At a meeting this past Tuesday (February 10, 2015) the Board of Education for the San Diego Unified School District voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution urging Congress to eliminate the federal mandate that schools be required to conduct annual standardized testing. (See resolution below)
As Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate, noted on one of her blog posts today, “one of the crucial elements in the grassroots movement to roll back the tide of high-stakes testing started in Texas, when school board after school board voted to oppose high-stakes testing, and eventually more than 80% of the state’s school boards voted against high-stakes testing.”
In New York State, entire school districts are saying no to the Common Core Testing Scheme…
But in Connecticut, except for a handful of courageous superintendents, principals and school board members, the very individuals who should be fighting to protect our children from the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core testing madness remain silent despite the growing recognition that the Corporate Education Reform Industry, with the support of elected officials like Governor Dannel Malloy, are turning our public schools into little more than testing factories.
Instead of fighting on behalf of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) are actually working hand-in-glove with the corporate education reform industry to move public policy in exactly the wrong direction.
Examine CABE’s 2015 Legislative Priorities and you won’t find a single word of opposition to the testing frenzy that is undermining public education or any comment whatsoever that it is absolutely wrong that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is rigged to ensure that up to 70 percent of our children are deemed failures.
And when it comes to CABE and CAPSS’ broader public policy agendas, their position statements concerning the insidious and destructive nature of standardized tests is pitifully weak, if it exists at all.
While the school board in San Diego has stepped up and joined boards, superintendents and principals around the nation in condemning the annual standardized testing system, CABE and CAPPS are busy using their taxpayer-funded budgets in support of their “ Big Six” lobbying agenda.
The “Big Six” is a cheer leading group for the corporate education reform industry and is made up of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).
Just last month the “The Big Six” released their Statement of Principles and Policy Recommendations for 2015.
Rather than use that vehicle to speak out about the misuse of standardized testing, CABE and CAPPS signed onto a political agenda that failed to even mention the word testing let alone articulate a position about why the overuse of standardized testing is unfair, discriminatory and is damaging our children and our system of public education.
Rather than aligning themselves with the foes of public education, CABE and CAPPS should be working on behalf of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers by urging superintendents and school boards to do what the San Diego school board did this week and push back against the massive testing requirements and activities at the federal, state and local level.
But their failure to do the right thing shouldn’t stop Connecticut’s local boards of education from standing up and speaking out the travesty being forced upon us by the overuse of standardized testing.
Local board of education can begin to fulfill their duties by adopting a resolution similar to the one passed unanimously by the school board of the San Diego Unified School District on February 10, 2015.
SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
RESOLUTION IN THE MATTER OF SUPPORT TO REMOVE THE ANNUAL TESTING REQUIREMENT FROM THE ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ACT (ESEA) AND MAKE OTHER MODIFICATIONS AS CONGRESS CONSIDERS REAUTHORIZATION OF ESEA (NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND)
WHEREAS, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” was due for reauthorization in 2007, and the U.S. Congress has not reached a bipartisan agreement that will ensure passage to streamline existing federal requirements and allow states and local educational agencies to develop and implement policies that will best support students; and
WHEREAS, there are several significant aspects of ESEA that should be amended during the Act’s reauthorization, including the elimination of sanctions and unintended consequences; granting states and local educational agencies greater local flexibility; the elimination of federally mandated, annual standardized testing; and maintaining provisions of ESEA that support its original intent of supporting students with the greatest needs; and
WHEREAS, the nation’s future, social well-being and economic competitiveness relies on a high- quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship, and lifelong learning; and
WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to contribute and thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that high-stakes standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness, and the over-reliance on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing student’s love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, the San Diego Unified Vision 2020, long-term strategic plan, Quality Schools in Every Neighborhood, supports and provides for quality teaching, access to broad and challenging curriculum for all students, closing the achievement gap with high expectations for all, and is committed to using multiple formative measures of success that go beyond standardized achievement tests; and
WHEREAS, the ESEA Discussion Draft repeals the long-standing Title I Maintenance of Effort (MOE) and the Title IX General Provisions MOE requirement, and without them, state and local education funding could be lowered by states with no consequences to the state’s ongoing receipt of federal aid; and
WHEREAS, the ESEA Discussion Draft freezes funding for reauthorized programs for Fiscal Year 2016 through Fiscal Year 2021, eroding the investment of federal funding for public education that would result in reductions in services to student subgroups that require additional investments and support systems, including low-income, English learners, and students of color; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act,” eliminate the federally- mandated, annual testing requirement in each of Grades 3 through 9, and at least once in Grades 9 through 12; promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability; and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress to reinstate the current Maintenance of Effort requirements in ESEA to protect the integrity and benefits of federal ESEA programs; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports a ESEA reauthorization bill that provides states and local educational agencies with additional flexibility to design their own accountability systems, including how states identify schools that are under-performing and determine appropriate interventions or technical assistance to support student growth and achievement, and support the use of multiple measures and growth models of academic achievement that reflect a well-rounded education necessary for success in the 21st century; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports a ESEA reauthorization bill that provides school districts the flexibility and resources needed to respond to the educational challenges in local communities, and provides greater local flexibility in the use of ESEA funding for Titles I, II and III as states and school districts are in the best position to make spending decisions to facilitate local innovation and student achievement, without placing undue burdens on districts that would adversely impact effective governance; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District supports an ESEA reauthorization bill that eliminates the inflexible sanctions and prescriptive actions that currently result in more schools being identified as Program Improvement if one or more student subgroup misses Annual Yearly Progress, as without the sanctions, districts would have more flexibility to use Title I funds to develop and/or implement programs and services that have evidence of improving student outcomes and advancing academic progress of all student subgroups; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District calls on the U.S. Congress to remove the funding freeze for reauthorized ESEA programs that would severely cut services over the next six years, and urges the passage of a modernized version of ESEA that is fully supported by federal investments in Title I, which has been woefully underfunded for decades.
Adopted and approved by the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District at the regular meeting held on the 10th day of February 2015.