STOP Malloy/Wyman from punishing students, parents, teachers and taxpayers on testing opt out!

A bill that would – at least partially – prohibit the Malloy administration from punishing students, parents, teachers and taxpayers when parents utilize their inalienable right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC) testing scheme will be coming up for a public hearing before the Legislature’s Education Committee on MONDAY, MARCH 7, 2016.

House Bill 5555 would prevent the Malloy administration from using SBAC and the New SAT participation rates as part of the state’s absurd School Accountability System.

  • People who believe in public education;
  • People who believe that our schools are spending too much time on standardized testing and test prep;
  • People who believe our children need and deserve a comprehensive education and not one driven by testing;
  • People who believe that teaching should be done by teachers and not by for-profit software companies
  • People who believe in a parent’s right to make decisions on what is best for their child;

Should submit testimony, letters or comments about these issues to the Education Committee by Monday Morning – March 7, 2016. Emails should be sent to [email protected] and clearly state that they are related to House Bill 5555

For those who can attend the public hearing, it will take place in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building.  The hearing actually starts at 11 AM but speakers will be determined by a lottery system. Lottery numbers will be drawn from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB. Speakers arriving after the completion of the lottery should report to Room 3100 of the LOB and will have their names placed at the end of the speaker list.

The Education Committee is also taking testimony on Senate Bill 380 which would change Malloy’s disastrous teacher evaluation program by removing student performance results on the Common Core tests (SBAC and NEW SAT) from the way teachers are rated. This would also be a critically important step in creating a teacher evaluation system that has a positive rather than a detrimental impact on public education.

Again, comments about these bills should be emailed to the Education Committee by Monday morning via [email protected]

Please Note:  Comment function is not presently working – trying to get it fixed ASAP

Very Important Warning for Connecticut High School Juniors and their parents

Last spring Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation mandating that the 40,000+ high school juniors who attend Connecticut’s public schools take the New SAT – Tomorrow – March 2, 2016, despite the fact that the NEW SAT has not been publicly released, has not been statistically validated and includes a significant number of questions that are related to content that most high school juniors have not been taught.

Like the Common Core SBAC testing scheme that is being inflicted upon children in grades 3-8, the New SAT has been “aligned to the Common Core” and is intentionally designed to fail a large number of students.

After considering the issues involved, I have opted my daughter out of the New SAT and she will be using tomorrow to learn rather than serve as a guinea pig for the testing industry and the Connecticut State Department of Education.

One thing is extremely clear.

The attempt to force Connecticut’s 11th graders to take the NEW SAT is not about helping students, improving graduation rates or expanding the number of people who go to college.

Instead, the new “mandate” is part of the broader corporate education reform agenda that is successfully diverting scarce public funds away from teacher-student instruction to private companies.

The College Board, the conglomerate that owns the SAT, collects nearly $1 billion a year in revenue and the Malloy administration will be adding to that amount thanks to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contact signed by the State Department of Education.

While dismissing the legitimate concerns that are being raised about the New SAT, a primary argument coming from the Malloy administration and other proponents of the testing mania is that, at the very least, the New SAT is a good “practice exam” for students who plan to take the SAT later this year as part of their college application effort.

Such a strategy, however, could be particularly devastating for students who are trying to get into an institution of higher education that requires applicants to submit all of their SAT test results, rather than just their best scores.

The major national SAT tutoring organization, PrepScholar, notes this serious issue explaining,

If you’re applying to schools that require all scores, you need to be very careful each time you take the SAT, because you will have to send any scores you get, even if they’re low.

Prepscholar adds;

Don’t take the SAT the first time “for practice” to get used to the test. Colleges will see that “practice score.”

Not surprisingly, the Malloy administration has not only tried to stop parents from opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory New SAT, but they have failed to inform students and parents that they CAN CANCEL the score associated with the mandated New SAT if they believe that keeping that score could be detrimental.

According to the College Board;

The SAT Scores can be canceled – and will not become part of the student’s record – if the College Board receives a written, signed request to cancel the score no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on the Wednesday after the test date.

Students and parents can Download and Print the Form via SAT request to cancel test scores form (.pdf/496KB) or they can sent their own letter however it must include the following information to cancel the score:

  • Test date
  • Test center number
  • Name of test you are canceling — either the SAT or SAT Subject Test(s)
  • Name, address, sex, birth date and registration number
  • Signature (required or the cancellation will not be processed)

The Form must then be faxed to 610-290-8978

Or sent overnight delivery to:

SAT Score Cancellation

1425 Lower Ferry Road

Ewing, NJ 08618

The mailing or fax label should read: “Attention: SAT Score Cancellation.”

Again, the written request to cancel the scores must reach the College Board by 11:59 PM EST on the Wednesday after the test.

Students and parents with questions about this issue should contact their school guidance counselor.

And please pass this important information on to other families with 11th graders.

This link is a partial list of colleges and universities that report that if a student has taken the SAT then they must provide the college or university with all of their SAT scores, even the problematic one from March 2, 2016. – http://blog.prepscholar.com/colleges-requiring-all-sat-scores-complete-list

Malloy’s Strategy on Common Core SBAC Test – Look busy and make sh*t up

Governor Dannel Malloy’s press office just issued a “major announcement” concerning the Governor’s position on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less unfair.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less inappropriate.

