Hello Superintendents – Common Core SBAC Test “Mandate” is not like Connecticut’s truancy laws.

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Reading the misleading letters that Connecticut parents are still receiving from some local school superintendents it remains clear that Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and more than a handful of school superintendents need to take a deep breath and actually read Connecticut’s State Statues…and then consider those statutes in the context of their moral and ethical responsibility to Connecticut’s students and their parents.

Parents throughout Connecticut, and across the nation, continue to inform local school officials that they are opting their children out of the Common Core Testing program because they understandably refuse to have their child take the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory tests.

But rather than handle the situation in a professional, dignified and respectful fashion some local school superintendents, using memos provided by Malloy Department of Education, continue to mislead and harass parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental, inalienable and constitutionally protected right to determine what is best for their children.

A typical example of the arrogance of these education autocrats can be found in the recent letter authored by New Haven’s Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries who writes,

“…please understand that federal and state laws require that all public school students be tested, so New Haven Schools has no degree of freedom in this matter.”

As if he has no choice but to “follow orders,” Superintendent Harries adds,

“…the state law also does not allow parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessment.”

A little honesty on the part of Connecticut’s State Department of Education and these local school officials would make a huge difference in this debate about a parent’s right to refuse to have their children participate in the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme.

If superintendents would take their blinders off for a moment they’d realize the following:

Their authority to try and force a child to take the SBAC test, or punish a child who does not, is not like the authority they have to deal with the issue of truancy, which is clearly and concisely laid out in state law.

When it comes to the so-called “mandate” that children must take the Common Core SBAC Test, Connecticut State Statue 10-14n. reads,

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.

10-14n (b) (1) For the school year commencing July 1, 2013, and each school year thereafter, each student enrolled in grades three to eight, inclusive, and grade ten or eleven in any public school shall, annually, take a mastery examination in reading, writing and mathematics.

Putting aside the fact that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Test is not a true mastery exam because it does not measure “grade-appropriate skills in reading, writing…,” the actual truth is that there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local school district to punish a child (or parent) who opts their children out of the Common Core SBAC exam.

Furthermore, this so-called “mandate” has been on the books since 1978 and although thousands of students have failed to take the CMT/CAPT Mastery Tests every year, no child or parent has ever been punished for missing those tests.

Now let us compare the “SBAC Test Mandate” to the very real mandate that parents are responsible for ensuring that their children go to school after the age of five.

Connecticut State Statute Section 10-184 reads,

Duties of parents. School attendance age requirements. All parents and those who have the care of children shall bring them up in some lawful and honest employment and instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments… each parent or other person having control of a child five years of age and over and under eighteen years of age shall cause such child to attend a public school regularly during the hours and terms the public school in the district in which such child resides is in session, unless such child is a high school graduate or the parent or person having control of such child is able to show that the child is elsewhere receiving equivalent instruction in the studies taught in the public schools.

Connecticut Statute Section 10-198a goes on to require that school boards develop truancy policies and statutes further require that if a child fails to attend school, local schools officials shall mail a notice to the parent and that,

“Such mailed notice shall include a warning that two unexcused absences from school in a month or five unexcused absences in a school year may result in a complaint filed with the Superior Court pursuant to section 46b-149 alleging the belief that the acts or omissions of the child are such that the child’s family is a family with service needs.

Connecticut State law further states,

“If the parent or other person having control of a child who is a truant fails to attend the meeting held pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (b) of this section or if such parent or other person otherwise fails to cooperate with the school in attempting to solve the truancy problem, such policies and procedures shall require the superintendent of schools to file, not later than fifteen calendar days after such failure to attend such meeting or such failure to cooperate with the school attempting to solve the truancy problem, for each such truant enrolled in the schools under his jurisdiction a written complaint with the Superior Court pursuant to section 46b-149 alleging the belief that the acts or omissions of the child are such that the child’s family is a family with service needs.

The laws of Connecticut provide the government with a mechanism to punish parents who allow their children to be truants, but Connecticut law specifically fails to provide the government with any power related to punishing a parent or child for refusing to take the Common Core SBAC Test.

