Representative Ruth Kagi is no friend of public education

big money

 

Let’s take big money out of politics starting with Ruth Kagi.

There is a race in the 32nd Legislative District in Seattle where an educator, Wesley Irwin, is running against an establishment Democrat who has been in office for too long.

This post will be about the incumbent, Representative Ruth Kagi, who I have mentioned briefly in two previous posts, The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game and Money for charters but nothing for public schools? It’s time for a recall in Washington State.

First, let’s look at Kagi’s record on public school education.

On charter schools:

In the Washington State Democrat’s platform is the statement “We oppose charter schools”. This plank in the platform was hard fought throughout the state as one Democratic legislative district after another passed resolutions stating that charter schools are unconstitutional and undemocratic and yet Ruth Kagi voted for Bill 6194 allowing state funding to keep open a handful of charter schools that were deemed unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court. Her constituents voted unanimously against Bill 6194 and against charter schools in any form. See Resolution passed unanimously by the 32nd District Democrats regarding any and all legislative bills that would authorize charter schools in Washington State.

But the chronic under-funding of our public schools did not come to a resolution in that same session.

So much for representing the people.

On class size:

Initiative 1351 reducing class sizes was opposed by Kagi  

On a cost of living wage increase for teachers:

Rep. Kagi also voted to suspend the much needed “Teacher Cost of Living Adjustment” (COLA) in 2013, yet she voted for a tax cut that gave the Boeing Company billions of dollars (Bill 2294) and then received the maximum contribution allowable from Boeing the following year.

On the Common Core Standards:

Kagi voted for the Common Core Standards and the related SBAC tests.

So how could Ruth Kagi consistently vote against the will of the people for several years now?

Well, let’s take a look at some of her contributors:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife: Donated $500,000 to push the charter school initiative and contributed to keep the charter schools open after the Supreme Court’s decision that charter schools are unconstitutional in Washington State.

Amazon CEO Jeff  Bezos and his wife, big financial supporters of charter schools.

Boeing

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) , push for the privatization of public schools.

The Community Center for Education Results (CCER): Mary Jean Ryan

For a cumulative view of Kagi’s contributors, see FollowTheMoney.org.

Ruth Kagi is endorsed by the League of Education Voters (LEV) (not to be confused with the League of Women Voters). She even gave LEV money in 2014.

And, LEV gave her a big thank you for voting to fund charter schools on their website.

If you’re pro public schools, you do not want to be associated with the League of Education Voters. For more on LEV, see A look back at the League of Education Voters.

Even though Ruth Kagi touts that she is all about the children, her actions say something entirely different.

For additional information on the subjects mentioned in this post, see:

THE CHARTER-PUSHERS: WHO IS BANKROLLING THE $8 MILLION EFFORT (and counting) TO BRING CHARTERS TO WASHINGTON STATE?

The Charter School Bill 1240 and the 1%: An Analysis

A case study of how the ultra-wealthy spend millions to get what they want in school reform

The Proposition 1B “Preschool for All” Wheel of Fortune: Same players, new game

Race to the Tots: Universal (for profit) Pre-K, DFER, KIPP and the suits

Lisa Macfarlane with WA DFER wins the Walton Award for privatization.

The Road Map Project, Race to the Top, Bill Gates and your student’s privacy

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

Video: Clinical Child Psychologist: The Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate

Study shows the Common Core PARCC test does not determine college readiness

Dora Taylor

 

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Seattle Public School Board votes to pursue alternative to SBAC under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Seattle Public Schools logo

 

In a five to one vote with Stephan Blanford giving the lone “No” vote, the Seattle School Board passed a resolution ,sponsored by Directors Sue Peters and Rick Burke, in favor of requesting the state to provide an alternative summative test to the SBAC based on the newly authorized ESSA. The request is to use a locally selected alternative summative assessment framework to measure achievement and student growth.

This is the wording of the request:

School Board Resolution

To follow is a video of the discussion regarding the resolution before the vote was taken:

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

In the background info about diversity of the school district, the total percentage of students of color should read 54.4% not 38.5%.

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

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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.

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Post script by the editor:

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

Parcc

A related article:

NJ Teachers Union President: PARCC Is a Flawed Assessment

 

 

 

 

Common Sense Questions About the Common Core Test

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I came across this article today while Googling information about the SBAC and is well worth a read.

