No it can get worse – High School Juniors in North Haven, Westbrook Took Wrong Smarter Balanced Test

6 Comments

So just when we thought the Common Core SBAC testing farce couldn’t get worse, the Hartford Courant is reporting that that the reason that the North Haven and Westbrook test results were so out of line with the rest of the state is that high school students in those two towns “took the wrong test.”

In a stunning article in today’s Hartford Couarnt, education reproter Kathy Megan reports that;

No Smarter Balanced test scores for juniors in N.Haven, Westbrook: They took wrong test

High school juniors in North Haven and Westbrook won’t be getting Smarter Balanced test scores.

It turns out, they took the wrong test.

School officials in both districts said the confusion resulted from a drop-down menu that listed several possible tests. Students were apparently told to click on an “interim” or practice test, instead of the comprehensive year’s-end test and the mistake wasn’t caught until after the test was completed.

“It was very disappointing,” said Westbrook Principal Tara Winch. “I asked the state, why would the interim assessment even be up there during the actual testing time? Those shouldn’t even have been part of the testing window.”

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff for the state Department of Education, said it’s “regrettable” that “test proctors administered the wrong version of the test in these two schools. These two isolated instances were unfortunate, and we will of course be working with the vendors to limit the chance of this happening again.”

While Governor Malloy’s administration says they will be “working with the vendor to limit the chances of this happening again,” other SBAC consortium states are not taking the problems with the testing scheme so lightly.

Truth in American Education, a blog the covers the Common Core and the Common Core testing system recently published an article entitled,  Nevada to Receive $1.3 Million Settlement from Measured Progress which reported,

Measured Progress is giving Nevada almost $1.3 million back for their botched implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment last Spring.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt’s office put out the following press release on Monday:

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that his office, representing the Nevada Department of Education (NDE), reached a prelitigation settlement with Measured Progress, Inc. The settlement is a result of the company’s failure to provide an efficient testing system intended to deliver Nevada’s Criterion Referenced Tests (CRTs) to students in grades three through eight. In March 2015, electronic testing materials developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and delivered by Measured Progress failed, preventing students across Nevada from completing their federally mandated standardized tests. After extensive pre-litigation negotiations, the company agreed to refund the NDE a total of $1.299 million in cash and services, to cover some of the costs of the testing program, and to assist with future educational programs.

But in Connecticut, the State Department of Education is glossing over problems.  The Hartford Courant explaining,

[SDE Chief of Staff Kelly Donnelly] said that administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test to about 270,000 students “takes a great deal of coordination and preparation by our schools and we commend them for what was overall a successful administration on the first operational year.”

A similar problem occurred earlier this year in New Hampshire. According to a March article in the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper, students in Manchester, Gorham and Barrington also mistakenly took an interim version of the test.

Donnelly said that both states have the same vendor — American Institutes for Reseach — for the test.

The Hartford Courant story goes on to add,

[Westbrook High School Principal] Winch said the error was particularly frustrating because state records now say that Westbrook High School’s participation rate was a zero, when, she said, the school had 99.9 percent of the students take the test, albeit the wrong test.

“We are so proud of our students and the teachers who really took this seriously in a year when there were many opting out,” Winch said, referring to other districts where substantial numbers of high school juniors refused to take the test.

“We didn’t have any of that,” Winch said of the opting out. “The students came in very positive and really wanting to do well. I was absolutely devastated because they kept saying zero participation when the students absolutely did not opt out.”

She said there wasn’t time to retake the test when the error was discovered because, “We were right up against finals.”

Winch said the drop down menus should be clarified in the future, “so you only have the correct options for the test,” she said.

The Hartford Courant story concludes with a quote from a spokeswoman for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium who states,

Kelli Gauthier, a spokeswoman for Smarter Balanced, said in an email: “This is really a district-level issue. Having said that, we will, of course continue to work with our member states, who in turn work with their districts, to ensure test delivery runs smoothly.”

You can find the complete Hartford Courant story at:  http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-smarter-balanced-glitch-0902-20150901-story.html

For those interested in how Nevada responded to their SBAC problems go to: Nevada to Receive $1.3 Million Settlement from Measured Progress

NEWS FLASH on SBAC:  Beware the cozy relationship between Malloy and the Education Reform Industry.

