BEWARE! Those Common Core Tests are coming to Connecticut…

Connecticut need only look across the border to New York to see the on-coming, out-of-control freight train that is barreling toward our public schools and our children.

Connecticut’s Mastery Test System is on its way out; soon to be replaced by the far more grandiose and far more expensive Common Core Testing System that is part of the corporate-funded education reform industry.

The new computer based, Common Core Tests will be similar in scope to the tests that sent New York State and City reeling in recent days.

To better understand the New York controversy start with the August 7, 2013 article in the New York Times entitled Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks.

The New York Times explains,

“The number of New York students passing state reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported on Wednesday, unsettling parents, principals and teachers and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.

In New York City, 26 percent of students in third through eighth grade passed the tests in English, and 30 percent passed in math, according to the New York State Education Department.

The exams were some of the first in the nation to be aligned with a more rigorous set of standards known as the Common Core.”

Here in Connecticut a number of Connecticut school districts piloted new Common Core tests this year, although the results have not been released.

Next year, in addition to the Connecticut Mastery Test, at least 20 percent of all Connecticut public school children will serve as guinea pigs for the new Common Core test system and the year after that; all Connecticut students will be taking the new Common Core tests.

As more and more teachers and parents are coming to realize, Connecticut will be burdened with having to accommodate two complete sets of massive standardized testing schemes until the state fully shifts over to the Common Core testing system at some point in the future.

Governor Malloy’s education reform bill requires that the “old” Connecticut Mastery Test be used to evaluate students, teachers and schools.  However, his “reform initiative” also mandates the development and implementation of the new Common Core curriculum and testing system.

Apparently diverting over $25 million a year from teaching students to paying for the Connecticut Mastery Test program wasn’t enough for Malloy, Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor and the legislators who supported what can only be called as an exponential growth in the use of standardized testing.

To better appreciate the monster that is headed our way, here are a few “must read” articles.

Diane Ravitch’s recent commentary piece in the Daily News provides a powerful look at what we can expected.

In it she tries to educate the public  about the fiasco created by the Common Core testing in New York.  See: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/punishing-kids-adult-failures-article-1.1420622

In addition, Arthur Goldstein, a New York City high school teacher, addresses the issue in another Daily News commentary piece lambasting the tests based on the Common Core.  See:  http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/common-core-tests-answer-article-1.1420940

Leonie Haimson, the executive director of Class Size Matters and administrator of the New York City parents’ blog, has written an incredible analysis of the New York Test Score debacle which you can find here:  http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/08/leonine-haimson-dont-believe-the-new-york-scores/

And finally, Diane Ravitch shines the light of truth on one of the key factors that led to New York’s “testing fiasco” in a post entitled,  The Error That Caused the New York Test Scores to Collapse.

While these articles all relate to the problem in New York, thanks to Governor Malloy’s “education reform” initiative, unless we take action, we’ll be witnessing similar things in Connecticut within the next couple of years.

  • Bill Morrison

    I asked this on Diane Ravitch’s blog and I will ask it here. How can student scores have dropped when this was the first time the test was given? Someone is being disingenuous in the reporting of these results!
    At best, this round constitutes only a baseline for this test taken by this particular cohort of students.

  • Linda174

    Wait until taxpayers find out the price per kid for SBAC and all the hardware/software updgrades needed.

    Districts will need to lay off more of their teaching staff to test the kids to get rid of more teachers to be left with nobody to teach our students.

    Everyone will learn remotely in cyber charters…..BINGO….mission accomplished.

    Public schools have been destroyed and the money is now funnelled to the plutocrats who worship and supply the oligarchs.

    Go United Corporations of America!

    • msavage

      I just interviewed the new supt. of our district here in Hebron. I asked his opinion about the testing, the way that the cost of this testing is going to lead us to give up other things that our children need. His response? We don’t pay for these tests–the state does. Ummm….and how does the state pay for them? And I reminded him that there ARE district costs associated with testing–many, in fact. We will be required to purchase computers. Untold staff hours are required to get ready for the tests, administer the tests, comply with evaluation requirements, etc., etc. I asked him how he felt about his kindergartner (he has young kids) spending hours in front of a computer screen pushing buttons for standardized testing. His response? He’d much rather have her taking a computer-based test that adapts to her responses than taking a pamphlet test. Sigh.

      • Linda174

        No the state is not going to pay for it. It will come out of each districts budget and this woman or man sounds brainwashed and hopeless. Send the NY supers letter to him or her anonymously.

        • msavage

          “Send the NY supers letter to him or her anonymously.”

          Great idea. Will do.

        • Linda174

          I should clarify districts may get some money for the state but it never covers all the unfunded state and federal mandates and to pull off all the test prep, testing, software, hardware, etc…there will be cuts and it is never at the top…always the front line workers, including paraprofessional, secretaries, aides, etc. The bloat still floats at the top. Do more with less, make do.