From eduresearcher by Roxana Marachi, PhD:

Critical Questions about Computerized Assessments and SmarterBalanced Test Scores

A recent report from the Public Policy Institute reveals that the majority of California’s public school parents are uninformed about the new tests their children took this past year. And despite numerous concerns regarding the lack of validity, technological barriers, biases, and test administration problems, “test scores” soon will be released to the public.

The following includes adapted selections of a letter I sent to the California State Board of Education for the July 2015 State Board of Education meeting.  My purpose in sharing this information is to draw attention to the lack of scientific validity of the test scores that are soon to be released to the public and to promote critical thinking about issues of fairness, accessibility, data security, and standardization in the test administrations.

It is important to consider that unless assessments are independently verified to adhere to basic standards of test development regarding validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness in administration, resulting scores will be meaningless and should not be used to make claims about student learning, progress, aptitude, nor readiness for college or career (see Legal Implications of High Stakes Assessments: What States Should Know).

QUESTIONS: 

Q1: How is standardization to be assumed when students are taking tests on different technological tools with vastly varying screen interfaces? Depending on the technology used (desktops, laptops, chromebooks, and/or ipads), students would need different skills in typing, touch screen navigation, and familiarity with the tool.

Q2: How are standardization and fairness to be assumed when students are responding to different sets of questions based on how they answer (or guess) on the adaptive sections of the assessments?

Q3: How is fairness to be assumed when large proportions of students do not have access at home to the technology tools that they are being tested on in schools? Furthermore, how can fairness be assumed when some school districts do not have the same technology resources as others for test administration? 

Q4: How/why would assessments that had already been flagged with so many serious design flaws and user interface problems continue to be administered to millions of children without changes and improvements to the interface? (See report below)

Q5: How can test security be assumed when tests are being administered across a span of over three months and when login features allow for some students to view a problem, log off, go home (potentially research and develop an answer) and then come back and log in and take the same section? (This process was reported from a test proctor who observed the login, viewing and re-login process).

Q6: Given serious issues in accessibility and the fact that the assessments have yet to be independently validated, how/why would the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium solicit agreements from nearly 200 colleges and universities to use 2015 11th Grade SBAC data to determine student access to the regular curriculum or to “remedial” courses?http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/04/sbac.html.

Projected failure rates disproportionately impact youth of color, students with special needs, and English Language Learners, cut scores have yet to be validated, and the use of the test scores may be argued to contribute to systemic barriers that already limit access to higher education for students from historically underserved populations.

[Chart data from SBAC / Screenshot from post on J.Pelto’s Wait, What blog] 

Screenshot 2015-07-12 16.11.25
Q7: [Background] I participated in the cut-score setting process during October of 2014 as I had learned through a public announcement on social media about the opportunity to take part. According to their own documents, SBAC confirms that 7% of their feedback about the cut scoresetting was from the “general public.” Smarter Balanced is inviting anyone who’s interested—you don’t have to be a teacher or even work in education—to register to participate in the “standard-setting” process.

It was apparent by the lack of screening that as long an individual had a pulse and an email address, any member of the public who so wanted was given open access to at least 30 test itemsand answers considered for use in the assessments. Despite signing an electronic statement promising not to share any information from the activity, anyone (including test-prep profiteers) could have downloaded within a matter of minutes dozens of test items developed for use by the consortium. It is appalling that such an epic breach of security would be allowed in the process of test development.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 20.25.38

Q7: Given the open access of hundreds of test-items to large numbers of unscreened participants who took part in the public cut-score setting procedures, how can the State Board of Education ensure the security of test items used by the SmarterBalanced Consortium?

[Additional note (not included in original letter)] 
One might also consider issues of students sharing test-related topics and posts on social media as potential security breaches of content.
With a three month testing span and countless new apps for anonymous sharing, the possibilities are endless.   Still, testing companies seem laser-focused on following students’ visible social media feeds with controversial surveillance strategies that have led to serious privacy concerns (here, here, and here) in states with the PARCC versions of CCSS tests administered by Pearson.  While public awareness and concern has focused primarily on Pearson’s activities, the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium has also been critiqued for its policies on student monitoring.  As we consider issues of test security, we should acknowledge the thousands of potential, alternate, creative hashtags or other communication tools that youth may use aside from the obvious #PARCC #SBAC and #SmarterBalanced tags to discuss their experiences with the assessments.  Let’s take a look at how [in]effective it was for the College Board to require sworn statements from test-takers to refrain from posting about the PSAT on social media:

