Washington BADASS Teachers (WA BATS) Opt-Out Cheer Squad

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As Washington BADASS Teachers (WA-BATS), we believe that everyone should do anything and everything they can to fight the so-called “reforms” that are destroying our public schools. 

Unfortunately, the reality is that currently employed educational employees have to be very careful about how vocal they are.  Many school administrators threaten teachers with discipline, including probation and suspension without pay if they dare to inform parents of their right to opt children out of tests. 

Most teachers need to keep their jobs, but ah!,  there is such liberation in being able to retire! Three retired Highline teachers, Donna Shaman, Keitha Bryson, Karen Adlum (that’s me) have decided to promote the OPT OUT movement,  because, dammit,  we finally can! No school administrator can cow us.  No superintendent can fire us. The freedom this gives us is exhilarating!

Newly retired, and committed to the struggle, I was sitting at home when I saw a Facebook message come in to Keitha and myself from Donna Shaman . Donna wanted to know if we were interested in meeting to discuss, “engaging in very visible” ways to share about Opting Out/Refusing the Tests. She mentioned going to festivals, schools, and businesses with signs to draw attention our cause. “We can sing!”, she wrote.  “We can talk to people and hand out literature!”

This is my first year as a retiree.  I have been an education activist for several years. The Opt Out movement has been my passion ever since I became an anti-school DE-form activist.   I even talked about it to any parents who I trusted enough not “squeal” on me.  It was frustrating because I couldn’t talk to enough of them, but it was such a rush when I learned that four parents had opted their children out of tests after listening to my advice. So of course, I immediately responded to Donna, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

At our first meeting, Donna described an interesting vision to us.   She thought we should dress up as “Opt Out Cheerleaders” with pom poms and other regalia. 

Frankly, this made me squeamish at first. It’s not easy for me to be noticeable.  I had tried to be a support person; to stay in the background during my teaching career.  This was way outside my comfort zone, but Donna was excited about the prospect. 

We continued to meet regularly to plan and schedule our first Opt Out Pep Rallies. I was very nervous, but it was far off in the future, so I just ignored my anxiety. We checked into ordinances and school dismissal times, parking availability, etcetera.

Finally, the day arrived for our first action.  I had butterflies in my stomach, but thought, “Oh, what the hell!” We met at the school and stood on the sidewalk because we knew we were within our rights if we stayed off school property. It went off without a problem, and while parents looked bemused, they did read our shirts and our signs, and they listened to our chants. Perhaps a seed was planted?

Our little group has since done actions at several more schools, and it has gotten easier for me. I am having a great time calling out the deception of the testing regime!

I have even gotten brave enough to yell things such as, “Don’t take the false tests! Your child is more than a score! Don’t take the SBAC!”

We are beginning to upgrade our outfits. We now have matching skirts and hats, and we have designed a new shirt which we are having printed. We are finding our way in this impassioned new venture. It feels terrific to be doing something to slow down the testocracy’s machine, while being creative.

We have printed flyers which we recently had translated into Spanish, and we plan to add more translations in the future.

We pass out information to any parent who will take it while doing our cheers : “Hey, Hey, why are we here? To tell the parents, ‘OPT OUT THIS YEAR!”  Sometimes the parents ask questions, and sometimes they just smile, but they always notice us.  And that’s something. The Opt Out movement isn’t as big in Washington State as it is in New York YET,  but we hope we are doing our bit to move it forward.

If you have any interest in joining us or starting your own group, please feel free to contact us at: Gyzmotoo@aol.com We would love to share what we did to begin our work, and to design our flyers. We’d be glad to share our successes and our thoughts for improvement with you. Opt Out!  Fight back! Let’s get this party started!

Karen Adlum, WA-BATS

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Testimony by a mother who knows: The SBAC, graduation, “College and Career Ready”

JON KRAUSE/NEWS ART

I am a high school math teacher and Richland School District parent. I’ve worked on the SBAC as a contractor for McGraw-Hill and on assessment committees for Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). I am a parent who understands the history of Washington state standards and assessments, and how we came to SBAC and the Common Core State Standards. There was a time that I supported the Common Core. I believe in accountability and rigor. But making a question harder is not rigor and closing the door to a child’s future is not accountability.

Our community’s future grows dark when our children can’t graduate. Without a diploma, they can’t enter the military, apply for trade jobs, and entry into community college or finding work becomes less likely. It’s easy to say “Not our kids” when we’re used to living in a community with an 80% graduation rate. But the probability of our children not graduating will increase with the SBAC. The SBAC designers have predicted an average failure rate of at least 60%. 60% of our children are going to be labeled as failing in school, at learning, and failing at their future before they even step out of high school. They will be labeled failing by a test that doesn’t actually assess what OSPI says it does.

