How much will the absurd Common Core SBAC Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?


The following is a “MUST READ” column for Connecticut’s parents and taxpayer.

In fact, it should be mandatory reading for Connecticut’s local school board members, superintendents, principals and all of the state’s local school officials.

So how much will the unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

It turns out that no one knows for sure, or if they do, they definitely aren’t telling!

Governor Malloy won’t give a number, nor will his political appointees on the State Board of Education.

State Legislators haven’t been told, nor have local cities and towns.

But starting in just over a month, every public school in Connecticut will be forced to stop teaching and start giving the Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium SBAC Test.

And not only will school districts have to put aside instructional time and give the Common Core SBAC test this year, but they will have to do it next year, and the year after, and the year after that, and every single year until this nonsense stops and the state’s elected officials finally have the courage to stand up and put an end to the Common Core Test Scam that is designed to intentionally judge the vast majority of Connecticut’s public school children as failures.

While most of Connecticut’s local school boards and officials are remaining quiet about this disaster, in California it is a whole different story.

In California (and in many parts of New York),  local school boards and school leaders have had enough and are pushing back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda of turning public schools into little more than testing factories.

In California, local districts have even gone so far as to bring a class-action lawsuit to force the State of California to pay for the unfunded mandate called the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test.

Today, the nation’s leading public education advocate, Diane Ravitch, writes about the lawsuit in a post entitled, “California: Districts Object to $1 Billion for Common Core Testing.”

According to media reports, the Santa Ana Unified School District of Orange County calculates that shifting from the previous paper tests to the new Common Core SBAC test “will cost the district about $12million, including 8.1 million for new computers, $3.3 million for additional internet bandwidth and other costs associated with “accessories and training.”

The total cost of implementing the Common Core SBAC Test — After the State of California has already allocated more than $1.25 billion for the Common Core testing system – is estimated to be at least $1 billion annually for the state’s school districts.

Of course, when confronted with the news, in a statement similar to what we’d likely hear from the Malloy administration, “a spokesman for the [California] Department of Finance declined to comment because officials are reviewing the claim.”

Note that the projected $1 billion additional burden on local school districts in California CAMES AFTER California State Government allocated  $1.25 billion to districts in one-time funds to help pay for classroom changes needed to implement the Common Core standards and Common Core SBAC Testing program.

The Orange County Register newspaper adds that the state provided another $26.7 million in state funds last year for high-speed internet access at schools with the highest needs and, “The governor’s latest budget proposal for next year adds $100 million for internet needs.”

However, here in Connecticut, relatively small amounts of state money has been allocated to help the state’s local school districts pay for the tremendous costs associated with ramping up and implementing the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme.

Rather than spending their time and lobbying funds cheering on Governor Malloy and his corporate education reform industry agenda, perhaps the publicly funded Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the publicly funded Connecticut Association of School Superintendents (CAPSS) should stop taking positions that directly undermine their own members – Connecticut’s local school boards and superintendents – and start talking about legal and legislative action to force the State of Connecticut to fund this unfunded mandate or postpone the testing debacle until proper funding is provided.

While it is true that Connecticut may not want to follow California’s lead on all things, it sure would be helpful if more of Connecticut’s local school districts and local school officials were following their colleagues in California, (and other states like New York,) and standing up and fighting on behalf of their districts students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

But NO – you want to know where the local taxpayer money that goes to CABE and CAPSS is being used for?

They are spending their time – and our money – joining the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s campaign to promote Malloy’s ant-public education agenda!


CT’s Big Six to state legislators: “Continue investing in last year’s education reforms”

“A coalition of six of the state’s leading education and business groups – CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN – urge legislators not to back down from key pillars of last year’s education reform law

“This prompted the Big Six – a group composed of six education and business organizations – to urge lawmakers to protect progress made last year for Connecticut children by continuing to invest education reforms…”



“With the release of the Big 6’s Statement of Principles and Policy Recommendations, the coalition expects elected officials to keep education improvement efforts a priority during Legislative Session.

The Big 6 coalition represents key stakeholders and perspectives from the state’s leading education and business groups and continues to be united in a shared commitment to pursue systemic improvement in the state’s public schools so that every child gets an excellent public education.

Our partnership includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).”

Interestingly that none of the priorities pushed by the BIG SIX includes being honest with Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers about the real cost of these “initiatives” or the fact that much of those unnecessary costs will be dumped on the backs of Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

You can read more about the Big Six in any number of commentary piece written by fellow education advocates, but a good place to start is with Sarah Darer Littman piece that was published in CT Newsjunkie and entitled, “Legislate Based On Research, Not Hyperbole.”