Screenshot 2015-07-06 00.11.09Screenshot 2015-07-03 23.15.00

Q8: Will the California State Board of Education hold the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium member states and test developers accountable to adhere to the basic terms, timelines, conditions, and agreements described in the Race to the Top Assessment Development Proposal?

http://www.edweek.org/media/sbac_final_narrative_20100620_4pm.pdf [Note: Pages 47-50 offer detailed descriptions of intended features of the assessments and proposed supports for implementation. Readers are encouraged to compare and contrast these descriptions with what has actually been developed (evidence below).] 

Q9: Since data gathering for the development of the SmarterBalanced Assessments has been conducted through a Federal Research Grant, and the Public Policy Institute has determined that the majority of parents have been uninformed about the new tests, how can the State Department of Education and/or SmarterBalanced Consortium ensure that Basic Protections of Human Subjects were upheld during the pilot and field test administrations over the past two years? http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocfo/humansub.html.

Is it the responsibility of the SmarterBalanced Testing Consortium, the Federal Government, or State/District Board of Education Trustees to ensure that student and parental rights and ethical protections of Human Subjects were not violated in the process of developing the new tests?

Q10 (Background): As you are aware, ETS (Educational Testing Services) has been provided the multi-million dollar contract to administer and score the tests in Californiahttp://www.kcra.com/news/whos-grading-your-kids-assessment-test-in-california/31857614.According to the following article “ETS has lobbied against legislation to require agencies to “immediately initiate an investigation” after complaints on “inadequate” testing conditions. It alsolobbied against a bill designed to safeguard pupil data in subcontracting.”  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/30/report-big-education-firms-spend-millions-lobbying-for-pro-testing-policies/

Q10a: How will the State Board of Education ensure the student data being provided to 3rd party entities (unbeknownst to many parents and students) would be secure?

Q10b: What are the responsibilities of the State and Districts to inform parents of how their children’s data may be used by 3rd party entities should they choose to take part in the testing?

Evidence of Testing Barriers and Implementation Problems

The Board is encouraged to consider the following evidence documenting serious concerns regarding the validity, reliability, security, accessibility, and fairness of the SmarterBalanced Assessments.

SmarterBalanced Mathematics Tests Are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used documents serious user-interface barriers and design flaws in the SmarterBalanced Mathematics assessments. According to the analyses, the tests:

  • “Violate the standards they are supposed to assess; 
  • Cannot be adequately answered by students with the technology they are required to use; 
  • Use confusing and hard-to-use interfaces; or 
  • Are to be graded in such a way that incorrect answers are identified as correct and correct answers as incorrect.

No tests that are so flawed should be given to anyone. Certainly, with stakes so high for students and their teachers, these Smarter Balanced tests should not be administered. The boycotts of these tests by parents and some school districts are justified. Responsible government bodies should withdraw the tests from use before they do damage. Read the full report…

Rasmussen notes that the numerous design flaws and interface barriers had been brought to the attention of the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium during the Spring 2014 pilot test and remained unresolved during the Spring 2015 test administration.

There are also misrepresentations of technology interface features in public awareness campaigns to inform parents and students about the new tests. According a video on the BeALearningHero.org website, fractions spontaneously appear [in fraction form] on the screen as a visual feature of the new assessments:

However, the actual screens that students encounter on the tests are completely different than what is shown above and the process of entering even one fraction into the text space provided is problematic.

Why are the actual screen representations of the tests not provided in the public education campaigns?

Further evidence of testing problems are included in the following clip with a selected portion of the transcript from the NAACP Press Conference on SBAC Testing in Seattle. The segment below is by Jesse Hagopian and the rest of the full Press Conference includes additional evidence and perspectives:

[Segment starts at 7:00 Minutes from original video] …

 

“SBAC testing in Seattle has been an unmitigated disaster. We have had reports across this city of absolute testing meltdown in building after building. You’re going to hear today from some of the people who have experienced that first hand. They’ve experienced the technological gliches that have wasted hours of instructional time. They’ve experienced their computer labs and their libraries shut down for weeks at a time and unable to be used for research. And they’ve experienced the human disaster of labeling kids failing and seeing the impact that that has on children and crushing their spirits, turning them off to education… and you’ll hear that I think in graphic detail…”