2 Comments

Prior to the Malloy administration even announcing that they would be releasing the 2015 SBAC results today, the state’s two major corporate funded education reform lobby groups, ConnCAN and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), invited reporters to join a “media call” in which the groups would discuss the SBAC results.  Then, just as quickly, the call was cancelled.

As we learned this morning – Friday, August 28, 2015 – Governor Malloy’s administration is finally releasing the 2015 SBAC results this afternoon, but the super-secret nature of the information didn’t stop ConnCAN and CCER from announcing on Wednesday that they were holding a “press call” this morning so that the two pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing, pro-charter school, anti-teacher advocacy groups could discuss the SBAC results with the media — prior to those results actually being released.

And then, when questions arose about what communication had taken place between the Malloy administration and the two lobbing groups, ConnCAN and CCER quickly cancelled the media call, leaving one wondering whether the Malloy administration broke the law by refusing to give information about the SBAC results to the media and Connecticut citizens while actually providing the information to the two private lobbying entities.

Here is what ConnCAN and CCER sent out:

ConnCAN and CCER to Host Press Call and Outline Expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment Results

***Media Press Call on Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM EST***
Please Click Here to Register for the Call
–Call-in number will be made available upon registration–
Media Participants Should Dial-In 5-10 Minutes Prior to Call Start Time

New Haven, CT — The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) has teamed up with the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) to host a press briefing call, which will walk reporters through their organizations’ expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment results.

The briefing will be an opportunity for media to learn more about the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the benefits of the test, and each organization’s plans and expectations as the state prepares for the public release of the results.

Right now, the state has only released the results to district superintendents. The test results and data have not yet been widely released. The results are expected to be made publicly available within the next few weeks.

ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander and CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar will be available for questions immediately following the call. 

WHO:
Jeffrey Villar, CCER Executive Director
Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer
Yamuna Menon, Director of Research and Policy, ConnCAN

WHEN:
Friday, August 28, 2015
10:00 AM EST

CALL-IN NUMBER: 
***Made available upon registration***

And then came this…

POSTPONED
ConnCAN and CCER to Host Press Call and Outline Expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment Results
***Media Press Call on Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM EST***
**Postponed until a later date**New Haven, CT —  Due to scheduling conflicts, the media briefing call regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment results with the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) will be postponed until a later date.

 

The politicization of the CT Board of Regents – continues unabated

3 Comments

And so it goes…

When it comes to setting higher education policy in Connecticut, politics is the dominant factor, especially when it relates to Connecticut’s State Universities and Community Colleges.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s ill-conceived merger of the two systems into the Connecticut Board of Regents has been an unmitigated disaster.  Billed as a way to save money, the merger has led to the growth of administrative bloat and a reduction in education and student programing.

Further undermining Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education has been Governor Malloy’s insistence on making historic cuts in state funding for the colleges and universities, cuts that have led to significantly higher tuition and fees for Connecticut students trying to get a college education.

Malloy’s initial choice to run the combined CSU and Community College system resigned in disgrace after illegally handing out $350,000 in bonuses to his staff.

The legislature responded by taking away Malloy’s direct appointment authority and giving it to the Board of Regents, where it belonged.

However, the person they selected to serve as President of the Regent system recently resigned after alienating virtually everyone associated with Connecticut’s state universities and colleges and losing the moral authority to lead the system.

Now the Board of Regents, led by Nicholas Donofrio, a former IBM executive who is involved in the distance learning industry and donated $40,000 to Governor Malloy’s 2014 campaign slush fund, has moved quickly to name an Interim President for the Regents.  Their choice is Governor Malloy’s Chief of Staff.

Dr. Michael Gargano, the former Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for the Connecticut State College and University System has authored a commentary piece about this latest development.

Dr. Gargano has a deep understanding of the important roles that the Connecticut State Universities and the Connecticut Community Colleges could and should be playing in the educational, economic, and cultural health of Connecticut.

He has also witnessed, firsthand, how politics has undermined the mission of Connecticut’s public universities and colleges.

His commentary piece first appeared in the CT Mirror and New Haven Register.