As long as the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Connecticut remain in place, we remain a nation where government is not all powerful.

As Connecticut law so clearly specifies, neither the state government nor local school districts have the authority to punish a child (or parent) who fails to take the Common Core SBAC Test.

If the Governor Dannel Malloy wants to change that law then he needs to propose that change, the General Assembly needs to adopt that change and then he can sign it into law.

Until then Malloy and his administration, along with the superintendents who are engaged in misleading and harassing parents need to stop what they are doing.

Their actions are not only inappropriate but unethical and immoral.

The time has come for these school officials to remember their fundamental responsibility to serve the students, parents, teachers and public schools of our state.

If they can’t bring themselves to do that then they need to find another job for their presence here is not welcome.

Common Core SBAC Test – Connecticut wrong, Vermont right!

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Fellow Connecticut education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker has yet another MUST READ piece about the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s attack on public education and how Connecticut’s leaders are failing to protect our state’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Lecker’s column is entitled, The truth about the SBACs, and it can be found in this weekend’s Stamford Advocate and on-line at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-truth-about-the-SBACs-6149232.php

Wendy Lecker writes;

A New England state is leading the way on sane testing policy. Unfortunately for us Nutmeggers, that state is Vermont, not Connecticut.

There is a growing national consensus that standardized testing has deleterious effects on education. The National Research Councilconcluded that test-based accountability under the No Child Left Behind Law (NCLB) had “zero to little effect” on achievement. Evidence from around the nation proves the focus on standardized testing has narrowed curricula and resulted in significant losses in learning time. Anxiety is prevalent among public school students, as more and higher stakes are attached to these standardized tests.

There is also a growing realization of what experts have known for years — that the federal government demands that states overuse and misuse standardized tests. Experts know that standardized tests are of limited value, because they are unstable, unreliable and most importantly, do not measure the breadth of skills and experience that are the goals of education. Despite the well-known limitations of standardized tests, federal officials insist test scores be used to rank and rate schools, students and teachers, and impose real-life consequences, including sanctions on schools and possible school closures, firing teachers and even decisions regarding student placement and graduation.

When federal policy conflicts with a solid body of evidence, one would expect our state education officials, those charged with safeguarding the educational rights and welfare of our children, to provide guidance on sound testing policy.

Unfortunately, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s top education officials have failed to provide any useful guidance whatsoever. To the contrary, Connecticut officials willingly participate in damaging testing practices. Connecticut rushed to sign on to the federal NCLB waiver in 2012, without analyzing the costs or consequences. As part of the waiver, then Education CommissionerStefan Pryor committed the state to implementing the common core tests known as the Smarter Balanced, or SBACs. These tests are longer than the CMTs, and must be taken on a computer or tablet, requiring a certain level of computer skill and literacy. Commissioner Pryor also agreed to “cut scores,” proficiency levels, guaranteeing that a vast majority of Connecticut students will fail the new tests. By agreeing to the waiver, Pryor also committed the state to evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores, even though the weight of evidence demonstrates that evaluating teachers on student these test scores is invalid and major organizations such as the American Statistical Association and the American Educational Research Association oppose this practice.

Contrast Connecticut’s complete lack of leadership with Vermont’s. Because the NCLB waiver called for mandates that were contrary to good educational practices, Vermont refused to apply for an NCLB waiver in 2012. In an August 2014 resolution, Vermont’s State Board of Education called on the federal government to “reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality, eschew the use of student test scores in evaluating educators, and allow flexibility that reflects the unique circumstances of all states.”

Last week, Vermont’s State Board of Education unanimously approved a new resolution on the SBAC tests, which gives strong and informed guidance that Connecticut’s education leaders are unwilling to provide.

Vermont’s resolution declares that while the SBAC tests “purport to measure progress towards `college and career readiness . . . the tests have not been externally validated as measuring these important attributes.”

Accordingly, the state board resolved “until empirical studies confirm a sound relationship between performance on the SBAC and critical and valued life outcomes (“college and career-ready”), test results should not be used to make normative and consequential judgments about schools and students.”