Hagopian continued,

“…these tests are invalid… the SBAC test is invalid. That’s a bold statement. How can I make that claim? It’s not based on my own estimation. It’s based on the SmarterBalanced Consortium itself. The SmarterBalanced Consortium has acknowledged in a memo, that the test has not been proven to be externally valid.And yet our state rushed to implement this test all across the state?”  See also http://sco.lt/729uev

In Maine, educators also have expressed concern regarding the validity of the SBAC exams. In Test Fatally Flawed, School Officials SayScott McFarland, Mount Desert Elementary School Principal posited:

“I’ve seen enough of it, seen enough glitches to know that it’s invalid data.”

From EdSource April, 2015 

“Laura Bolton, a teacher at William Saroyan Elementary in Fresno, who spoke to EdSource earlier about her students’ keyboard challenges, recently gave the Smarter Balanced midterms to her 3rd-graders. She said her students struggled with the instructions and added that they were not appropriate for the age of her students.”

The article also describes high school students’ experiences with instructional and user-interface barriers: A ninth grader quoted in the article, for example said “she didn’t know how to make the online calculator work on the test.”  The following excerpt from another article described that “Everyone was freaking out,” … with “students struggling to find the calculator and other function buttons on their tablets.”  

An 11th grader was quoted as indicating that “There was no paper available” to work out math problems.“We’d have to draw on the computer screen [with a stylus]. Being on a computer was distracting.”

From a Parent comment in “SBAC in Ca”:

“According to my child, there were numerous technical problems with test administration. Not much of the questions addressed things they had learned. Confusing. Bandwidth continued to be a problem along with tablets accepting answers. As parents, our district failed to notify us when testing would take place. Normally we are inundated with information about dates, times, how to feed our kids, how much sleep they needed, etc. Had I known when these tests would take place, I would have opted my child out. We get no feedback from the school, district or the state of results, which seems immensely wrong. I have to based this all on what my child told me as my school and district told me nothing.” (Emphasis added)

From a Principal/Administrator: “Accessibility in SmarterBalanced”:

“Our district recently completed the Smarter Balanced Field Test. I was very disappointed with accessibility features of the assessment. I have heard and read that the assessment has unprecedented accessibility features and provides avenues for students to participate. The accommodations and embedded features were incredibly confusing for students with disabilities and struggling learners. Students needed to click and drag or click and highlight. The use of language glossaries were found to be inaccurate on many occasions. I’m concerned about the quality checks in place for language translations and the manner in which student can locate a word to see the glossaries. Likewise, we were told that devices needed to be certified to use with the assessment. There are currently ”no” certified devices. Sad to develop a system that looks good on paper and creates a ”good story” for accessibility but falls short with real world application. To my knowledge there is no means established to get feedback on the accessibility features. That too is disappointing. How will improvements be made if there isn’t a means to solicit input from users? I fear that we will be faced with the same issues next year.” (Emphasis added)

From a Teacher who teaches Mild and Moderate Special Day classes:

“I feel it is unfair that my SDC students are being required to take grade level state tests when they are not taught or learning at that grade level. I would like my 8th grade students whom are learning 4th grade math, to take the test at the 4th grade level. There is no point in throwing complex algebra problems to students who are working on their basic math facts. This does not tell use anything about what the students know or what they are gathering from school.”

From a Teacher in LAUSD on using ipads for the SBAC testing:

“Today was the worst day I have had in a classroom for 20 years.
At my school we received the ipads last Thursday. We started testing today.
1. I have never used an ipad, and had no training whatsoever. They had them on campus for a week, yet they did not train us to use them and navigate how to help students out.
2. It took 45 minutes to get my 35 students logged in, both sessions.
3. We got kicked off during a session due to the fact that the server was busy.
4. Many of the readings were too long for the students.
5. Students had trouble highlighting text.
6. Some students could not answer questions because they could not see them on the Ipads.”