        • Apartheid First

          Also, the state is putting money into tests which could be going toward *real* educational materials. Even though I do think that most of the burden is on the districts, anything the state contributes to tests/scoring/spinning the results is that much money taken away from meaningful educational expenses.

        • Linda174

          Agree completely….too much pressure on the kids for test scores only. What happened to the joy of learning, free choice reading and creativity?

        • msavage

          Exactly. When people use this line–the district isn’t paying, the money comes from the state/the federal gov’t.–do they truly not realize that ALL of the money is being extorted out of US in the first place? That all of this money has been squeezed out of us as taxpayers and the testing craze is a means for the oligarchs to funnel that money up to themselves rather than down into the classroom, where it rightfully should be going? Yes, as this is being accomplished there will be more six-figure administrators required to make it work. Which is perhaps why these admins are willing to go along with it. IS that it? Is the chump change of a $120,000 job (compared to the BILLIONS going to the oligarchs) really worth it to some of them? Are they knowingly doing this for their Judas pieces of silver or are they simply naive enough to still buy into the story despite overwhelming evidence?

  • Linda174

    If anyone tells you that Common Core (CCSS) is a “state-led” effort, “developed by teachers,” that person is either misinformed or attempting to deceive you.

    Mona McDermott of United Opt Out has mapped the organizations behind CCSS. She presents discussion of their interwoven involvements in this 9-minute youtube presentation.

    Once you view her work, you will no longer be vulnerable to the corporate- and government-endorsed message that CCSS is “grass roots.”

    The endgame of CCSS is massive data acquisition.

    Watch and learn.

    http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/the-intricate-plot-that-is-common-core/

  • Linda174

    New York Superintendent, Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder’s letter to parents and students:

    Commentary on Math & ELA Results
    Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder
    Over the past several months school leaders have been receiving countless messages from the State Education Department preparing us for the dire outcomes associated with the most recent spate of State testing in grades 3-8 in Math and English Language Arts. As the date for the releases of the test scores approached, we received many notices of “talking points” to inform our communities about the outcomes, with explanations of new baselines and how these tests do not reflect the efforts of students and teachers this year. I have rejected these missives because they reek of the self-serving mentality the ‘powers that be’ have thrust upon our students and parents.

    Our community is sophisticated enough to recognize a canard when it experiences one. These tests were intentionally designed to obtain precisely the outcomes that were rendered. The rationale behind this is to demonstrate that our most successful students are not so much and our least successful students are dreadful. If you look at the distribution of scores, you see exactly the same distances as any other test. The only difference is that the distribution has been manipulated to be 30 to 40 percent lower for everybody. This serves an enormously powerful purpose. If you establish a baseline this low, the subsequent growth over the next few years will indicate that your plans for elevating the outcomes were necessary. However, it must be recognized that the test developers control the scaled scores—indeed they have developed a draconian statistical formula that is elaborate, if indecipherable, to determine scaled scores. I would bet my house on the fact that over the next few years, scores will “improve”—not necessarily student learning, but scores. They must, because the State accepted millions and millions of dollars to increase student scores and increase graduation rates. If scores do not improve from this baseline, then those ‘powers that be’ will have a lot of explaining to do to justify having accepted those millions.

    If you examine the distribution of the scores, the one thing that leaps off the page is the distance between children in high poverty and children in relative wealth. While all have been relegated to a point 30 to 40 percent lower than previously, the exact curve is absolutely connected to socioeconomic status—which has been historically true in such testing for more than a century.

    The tragic part of this story is the collateral damage—the little children who worked so hard this year, who endured so many distressing hours of testing, who failed to reach proficiency, all because of the manipulation of the scaling. We will be talking with parents whose children scored level four last year, who now may have scored a level two. It does not mean much; it only means they are the unwitting part of a massive scheme to prove how these “high standards” are improving outcomes over time. It is time to pay attention to the man behind the curtain—he is no wizard, but he is wily!

    By the way, if you want to know what curriculum experiences are being promoted for even our youngest learners by the ‘powers that be’, check out curriculum modules on http://www.engageny.org . How many of us truly believe that expecting first graders to understand and explain why Mesopotamia is the cradle of civilization is reasonable? How many of us truly even imagine that six year olds should be able to identify cuneiform and hieroglyphics or understand the importance of the code of Hammurabi? Check it out—then I suggest you let your legislators, and the Department of Education know what matters to you.

    As we digest the information and prepare for the upcoming year, please rest assured that Voorheesville remains committed to challenging and cherishing our students.

    http://vcsd.neric.org/superintendent/superintendent.htm

    • msavage

      How can we get this woman to come here to CT?

    • JMC

      Now that is an Educator! Great post, L!

      • Linda174

        Where are ours here in CT?