Vermont’s state board also resolved that until Vermont has more experience with evidence from the SBACs, “the results of the SBAC assessment will not support reliable and valid inferences about student performance, and thus should not be used as the basis for any consequential purpose.”

Finally, honest education officials admit the SBACs have never been proven to measure “college readiness” or progress toward “college readiness,” and in fact are unreliable to measure student learning. In other words, the foundation upon which the Common Core rests is an artifice, and our children are being subjected to unproven tests. Connecticut districts have been diverting resources and time toward a testing regime without any proof that it would improve our children’s education.

In its thoughtful articulation of its policy stance, Vermont’s educational leaders demonstrated their dedication to the educational welfare of Vermont’s children. It is shameful that Connecticut’s so-called leaders cannot muster the same concern for ours.

Again, the full article can be found at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-The-truth-about-the-SBACs-6149232.php

The Press Conference that never happened but should have! (Submitted Anonymously)

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With the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Scheme having started this week, a regular Wait, What? reader sent in the following brilliant post for publication.

For those who thought Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast was real, please note that this article reports on a “faux news conference.”  This news conference did not actually take place, although the more we learn about the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam, the more we wish that this press conference had actually taken place….but alas it did not.

                                 Connecticut State Department of Education  

Faux News Conference

March 11, 2015

Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education begins the Press Conference:

On the eve of the administration of SBAC testing in our State, it has become clear to me, as interim Commissioner of Education, that there is much validity embedded in the much-heated controversy surrounding Common Core State Standards, mandated standardized testing to measure progress on those standards, and the intended practice of evaluating teacher effectiveness based on those student test results.  At this time, I have concluded that it is in the best interest of our students and their parents, our much-maligned yet highly accomplished teachers, and the tax-paying public that we suspend mandated “high-stakes” standardized testing for this year and until we have had a reasoned and fair public debate on the on-going controversial education issues that were never properly vetted and reviewed in the first place.

As your interim Commissioner, my roots are in the classroom, teaching students how to analyze and research the materials necessary to acquire the information they need to learn.  It is clear to me that we have lost our way.  The education of the next generation is not a partisan issue and must be de-coupled from highly-charged and rancorous political theater.  There are simply too many vested interests vying for pieces of the lucrative educational pie to pass any kind of “smell test” here.  It is not the common core, but rather common sense that brings me to this conclusion.  It is time to take a break – to allow our teachers to get back to what they do best and to enable our students to, once again, relish the joy and excitement of being turned on to learning as they become immersed in subject matter that engages their interests and consumes their every waking moment.

In our mission to solve the inequities that exist across our State and Nation, we have tried to apply solutions without fully evaluating the underlying systemic causes.  It is a noble undertaking.  However, we have attempted to apply business principles of incentivization, data analysis, fiscal management, and accountability to a highly varied and differentiated educational practice that we do not fully understand and does not work the same way for each individual.  We must respect that premise as we seek a course correction after several years of misdirection.

I have been particularly dismayed by the intransigence and unwillingness of state agencies to consider new information in light of the mountain of evidence supporting the success of American public education, especially when the lack of oversight and transparency in our privatized charter schools became glaringly evident this past year.  In hindsight, it must be said that the former commissioner came up through the ranks of policy development and, lacking classroom teaching experience, was unable to recognize and see the damage his privatization agenda was doing to public education.  On the other hand, as I have said, my roots are in the classroom and I know in my gut that it is time to stop the madness and get back to what we have always done best: educate young minds for the future.

Addendum:  The anonymous writer of this article closes with a note of apology for borrowing heavily from Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) and urges Wait,What? readers to follow up by reading Swift’s famous treatise, A Modest Proposal.

Please note, however, that you will have a difficult time finding Swift’s essay in school libraries that have been aligned to the Common Core because the proponents of the Common Core seem to think that so-called non-fiction is more important than fiction… which is why I am spending much of my time running between libraries and book stores moving George Orwell’s 1984 from the fiction to the non-fiction section.

VICTORY in CT!  Parents can opt students out of SBAC Tests – Students will be provided alternative location.

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The battle to ensure that local school districts recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test ends in victory.