From a Media Specialist on pilot tests:

“After administering the language arts and math pilot tests for smarter balanced, teachers gave me their feedback. The tests were extremely time consuming; some students were sitting for over two hours. The structure and content of the test were not age appropriate. Teachers found the level of student frustration to be very high–students were actually angry and acting out during the testing sessions.Students were giving up on questions based on the lengthy reading passages presented–even strong readers. One teacher described the testing sessions as ‘child abuse.’” (Emphasis and links added)

From a Teacher:

“We have been teaching critical reading strategies in all subjects at my junior high. I was very surprised to not see any easily accessible tools to mark the text on the language portion of the SBAC, including underlining key words or phrases, numbering paragraphs, marking out incorrect answers, and more. If we are to test our students with screen after screen of completely filled, multiple columns of text, we should have at minimum, easy to use tools to apply these strategies.”

From an Administrator:

“I recently took the 3rd grade sample test for SBAC. I was truly horrified and felt panic-stricken for the children who may potentially interact with this type of assessment. While the content rigor was greatly increased, my biggest concern was all of the varied technology responses that a 3rd grade student would have to have mastered to be able to present the correct answer. I highly suspect that students will know answers but will get them incorrect because they don’t know how to manipulate the varying technology skills required to show the correct answer. As a highly proficient adult, I had difficulty manipulating the technology required to plot points on a graph and when I returned to the directions for guidance, the directions fell short of what I needed to know. If my prediction is correct, we will not only have poor-looking data, but will also have false data.” (Emphasis added)

***

My letter to the Board is to encourage responsible, ethical, and legal communications about the assessment data that will apparently soon be disseminated to the public. Students’ beliefs about themselves as learners will be caught up in the tangle of any explanations surrounding the assessments, and as we know, decades of research demonstrate the power of student belief to be a factor impacting subsequent effort and persistence in learning.

To be transparent to the public regarding the current status of the assessments, the Board is encouraged to consider full disclosure regarding the lack of validity of the assessments as well as the numerous complaints that have been documented regarding the problematic administrations of the tests. While this may be difficult from a public relations standpoint, to misrepresent the scores as valid or accurate would likely lead to more serious problems. If the State does plan to base policy decisions on test scores provided by the SmarterBalanced Assessment Consortium (including this year’s full field administrations as any form of “baseline” for future comparisons), again, please consider the full range of legal and ethical implications.” 

[End of letter segment]

___________________________________________________________________________

[September 2015 Update]

To hear the State Board of Education discussion on the SmarterBalanced Assessments, including further questions that remain unanswered by the Executive Director of the SBAC at the September 2nd, 2015 California State Board of Education meeting, please click on the video below and view from ~1:45:00.  

Screenshot 2015-09-03 21.18.13

Please also see an Open Letter to the State Board of Education on the SBAC Test  including written comments made publicly by Dr. Doug McRae, a retired test and measurement specialist who has been communicating concern about the lack of validity of the SBAC Assessments directly to the State Board of Education over the past 5 years. His September 2nd, 2015 public comment may be viewed on the video linked to the image below from 02:50:55 – 02:52:52. The Open Letter has also been translated to Spanish and is accessible here: Carta abierta a la Junta de Educación del Estado de California respecto a la publicación de calificaciones [Falsas] #SBAC.  

Six months and counting. No Common Core Standards SBAC test results yet

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Remember the Common Core SBAC test that was given to students in Seattle during the month of April and May, the test that was sooo important for students to take, the test that certain school administrators threatened, coerced and embarrassed students into taking, that SBAC test? Well, parents and students have yet to see the results of the test.

So then the question is, why haven’t the results been published? Does OSPI or our superintendent hope we’ll forget about the test? That it will be just a vague and very bad memory when precious class time was lost and millions of dollars spent on a test that is of no value to teachers or their students? Even if and when we see the results, will it matter? Teachers, students and parents cannot see the questions or the answers.

Is it because the results were so bad that a narrative is being created by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction OSPI/Bill Gates (Bill Gates has provided OSPI with $14M in grants since 2009)? We know that the Common Core Standards test results in other states were so low that parents began to question the test’s validity.

Or does it just take this long for the tests to be reviewed and graded by a computer?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And by the way, is it OK for Bill Gates to be feeding millions to our Office of Public Instruction? It’s a governmental agency, paid for by our tax dollars and seemingly run by one individual who is not an employee of the state.

Dora Taylor

Post Script:

The day after I posted this, on October 3, 2015, a notice was received by parents at Garfield High School that they can go to the school to see the results of the tests. Per the email to parents, it’s too costly to mail the results. So far no one is sure why the scores cannot be posted on the Source.