No, Malloy and his administration are NOT making the Common Core SBAC testing scheme less discriminatory.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL trying to force students to take a test that is designed to fail a  significant percentage of Connecticut’s children because it includes content that has not been taught.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC tests to label children and inaccurately “rank” the quality of education in Connecticut’s schools and school districts.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC test as part of a massive effort to collect data on children without parent’s understanding or permission.

Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL using the SBAC test results as an inappropriate criteria in Malloy’s teacher evaluation program.

And Yes, Malloy and his administration ARE STILL CONTINUING their unethical, immoral and illegal effort to bully parents into believing that they do not have the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the disastrous Common Core SBAC testing scam.

In fact, the mandatory meeting to “instruct” targeted superintendents on how to keep parents from opting their children out of the SBAC tests is still taking place at the State Department of Education on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 4pm

Districts that had higher levels of opt out rates because they were honest with parents about the issue are still being required to submit a “Corrective Action” plan on how those school administrators will ensure parents don’t opt out this year.

The Malloy administration is still going to punish school districts in which more than 5 percent of parents opt their children out by withholding federal funds that are intended to pay for extra services that poor children need.

And the Malloy administration is still pushing their new legislative proposal to repeal local budget flexibility for selected school districts that aren’t able to force 95 percent of parents to allow their children to take the absurd SBAC test

So what is Malloy and his administration doing?

The press release speaks for itself.

Malloy and his Commissioner of Education are announcing that they will  eliminate one section of the Common Core SBAC test, thereby leaving some of the worst sections intact, and then using a whole lot of rhetoric to make sh*t up!

Here is Governor Dannel Malloy’s “major” announcement

GOV. MALLOY AND EDUCATION COMMISSIONER WENTZELL ANNOUNCE NEW STEP TO REDUCE STATE TESTING

New Step to Limit Smarter Balanced Exam Builds on Effort to Help Districts Spend Less Time Testing and More Time Teaching

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell today announced the implementation of a new step that will reduce testing time and expand learning time for more than 200,000 Connecticut children across over 800 schools.  Changes to the application of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), impacting every student in grades three through eight, is as part of a broader effort to help districts spend less time testing students and more time teaching.

Currently in grades three through eight, there are two components of the SBAC exam.  The first is a computer adaptive test – the portion of the assessment done electronically with adaptive questions based on student responses – and the second is a performance task, such as essays.  As part of the new steps to reduce state testing, the performance tasks, which are often duplicative with in-class work, will be eliminated.  The change could increase learning time by up to an hour and forty-five minutes for every grade three through eight student.

The change is intended to increase student learning time, decrease student anxiety, assuage family concerns about testing, and limit over testing.

“We are working as hard as possible to be smart about testing, limit anxiety, and boost learning time.  Tests are important – they help us measure ourselves and pinpoint how to improve.  But where we find duplication, we should act.  We’re going to do just that with this new step,” Governor Malloy said.  “When we know an exam won’t improve our understanding of a student’s standing, and we know it won’t necessarily improve teaching quality, then we should eliminate it so it doesn’t burden our students, teachers, and families.  It’s our goal to be smart about how we test and ensure we find the right balance.  This decision is a step in that direction.”

“By rightsizing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to Connecticut’s needs, we are not only saving time and money, but we are improving the teaching and learning process,” Commissioner Wentzell said.  “Assessments are important tools that help us deliver on our promise to our kids and ensure that we are holding all of our students to high standards.”

SDE has studied the issue extensively and found that the computer only tests remain very reliable without the performance task portion of the grade three through eight English Language Arts exam.

The decision to reduce the length of the Smarter Balanced Assessment is the latest move in SDE’s ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of standardized testing for public school students.  Other initiatives include the

decision announced in the summer to eliminate duplicative testing at the high school level by replacing the Smarter Balanced exam with the SAT for eleventh graders.  This particular change is expected to save Connecticut as much as $1 million dollars in test implementation costs.

Additionally, SDE is working with school districts to gather and share innovative strategies for reducing assessment time.  Last year, the state agency awarded $428,253 to 48 districts as part of the Assessment Reduction grant program.  Districts received awards up to $10,000 each.  The grants aimed to help districts comprehensively analyze their tests to ensure that they reflect district priorities, remain aligned to new state standards, provide maximum value, and are not redundant with other assessments, with the ultimate aim of reducing testing time wherever possible.

Governor Malloy and Commissioner Wentzell made today’s announcement during a visit to Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell, where they highlighted the district’s effective use of its grant. In Cromwell, utilizing state grants, the district assembled a team to analyze assessments in grades kindergarten through five and were able to reduce duplicative testing by 13 percent.  More importantly, they also strengthened their assessment system for those grades by better aligning assessments to standards.

Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in grades three to eight and once in high school.  This change does not require Board of Education or legislative approval.

Check back for more details on Governor Malloy’s hollow political gambit on the Common Core SBAC farce.

Criticism of the NEW SAT grows as Connecticut’s 11th grades are told they MUST take it on March 2nd

Thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly, high school juniors attending Connecticut public schools are being told that they MUST take the NEW SAT during the school day on March 2, 2016.

Considering that the NEW SAT isn’t even aligned to Connecticut’s graduation requirements or high school curricula and that the new version of the SAT won’t even be statistically validated on a national level until after Connecticut’s 11th graders take the test, Connecticut’s elected officials have done nothing other than turn our students into guinea pigs for the $1 Billion standardized testing industry.