In a published report today in the CTMirror, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Joeseph Cirasuolo, has announced that superintendents in Connecticut will now recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Testing AND that students who opt out will be provided with an alternative location where they can read a book, do homework or engage in some other educational activity for the eight to eight and a half hours of the SBAC testing.

Mr. Cirasuolo is quoted as saying;

“You can’t force someone to take a test they will not take…They will be sent someplace else.”

This important development should close the book on what appeared to be an unending effort by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and some local school superintendents who have been working to mislead and harass parents into believing that they did not have the fundamental right to opt their students out of the destructive Common Core SBAC testing.

The position being taken by the head of Connecticut’s superintendent association also makes clear that local school districts cannot use the “Sit and Stare” policy to punish or bully students who have opted out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

With the SBAC testing starting in some schools today, and running through June, it is a tremendous step forward that parents will finally be treated with the respect and maturity that they deserve.

The lingering question, however, is why did it take so long for Governor Malloy’s Department of Education and some of Connecticut’s school superintendents to call off their unethical, immoral, and I believe, illegal effort to mislead and harass Connecticut’s public school students and parents.

At this point it is unclear whether the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents has actually informed all superintendents of this important shift in policy.

Parents should know that no school superintendent, principal or school official should now be telling parents that they cannot opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Furthermore, since the “Sit and Stare” policy violates the SBAC Testing Protocol, let alone the fact that the approach is nothing short of bullying, Connecticut public school students who opt out must be moved to a safe, secure, alternative location and may not be left sitting in the testing room during the Common Core SBAC test.

If any school administrators continues to fight a parent’s directive to opt their child out or seeks to punish a child who is opting out, please provide them with a copy of this blog post or point them to Mr.  Cirasuolo’s statement which can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/16/what-you-should-know-about-this-years-standardized-testing/.

Also, parents, students and teachers, please continue to report your experiences related to the Common Core SBAC testing.  Send information to [email protected]

Malloy Administration’s “Secret Memo” on Opting Out of Common Core SBAC Tests

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The question that still hangs in the air is why has the State of Connecticut and local school officials been making it so hard for parents of public school students to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests when there is simply no question that parents have the fundamental right to tell their local school that their child will not be participating in the testing.

The answer begins with a not very well hidden memo written and sent out by Governor Malloy’s administration in 2013.

Today it appears that school superintendents are finally accepting the fact that parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test and that school districts must provide children who have been opted them out with an alternative location, such as the school library or resource room, where they can read, do homework or engage in other educational activities during the Common Core SBAC testing periods.

Newer Wait, What? readers may not fully appreciate how the whole SBAC Opt Out debacle began.

The story starts back in 2013 when Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education sent out a directive to all Connecticut school superintendents providing them with a step-by-step process on how to mislead and harass parents into thinking that they did not have the right to remove their children from the destructive Common Core SBAC testing.

The Malloy administration’s memo was entitled, “…Suggested Protocols for Addressing Parent Requests for Students to “Opt-Out” of Mandated State Testing.”

The memo failed to acknowledge that parents had the inalienable and constitutionally protected right to remove their children from the Common Core SBAC testing.

The memo failed to remind local superintendents that neither the state nor the local school district had any authority to punish a child (or parents) that opted their child out of the Common Core SBAC testing.

And the memo further failed to report that the language “mandating” that students must participate in the Common Core SBAC testing was the same language that had been in place for decades as part of the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) system and that no student or parents had every been punished for failing to take the “mandated” test.

Instead, the State Department of Education directive laid out, in detail, how superintendents were to unethically and immorally mislead and harass parents.

According to the memo:

If:  Parent(s) contact their public school district to request/inform the district that they want their child (ren) removed from statewide testing

Then:  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.

Then:  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.

Then:  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 (attached), 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.

Then:  In these cases, the district generally does not test the student and the student is counted as “absent” (for purposes of testing), which negatively impacts the participation rate for the district.  The state, to date, has not done any follow-up on these cases.  

After Wait, What? and other media outlets reported on the memo, it was removed from the State Department of Education website and from other various on-line sources.