The Appointment of the Governor’s Chief of Staff as CSCU President Is Not About Education (By Michael Gargano, Jr.)

Many assumed the next President of the Connecticut State College and University System would have an extensive background in education. Some are disappointed with the recent news, but, the appointment of the Governor’s Chief of Staff as interim President for the Connecticut State College and University System has nothing to do with education. Nor does it have anything to do with academic quality or rigor; nor does it have anything to do with placing equal emphasis on the universities and community colleges; nor does it have anything to do with faculty or students; nor does it have anything to do with reducing the hostility that exist between the 16 campuses and the System office, the Board of Regents, and selected Legislators.

My read of the tea leaves is the appointment is based upon the primary strength of the appointee which is collective bargaining experience and budget and finance expertise. I suspect as the collective bargaining agreements are up for re-negotiation in 2016, the interim president will seek significant concessions from faculty, staff and others. This is a critical negotiation to help Governor Malloy, Ben Barnes and the Legislature balance the state budget. In addition, the state budget is based upon various revenue projections that probably will not materialize that could result in a midyear budget reduction to the CSCU system and other government agencies. Hence, the contract negotiations are critical.

Now that the no layoff policy has sunset, it is also reasonable to envision the President and Board to renew efforts to reduce low enrolled academic programs resulting in faculty and staff layoffs; probably increase efforts for more online courses and degree programs also resulting in faculty layoffs; a consolidation of back office operations like purchasing and human resources resulting in staff layoffs; outsourcing services like maintenance and housing to save money; consider system-wide contracts for dining services and bookstore operations; increase efforts to eliminate tenure compensation but maintain academic freedom; a reduction in tenure track faculty and more reliance on contingent instructors; and a right sizing of  the System office resulting in additional layoffs.

All of the above will be hidden under the higher education buzz word-efficiency. The Board will spin this as a means to make education more affordable for students. At the time of the merger of the two systems, the Governor’s press release in 2011 indicated “a sweeping plan to overhaul the state’s higher education governance and structure to provide more resources for classroom teaching and instruction to help increase the number of students receiving degrees, while at the same time, saving tax payers and students tens of millions of dollars over time.” There has been no noticeable savings to date, but, the Governor and Legislature has decided to provide less public funds to the CSCU system resulting in fiscal instability. The promise to save tax payers money might be one of the reasons why the 2015 Legislature passed a Bill to cap compensation at the System office.

The Governor has all his preferred people in charge-all Regents have been handpicked by the Governor and approved by the Legislature, the Board Chair is a major donor to the Governor, the Board has handpicked college presidents that align with their philosophy, and the Governor’s Chief of Staff is now System President.  The Governor owns the CSCU system. He is now accountable for the results. There are no obstacles to his pledge to save taxpayers and students tens of millions of dollars.

It has never been about quality education that prepares students for professional careers and preparing students to compete with other graduates around the world for the best careers, admission to the best graduate schools, and prepares graduates to evolve into new careers as the economy changes. The merger has always been about cost reduction which means less faculty, staff and others.

Truth of the matter following the previous president is an easy assignment. Mr. Ojakian is well respected by the political community; he will communicate better, be more consistent and trustworthy, be responsive in a timely manner and provide evidence based facts to support his case. He’ll exhibit a human side with listening skills that show compassion. Time will tell, but, I think you’ll get a sense of the President’s agenda rather quickly.

You can read and comment on the original commentary piece here:  http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/08/26/opinion-dr-michael-gargano-jr/

 

Malloy’s Education Commissioner blames teachers for lack of support for Common Core SBAC Testing

9 Comments

In what may be the most incredible, insulting, outrageous and absurd statement yet from Governor Malloy’s administration about the Common Core SBAC testing program, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is now blaming teachers for the fact that there is growing opposition to the SBAC testing scam.

In their warped world where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” these people have the audacity to blame the victims for the crimes that are of the politicians’ making.

Forget that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test (SBAC) is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.

Forget that the SBAC test is designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

Forget that the SBAC test is particularly discriminatory for children who come from poorer backgrounds, those who face English Language barriers and those who require special education services.

Forget that the SBAC test results are being used to inappropriately “evaluate” teachers

Forget that state taxpayers have paid well over $50 million for this disastrous test program just over the past two years and local taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars more.

