Another reader speaks truth to power about the Common Core SBAC Test

Wait, What? has the greatest readers.  Here is another great comment to  today’s blog.

The Memo from Commissioner Pryor’s office is a minor classic of doublespeak in the service of damage control.

Just look at the opening: “We wish to convey a time sensitive update with you…”

Yes, that is one way to put it; another way would be a direct statement: “the Smarter Balance Assessment Field Test is far from ready; in fact, it is a bloody mess and we have no choice but to hold off administering the test, so that we can buy time to get the f**king thing into shape.”

The test requires “unprecedented collaboration among states, districts and many testing contractors.” Translation: now that the state education offices have forced districts to sign onto the tests, guaranteeing huge profits for testing contractors, we still haven’t figured out how it’s all going t o work.

At this point we are crossing fingers, praying, sacrificing chickens; in short, we are doing everything we can to make sure the field test comes off smoothly. We just need one more week! But it’s not really a delay, it’s just an “adjustment.”

Commissioner Pryor (God bless him!) is seeking to “ensure that teachers, students and administrators have a productive experience with the field test.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want students to waste their time with unproductive standardized tests. Productive tests are the best. And I’m sure the students can’t wait to undergo yet another “assessment.”

Once upon a time a school day was a mix of learning, recreation and community.

Now we have “testing days”–school days that are just about testing.

Again, I bet “the kids” (you know, the “students”) just can’t wait. “What did you do today in school, little Johnny?” “Oh, today was really, really fun. We got to be guinea pigs for something called the Smarter Balance Field Test, I can’t wait for tomorrow! School is just great!”

The rest is all boiler plate. “Testing window”…”assessment system”…”accurate and fair”…”administration procedures”…”low-stakes environment”…”flexibility.”..”participation”….

Is this what has become of the language of education?

No wonder the children are bored to death by today’s “learning environment.”

Who wants to be a “stakeholder” in such a stupid game?

Coming soon, to a theater near to you, the Smarter Balanced Field Test. Rated PG. Genre: horror.

Here again is the the memo Pryor and the State Department of Education sent out yesterday (Friday):

To: Superintendents of Schools
From: Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, DRW
Date: March 14, 2014
Subject: Smarter Balanced Field Test

We wish to convey a time-sensitive update with you regarding the Smarter Balanced Field Test.

Smarter Balanced has shifted the first week of the Field Test. Testing will now begin nationally – including Connecticut – on Tuesday, March 25.

As you know, the Field Test requires unprecedented collaboration among states, districts, and many testing contractors. Needless to say, we are disappointed that the SBAC Consortium is requiring us to make this adjustment. In the final analysis, however, it was decided that this change was needed to ensure that all the steps necessary to conduct the Field Test properly on a national basis have been taken. And to ensure that teachers, students, and administrators have a productive experience with the Field Test.

We know this change may impact schools within your district. Your schools might be impacted in the following ways:

Schools that anticipated administering the Field Test during the first week of testing window 1 (March 18 – March 24) will need to adjust their schedule. It is possible that these schools might be able to reschedule the testing days to fall within the remainder of the first testing window or extend testing into the first week of window 2 (April 7 – April 11).

Any schools that would have begun administering the assessments during the first week that are unable to reschedule testing for the affected students within March 25 to April 11, should contact the Field Test Help Desk at 1-855-833-1969 to reschedule testing in another testing window.

This shift in the start date for the first testing window is not expected to disrupt your testing schedule in any of the other three week windows. It is not necessary to reschedule these three testing windows.
As you know, one of the goals of the Field Test is to uncover challenges before the launch of the assessment system in the 2014–15 school year. The Field Test will help to ensure that the assessments are accurate and fair for all students. It also gives teachers and schools a chance to practice test administration procedures, and students the opportunity to experience the new assessments in a low-stakes environment.

Thank you for your flexibility and for your participation in this effort. If you have questions, please contact the Connecticut State Department of Education, Academic Office Assessment Line at 860-713-6860.

After preparing to roll out this “piece of crap” all year, the State Department of Education’s best line comes at the beginning where the State Department writes, “We wish to convey a time-sensitive update with you regarding the Smarter Balanced Field Test.”

  • Mary Gallucci

    What will it take to end this nightmare of school reform? How many more hallucinatory ravings must we be subject to from the likes of Arne Duncan and Stefan Pryor? http://articles.courant.com/2014-02-07/news/hc-op-mcenroe-connecticut-education-pryor-unintell-20140206_1_evaluation-system-performance-evaluation-advisory-council-texts
    They are clearly not talking about children, or learning.

    • guest

      It will take money and lawsuits. Thirdly, to have a spitting chance at getting rid of this thing in CT, it will take electing a new Governor who has the power to make changes and undo the mess that has already been done.

      • jonpelto

        I agree 100% – lawsuits and a new governor

  • [email protected]

    YOU nailed it: it is all about testing revenues. Just as it was when we replaced children’s classic books with McBooks that were dreadfully simple but costs districts tens of thousands of dollars. Ironically, the Harry Potter series and author J K R did more to quash that newspeak lie “children do not like to read complex texts (totally wrong)” than any of us as teachers ever could in the media. We know children have been enthralled by good literature for generations… from classic fairy tales to authentic literature of modern times. But the mediocre LIKE what is measurable! Unless they fail… then they finally too blame the test, but, far too late.

  • Monica

    Is it just me, or does Dianna Roberge-Wentzell — and by extension Stefan Pryor — have a sentence fragment in her third paragraph? Just saying.