But many of Connecticut’s superintendents continued to use the outrageous memo as their game plan for trying to derail Connecticut’s parents.

Copies of the Malloy administration memo survived and for those who would like to review the actual document that started Connecticut’s “opt out battle,” one of the following links should do the trick;

http://issuu.com/jonpelto/docs/connecticut-department-of-education

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5PDZpOuzPFVOHpzcjV6VGJaU0U/view?usp=sharing

https://www.scribd.com/doc/258918003/Connecticut-Department-of-Education-Memo-on-Optng-Out-of-Common-Core-SBAC-Testing-2013

A big week for the Common Core SBAC Opt Out Movement

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IMPORTANT:  The Common Core SBAC Testing Frenzy begins this coming week and goes for the next two months!

Despite the best efforts of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, the underhanded work of a number of school superintendents and the on-going lies being spewed by the corporate education reform industry to mislead and harass parents, Connecticut’s Common Core SBAC Opt Out Movement made important progress this past week.

It is now clear that parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test and that local school districts cannot force children who are opted out to sit in the “Testing Rooms” for the eight to eight and half hours that children will be forced to take these destructive tests.

While some local school superintendents continue to mislead and even lie to parents, the undeniable reality is that local school districts have no legal authority to force children to take the Common Core SBAC tests and that the SBAC protocol prohibits local school districts from engaging in “Sit and Stare” strategies as a way to punish and bully children whose parents have decided to keep them out of the Common Core testing scam.

As a Wait, What? Reader, please continue to report information about how your local school district is handling the opt out issue.  Information should be sent to [email protected].

Parents, teachers and public education advocates are asked to read the following blogs, distribute them to other parents and, where necessary, use the information to defend your parental rights with your local schools administrators.

If anyone tries to restrict your right to protect your child, please get in touch immediately and we will work to ensure that their immoral, unethical and illegal actions are put into the public domain.

Last Week’s Wait, What? Blogs about Common Core, Common Core SBAC Test and Right to Opt Out:

Parents can opt their students out of Common Core SBAC Test as New Canaan Superintendent reverses course

Fairfield School Superintendent to go with unethical and prohibited “sit and stare” policy

Sit and Stare Violates Common Core SBAC Protocol

Opt your High School Juniors out of the Common Core SBAC Test

New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

Many questions remain unanswered about Connecticut’s SBAC test (By John Bestor)

CT Superintendent to go with unethical “sit and stare” policy for students opted out of Common Core Test

Is your third grader a failure?  Of course not – But the Common Core Test will say he is.

Parents – Heads Up – Don’t let them fool you!

Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong

Corporate Education Reform Industry – Just too important to follow the ethics laws

BEWARE: 9 in 10 Children who utilize special education services will fail the inappropriate Common Core SBAC Test

Fairfield School Superintendent to go with unethical and prohibited “sit and stare” policy

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The latest school superintendent to turn their back on the students and parents of their community is David Title, Superintendent of Schools in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Citing the State of Connecticut Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), Mr. Title recently wrote to parents in Fairfield telling them,

“Please understand that every student attending school during the administration of the state mastery test (all components of SBAC and Science CMT and CAPT) will be expected to participate in these tests.  Students who choose not to participate will be marked present and will be required to remain with their class in the test room.  There will be no alternate instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate.  For more information, please see the attached letter from the Interim Commissioner of Education, as well as the following websites:  www.smarterblanced.org and www.sde.ct.gov.

Fairfield Superintendent Title seems to have a great deal of difficulty dealing with the facts and the laws and policies surrounding the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scam.

ITEM #1:

IT IS NOT THE CHILD who makes the decision to skip the Common Core testing.  It is the parents who are refusing to have their child participate in the testing and have therefore informed the school district that the child will be opting out of the test.  High School juniors may well have the right to opt themselves out of the Common Core test, but for Mr. Title to write, “Students who choose not to participate” is an unacceptable insult to the parents’ fundamental rights and he is putting the child in an inappropriate and unacceptable position.

Fairfield’s Superintendent – or any superintendent – does not require the child to sign the form so that he or she can take an Ibuprofen, the parent must sign.