But of course, that is what the corporate education reform industry is demanding.

42,000 Connecticut students taking a faulty test, all at the expense of Connecticut taxpayers!

The truth is that after realizing that student grades are a better indicator of college readiness than standardized tests, hundreds and hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States are dropping the requirement that students even provide an SAT score with their application.

And as for the mandate, although Malloy’s Commissioner of Education continues to claim that high school juniors “MUST” take the discriminatory NEW SAT, like the SBAC testing scheme for grades 3-8, there is no federal or state law, regulation or legal policy that prevents students and parents from opting out of the test nor is there any law that allows the state or districts to punish students who don’t take the NEW SAT on March 2, 2016.

As I’ve written on Wait, What? “My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.”

One thing that is clear is that the professionals studying the NEW SAT are reporting that it completely fails to rectify the fundamental flaws that have undermined the credibility of the SAT.  Experts are reporting that the NEW SAT continues to discriminate based on a child’s socio-economic background and the test is inappropriately sensitive to short-term coaching, thereby assuring those who come from wealthier backgrounds can further game the system.

Just this week, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest), blasted the NEW SAT warning students, parents, teachers and the public the NEW SAT fails to address the core problems that have made the test a relatively inaccurate predictor of how students will do in college.

Bob Schaeffer, FairTest’s Public Education Director explains;

“Even the College Board admits that the ‘new’ SAT will not provide more accurate forecasts of undergraduate success. It will still under-predict the classroom performance of women, older applicants and students whose first language is not English. The coaching industry is already selling high-priced ‘test prep steroids’ to teenagers whose parents can pay thousands to artificially boost scores on the revised exam.

The ‘new’ SAT may look more consumer-friendly, but is not a better test,” Schaeffer continued. “The facelift is largely marketing bells and whistles. The changes seem designed to compete with the ACT, the most widely used admissions exam. The College Board also appears more interested in trying to slow the test-optional movement than improving the test’s measurement precision.”

Higher education decision-makers increasingly recognize that neither the ‘new’ SAT nor the rival ACT is needed for high-quality admissions.”

Since the College Board announced the SAT redesign, more than 50 schools adopted test-optional policies. This month, a Harvard study encouraged other colleges and universities to follow suit. More than 850 accredited, bachelor degree granting institutions do not require SAT or ACT scores from all or many applicants. That list includes 200 schools ranked in the top tiers of their academic categories.

FairTest also provides students and their families with critically important information about how various schools handle the growing controversy around the use and misuse of standardized tests.

Valuable links posted on the FairTest website included:

Test-optional and test-flexible colleges and universities:

and

List of 200+ top tier schools that do not require admissions test scores from all or many applicants       

For Connecticut readers, if you have a high school juniors, or know of a family with a high school junior, please send them the following links or urge them to search the Wait, What? blog using the term – “SAT”

Yet another warning about taking the state “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016

The lies in the new SAT (by Wendy Lecker)

Once again Connecticut elected officials are wrong to mandate the SAT for all 11th graders

More on CT’s disastrous move to force all high school juniors to take the “NEW” SAT

Connecticut school psychologist John Bestor on the NEW SAT and opting-out

 

Malloy proposes plan to punish your neighbors if you opt your child out of the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco

It should be impossible to believe that any Connecticut public official would propose a plan to punish your neighbors if you opt your child out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scheme, but when it comes to “My Way or No Way” Governor Dannel Malloy, the level of arrogance and vindictiveness is unmatched.

Tomorrow – February 24, 2016 – the Connecticut General Assembly’s Education Committee will be holding a public hearing on legislation that Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman submitted as part of their destructive proposed state budget, a spending plan that that coddles the rich while making massive cuts to vital health, human service and education programs.

When it comes to their new proposed education agenda, it is bad enough that Malloy and Wyman plan to give more money to the privately owned but publicly funded charter school industry while making the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools, but in a little understood piece of proposed legislation, the Malloy administration is trying to sneak through legislation that would give his Commissioner of Education and the political appointees on his State Board of Education a new mechanism they would use to punish taxpayers in certain communities where more than 5 percent of parents opt their children out of the wasteful and destructive Common Core SBAC testing program.

Until now, the Malloy administration’s primary mechanism to try and force parents to have their children participate in the SBAC/NEW SAT testing was to mislead and lie to parents about their rights, while at the same time, threatening that the state would withhold Title 1 federal funding that is supposed to be used to help poor children if a school district’s opt out rate was greater than 5 percent.

But now Malloy and his team are going a step further.  Their newest proposal is hidden inside Section 4 of Senate Bill 175.  The bill would allow the Malloy administration to repeal a form of local budget flexibility that was granted to certain cities and towns during last years’ legislative session if that school district was unable to persuade 95% of parents to make their children take the Common Core aligned standardized testing that take place in grades 3-8 and 11.

No really – it’s no joke.

If more than 5 percent of parents in one of these targeted districts refuse to allow their children to take the SBAC test, the town’s taxpayers would lose local budget flexibility that they were granted by the legislature.

In his latest column in the CT Mirror, John Bestor, a recently retired Connecticut school psychologist, public education advocate and regular contributor to Wait, What? lays out more about this issue.