While Pearson, Gates, and McGraw-Hill are draining billions of dollars from our public schools, they are giving us false promises that the SBAC will make our children “college and career ready”. The SBAC can’t do that. Recent studies have shown that even the SAT isn’t an accurate predictor of college readiness. High school students who have scored well on the SAT, but did poorly in high school, were more like to drop out of college than students who did well high school but struggled with testing. If the SAT can’t make these predictions, then neither can the SBAC.

The people who teach our children and live in our community do a far better job of predicting success. High school GPA, proven to be a better predictor of college success, depends on tests that teachers design and curriculum that is selected by the local school district. Not a faceless group of people and corporations whose end goal is to make money. Teacher tests aren’t secretive, they don’t cost billions of dollars, and they really do guide instruction. A local curriculum and standards reflect local community values.

The failure of the SBAC and my trust in my children’s teachers is why I chose to opt my them out-of-state testing. We didn’t vote for the Common Core. We didn’t need the SBAC to tell us that we were ready for careers or college. That’s what report cards were for. Teaching can and has occurred without national standards. It’s time to stop paying for corporate lies. It’s time to take back education for our community and our children. We reached out to state representatives, and they have chosen to ignore us in favor of the corporations. Since the state won’t hear us, we ask that you, our locally elected school board, listen. We need you to support parents who want to protect our children from the abuse of the corporations.

-Elizabeth Vann-Clark

Share your SBAC story

 

The phrase Words Have Power  on a Blackboard

 

Seattle Education along with Opt Out Seattle and Seattle Equality Educators are compiling stories of experiences teachers have in administering the SBAC, students taking the SBAC and parents observation’s of their children taking the tests or what you have seen and/or heard at your student’s school.

All of the information is anonymous unless you want your name attached to a comment.

You can submit it anonymously but it will be helpful to know the school. If you’re not comfortable associating the comment with a school, that’s fine.

We are looking for personal stories as well as information on:

• Technology: What were the glitches that created problems administering the tests. We have heard of computers crashing and scores lost because of the glitches at several schools.
• The impact of loss of library and computer lab time.
• Lost instructional time.  Many schools are reporting the test is taking much longer than they thought it would take.
• The age and developmental inappropriateness of the test.
• Accommodations or lack thereof for SPED and ELL students.
• The emotional impact on ELL and IEP students.

All information will be compiled and presented to the Seattle School Board, State Superintendent Randy Dorn, our state legislators and the State Board of Education.

You can leave comments here, message them or post them at Seattle Opt Out Facebook page or send them to me at seattled@icloud.com.

This is one of many ways for our voices to be heard.

Dora Taylor

Pearson and others are exploiting our children by using them to establish the validity, or lack thereof, of the SBAC

Shame
The Wall of Shame

The state and school district are spending millions of dollars to buy the copyrighted tests, texts and teaching materials, purchasing computers and setting up the technology to administer the SBAC.

We are not only paying in terms of cash but also in terms of our children’s time in school spending three days in a row this week taking the first part of the SBAC along with eliminating resources such as library and computer time for students.

In simple terms, our children are being used for product development.

A call to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) confirmed that the SBAC has not been deemed reliable or valid. The office of the OSPI then referred to a memorandum produced by Smarter Balanced that proves the test is being used this year for the purpose of, hopefully for Pearson, establishing reliability and validity of the tests.

This is the relevant segment of the memo:

Test reliability will initially be modeled through simulations using the item pool after item review, which is due to be completed December 31, 2014. Operational test reliability will be reported in the technical manual following the first operational administration in spring 2015.

Evaluation Phase:

Once the Smarter Balanced assessments are administered operationally in spring 2015, it will be possible to determine “external validity,” which is the degree to which test results correspond to external indicators (consistent with expectations).

For example, students who perform well on the summative test are expected to perform well in the classroom. These external research studies are listed in the attached Validation Worksheet document.

The information in this table shows the main validity activities established through the Smarter Balanced Validity Framework and the associated sources of evidence, past, present, and future. Because this type of evidence continues to be gathered through the operational administration of the assessments, this table mostly reflects future plans for external validity.

People, we’ve been had.