And forget that the SBAC testing has wasted hundreds of hours of instructional time, time that our children could have been getting the education they actually need and deserve.

Forgetting all that and proving that Governor Malloy’s administration has lost all contact with reality, the Commissioner of Education is now claiming that the lack of support for the Common Core SBAC tests is the fault of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

The message from Malloy and his administration is loud and clear… They will say and do anything to defend the indefensible.

In a MUST READ article in yesterday’s Journal Inquirer newspaper entitled, Ed commissioner: Teachers must get students to buy into testing, reporter Mike Savino writes,

Don’t count the state’s education commissioner among those who think results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test are useless because the exam is flawed.

[…]

Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said Thursday that students who negatively viewed the Smarter Balanced test, referred to as the SBAC, are only reflecting what they see from teachers.

Wait, What?

The Malloy administration is actually suggesting that parents and students are rising up against the unfair testing system because teachers aren’t doing enough to mislead people about the testing scam?

According to the JI story, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education went even further,

Wentzell also said the state Department of Education conducted a survey of students in 2014, when some school systems took the Smarter Balanced test as part of a field study, and found students had an “enthusiasm” for it.

She said one of her own children, who took the test as a third-grader last year, reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.

Are you ****** kidding me?

The SBAC test is designed to label the majority of children as failures but it’s okay because one of the Commissioner’s own children took the test and, “reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.”

Meanwhile, as the JI explains;

The Education Department has not yet disclosed the Smarter Balanced results, rejecting a request under the Freedom of Information Act submitted by the Journal Inquirer on the same day the state distributed the information to superintendents.

The department has claimed that the results are exempt because they are preliminary data and “the public interest in withhold documents outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

A spokesman said the department still is finalizing data and shared it so superintendents could ensure accuracy.

Wait, What?  and the JI, among others, have filed Freedom of Information complaints against the State Department of Education in an effort to force the state agency to release the SBAC test results to the public.

You can read the entire JI story at: http://www.journalinquirer.com/page_one/ed-commissioner-teachers-must-get-students-to-buy-into-testing/article_4fbd2dbe-4a71-11e5-a231-9bc848b6f448.html

Malloy – You can’t hide the sham 2015 SBAC results forever!

6 Comments

The January 2, 2015 the Wait, What? headline read;

Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!

The initial Wait, What? post of 2015 may very well be the most important of the year because it reiterates the disturbing truth about the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and what students, parents and teachers will be facing in the next few months.

The shocking truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration have agreed to a Common Core testing program that is designed to label the vast majority of our children as failures.

Here we are eight months later and tens of thousands of Connecticut children were given a Common Core test designed to label them as failures.

Two months after other SBAC states like Washington and Oregon have released their Common Core SBAC results, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration continue to play games.

The Common Core Testing scheme is a scam that cost Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of dollars… And yet the State Department of Education continues to rationalize the disastrous testing program.

Here is another powerful commentary piece from fellow public education advocate and regular Wait, What? commentator Jack Bestor.

It appeared first in the CT Mirror: Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results?

Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results? (By Jack Bestor)

Those oh-so-elusive SBAC results: after millions of dollars squandered on broadband improvements, tedious test prep, and time diverted from actual learning, our students, parents, and teachers have been prevented from getting the test results because no one in educational leadership today has figured out how to “spin” the results without facing the consequences of this poorly designed, invalid, questionably-standardized assessment that was perpetrated on our public school students.

Despite the reluctance of school administrators to speak up and push back against this ludicrous accountability exercise that has been promoted by politicians and corporate education reformers who have many self-interested reasons for maintaining this misguided testing endeavor, it is well-known that the “standardized” testing mandate only serves to continue the false narrative of failing American public education in order to drive the profit-making agenda of those who seek to privatize education and undermine the public trust.

For an insightful look at the test industry, Todd Farley’s under-publicized 2009 chronicle, Making The Grades, recounting his many years working in the test industry would make anyone question why we place any stock whatsoever in our children’s “standardized” test results.  Any test that is designed to fail the majority of test takers has no purpose in the education of children.