Here is an excerpt from the email:

I now have all of the test results from last spring and am happy to distribute those to students and families.  Unfortunately postage costs prohibit us from mailing them home, but I would LOVE to hand them out to students/families so they can share the results.  All copies are in my office and anyone can stop by anytime to pick them up.  My office is in the counseling center and good times to stop by are before school, during lunch, and after school. 

For a related post, 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.

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

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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

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(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

3rd_grade_large

4th Grade

1,579 opted out of ELA

1.702 for Math

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5th Grade:

1,588 opted out of the ELA

1,683 for Math

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6th Grade

1,733 opted out of the ELA

1,898 for Math

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7th Grade

2,298 opted out of the ELA

2,341 for Math

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8th Grade

2,676 for the ELA

2,953 for Math

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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

It’s taking four months to send out results of the COMPUTERIZED Common Core Standards SBAC test. Really.

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After millions of dollars in tests, workbooks, texts and technology along with weeks of lost library time and class time, this CCS SBAC test that is to close the achievement gap, part the seas and bring about world peace… is not ready for prime time.

That’s right folks. The much anticipated results of all that work, stress, time and money poured into the SBAC testing will not be seen until September of this year. It is taking the powers-that-be four months to tally results of a computerized and much touted test.

The best part is after results are received, parents, students and teachers will not be able to see the questions or answers to know exactly what areas need to be improved. No, that will come out in pages of computer printout referred to as “data” that the teachers are to interpret in their free time. We don’t want to leave anything to the wisdom and experience of teachers, that would be woefully inadequate in the eyes of Randy Dorn, Bill Gates, Arne Duncan and the plethora of soldiers who are demanding that we follow the orders of test taking and question nothing.

Here is the pathetic letter that just came out of Seattle Public Schools offices:

Dear Seattle Public Schools family,

The timing of the state assessment score reports has changed from June to September. These are the score sheets from your student’s spring Smarter Balanced tests in reading, writing and math. Last month, the district told families that the score reports would likely be sent home with final report cards in June. Due to unanticipated delays at the state level, the district will now send score reports home in September. Scores also will be posted online to the Source in the fall. September is the typical timing for state assessment score reports, but the district this year had initially anticipated they would be ready earlier. To learn more about the assessments, please see our Smarter Balanced web page:  http://www.seattleschools.org/students/assessments.

Thank you for your patience as we work with this new state assessment system.

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Dora Taylor

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

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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

95% of the Juniors at Ballard High School opted out of the Common Core SBAC

BallardHSSealThe numbers keep rolling in and tell the story.

A related story: Ingraham High School staff objects to the SBAC.

Dora Taylor

testorAs a former teacher, I know that ‘No Child Left Behind’ isn’t working for Montana’s students or teachers. Today I am introducing a bill that will end federal annual testing requirements under ‘No Child Left Behind’ and replace it with a locally developed testing schedule. This will return flexibility to teachers, students and parents.

95% of Garfield High School’s 11th graders have opted out of the Common Core SBAC

Garfield_HS_2This just in.

95% of the Garfield High School 11th graders in Seattle have opted out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

This is the same class that made history when they opted out of the MAP test en masse. Remember that? See The MAP has been scrapped in Seattle high schools. Those students were in 9th grade at the time and learned to critically consider what was asked of them. They decided taking the MAP test was not a good use of resources or their time.

Now they are back and saying “No!” to the SBAC.

What is of note about Garfield High School is that the school has a minority enrollment of about 60% and approximately 40% would be considered economically “disadvantaged”. Many of these students have resettled recently in this country. This shows that there are schools across the socio-economic stratum opting out of the SBAC test in Seattle.

It has been reported that across town at Ingraham High School there is a large percentage of students opting out but no numbers have been confirmed.

When I found out, you will too readers.

I am sure there is more to come.

A related post: The letter from the teachers at Garfield High School regarding the MAP test

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s scare tactics re: Opting Out of the Common Core SBAC

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Dorn Speaks Out on Consequences of Test RefusalsNotated

The following is a press release that State Superintendent Randy Dorn sent on Friday, April 24th in response to the number of opt out that are occurring around the state of Washington and the resistance to the related Common Core Standards.

One thing to keep in mind while reading his press release is that Randy Dorn has close ties to Gates money, 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.