CT Senate bill 175 stifles parents’ right to dissent on standardized testing (By John Bestor)

There is no rational explanation to support SB 175, a newly-proposed bill with the innocuous title “An Act Concerning Recommendations of the Department of Education”. There is no excuse for elected officials to take away a citizen’s right to peacefully protest and dissent. Vote NO on SB 175!

Our state legislature needs to take this opportunity to tell the Connecticut State Department of Education and Connecticut State Board of Education that:

– It will no longer support expensive mandates that unnecessarily impact local school budgets.

– It will NOT support a bill that is simply a backhanded attempt to coerce and punish parents by attacking the local education institutions on which they rely and that they generally trust.

Connecticut students are consistently among the top 5 percent in student achievement on “The Nation’s Report Card” as measured by demographic sampling of school children by the National Assessment of Educational Progress [NAEP] since 1969. Yet, there is no denying the persistent and troubling student achievement gap in our state.

However, years of statewide assessments have failed to significantly close that gap; in fact, as income inequality grows across the state, the student achievement gap continues, pointing out the lack of fairness and access for all Connecticut’s students to equal educational opportunities. The “test-and-punish” methodology under No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top initiatives has been an outright failure. Recognizing this, our federal legislators overwhelming passed a new bi-partisan education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act,that gave decision-making authority back to the states signaling that individual states could better determine how to address their own educational needs.

The proposed SB 175 bill will be considered at public hearing before the Education Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 24. It is complicated, convoluted in its language, and ultimately not transparent to anyone unfamiliar with legal terminology. It has been devised by the Department of Education and state board of education to give them the authority to require that all students and parents comply with state assessment practices by punishing school districts for their failure to reach the95 percent test participation rate requirement.

With such short notice given for this public hearing, tell your legislators to vote NO on SB 175 and show respect for their constituents and move the state in a more meaningful direction.

Less than a year ago, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell testified in favor of a bill which provided flexibility for MBR (Minimum Budget Requirements). Now, if more than 5 percent of parents refuse to have their children take the state SBAC test, SB 175 would take away that flexibility and the control that local boards of education have over their budgets.

As long as the SBAC test protocol remains mired in controversy; unavailable for verification by independent research as valid, reliable, or fair; with excessively high predetermined passing levels; based on unproven instructional standards; such contested results should never be used in determining school effectiveness. Nor should such unsubstantiated test results ever be used to rate school districts or impact how local school districts choose to allocate its funds.

Never mind that federal law only requires (in grades 3-8 and once in high school) one reading test yearly, one math test yearly, and one science test (three times total). This requirement could be essentially addressed by administering one 45-minute reading comprehension test, one 45-minute math reasoning test, and one 45-minute science test rather than immerse our students in a week-to-ten-days of expensive, unproven, computer-adaptive testing while disrupting the routines and schedules of everyone else in school not taking the tests.

The test results on a shorter “snapshot” of student achievement could, then, be put in proper perspective with more meaningful authentic measures of student learning, reflected in daily school performance, portfolio and long-term projects, report card information, graduation rate statistics, and school climate surveys. It is not necessary to go through a lengthy, prohibitively-expensive test protocol to learn which students and schools are succeeding and which students and schools are struggling to perform up to expectations.

Instead of continuing to throw millions of precious tax dollars into the proverbial, but very real, pit of failed education reforms; instead of continuing to enrich test corporations and educational entrepreneurs who game the system; instead of maintaining the false and demoralizing narrative that our students and teachers are failures, our state legislators need to take this opportunity to tell the CSDE and CSBE that it will no longer support expensive mandates that unnecessarily impact our budget health when a re-design of state assessment practices has been encouraged by recent federal legislation.

Perhaps, a proposal to join other states in withdrawing from agreements with the SBAC and PARCC test monopolies would better serve the interests of Connecticut’s students and taxpayers as we get our assessment act together. To continue supporting controversial flawed education policies that have ostensibly failed to show results is beyond reproach and needs to be discontinued.

Unfortunately, those promoting this bill cannot step back and admit the failure of their long-supported policies. They are unable to think clearly, creatively, innovatively on these issues because they seek to protect the past practices that they have so vigorously promoted and defended. They must be reined in by our elected legislators before these failed policies continue their damaging assault on public education in our state.

The solution to this problem should not result in denying parents their inalienable right to protect their children from what they might consider harmful which is what this bill does by punishing local school districts into pressuring parents to comply with state testing requirements that the education leaders refuse to change. It is simply a backhanded attempt to coerce and punish parents by attacking the local education institutions on which they rely and that they generally trust.

Once again, tell your legislators to respect their constituents and move the state in a more meaningful direction.

Tell them to VOTE NO on SB 175.

John Bestor’s commentary piece was first published at the CT Mirror.  You can read and comment on it at – http://linkis.com/ctviewpoints.org/201/3BnDo

Connecticut school psychologist John Bestor on the NEW SAT and opting-out

You can read a number of fellow education advocate John Bestor’s commentary pieces here at Wait, What? and in other Connecticut media outlets.

John has become a leading voice in the effort to provide students, parents, teachers and other citizens with the truth concerning our public schools and the ongoing efforts of the corporate education reform industry to undermine public education in Connecticut and across the country.

In one of his recent articles entitle, The SAT: Should Connecticut students opt out, or not?, which was first published in the CT Mirror, John Bestor explains some of the issues surrounding the NEW SAT.