Rhetorical flourishes citing “rigor” and “higher critical thinking” are nothing but empty words, as repeatedly the test questions have been criticized by both parents and educators and the test answers have been notoriously ambiguous and often wrong.  There is no amount of test industry algorithms that can justify this educational malpractice.

Since the parents of all students in public schools were discouraged from opting their children out of this state-mandated “standardized” test experiment, it should be gratifying to those who saw through the misinformation and controversy associated with the Common Core testing requirement and, with courage and conviction, refused to allow their children to take this unnecessary and unproven test.

When the results are finally reported to your child’s school, you can be thankful there will be no “sticky label” to apply on your child’s permanent record card and no single data-point to upload into your child’s computerized learning profile.  Furthermore, there will be no woefully inadequate measure of your child’s reading, writing, and math skills for teachers and school administrators to use in any future planning of your child’s school program.

Instead, you can rely on your child’s previous teacher — who for a full school year strove to understand and nurture your child’s individual learning needs — to share with receiving teachers what was found to work in developing each student’s academic skills, confidence, and interpersonal abilities.  You are to be congratulated for advocating for your child against the pressures to conform and I hope you will be able to trust that the teachers working with your child will care and protect him/her from any unfair practice derived from this unproven test experiment.

Although unable to come right out and say it for fear of retribution, most teachers do not believe in the top-down, dictatorial approach of the corporate education reform movement that has a stranglehold on American public education today and hope that it will implode of its own malfeasance.

Until then — as parents — you must continue to ask probing questions of district administrators who are mandated to adhere to the flawed educational policies developed by politicians, lobbyists, business leaders, and millionaire philanthropists who have strong opinions, but no actual experiential knowledge of how children learn.  It is only when school administrators, elected board of education members, and state legislators hear the anger and frustration of parents (and voters) that there can be meaningful pressure brought to bear on those who promote the continuation of these failed educational policies.

Jack Bestor of Sandy Hook is a recently retired school psychologist who, for 41 years, enjoyed working with students, parents, and his many colleagues.  He is a past recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CT Association of School Psychologists.

You can read the original piece at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/08/24/whither-the-elusive-connecticut-sbac-results/

Media coverage of Malloy administration’s refusal to release SBAC results

8 Comments

The power of the media to frame or interpret a news event can be clearly seen in the way Connecticut media outlets covered the Malloy administration’s latest effort to withhold the results of the 2015 Common Core SBAC results.

The CT Newsjunkie focused on the real issue at hand.

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education used the Hartford Courant article to pontificate about the “benefits” of the Common Core testing scheme and the CT Mirror didn’t even bother to cover the breaking news at all.

Across the country states that gave the 2015 Common Core SBAC tests last spring started providing their citizens with information about the test results nearly two months ago, but the Malloy administration has been withholding Connecticut’s results from the public.

Yesterday, the State Department of Education provided town-specific results to each local superintendent of schools but refused to release the statewide results and threatened local officials that they could not publicly discuss the results – in direct violation of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act – because the results were “embargoed” – a concept that is not allowed under Connecticut’s open record law.

To read the Commissioner of Education’s bull about the benefits of the Common Core SBAC testing scam go to the Hartford Courant’s “Education Commissioner: New Test Scores To Usher In New Era.”

To learn more about the Malloy administration’s ongoing effort to withhold public information read the CT Newsjunkie article, “Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents.”

CT Newsjunkie writes;

Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.

The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.

In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”

There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts.

These drafts are exempt if “the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the Education Department, said they are citing that exemption and they don’t want to release the data until it’s finalized because it could be inaccurate. The superintendents and district test coordinators are pouring over the data at the moment for accuracy.

Data isn’t finalized?

While the Malloy administration claims the statewide information is in “draft form,” school superintendents were provided data that is not in draft form nor was it labeled as being in draft form whatsoever.  While the names of individual students cannot be released, the basic information towns were given cannot be withheld by claiming the information is “embargoed.”

Connecticut’s parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve the truth.  The state of Connecticut has spent more than $50 million over the past two years on the sham of Common Core testing.  Local communities have spent even more.  It is time for the Malloy administration to release the data!

For the full  CTNewsjunkie story go to:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/education_department_releases_test_data_to_superintendents_but_not_public/

Malloy administration gives towns the Common Core SBAC test results but not the public

16 Comments

Action violates Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act.