Dorn’s press release is in italics. My thoughts are not. I think you’ll be able to tell the difference:

OLYMPIA — April 24, 2015 — I’ve said many times that statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, receive a quality education. If too many families refuse to have their children participate in the state tests, there are consequences.

No one seemed to have a problem with the HSPE or the WASL which was the test required to graduate in the state of Washington in previous years. Hmmm, what could be different about this test?

• Academic consequences: State tests are not the only measure of student learning, but by testing all students in grades 3-8 and high school with standardized tests, we are able to see where learning gaps exit and know where to target funds for additional help.

This one is a no-brainer. You provide additional funding to schools in low income areas.

If some families refuse to have students tested, the results become less reliable. It’s difficult to know who is actually struggling and needs that additional help because accurate comparisons can’t be made.

Another no-brainer, ask the teacher.

• Monetary consequences: If our state does not reach a 95% participation rate on the state tests, the U.S. Department of Education could place Washington on “high-risk status” and withhold administrative funds — or even program funds — that support:

The US Department of Education (USDOE) has already placed our state at risk of losing funding based on the No Child Left Behind edict that 100% of our students should meet “proficiency” by 2014. That didn’t happen so we are already at risk of losing Title 1 funds. Thing is, this has occurred in other states also and so far, there has been no action taken by the USDOE.

Also the USDOE is walking a very fine line here. According to the US Constitution, the government is not to determine a national curriculum or assessment (test) so for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to make such threats borders on an act that is unconstitutional.

And lastly, it was Dorn who determined that Washington State should use the Common Core Standards with the concomitant SBAC tests, not parents, students or teachers in our state. We the people of Washington State had no idea what the Common Core Standards were when the state legislators approved them, and neither did our legislators because the (national) standards had not been completed when the legislators approved them for our state. It was all based on promises by Randy Dorn and his Gates backed group Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) so the responsibility of any financial consequences falls directly in his lap, not ours. It was the OSPI that lied to the legislature about how the Common Core (National) Standards were aligned with the then current standards under the Hanover study. It was State Superintendent Randy Dorn who is responsible for making the commitments with consequences, not the parents, teachers or students of Washington State. For more on Randy Dorn and his affiliation with Bill Gates, see State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s “interpretation” of the Common Core SBAC testing and opting out: Truthiness in Education and Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why.

Since parents were not included in the decision making process regarding statewide assessments, opting out is one way the people have of expressing their will. Pay attention Mr. Dorn

○ Title I, parts A and C (affecting highest-poverty schools, limited English proficient children, migratory children, children with disabilities, Indian children, neglected or delinquent children, young children in need of reading assistance, and K–12 students in need of additional assistance in reading, mathematics, science and in meeting graduation requirements);
○ Title II (affecting teacher and principal training and recruiting);
○ Title III (affecting language instruction for limited English proficient and immigrant students);
○ Title VI, Part B (affecting programs for students in rural schools);
○ School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (affecting schools with the greatest need and strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement of students in their lowest-performing schools);
○ Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (affecting services to children with disabilities for early intervention, special education, and related services).

This was the same threat given to parents in New York last year but nothing happened, no Federal money was withheld. This year, the opt outs have doubled.

It’s also important to note that 11th graders who refuse to test will miss out on the opportunity to avoid more testing in the future: Nearly 200 colleges and universities in six states have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores to place students into credit-bearing courses, once they’ve been accepted.

This is already happening in our state without a standardized test required. A student can take college courses while still enrolled in high school based on a teacher’s reference.

No test is perfect. But the Smarter Balanced tests, with their emphasis on real-world skills, are better than any standardized test our state has administered before. If students don’t test, it’s more difficult to identify what skills they lack and how best to help them.

Real world skills like a third grader using a mouse?

Again, teachers are the best barometer on how a student is doing in class.

Also, where is the proof that backs Dorn’s statement that the SBAC is the best thing since sliced bread? There’s not even proof the Smarter Balanced Assessments are valid and reliable.

The decision to refuse testing doesn’t just affect the individual student. It affects students across the state. If you don’t like the federal law, don’t refuse to have your child take the tests; call your U.S. representative and senators and tell them to change the law.

Actually, it was our state legislators who approved the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the related SBAC test. For the US Congress to mandate a country wide curriculum or assessment would be illegal.