The SAT: Should Connecticut students opt out, or not? by John Bestor

Last year, hundreds of 11th-grade students across Connecticut refused to take the mandated SBAC test.  Knowing that they had no control over independent-minded 11th-graders, the governor and State Department of Education sought a waiver from Washington, D.C., for permission to offer what they hoped would be a more palatable test: the SAT. It is a test many high school students would have been taking eventually in order to meet some college admission expectations.

Now, nearly a year later, another group of high school juniors are faced with making the decision to either take the test or opt-out.

As in any highly contentious debate, there is a great deal of misinformation about the new “CT school-day SAT state assessment” that will be rolled out for the first time on March 2, (with a make-up day scheduled for April 27).  Students and parents who have paid close attention to this controversy over this redesigned SAT test are in a quandary because some test-prep and college guidance experts are advising students to hold off as the first time a test is used is bound to be problematic, and the test results will still become part of a student’s SAT test profile.

At the same time, some district educational leaders are threatening that students will not graduate if they don’t take the test, even though such threats are illegal since students and parents have the constitutional right to refuse such government-imposed coercion.

FAQs, though clearly needed, are elusive.

From the CT State Department of Education testing website

⇒ The new SAT is required to meet the federal accountability 95% Test Participation Rate as mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act law.

⇒ There will be three sections to the redesigned SAT: Reading, Writing and Language, and Mathematics, but the “essay portion of the SAT will not be administered as a part of the CT school-day SAT state assessment.”

[The CSDE FAQ sheet indicates that, in Connecticut, only Yale requires the SAT optional essay, while leaving unsaid the fact that many colleges and universities (like Wesleyan, Connecticut College, and others) no longer require any SAT test scores at all because their college admissions’ officers have found such scores as a poor indicator of college success.]

⇒ There will be two types of scores obtained on the CT school-day SAT state assessment:  a “reportable score” that can be sent to colleges and will also fulfill “state accountability purposes.”  And a “nonreportable score” that will not be sent to colleges, but “will be used for state accountability purposes only.”  This nonreportable score is undoubtedly the rigorous Common Core-aligned cut-score of proficiency standard to be determined sometime after the test results are reported.  

[As an aspiring applicant to a “reach” college, I would not want to explain to an Admission Officer that, even though I had obtained respectable scores, I had failed to meet the arbitrary cut-score established after the fact to maintain this fiction of Common Core rigor.] 

Of course, according to the CSDE FAQ sheet, a “student can elect to have their SAT score cancelled immediately after test administration,” so that “colleges will not receive the scores for that administration, however, the student and state will still receive their scores.”  

[Again, I would not want to explain to any Admission Officer why I had cancelled out my SAT score, and once that score is available it will be extremely difficult to protect it from unwanted access.  This “nonreportable score” will surely be reported in your cumulative record, downloaded into the school data-storage system, and shared with whatever agencies are entitled to or can gain access; it is not honest to call it “nonreportable.”]

⇒ Accommodations for special needs students “must be approved through The College Board SSD process, even when the student receives these accommodations in school” through his/her IEP or 504 Plan.

[Certainly sounds discriminatory to youngsters with well-established learning difficulties and others struggling to perform at grade level.]

On The College Board’s college-readiness website, “A Partnership for Student Success” reads like a polished marketing brochure: it promotes a number of claims that are both unproven and lacking in substance.

⇒ “The new SAT measures the skills and knowledge that colleges are looking for today”, even though many of them no longer value or require such test results.

 The new SAT measures “what Connecticut students are already learning in the classroom,” {despite claims by teachers that the Common Core Standards have been unevenly incorporated into public school instruction across the state. ]

⇒ The new SAT “has recently been redesigned for greater focus, relevance, and transparency,” [except that this test is so new that its psychometric properties, validity and reliability remain unproven and The College Board maintains proprietary control of the test itself.]

⇒  The new SAT, “when used in combination with high school GPA, SAT scores are shown to be the best predictor of a student’s likelihood for success in college,” [even though recent college admissions’ practices refute this unsubstantiated claim.]

While The College Board and its president, David Coleman, the architect of Common Core, is focused on increasing its dwindling market share, many colleges and universities have moved away from reliance on such test scores in their admission policies.

Now that you know the FAQs, you will have to decide whether it is in your best interest to take this new Connecticut school-day SAT state assessment…

…an assessment that remains in the fire-storm associated with government-mandated test participation rates preventing you from receiving honest feedback from your teachers and building administrators…

…a new CT school-day SAT state assessment that has not been properly field-tested as a valid and reliable test measure.

Any form of a SAT test is universally accepted as a rite of passage for students applying to college.  It is so important in the minds of many students that the pressure to do well leads to untold millions of dollars spent on private tutoring and test prep courses; medications taken to relieve anxiety and stress and/or improve alertness and attention; and therapy.

Are you really willing to believe the political posturing and bureaucratic claims that, in essence, come down to obtaining one data point in order to meet the all-important 95% Test Participation Rate required by the Every Student Succeeds Act and the federal U.S. Department of Education?

You will have to decide. After all, it is your future they are tinkering with.

 

LOOK OUT!  If parents opt their children out, the Malloy administration will cut funding for poor children

Wait, What?