This morning Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Diana Wentzell, held the state’s annual back-to-school meeting for Connecticut superintendents at A.I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford.

Considering his anti-public education agenda, it was not surprising that Malloy was a no-show at the meeting.  Instead, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman attended, despite the fact that both Malloy and Wyman are attending a joint event at 10 a.m. in nearby Middletown.

State Department of Education staff informed school superintendents that starting today they could access their district’s 2015 SBAC test results via the State Department of Education’s website, but they could not share the information since the results were “embargoed.”

Embargoed?

Superintendents were warned that the state will not be making the test results public until the week of August 31st, 2015.

Local school officials were told that they were not allowed to inform parents, teachers, their local Board of Education or the public about the SBAC results until they are released by the state.

In a companion memo provided to superintendents, the State Department of Education wrote;

“It is critical that districts do not make embargoed results public before the embargo is lifted.  Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases.”

States such as Washington and Oregon provided their citizens with their statewide Common Core test results nearly eight weeks ago, but the Malloy administration has consistently failed to make Connecticut’s results public.

Providing school superintendents with the 2015 SBAC results but claiming those results are “embargoed” is particularly inappropriate and offensive.

“Embargoed” is a PR term used with reporters when issuing selected press releases and has no meaning when it comes to the notion of public access to public information.  Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law makes absolutely no exception for “embargoed” information.

Making public information available to a select group of people but withholding it from others is a serious violation of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law.

The Malloy administration should immediately make the 2015 SBAC results public.  If they refuse, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission should force them to release the information and investigate who was behind this effort to keep public information secret.

Common Core tests succeeding in labeling children as failures

4 Comments

“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”  – Franz Kafka, The Trail (1925)

Or are we the stupid ones for letting the “education reformers” get away with undermining our children, their teachers and our public schools?

While Connecticut parents and teachers continue to wait for the Malloy administration to release the results of the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, updates from other states around the nation are pouring in.

The message is clear and consistent…

The Common Core tests were designed to fail the vast majority of students and the vast majority of students are failing.

The corporate education reform industry and their lackeys are yelping with glee as they pontificate about how bad our schools, our teachers and our children are doing – but their claims are nothing short of a lie.

Perhaps they believe that parents don’t know the underlying truth about the Common Core testing scam, but the harsh reality is that when you test children on subjects that they have not learned, they don’t pass.

And not only are the Common Core tests unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory, but to make matters a thousand times worse, thanks to Dannel Malloy’s “reform” initiatives, Connecticut will be using the outrageous test results to not only label children as failures, but to punish public school teachers.

According to published reports from Pennsylvania, that state’s Common Core testing scheme has translated into a nearly 80 percent drop in proficiency rates among some groups of students.

According to the Times-Tribune newspaper, in Old Forge, Pennsylvania;

“Only 13 percent of students in eighth grade scored at proficient or advanced levels in math, down from 79 percent in 2014”.

In nearby North Pocono,

“Math proficiency at the middle school went from 76 percent to 38 percent. At Valley View, eighth-grade math proficiency dropped from 74.4 percent to 18 percent.

The statewide numbers in Pennsylvania paint a grim picture;

Here are the state-wide results from the “math” portion of Pennsylvania’s Common Core test which is called the PSSA;

Grade: Math  Math  Difference:
2013-14: 2014-15:
3 75.1% 48.5% -26.6%
4 76.3% 44.5% -31.8%
5 77.2% 42.8% -34.4%
6 72.0% 39.8% -32.2%
7 76.7% 33.1% -43.6%
8 73.6% 29.9% -43.7%

Note that the absurd test has determined that 3 in 10 8th graders have “failed.”

Sooner or later, the Malloy administration will release Connecticut’s 2015 SBAC results and parents and teachers will see what tens of millions of dollars in wasted public funds has produced.

Luke Bronin breaking the law with illegal corporate in-kind contributions

4 Comments

If elected Hartford Connecticut’s s next mayor, Greenwich native Luke Bronin says he’ll successfully plow the streets, solve the city’s crime problems and provide jobs for the residents of Connecticut’s poorest city.

