Connecticut Parents have a right to opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them.
It is not easy being a superintendent of schools. I know, having had a superintendent in the family and having e worked with dozens of superintendents over the past 30 years.
Superintendents are pulled in countless directions and are often put in “no-win” situations.
However, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has put Connecticut’s public school superintendents in an untenable position and now they must choose whether they see their job as carrying out orders from above or serving as the voice and chief advocate for the students, parents, teachers, staff and taxpayers that are part of their school district.
Superintendents must make this choice because Governor Malloy, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and their Corporate Education Reform Industry thugs are on a mission to convince parents and guardians that they do not have a right to opt their child out of the unfair, ill-conceived and ludicrous standardized testing fiasco that is enveloping Connecticut’s Public Schools.
Sadly, far too many Connecticut Superintendent of Schools appear to be turning their backs on their students and communities and are, instead, taking on the responsibilities of following inappropriate orders and directives.
Yesterday, Regional School District #16 joined Shelton and other districts in trying to persuade parents that they lack the right to opt-out their children for these faulty tests.
Reports are coming in from across the state that other superintendents have or will be sending out letters that are intended to mislead parents into believing that their local school administrators “don’t have a choice” when it comes to the opt-out issue.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The problem is that superintendents have been instructed by the State Department of Education to send out a letter based on a model that was provided by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor. The letter is misleading, inappropriate and contains statements that cross the line into outright lies.
As was the case in Shelton, public school parents are being told that local school administrators, “have no degrees of freedom in this matter. Federal and State laws require that public school students be tested.”
As directed by Commissioner Pryor’s office, the local letter states;
“Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language – that all students enrolled in public schools must take this yearly state assessment. Until such legislation changes, the Department of Education and each school district must comply with federal and state mandates.”
As many Wait, What? readers already know, this information was contained in a December 2013 memo that was sent by Commissioner Pryor’s office to public school superintendents.
You can read the full memo here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/206539705/Connecticut-State-Department-of-Education-on-Opt-Out-State-Testing-Requests-2014.
While Pryor’s memo states;
“There is no opt-out language in state or federal law governing assessment. Sec.10-14n of the Connecticut Education Laws states that “Each student enrolled…in any public school shall annually take a statewide mastery examination.”
The memo goes on to explain;
“….there are no legal/policy directions when parents seek to remove a child from statewide testing. Until recently, there have only been a handful of requests for exemptions each year. Districts are now reporting greater numbers of parents desiring to remove their child(ren) from participation in the statewide testing program.
The State Department of Education memo then goes on to instruct Connecticut public school superintendents and other school administrators about what they should say to mislead, trick and lie to Connecticut parents.
Those instructions are as follows:
“If Parent(s) contact their public school district to request/inform the district that they want their child(ren) removed from statewide testing…
- The school or district administrator explains to the parent that the district has no degrees of freedom in the matter. Federal and state law requires that public school students are to be tested.
If Parent calls the state to ask if they can opt-out of testing.
- State informs parent that there is no opt-out language in the law. As long as the student is enrolled in a Connecticut public school, the district is required to test them on some form of the statewide exam. The state sends a copy of the statutory references to the parent.
If Parent informs the district that, regardless of the law, the district is not to test the student.
- District is advised to get this statement of intent from the parent in writing so that the district can provide a written response. The CSDE’s legal office has provided a model letter…which districts may adapt, citing all pertinent laws and regulations and asking the parent to reconsider as it is a violation of the law not to comply.
If Parent writes back to the district a letter explaining that they have read and understood the district’s letter, but insist that the child not be tested.
In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing).
When it comes to the Connecticut Mastery Test, local superintendents are well aware that if parents “insist that the child not be testing” then “In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing).”
Incredibly, Commissioner Stefan Pryor’ directives for the 2104 standardized testing are even more misleading because the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test is nothing but a test of a test and doesn’t even qualify as a Connecticut Mastery Test under the law.
Here is the Connecticut State Statute on the definition of a Mastery Test;
“Sec. 10-14n. Mastery examination. (a) As used in this section, “mastery examination” means an examination or examinations, approved by the State Board of Education, that measure essential and grade-appropriate skills in reading, writing, mathematics or science.”
Even Malloy and Pryor have to know that a Test of a Test CANNOT be used to “measure essential and grade-appropriate skills.”
If SBAC, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test, is not a Connecticut Mastery Test then parents have the absolute right to opt-out their children.
If Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor want to further destroy their careers and ask Attorney General George Jepsen for an official opinion that the Common Core field test is a Connecticut Mastery Test or they want to go hunt for a judge to rule that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test is a Connecticut Mastery Test then they have that right.
But even if Attorney General Jepsen or a Connecticut judge determine that the Common Core test of a test is a Connecticut Mastery Test, then parents can return to the Connecticut State Department of Education’s own memo that states;
- In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing.
The following chart indicates which towns are using the new Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test and which superintendents decided not to turn their students into guinea pig and stuck with the Connecticut Mastery Test.
As you can see, only a handful of towns decided to wait until the Corporate Education Reform Industry could work out the bugs and problems with their new absurd Common Core test before making our children suffer through it.
Meanwhile, if you are look for examples of Connecticut opt-out letters here are some drafts that you may want to use. http://www.scribd.com/doc/202349382/UPDATED-Draft-Opt-Out-Letters-for-Connecticut-CMT-and-Common-Core-Smarter-Balanced-Assessment-Field-Test-1-26-14
No HS means the districts does not have its own high school but I part of a regional high school:
|School District||Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test (Grade 3-8)||Common Core Smart Balanced Field Test (Grade 11)||CMT (Grades 3-8)||CAPT (Grade 10)|
|Deep River||x||No HS|
|New Hartford||x||No HS|
|Norwich Free Academy||x|
|School District||Common Core Smarter Balanced Field Test (Grade 3-8)||Common Core Smart Balanced Field Test (Grade 11)||Connecticut Master Test (Grades 3-8)||CAPT (Grade 10)|