      • Linda174

        See this full post including the comment by Fred
        Smith:

        In this post, teacher Maria Baldassarre-Hopkins describes the process in which she and other educators participated, setting cut scores for the new Common Core tests in New York.

        She signed a confidentiality agreement, so she is discreet on many questions and issues.

        At the end of the day, Commissioner King could say that educators informed the process but in reality they made recommendations to him, which he was free to accept, modify, or ignore.

        As many teachers have pointed out, in blogs and comments, no responsible teacher would create a test with the expectation that 70% of students are sure to fail. It would not be hard to do. You might, for example, give students in fifth grade a test designed for eighth graders. Repeat in every grade and the failure rate will be high. Or you might test students on materials they never studied. Some will get it, because of their background knowledge, but most will fail.

        Why would you want most students to fail?

        Commissioner King has repeatedly warned superintendents, principals, and everyone else that they should expect the proficiency rates to drop by 30-35-37% and they did.

        This is a manufactured crisis. We know who should be held accountable.

        It is Commissioner John King and Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. They wanted a high failure rate. They got what they wanted.

        http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/who-set-the-ny-cut-scores-and-what-we-still-need-to-know/

  • Apartheid First

    Time to *dump Duncan*, Pryor, Vallas, Adamowski, the school reform leeches, and–well, most of the democrats who support this (I have little hope that the republicans, traditionally so anti-intellectual, pro-creationist, anti-union, and pro-market would ever offer anything acceptable).
    But I think that the proverbial clean slate–for students, this means, “real” tests designed by your “real” classroom teacher (TFA do not count and must be swept out with the rest of the reform dregs), for teachers, and for the country. Obama and his hypocrisy on education (Sidwell Friends–are they doing Common Core? have they gone charter yet?) and on so many other issues–should just resign. He is a disgrace as a president–not that I haven’t thought even worse about most previous presidents, but I am sick of accepting and defending the lesser-of two evils.

    • Bill Morrison

      I wonder if Obama’s girls will ever do Common Core. Somehow, I doubt it.

      • Apartheid First

        Maybe the demand should be: Make Sasha and Malia and all the students of Sidwell Friends take the Common Core and any other tests, MAP, etc–before the rest of the children in this country are subjected to them.
        Obama and other politicians like to say “our kids are off limits”–but Obama’s ed policies, carried out by his ignorant henchman Arne Duncan (and Emanuel, Vallas, Pryor, Adamowski, etc) are harming OUR children and they are ruining the civic institution of education.

        • Bill Morrison

          You also have to include “Dubbya” in this list; NCLB was his.

    • R.L.

      You are right. The Republicans (I hate to diferentiate between the two sides of the monoparty) will probably not offer anything acceptable. At least they are fighting this thing, which is more than can be said about any big name democrats.

      http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2013/04/26/michigan-pulls-away-from-common-core/

  • Linda174

    The news is out. New York students failed in large numbers on last spring’s English language arts and math tests. The percentage of failures is precisely what Education Commissioner John King predicted. He also predicted the precipitous decline before the lower scores were even determined.

    Parents across the state will be receiving their children’s test scores over the next few weeks. Many parents and children will be disappointed with the results. My wife, children and I will not be among them.

    We decided to opt out of state testing last spring. It was not an easy decision, as I work for the school my children attend. The reasons that so many parents decided to opt out are numerous, so I will only share our perspective. Our children are bright and do well academically. We opted out, not for us, but for the other students who are subjected to this testing regimen.

    This is our way of protesting for the students with disabilities, students whose primary language is not English, and students who were administered a test they were not prepared for. The tests are not developmentally appropriate, have not been properly field-tested and take away from other critical areas of education that are quickly dwindling — like art and music. We also are opposed to student test results being tied to teacher performance.

    For Mr. King to suggest that we tell the students and teachers that they did not fail is disingenuous at best. His children will not be receiving such letters, as his daughters go to a private Montessori school.

    For parents whose children did take the tests and perhaps did not do as well as they had expected, I say that they didn’t fail, the educational system did.

    http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/The-kids-didn-t-fail-N-Y-s-testing-system-4718123.php

  • CTPRO

    Thank goodness my youngest graduates in 2015. Malloy is doing everything possible to ruin K-12 and higher ed in this state.

  • Linda174

    Also, from Ravitch…may the house of cards start to fall:

    In a hard-hitting essay, Anthony Cody describes how accountability has been turned into a weapon to create demoralization, failure, and privatization of public schools.

    He reviews the recent fiascos involving Tony Bennett and New York’s Common Core testing.

    He notes that both the AFT and the NEA are trying hard to meet the demands of the corporate reformers. Both are trying to help teachers prepare for the Common Core sledge hammer, but Cody says it is a fruitless enterprise. The game is rigged. The reformers’ goal is to generate failure so they can advance privatization:

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/09/anthony-cody-accountability-is-designed-to-set-schools-up-to-fail/

    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/08/from_school_grades_to_common_c.html