In order to persuade the voters of Hartford to dump the only big city Puerto Rican mayor in the 50 States, Bronin has raised a record breaking amount of money.  Nearly a third of his campaign funds come from out-of-state donors and an additional $55,000 plus are from residents of his hometown of Greenwich.

But his 5 to 1 cash-on-hand advantage isn’t enough for the golden boy.

Among a series of questionable campaign finance issues that show up in his campaign finance reports is the fact that Bronin is breaking Connecticut law by accepting a massive in-kind contribution from Stu Loeser & Company, a New York based public relations firm.

Andrew Doba works as Bronin’s spokesperson and public relations flack.  He is also an employee of Stu Loeser & Company.  Bronin’s press releases are sent using Doba’s work email, [email protected]. It is the same email address found for Doba on the Stu Loeser & Company website and the same email address Doba uses to communicate with reporters about his other clients.

After working as Governor Dannel Malloy’s spokesperson for past two years, Doba left state employment earlier this year to join Stu Loeser & Company.

On his corporate website, Stu Loeser, who was New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s press’s secretary, describes himself by stating,

“Stu now puts these skills to use for some of the most prominent technology companies, Fortune 100 corporations, thriving start-ups and high net-worth individuals around the world.

[…]

Stu has been profiled as the “city’s foremost practitioner of the dark art known as opposition research” … Earlier in his career, he served as U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer’s Communications Director and worked on the Clinton/Gore and Gore/Lieberman presidential campaigns.

As for Doba, Loeser.com writes;

Andrew is a veteran communications operative with nearly a decade of experience in city and state government.

As the chief spokesman for Governor Malloy in Connecticut, Andrew was the architect of earned media campaigns advancing the Governor’s economic and public policy priorities…

He directly managed or had oversight of nearly 100 people in 30 state agencies, quasi-public entities and other cabinet level positions.

As an aside, who knew the Governor’s press secretary had management and oversight responsibility for 100 people in 30 agencies.

But back on the issue of  breaking state law, not only are Bronin’s press releases sent out by Doba, and Doba is by Bronin’s side at almost every public event, but Bronin’s Twitter account is dedicated to helping Bronin and Doba’s other corporate clients including the corporate funded charter school advocacy group “Save our Schools” and the UBER corporation.

Although Doba has been working for Bronin for months, Bronin’s campaign has failed to make and report appropriate expenditures to Stu Loeser & Company for Doba’s work, meaning Bronin is accepting an illegal campaign contribution from a corporate entity, a major violation of Connecticut law that would undoubtedly lead to a fine and other potential penalties if investigated by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

Why would Luke Bronin think he is above the law?

Perhaps is it is because he spent the last two years working as Governor Dannel Malloy whose 2014  campaign intentionally and flagrantly violated Connecticut’s campaign finance laws and continues to try and derail an investigation in Malloy’s political fundraising violations.

The following are just a few examples of Andrew Doba’s use of his Twitter page to promote his corporate clients, including Luke Bronin for Mayor.

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  Outrageous that @segarra2015 needs a hand delivered invite to talk with #Hartford residents about gun violence http://cour.at/1IQNKpA 

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  .@segarra2015 my job would be easier if you told the truth.

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  With strong push from @GovMalloyOffice, Leg. made the right call in meeting its financial commitment to charter schools

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  Thank you to our state leaders who showed a strong commitment to ensuring access to great school #ForEveryChild.

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  Awesome video from the #SaveOurSchools rally #ForEveryChildCT http://bit.ly/1Fqu9gr 

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  FYI – @Uber hearing being moved to 2E because so many Uber driver partners came out to show their support

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba   Thanks! RT@StamfordiCenter: We welcome our newest coworker, @AndrewDoba of Stu Loeser & Co. http://ow.ly/Ino0Q 

Andrew Doba ‏@AndrewDoba  New website (http://stuloeser.com ) AND new flack? Congrats to @AndrewDoba + thanks @mikeallen for nod in Playbook: http://www.politico.com/playbook/0115/playbook16920.html …

For more about the Bronin Campaign’s attempt to buy Hartford see;

Luke Bronin – Buying Hartford with the help of Greenwich money

Big Money flowing through Bronin’s New York to Hartford pipeline

Ridiculing Latino Leaders says volumes about Luke Bronin’s Campaign for Mayor of Hartford