Just when it seemed that Governor Dannel Malloy’s arrogance and bullying couldn’t get any worse, Connecticut school officials have been told to instruct parents that they may not opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment (SBAC) or NEW SAT testing schemes.  The Malloy administration has said that if students aren’t forced to take these tests, local school districts will lose their Title 1 education funding.

Despite the fact that there is no law, regulation or legal policy that prevents parents from opting their children out of the destructive testing mania,  school superintendents and principals have been directed to do everything they can to prevent parents from standing up to protect their children.

The latest example of the Malloy administration’s campaign of intimidation and abuse comes from North Haven, where the superintendent of schools wrote to parents telling them that their children must take the Common Core tests.

Covering the development, the North Haven Citizen newspaper wrote;

Opting out of standardized tests is a popular experience for public school students and many North Haven students did just that when it came time to take the new SBAC test last year.

But North Haven Superintendent of Schools Robert Cronin encouraged parents to direct their children to take the test this year, making it the subject of his December letter to parents.

“In the past we honored opt outs because the test was in its infancy and still being developed. But it is developed now and we’re administering it this year and my job is to carry out state statutes.”

The key statute Cronin is following is the agreement to test 95 percent of students in affiliation with the federal No Child Left Behind law. While there are no state or federal laws that direct a student to take a standardized test, the town may lose state funding if students opt out.

[…]

“Our participation is monitored closely by the state Department of Education,” Cronin said. “There will be consequences for districts that don’t meet the participation rates and we could lose Title I funding that is currently over $300,000.”

North Haven’s Superintendent, Dr. Cronin, is correct about the approach that Governor Malloy’s administration is taking.

In an effort prevent parents from opting their children out of the Common Core tests, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education sent a memo to all school superintendents informing them that their school districts would loss some or all of their Title I money if they did not force 95 percent of their students to take the SBAC and SAT tests.

Title 1 is a federal grant that provides state governments with extra funds to give to local school districts to help pay for programs targeted at helping poor children do better in school.  The funding system was initially passed as part of President Johnson’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

Title I, Part A (Title I) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended (ESEA) provides financial assistance to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

According to the most recent data available, the United States Department of Education adds;

“…more than 56,000 public schools across the country used Title I funds to provide additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. For example, funds support extra instruction in reading and mathematics, as well as special preschool, after-school, and summer programs to extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.

That same year Title I served more than 21 million children. Of these students, approximately 59 percent were in kindergarten through fifth grade, 21 percent in grades 6-8, 17 percent in grades 9-12…”

Faced with the growing opposition to the Common Core testing scam that unfairly labels children as failures and is to be used to inappropriately assess teachers as part of Malloy’s teacher evaluation system, many parents are rightfully refusing to allow their children to participate in the Common Core testing farce.

In response, Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and their administration are ordering school districts to force students to take the tests or else…

Or else?

Or else Malloy’s Commissioner and his political appointees of the State Board of Education will cut the funding that school districts are required to use for, “additional academic support and learning opportunities to help low-achieving children master challenging curricula and meet state standards in core academic subjects. For example, their could be cuts to funds that support extra instruction in reading and mathematics, as well as special preschool, after-school, and summer programs to extend and reinforce the regular school curriculum.

It is unbelievable, but true!

Add this one to the growing list of reasons that more and more Americans have lost faith in their government officials…

Meanwhile, as the North Haven Citizen reports, school officials in the North Haven schools will be doing all they can to push students to take the Common Core SBAC and SAT tests.  As one North Haven principal explains;

“We’ll also offer incentives for completing the test, such as classroom awards or extended lunch times. We’re changing the overall environment for the test”

As for me up here in northeastern, Connecticut – “My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.”

For more on the opt-out issue see the following Wait, What? blog posts;

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

ALERT – Lobbyists for the “Education Reformers” spend $1.9 million more in Connecticut.

CT Regional School District #7 succumbs to Common Core testing frenzy, throws their children under the bus.

Yet another warning about taking the state “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016

Malloy and Wyman – Montclair, N.J. public officials respect parents – why won’t you?

Malloy/Wyman moving forward with threats to punish schools districts that respect parents’ “opt-out” rights

ALERT – Malloy/Wyman attack on parents, students, teachers, public schools (and the “out-out” movement) is a national disgrace

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

In many places across the country, the effort to undermine public education is alive and well.

In Connecticut, thanks to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration, the corporate education reform industry is successfully turning public schools into little more than testing factories.  These days Malloy also serves as the  head of the Democratic Governors Association.

Between the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the new “mandate” that all high school juniors must take the new,Common Core-aligned,  SAT, public schools are being forced to revamp their instructional programs so that they can fulfill their duties by teaching to the test.

Not only is the “high stakes” testing scheme being used to unfairly label children and evaluate teachers, but school administrators are manic about the possibility that their schools and district may not “look good” in the eyes of the testing industry and its disciples like Governor Malloy who famously said, in 2012, that he “didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up.”

Just last month the Westport School System sent out a letter to parents urging them not to opt their children out of the inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing program.  The letter read;

We are requesting that all students complete the full SBAC assessment this year. The state of Connecticut has set out a list of consequences for districts that do not have 95% of their students take the test in 2016.  Prior to 2015 we have always had 99-100% participation. Last year we were the only district in our District Reference Group (DRG A) who did not achieve this requirement. We have linked an article from the Connecticut Mirror with more information.

