Forget about the concept that our schools need to devote more time to learning;
Paul Vallas, “education reformer extraordinaire,” and Bridgeport’s, $229,000, part-time, interim superintendent of schools, has announced an unprecedented standardized testing assault on Bridgeport’s students and their teachers.
In an announcement yesterday, Team Vallas informed administrators that in addition to the two weeks of Connecticut Mastery testing that is required by the Connecticut State Department of Education, Vallas is ordering that all students in grades 3-11 complete three additional rounds of standardized testing.
While “Education Reformers” are fond of claiming that they support extending the school year and the school day, Vallas’ absurd action will significantly reduce the number of hours students have to actually learn.
Instead, even more teaching to the test will take place.
According to Vallas’ directive, Bridgeport’s standardized testing program will include a round of Fall Testing that will take place from October 1st through October 10th, Winter Testing, which will run from January 7th through January 16th and Spring Testing which will go from May 28th through June 6th This is in addition to the Connecticut Mastery Tests which run for two weeks in March.
It is not clear how much the massive standardized testing effort will cost, but if history is any guide, we can assume that the company providing and grading these standardized tests got their contract through a no-bid process.
Ironically, Vallas provided Bridgeport’s outgoing illegal Board of Education with a budget update earlier this week, but he somehow forgot or failed to mention this massive new “initiative” that will undoubtedly cost “big bucks.”
However, what is clear is that when it comes to standardized testing, Team Vallas is not only on the wrong path but headed in the wrong direction. There is growing recognition that standardized testing is not a good measure of student abilities and can actually be detrimental to the learning process.
In Texas, the birthplace of George W. Bush’, No Child Left Behind Act, which introduced massive standardized testing, school districts, parents and even the business community are demanding less testing and more learning. To date, 593 Texas school districts, representing 70% of all Texas’ students, have endorsed a resolution demanding that state officials, “reexamine public school accountability systems” and “develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing” and “more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning.” The Texas PTA, various chambers of commerce, and principals’ associations have also signed onto the Texas anti-testing movement.
But the testing craze is alive and well here in Connecticut.
With Bridgeport’s school system in desperate need of additional resources and a real commitment to putting the city’s education program on the right path, Vallas stays the course with his dedication to hiring more out-of-state- consultants, purchasing new products through no-bid contracts, and now derailing the effort to revitalize the quality of education by turning the schools into nothing more than “testing factories.”
When you hear that Connecticut’s taxpayers are giving Bridgeport more than $168,000,000, a year, to cover the vast majority of the City’s education costs, you can now thank Team Vallas for flushing even more of that money down the drain.
***Proving that there are school administrators who “get it,” Diane Ravitch has a blog today about John Kuhn. Kuhn is the superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Independent School District in Texas and Ravitch calls him a ” hero superintendent” and someone who has ” been a voice of reason and at the same time an exemplar of passion and courage since he burst onto the national stage a year ago at the national Save Our Schools rally in Washington, D.C.” For Diane’s full blog go to http://dianeravitch.net/2012/08/31/our-first-hero-superintendent/