More and More and More out-of-state campaign money pours into Hartford for Bronin

Opt-Out Movement Grows as parents fight back against unfair Common Core tests

4 Comments

New York’s Common Core testing madness is one year ahead of Connecticut’s, which means parents know more and are taking action to protect their children. Last summer, the majority of parents in New York State were told their children were failures as a result of that state’s version of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme. As a result, parents were prepared for this year’s testing scam and record numbers of public school students were opted-out of the testing fiasco. Yesterday, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) finally released their test results, admitting that nearly a quarter of a million New York students did not take the test as a result of parental action. The New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), an anti-common core testing advocacy group which is made up of more than 50 parent and educator groups across New York released a major statement calling on parents to step up the opt out movement by handing in their test refusal letters on the first day of school. The NYSAPE statement;

Opt Out to Sharply Rise as NYS Continues to Sacrifice Children With Flawed Tests & Policies Yesterday, released the results of the 2015 3-8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) & Math exams. ELA scores were essentially flat, and the small increase in Math scores (less than 2 percentage points) was smaller than last year’s modest jump. There was also an increase in the percentage of Level 1 students in ELA, and an unchanged percentage of Level 1 students in Math, suggesting that the ratcheting up of high-stakes is leaving our most struggling students behind. Test refusals, also known as opt outs, rose to a record number of 222,500, surpassing advocates’ estimates. More New York parents across the state are informed and have said no to the high-stakes testing regime that is disrupting quality education and harming their children. With no relief in sight, opt out figures are expected to grow significantly again this year until damaging education laws and policies are reversed. Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out said, “How many more children will we sacrifice to a narrow education, excessive testing, and failure, before New York calls a timeout? How many veteran, master teachers will we watch flee the profession before we untie testing from evaluations? How many schools will close before New York State recognizes that public schools are the foundations of every community? Instead of dreaming up sanctions, SED should be working with educators and parents to change course and right this wrong.” “Governor Cuomo, the Regents and SED have been quick to judge teachers through a sham accountability system that wrongfully reduces highly effective teachers to an ineffective rating and claims public schools are failing when, in fact, they are not. But they are slow to accept responsibility for the devastating consequences of these flawed testing and evaluation measures on our children, the teaching profession, and our public schools. Threats of sanctions will not deter opt outs. Parents are onto this sham and will continue to opt out children in order to protect them,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent. “Considering the amount of time, resources and money devoted to the state assessment system, the resulting data does little to help pinpoint specific student, educator or school strengths and weaknesses. The entire testing system is a boondoggle to taxpayers and continues to limit our children’s educational opportunities,” stated Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, educator, and school board trustee. Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent said “Chancellor Merryl Tisch has publicly stated that she would think twice before allowing a child with special needs to sit through an ‘incomprehensible exam’ and has called state exams ‘cruel and unusual’. Yet neither the Board of Regents nor NYSED leadership has taken action to inform parents of their right to refuse harmful testing, let alone curb the eighteen hours of harmful state testing that disabled students as young as eight are compelled to engage in. Until the abuse stops, opt outs will continue.” Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator, and General Manager of the BATs stated, “As research shows, test scores will not close the achievement gap. We need to begin to invest in proven strategies that close the gap, or we will lose an entire generation of children.” “The NY State tests are an illegitimate way to evaluate kids, schools and teachers – as shown by the recent NY Times article, in which questions on the 3rd grade exam stumped the author of the relevant passage. These tests are designed to make it look like the vast majority of our students and schools are failing, when they are not. Until the state provides less flawed exams – and a better teacher evaluation system not linked to them – parents will continue to opt out in growing numbers,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. “Pearson has been fired as the state’s test vendor, yet our children will be subjected to their tests for another school year. This is outrageous. If Governor Cuomo and members of the legislature who voted to increase the contribution of test scores to teacher evaluation think this is ok, they should prove it by taking the tests themselves. Let our public officials prove that they are smarter than a 5th grader,” said Nancy Cauthen, a NYC public school parent.

The reaction in Connecticut will undoubtedly be similar when the Malloy administration finally releases the results from this year’s Common Core SBAC test.

Older Entries