Westport’s educational programs benefit from some state funding, as well as a positive rating from the state, which we do not wish to jeopardize as a result of low participation rates in the standardized assessment program.

Wait what?

Westport schools want parents to force their children to take an unfair test that is designed to fail many of those students because the school district doesn’t want to jeopardize the “positive rating” it has from the state?

Meanwhile, other school districts are simply following the Connecticut State Department of Education’s directives and misleading or lying to parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

Of course, most school districts recognize that “high” participation rates aren’t enough to win accolades from the education reformers so students HAVE to be taught how to score better on the SBAC and SAT tests.

As a result, Connecticut public school students are losing hundreds of hours of instructional time so that they can prepare for the testing by taking practice tests and engaging in test prep.

With that as the backdrop, a “special” achievement award should go to Danbury Connecticut’s school system.

Not only is Danbury using the school day to teach to the test, they have actually hired SBAC TUTORS to try and make sure that some of the more  “academically challenged” children get the extra help they need to get higher SBAC scores so that they won’t do too much damage by pulling down the school and district’s average test scores.

Late last year, in preparation for the all-important 2016 SBAC testing window, Danbury posted a want ad for SBAC TUTORS.

According to the job posting, SBAC Tutors were need by the Danbury Public Schools to work in all “Elementary and Middle Schools.”

Tutors would work two hours a day, 2-3 days per week (TBD by School Principal) and would “provide additional tutoring support to identified students in advance of standardized testing.”  The posted pay rate, $33.12 per hour.

This month, the state of Connecticut is in state court facing a lawsuit for failing to provide the financial support cities and towns need to ensure that all students have access to their constitutionally guaranteed right to a quality public school education.

Yet at the same time, the state is forcing schools to devote more and more time, money and resources to destructive testing programs…all in an effort to improve standardized test scores.

Oh, and for those parents who live in school districts that aren’t providing extra tutoring outside of the school day, don’t worry.

There are plenty of for-profit companies out there that will be happy to take your money and tutor your child so that he or she won’t be labeled losers when it comes to the SBAC test.

As one online website proclaims; Get Your Child Ready for the SBAC

SchoolTutoring Academy’s SBAC Tutoring Programs start with a free academic assessment with an Academic Director. Our SBAC Tutoring Program includes:

  • One-on-one Tutoring Sessions– Private tutoring sessions with a certified tutor.
  • Bi-monthly Progress Reports– Reports on your child’s progress and parental conference calls.
  • Customized Program– Academic Directors build a customized learning plan to achieve success.
  • Free Consultation– All programs include free academic consultation from a SchoolTutoring Academy Academic Director.

All of this is available for $199.99/month. Call 1-877-789-9565 to talk with our Academic Directors about your SBAC tutoring questions. They can also explain how a SBAC tutor can help your child improve their skills and test-taking abilities.

CT Regional School District #7 succumbs to Common Core testing frenzy, throws their children under the bus.

Based on utter ignorance or stunning arrogance, the elected members of the Regional School District #7 Board of Education (Barkhamsted, Colebrook, New Hartford and Norfolk) voted last week – January 27, 2016 – to adopt an official policy “banning” parents from opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme.

By a unanimous vote, Board Chair Molly Sexton Read, Vice-Chair Robert Jerram, Secretary/Treasurer Don Torrant and members Mary Duran, Noel Gauthier, Deborah Bell, Theresa Kenneson and Dennis Spector adopted an anti-opt-out policy stating;

“Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language. All students enrolled in public schools must take the yearly state assessment. Until such legislation changes, the Department of Education and each school district must comply with federal and state mandates.”

In an apparent effort to rationalize their decision to undermine their district’s students, parents, teachers and citizens, the board of education’s statement opined;

Some students and parents may be confused by the term “opt out.” While it was possible to opt out of initial trial assessments when the Common Core initiative started, the SBAC assessments are mandated by the state and therefore not optional,

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement “high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b) (3)(A). The statute further provides that “[s]uch assessments shall . . . provide for . . . the participation in such assessments of all students.” 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b) (3) (C) (emphasis added). The ESEA does not include a mechanism for parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessments.

The Connecticut General Statutes also require that “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, in March or April take a mastery examination in reading, writing and mathematics.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-14n (b) (1).

Like the federal statute, this state law also does not include a mechanism for parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessment.

Wait, What? Some students and parents may be confused by the term “opt out?”

Students and parents aren’t the ones confused, it is the public officials that need schooling about one of the most important tenets of our nation’s constitutional system of government.

The 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution reads;

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

To repeat the obvious – There is NO law, regulation or legal policy that prevents parents from opting their children out of the Common Core testing program nor is there any law that allows the federal or state government to punish parents and children for refusing to participate in the testing system.

Second, the school board’s attempt to cherry-pick statutory language is extremely disingenuous.

The Regional School District #7’ policy cites section 10-14n of the Connecticut General Statutes which lays out the law about Connecticut’s mastery test.

The policy notes subsection (a) of 10-14n but completely overlooks section (e) of that statute which reads;

Sec. 10-14n. Mastery examination.   (e) No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.

The law is actually extremely clear.

It is illegal for a Connecticut school district to require that a student receive a satisfactory score on the so-called mastery test in order to be promoted from one grade to the next or graduate from a Connecticut public school.