But rest easy Mr. Dorn, there is a proposal now in Olympia that will eliminate the Common Core Standards in our state.

And as is stated in the response to Dorn’s nastygram over at Stop Common Core in Washington State:

“SPI Dorn should comply with federal law and the Constitution of the United States.  More than comply, he should be held accountable for not complying.  Why is he allowing the federal government to make decisions about education in our state when the Constitution and the 10th Amendment clearly makes it the responsibility of the state and the people, not the federal government?  The Race to the Top Assessment Grant awarded to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium required the development of a valid and reliable assessment.  No proof or evidence of SBAC’s validity and reliability exists.  NCLB requires the state to administer valid and reliable assessments.  By using the SBAC, WA is not in compliance with federal law.  Why is Superintendent Randy Dorn having the state administer an assessment that does not meet the requirement of federal law?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal interstate compact under the Compact Clause of the U. S. Constitution.  Why did SPI Dorn commit and allow the state to participate in an illegal interstate compact using taxpayer dollars?”

Honestly, Mr. Dorn, don’t you think when so many parents and students around the country demand to opt out of a test that something is very wrong?

We look forward to your reply.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Dorn’s office has made an official request of the USDOE to waive the use of SBAC for AYP for the 2014-15 school year.

If this waiver is granted, then all the threats of withholding Title 1 funding become null and void, and the opt-outs risk nothing.

The fact that Dorn is asking for this waiver demonstrates that he knows the SBAC will be an invalid or an inequitable measure of schools and students and yet he is sending out this press release.

There appears to be a bit of doublespeak coming from OSPI.

And, even the Gates Foundation– the biggest underwriter and promoter of the Common Core (National) Standards– recognized the problems with Common Core tests for accountability measures and in June, 2014, in a letter from Vicki Phillips, Gates called for a 2 year moratorium on their use for these purposes see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/gates-foundation-urges-delay-in-using-tests-for-teacher-evaluation/2014/06/10/d037c7fa-f0e1-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html.

What if they gave the SBAC and no one took it? Ask the folks at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle

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It has been confirmed that 100% of the 11th grade students at Nathan Hale High School opted out of the SBAC test this week.

Here is the history in a nutshell. There were informational meetings about the Common Core Standards and the SBAC early in the school year and Wayne Au, PhD was invited to speak on high stakes testing.

There was much discussion and then a resolution was passed by the teachers at Nathan Hale High School:

As I wrote in a previous post:

Nathan Hale High School in Seattle says “No!” to the Common Core Standards SBAC test

The Common Core Standards associated Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam, the SBAC, will be implemented in March in the Seattle school district but this afternoon the Nathan Hale High School Senate, which functions as the Building Leadership Team typically made up of teachers, parents, staff and students, voted nearly unanimously not to administer the SBAC tests to 11th graders this year.

The Senate also recently voted not to administer the PSAT test to 10th graders at all in the future.

The reasons for refusing the SBAC for 11th graders included:

1. The SBAC is not required for graduation

2. Colleges will not use the SBAC this year

3. Since NCLB requires all students to pass the tests by 2014, and since few if any schools will be able to do that, all schools will therefore be considered failing by that standard. There is thus no reason to participate in erroneous and misapplied self-labeling.

4. It is neither a valid nor reliable nor equitable assessment. We will use classroom based assessments to guide our next instructional steps.

5. Cut scores of the SBAC reflect poor assessment strategy and will produce invalid and unreliable outcomes.

6. Students made the point: “Why waste time taking a test that is meaningless and that most of us will fail?”

7. The SBAC will tie up computer lab time for weeks.

8. The SBAC will take up time students need to work on classroom curriculum.

As a representative of Nathan Hale stated:

This is an important step. Nathan Hale High School is asserting its commitment to valid, reliable, equitable assessment. This decision is the result of community and parent meetings, careful study of research literature, knowledge of our students’ needs, commitment to excellence in their education, and adherence to the values and ideas of best-practice instruction.

***********

Then a nastygram was sent out by Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Nyland threatening teachers with a loss of their teaching licenses if they refused to give the test. See Superintendent Nyland, threatening teachers isn’t a growth mindset.

Well, that backfired. The students and parents then decided to opt out of the SBAC completely.

Kudos to the Nathan Hale community.

Submitted by Dora Taylor