Nor does Superintendent Title – or any other superintendent – require the child to sign the permission form so that the student can watch certain movies as school, the parent does.

Mr. Title’s claim that it is the student’s responsibility to “refuse” to log into the computerized test during SBAC testing needs to be withdrawn immediately.

ITEM #2   

FURTHERMORE, Superintendent Title claims that his policy is that students, “will be required to remain with their class in the test room.”

This approach is not only immoral and unethical, but as noted in yesterday’s post, Sit and Stare Violates the Common Core SBAC Protocol as outlined in the SBAC Administration Manual.

“Sit and Stare” is an immoral and unethical approach because it seeks to punish, humiliate and bully students whose parents have opted them out of Common Core testing.   Sit and Stare policies are nothing short of child abuse since they will lead to anxiety and the very real likelihood of resentment on the part of the children who are taking the test.  As a matter of ethics and principle, let alone their legal duty, educators do not engage, condone or allow bullying or child abuse.

In addition, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual PROHIBITS THE “SIT AND STARE” approach that a number of school districts, including Fairfield, have said they will be utilizing.

See:  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual (page 11)

Only students who are testing can view items. Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered

Any Superintendent or principal who forces children who have been opted out of the Common Core SBAC test to “Sit and Stare” is not only engaging in bullying but is in direct violation of the mandatory protocol for the SBAC Common Core test.

Parents in Fairfield or any other town that is refusing to provide students who have been opted out of the Common Core testing with a safe, secure and appropriate alternative location in which they can read or do their homework should demand that their school board take immediate steps to force the local superintendent of schools to conduct themselves in a morally, ethically and legally appropriate manner.

There is absolutely no doubt that parents have the right to opt their children out of the SBAC test

The situation is not one in which a parent is asking that their child be allowed to skip the test.   Opting out means a parent is RESFUSING to have the test administered to their child.

Parents have an inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children and to make decisions on their behalf.  Any school administrator who prohibits a parent from opting out (refusing) to have their child take the destructive Common Core SBAC test is putting themselves and their board of education in serious legal jeopardy by engaging in a civil rights violation.

There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or school district to punish a child (or parent) who decides to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

This is not like Connecticut’s Truancy Laws, which do hold parents accountable for a child’s failure to attend school.

And finally, less than one year ago, when the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education went before a special legislative hearing on the Common Core, both of these public officials admitted – on the record – that there was no law or mechanism to prevent a parent from opting their children out of Common Core SBAC testing.

Superintendents must acknowledge the following;

Parents have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Testing

School administrators are prohibited from having a “sit and stare” policy.

And students must be provided with a safe, secure and appropriate alternative location in which they can read or do their homework.

Sit and Stare Violates Common Core SBAC Protocol

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Today brought the news that schools officials in Granby, Connecticut will be instituting a “Sit and Stare” policy for children whose parent have opted them out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test that begins next weeks.

Two days ago, it was West Haven that made Wait, What? with the news, “CT Superintendent to go with unethical “sit and stare” policy for students opted out of Common Core Test.”

Also add Cheshire, Fairfield, Westport and Portland to the towns that are intending to engage in the immoral and unethical “Sit and Stare” abusive practice.

Last year, both Granby and West Haven were towns that allowed parents to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test and provided those children with an alternative location where they could read or do their homework.

But all that has changed due to the pressure that has been brought by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, along with the not so subtle help of the leadership of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents.

Following orders delivered by Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell, school superintendents are misleading parents into believing they do not have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and harassing those who are stepping up and demanding that their children not participate in the testing.

The time is long overdue for Connecticut’s school superintendents and school principals to decide whether they are educators or whether they are nothing more than Common Core SBAC Test proctors.

If these public officials decide they are educators they need to stop harassing and misleading parents and must immediately suspend any use of “Sit and Stare” policies for those children who are opted out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced School Testing Scheme.

“Sit and Stare” policies seek to punish, humiliate and bully students whose parents have opted them out by requiring those children sit silently in the testing room for eight to eight and half hours while students whose parents have not opted them out take the destructive tests.