Therefore, a school district cannot hold a child back or prohibit him or her from graduating if they don’t have a satisfactory mastery test score…or for that matter, any mastery test score at all.

School districts can urge parents to allow students to take the Common Core mastery tests, but they simply cannot require that students have a mastery test score in order to graduate or be promoted.

The Mission Statement of Connecticut’s Regional School District #7 reads;

Northwestern Regional is a comprehensive public Middle School-High School. We serve the total Regional Community with emphasis on middle school and high school students. Our educational program promotes cognitive, personal and social development in a safe learning environment. We seek to empower students to be independent lifelong learners and contributors in a changing society.

The very essence of empowering students begins with telling them the truth.

The truth is that in Connecticut, unless the law is changed, parents have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core mastery testing program.

Instead of parroting the lies coming from Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, the members of Regional District #7 and every other Connecticut school district have a duty to stand up for the children and citizens of their communities.

If Connecticut’s elected officials want to prohibit parents from opting their students out of Connecticut’s mastery test they must try and pass a law that specifically repeals that fundamental and inalienable right.

Yet another warning about taking the state “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016

Following up on my recent Wait, What? blog post entitled;

“My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016.”

Here is a SPECIAL WARNING for high school juniors who are thinking about applying to a college or university that requires applicants to submit all of their SAT scores, rather than just their best score.

Last spring, without understanding the ramifications of their action, Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly “mandated” that all high school students take the NEW SAT on March 2, 2016, despite the fact that the NEW SAT hasn’t even been released, let alone validated as an accurate measure of mastery.

There is so little known about the NEW SAT that Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and his political appointees on the State Board of Education won’t even identify what constitutes a passing score on the NEW SAT until after Connecticut’s high school juniors have taken the test and the State Department of Education has been given and analyzed the results

What is known about the NEW SAT is that the College Board, the corporation that produces the SAT, is claiming that they have aligned the NEW SAT with the Common Core which means that the test will include significant content that most high school juniors have not been taught.  This problem will be especially prevalent in the MATH section of the test.

The first time that students across the country will have the opportunity to take the NEW SAT will be on March 5, 2016.  The NEW SAT will also be offered in May, June and on various other dates in the summer and fall.

The Malloy administration’s decision to “mandate” that Connecticut’s 11th graders take the NEW SAT during the school day on March 2, 2016 ensures that Connecticut’s juniors will be nothing more than guinea pigs for the testing industry since, as a brand new test that has never been offered before, the NEW SAT will undoubtedly have significant issues and problems that will need to be resolved before it is “ready for prime time.”

Considering that there is so little known about the NEW SAT, the Malloy administration’s “mandate” means that students are forced to consider the March 2, 2016 test as little more than a “practice exam.”

However, such a strategy could be particularly devastating for students who are trying to get into an institution of higher education that demands that all of their SAT test results be submitted with their applications.

PrepScholar, a major SAT tutoring organization, highlights this serious problem explaining;

If you’re applying to schools that require all scores, you need to be very careful each time you take the SAT, because you will have to send any scores you get, even if they’re low.

Prepscholar adds;

Don’t take the SAT the first time “for practice” to get used to the test. Colleges will see that “practice score.”

Governor Malloy has sworn allegiance to the corporate education reform industry and their dangerous obsession with the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme.  His actions have thrown Connecticut’s students under the proverbial bus.

Parents must remember that despite the lies coming out of the State Department of Education, there is no federal or state law, regulation or legal policy the prohibits a parent from opting their child out of the testing madness.

Connecticut school districts may not hold a child back or prevent them from graduating simply because they fail to participate in the Common Core testing madness.

Opting your child out of the state “mandated” NEW SAT on March 2, 2016 may be one of the most important things you can do to help your child get into their preferred college.

Take heed – “My daughter will not be taking the “state mandated” NEW SAT on March 2nd 2016” – and other parents should consider doing the same thing.

As an FYI, the following is partial list of colleges and universities that report that if a student has taken the SAT then they must provide the school with all of their SAT scores, even the problematic one from March 2, 2016.

School Name City State
University of Arkansas at Little Rock Little Rock AR
Pomona College Claremont CA
Scripps College Claremont CA
Stanford University Stanford CA
University of California Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, LA, Santa Cruz etc. CA
Quinnipiac University Hamden CT
Sacred Heart University Fairfield CT
Yale University New Haven CT
George Washington University Washington DC
Georgetown University Washington DC
Howard University Washington DC
Delaware State University Dover DE
University of Kentucky Lexington KY
Grambling State University Grambling LA
Tufts University Medford MA
University of Massachusetts Lowell Lowell MA
University of Maryland College Park MD
Macalester College St. Paul MN
Saint Louis University St. Louis MO
Barnard College New York NY
City College of New York New York NY
Colgate University Hamilton NY
Cornell University Ithaca NY
Hunter College New York NY
Queens College (City University of New York) Flushing NY
Syracuse University Syracuse NY
Wagner College Staten Island NY
Art Academy of Cincinnati Cincinnati OH
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA
Curtis Institute of Music Philadelphia PA
Duquesne University Pittsburgh PA
Susquehanna University Selinsgrove PA
Temple University Philadelphia PA
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia PA
University of South Carolina Columbia SC
Rice University Houston TX
Texas A&M University College Station TX
Castleton State College Castleton VT
University of Washington Seattle WA
Washington State University Pullman WA