Some of our legislators, school board members and the superintendent have led us down the path. School Board Directors Sue Peters and Betty Patu requested a hearing on a resolution that states the SBAC has not been deemed valid but did not receive the vote to be heard. They understand what is happening and kudos to them for getting the word out. You can read Sue Peters’ introduction to the resolution below.

The ramifications of using our students as guinea pigs to validate the SBAC for Pearson are huge.

Graduation is now being determined by a student’s performance on the SBAC. The grade of a school and, according to the defenders of the test, Title I funding is being predicated on the results of the SBAC tests.

The time is now to take a careful look at what we are doing to our children and teachers and consider opting out of this SBAC testing immediately.

Also, contact OSPI, your state legislators and school board members about this situation.

The OSPI and the Superintendent Nyland coercing our students into taking the SBAC is wrong on so many levels.

Note:

For those who think Pearson has nothing to do with SBAC, read this from the SBAC website:

Smarter Balanced and PARCC to Launch New Technology Readiness Tool to Support Transition to Online Assessments

Pearson to Develop and Support Open Source Tool for Evaluating School Technology and Infrastructure Readiness

Olympia, Wash.–Jan. 31, 2012–The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments. This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), will support state education agencies as they work with local education agencies to evaluate and determine needed technology and infrastructure upgrades for the new online assessments to be launched by the two consortia in the 2014-15 school year. http://www.smarterbalanced.org/news/smarter-balanced-and-parcc-to-launch-new-technology-readiness-tool-to-support-transition-to-online-assessments/

Dora Taylor

School Board Director Sue Peters’ introduction to the resolution:

We are asking our colleagues on the board to allow an addition to the agenda of a resolution for introduction tonight. No vote on the resolution itself is required tonight. There will be two more weeks available for consideration and feedback.

To my colleagues, these are the extenuating circumstances that bring us to this atypical request.

Our resolution concerns the new Common Core Smarter Balanced tests which the test-manufacturer itself acknowledges will fail 60 percent or more of our students, with even higher failure rates for  students of color, English Language Learners and students with special needs.

These tests will be administered to elementary school students as soon as next week.

This resolution is also in response  to growing and legitimate concerns in the community that came to a head last week when Nathan Hale high school registered concerns and objections to the impact of the test on its 11th grade students, for whom the test has no bearing on graduation.

As for the argument that the tests are a state or federal mandate, I would respond that the very legislators who voted to adopt the Common Core state standards and their associated assessments – without any public dialogue —  are not fulfilling their own mandate, but are being held in contempt by the state supreme court for failing to fully fund K-12 public education.

At one point do we stand up and say this mandate will harm our students, our children?

Common Core and the tests were adopted without any community conversation about the value and implications of both. We need to have those discussions at the state and district level.

This was not a spontaneous effort. I have requested this discussion for a year. Others on the board have long expressed concerns about testing. I requested an assessments work session, but that didn’t satisfactorily cover the impact and implications of SBAC. A few points that were brought up in that discussion are included in the resolution.

It should come as a surprise to no one that these tests are problematic. And at the same time, it has become apparent that we have not clearly communicated with our students and families what the impact and nature of these tests will be. We need to have this conversation honestly, openly — and immediately.

We requested to have the resolution added to next week’s Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting, but have been told the agenda is already finalized, and there may not be an opportunity to take it through committee until April.

This matter demands greater urgency than that would allow. So we bring it before you tonight to begin the conversation about what does it mean to administer an experimental new test to our students that the majority are expected to fail, and how does it reconcile with our duties to these students to ensure their well-being and success? If we don’t show some courage and vision on behalf of our students, who will?

Thank you for your consideration.

Teachers at Schmitz Park Elementary School join with Nathan Hale in concerns on the reliability and validity of the SBAC

schmitz

The following letter was sent on March 5, 2015:

March 5, 2015

Dear Principal Hudson and the Nathan Hale Senate:

We, the undersigned teachers of Schmitz Park, join with the Nathan Hale Senate in its concerns over the validity, reliability, and equity of SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) including the questionable cut score strategy.  Like the Nathan Hale Senate, we are also concerned with the loss of instructional time devoted to this questionable test.  We stand with you in asserting a commitment to a judicious use of valid, reliable, and equitable assessments.  We urge parents to inform themselves about the tests their children are taking and the validity of those tests.

Thank you for putting students first.

Sincerely,
(signed by the majority of teachers at Schmitz Park)

Post Script:

For more on Nathan Hale High School, see Nathan Hale High School says “No!” to the Common Core Standards SBAC.

Dora Taylor