Sit and Stare policies are nothing short of child abuse since they will lead to anxiety and the very real likelihood of resentment on the part of the children who are taking the test.

As a matter of ethics and principle, let alone their legal duty, educators do not engage, condone or allow bullying or child abuse.

Educators do not utilize Sit and Stare practices!

If on the other hand Connecticut’s school superintendents and school principals decide to dismiss their duties as educators and accept the mantle of Common Core SBAC Test proctors then they should stop what they are doing and actually read the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test Administration Manual that is required reading for people involved in the administration of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Because — If they read the SBAC Test Administrator’s Manual — They would know that the SBAC Test Protocol prohibits a “Sit and Stare” approach for children who are not participating in the Common Core SBAC Test!

Let’s reiterate that point;

Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual PROHIBITS THE “SIT AND STARE” APPROACH that a number of school districts have said they will be utilizing.

See:  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual

Only students who are testing can view items. Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered

 

Any Superintendent or principle who forces children who have been opted out of the Common Core SBAC Test to “Sit and Stare” is not only engaging in bullying but is in direct violation of the mandatory instructions for the SBAC Common Core Test.

And as an FYI to Superintendents and principles who haven’t actually read the SBAC Test Administrative Manual…. of which there are apparently many…

The SBAC Test Manual also states,

For students who do take the inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory test, students may bring a book or do homework after they have finished the test.

 

 Plan a quiet activity for each test session for students who finish early
The activity should not be related to the test being given. For example, students who finish early may work on assignments for unrelated subjects or read a book.

 

Parents should opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Testing madness.

School administrators need to fulfill their duties as educators and treat parents and children with respect.

Failing that, superintendents and principles should, at the very least, actually respect the fundamental and legal right of parents to opt their children out of the tests while reading the SBAC rules.

If they do, children who opt out of the inappropriate Common Core SBAC test will be allowed to go to the library or some other safe, secure environment in which they can use those 8 plus hours of testing in a useful and productive way.

[A special thanks to the dozens and dozens of parents who have written to me in the last few days reporting on how they and their children have been treated by local school officials.  And a truly special thanks to the amazing parent who actually read the SBAC Testing Manual and provided the background for this blog.  As parents we have and will continue to do what is right for our children. Superintendents and principals you are, once again, on notice]

NOTE:  Any superintendent who is treating their parents and children with respect should send me a note at [email protected] so we can add your town to the list of communities in which educators, not test proctors, are running the local schools. 

Opt your High School Juniors out of the Common Core SBAC Test

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Two years ago, an article entitled, Take it from parents; teenagers are people, not data points was written by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto and posted here at Wait, What?

Today, two years later, it is even more relevant.

The Corporate Education Reform Industry claims that its intent is not to fleece the nation’s taxpayers but to ensure that our country’s children are “College and Career Ready.”

In order to do that, they say, we must pay billions of dollars to private corporations and turn our schools into little more than testing factories.

To these corporations and their corporate funded advocacy groups, “College and Career Ready” means that we shift scarce public dollars away from vital programs like libraries, music, art, physical education and services for children who require special education or need extra help learning English, to pay for new Common Core Tests, new computers to run those tests, new software to train students and teachers how to take those tests, more Internet bandwidth so students can take those tests at the same time, new textbooks so students can learn the content for those tests, new consultants to train teachers on how to teach to those new tests and the list goes on and on and on.

Perhaps the clearest example of just how fraudulent these charlatans are is their insistence that the way to make students “College and Career Ready” is their decision to force high school juniors to waste a massive amount of time taking the Common Core SBAC tests in the spring of their junior year, when – to get into college – they should actually be focused on improving their grades, taking the SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, AP tests and the other related activities that will actually help them get into college.

The Corporate Education Reform Industry and their political allies like Governor Dannel Malloy are undermining our public education system and among their victims are Connecticut’s children who are working their way through their junior year in high school.

For parents that really want their children to be “College and Career Ready,” opting them out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is one of the most important things you can do.

Please take a moment to read the following post.  Two years old, but sadly, more relevant today.


Take it from parents; teenagers are people, not data points

Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.

Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.

As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.

Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?

Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.

What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.

Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.

But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.

When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.”  She is right.

We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.

Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering.  Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids too.

As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?

This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools.  And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”

Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators.  In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papers and Sarah’s at CTNewsjunkie

New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

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Please Note:  This blog post has been corrected and updated to reflect that the article in the New Canaan Advertiser was a straight news story concerning the Superintendent’s statement about the Common Core Testing Program.  The article, written by the New Canaan Advertiser’s editor, can be found here:  Luizzi: Schools’ new standard tests are not optional.   The article was in no way an editorial about Superintendent Luizzi’s handling of the facts or the situation but a  news story about what New Canaan’s Superintendent said to the newspaper.

The following is the corrected version of the blog – New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

From Bristol to South Windsor to Lyme/Old Lyme to Madison and in at least two dozen other school districts across Connecticut, parents are reporting that they are being treated with respect and dignity when it comes to their right to opt out their child out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

But the same can’t be said for other towns.

Add New Canaan Superintendent Bryan Luizzi to the list of Connecticut School Superintendents who can’t be bothered with telling his community’s parents the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the Common Core SBAC test.

In a recent article entitled, Luizzi: Schools’ new standard tests are not optional, Greg Reilly of the New Canaan Advertiser newspaper reported about a recent interview with New Canaan Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi  about the Comm Core SBAC Testing that will begin next week.

In the article, Superintendent Luizzi explained,

“New Canaan is ‘mandated to administer the test’ and there is no provision in the law for an individual to opt-out of the test.”

That, to put it mildly, is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

New Canaan’s Superintendent Luizzi failed to even mention that parents have an inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children and to make decisions on their behalf.  Any school administrator who prohibits a parent from opting out (refusing) to have their child take the destructive Common Core SBAC test is putting themselves and their board of education in serious legal jeopardy by engaging in a civil rights violation.

Superintendent Luizzi failed to explain that there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or school district to punish a child (or parent) who decides to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Superintendent Luizzi failed to distinguish between Connecticut’s Truancy Laws, which do hold parents accountable for a child’s failure to attend school and the lack of such laws when it comes to deciding to protect one’s child from the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

And Superintendent Luizzi utterly failed to fulfill his moral and ethical responsibility to New Canaan’s parents and students by putting the entire Common Core SBAC testing situation in perspective.

Parents know and understand that a school cannot give their child an ibuprofen without parental consent.  Parents recognize that they are often asked to sign permission slips so that their child can watch a particularly violent documentary or a movie that includes “adult” language.

Parents are cognizant that we, as a society, are beginning a debate about whether parents should be able to maintain their right to keep their children from being vaccinated and whether a parent’s right outweighs the related issues associated with public health and safety.

For a high ranking school official, whether through an act of omission or commission, to suggest that they have “no choice” but to force every child to sit through 8 to 8 ½ hours of Common Core SBAC testing is beyond unreasonable, beyond absurd and beyond belief.

New Canaan Superintendent Luizzi, like far too many of his colleagues, are hiding behind the inappropriate and misleading directive that was sent out last week by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell.

To make matters even worse, Superintendent Luizzi is undoubtedly well aware of that fact that less than one year ago, when the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education came before a special legislative hearing on the Common Core, both of these public officials admitted that there was no law or mechanism to prevent a parent from opting their children out of Common Core SBAC testing.

By telling a New Canaan media outlet that there is no provision for an individual to opt-out of the Common Core SBAC test, New Canaan Superintendent Luizzi decided that rather than side with the students and parents of New Canaan he would step in line behind the unfair, inappropriate, and I would argue, illegal stance that is being taken by Governor Dannel Malloy and his political appointees.

The parents and student of the New Canaan Public Schools – like the parents and students throughout Connecticut – deserve better!

To state the obvious…

If parents from Bristol to South Windsor to Lyme/Old Lyme to Madison, and in at least two dozen other school districts across Connecticut, are being treated with respect and dignity when it comes to the right to opt out their child out of the Common Core SBAC testing program, there is absolutely no reason that New Canaan’s parents shouldn’t be treated with the same degree of respect and honesty.

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