scholars who are going to take the Spring MAP down to 116 (the group who benefit from direct support by our City Year Corps Members).”

What I see as unfair is this, these 116 students are already some of the most stressed students in the school. Many of them are the same ELL students who are STAMP testing in the very next room. STAMP is in addition to SBAC which is required of all students. ELL students also take the additional  WELPA. Now all of a sudden they have to do MAP, merely to satisfy a foundation hungry for data.

This is exploitative and predatory in my opinion. I envision vampires sucking data from our student body to feed some corporate greed. It seems so clearly wrong to subject these children to this degree of over testing that not resisting it is a moral failure. These children do not understand why they are being tested and their parents don’t even know that they are being tested. It saddens me that our leadership has struck this Faustian bargain with these public/private partnerships and have relinquished so much decision making to out of sight authorities.

Jeff Treistman

When a school principal who will ostracize (banish, exclude, expel, cast out) a student who has worked hard all year and made the grade because they chose to stand up for their rights, something is wrong.

When our English Language Learners are forced to take yet another test, even though the test they just completed could provide the results required by a grant, then something is very wrong.

This culture of testing brought on by corporate ed reform and neoliberal billionaire do-gooders who think they know what’s best for the rest of us and our children, fueled by testing companies and other education enterprises that have been established in response to the demands of assessments and the Common Core (National) Standards, has pushed our students to the brink. These people don’t see our children as human but only as beans to be counted, data to be put into a spreadsheet and guinea pigs to be experimented on.

It’s time to put a halt to this insanity and say “Enough is enough!”

-Carolyn Leith and Dora Taylor

…and replace School Board Director Marty McLaren.


The Opt Out Lounge at STEM Seattle

I’ve been asking for opt-out stories and here is one that takes the cake:

marble run -1

SBAC Sit-In: aka The Opt Out Lounge at STEM

by Hannah Danforth

West Seattle’s Louisa Boren STEM K-8 school just wrapped their first round of SBAC testing for fourth and fifth graders this week. STEM’s staff was extremely supportive of those students who Opted Out. Tutors gave up their classroom during the week in order to accommodate our supervised, student led choice time. We wanted the Opt Out experience to be more than just refusing the test and sitting silently in the office all day. So, parents of these students got together and donated games, art supplies and engineering activities.

All the Opt Out students at STEM are intelligent and quite computer savvy, they would probably fare well on the SBAC and they know it. Yet, they also have a clear understanding that what they’re doing is important and they’re proud of themselves for taking a stand.

The groups, interestingly enough, are made up of kids who might not normally find themselves in the same social circles. We play games as a large group or engineer a giant marble run, organically developing better ways of communicating and problem solving while bridging social gaps that may have existed before.

A parent volunteer of a fourth grade student kept the kids engaged with art projects, reading time, engineering challenges and a walking field trip to the Delridge Public Library. With the support of STEM’s parents and staff, the “Opt Out Lounge” has been a very successful experience.


Go STEM Seattle!

Please send your story to

Dora Taylor

Parents Across America opposes Common Core Standards, the PARCC and SBAC tests


Parents Across America opposes both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the associated tests created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). We wish to place our position in the following context:

1) PAA is NOT opposed to learning standards or assessment. We believe it is important for school communities to have a shared vision and goals for student learning and effective tools for monitoring student progress.

2) PAA is NOT opposed to federal involvement in public education. We believe that the federal government and the U.S. Department of Education have an important role monitoring and addressing issues of school resource equity and student civil rights, and researching and promoting best practices in education.

3) PAA recognizes that the push for national standards and tests did not start with CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. We acknowledge the real desire of many who support CCSS/PARCC/SBAC to improve the quality of education, especially for some of the nation’s neediest children. However, we believe such efforts are based on a faulty analysis of the challenges facing public schools and a disregard for the harmful and ineffective results of standardized test-based accountability.

We oppose the CCSS standards because they are not derived from any community’s shared vision of a quality education. We oppose PARCC/SBAC assessments because they are products of the same companies whose tests are being rejected daily as time-wasting intrusions on real learning by growing numbers of parents, teachers, students, and administrators across the nation.

We oppose CCSS/PARCC/SBAC because we believe that they were designed to allow corporate interests easier access to the “educational marketplace” and to private student and family data. CCSS/PARCC/SBAC will provide new ammunition for the attack on teachers and the teaching profession when scores show even more “failing” students and schools. Ultimately, this new, even more coercive version of top-down, test-focused education will deprive too many of our most vulnerable children – children of color, children living in poverty, special needs students, English-language learners – of the empowerment and opportunity that deep learning and strong schools can offer them.

PAA calls for an immediate nationwide moratorium on implementation of CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. This moratorium will provide states and local districts the opportunity to step back from CCSS/PARCC/SBAC, allow for extensive public review and input on these programs, and decide for themselves, without federal intrusion, if or how these materials will be used.

We believe that, if used at all, CCSS should be considered as recommendations only in the development or revision of local standards, and that, if used at all, PARCC/SBAC tests should be voluntary for schools, teachers and students and have no high stakes.

PAA has very different ideas about what’s needed in education than those embodied in CCSS/PARCC/SBAC. Please see our position paper, “What is a Quality Education?” Please also see our companion papers, “Common Core Basics” and “Annotated References.”

Nova High School Common Core SBAC opt outs at 100% for 10th and 11th graders

opting out3Nova High School, an “option school” in Seattle that offers project based, student oriented learning with a focus on critical and creative thinking, broke the record in terms of opt outs in Seattle with 100% of the 10th and 11th graders opting out of the Common Core SBAC test. After researching the Common Core Standards and much deliberation by parents and students, parents opted their students out of the SBAC and the remaining students refused to take the test. There was zero participation on the first day of the SBAC testing for Nova High School. Submitted by Dora Taylor