Question – Can my child graduate without taking the absurd Common Core SBAC Test?

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Incredibly, whether it is out of ignorance or deceitfulness, some Connecticut school officials are apparently telling parents that opting out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing System could jeopardize their child’s chance of graduating.

To be blunt, that is bullsh*t!

Connecticut State Statute 10-14n(e) reads… “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.”

This Connecticut state law is particularly important now that the Malloy administration has set the “pass” level on the new Common Core SBAC 11th grade test in such a way that only about 4 in 10 students will reach the “satisfactory” score in English/Language Arts and only 3 in 10 are projected to get a “satisfactory” score in Math.

Since the Common Core SBAC test is designed to ensure the vast majority of students are deemed failures, the state statute prohibiting towns from using the “mastery test” as the sole criterion for graduation is obviously necessary!

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test as the sole criterion for graduation, then it certainly can’t require an “unsatisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test in order to graduate.

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” nor can it require an “unsatisfactory score,” then it becomes obvious that it can’t possibly prohibit a student from graduating if they have no Common Core SBAC Test score due to the fact that they didn’t take the Common Core SBAC test.

So parents – don’t let anyone mislead you.

Under state law, schools must administer the Common Core SBAC test, but to reiterate the point, there is absolutely no state law or regulation that allows the state or school districts to punish the parent or student if a parent opts their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

And there is equally no mechanism for a school district to prohibit a child from graduating simply because they did not take the Common Core SBAC test.

If parents are told by a school administrator that opting out their children out of the Common Core SBAC test will jeopardize their ability to graduate, simply tell them to stop talking and start reading Section 10-14n(e) of the Connecticut State Statute.

And then— please send that administrator’s name and where they work to Wait, What? so that we can post that information and warn other parents about just how wrong that administrator is.

Connecticut parents and guardians can and should opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Testing Scam.

For more background on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme start with the Wait, What? blog entitled, “Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests.”

Legislative Champions starting to step forward in Connecticut


In response to the growing public concern about the Common Core, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, and the inappropriate and unfair use of standardized test scores when evaluating Connecticut’s public school teachers, a growing number of state representatives and state senators are stepping forward and introducing legislation that would stop, or at least slow down, the damaging Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda that is undermining public education in Connecticut.

Congratulations are in order for every one of these elected officials since, in virtually every situation, their legislative proposals are challenging the policies that have been promoted by Governor Dannel Malloy and his pro-education reform administration.

It is interesting to note that most of these important bills have been proposed by Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly, but an increasing number of Democratic legislators are standing up and speaking out in favor of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Special credit goes out to State Representative Melissa Ziobron, who represents the 34th House District which includes East Hampton, East Haddam, and a part of Colchester.

Representative Ziobron, who is in her second term, has become one of the most outspoken proponents of public education.

As a former member of a Board of Education she witnessed the growing negative consequences of the “No Child Left Behind Act” and the “Race to the Top Initiative,” especially in the standardized testing nightmare that is now driving public education in the country.

As a parent and legislator, she used her first term to study the real issues associated with the Common Core, its testing system and the impact of unfunded mandates on public education.

While recognizing that public education continues to face major challenges and problems that must be addressed, Representative Ziobron has become an advocate for parents who wish to opt their children out of the Common Core tests and for policies that support, not undermine, the role of parents, teachers, and local citizens in how their local schools should be run.

As for legislation now before the General Assembly, the following is an initial list of pro-public education bills that have been introduced so far this session.

A review of the list of sponsors highlights the fact that more and more legislators are responding to the demand that legislative action is needed to protect and support our public schools.

This list of bills will be updated as additional pieces of legislation are identified.  Readers can learn more about these bills and identify when action on them is taking place by going to the Connecticut General Assembly’s bill-tracking website:


Proposed legislation on the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) System;

HB 5398 – AN ACT CONCERNING PARENTAL OPT OUT OF STATE-WIDE EXAMINATIONS FOR STUDENTS; Purpose: To allow the parent or guardian of a student to opt their child out of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron,

HB 6422 – AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT STUDENTS IN GRADE ELEVEN TAKE THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENTS; Purpose: To repeal the requirement that students in grade eleven take the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Sponsors: Rep. Ziobron, Rep. Kokoruda,


Proposed legislation to slow down or push back against the Common Core;

HB 5137 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF A DATABASE TO COLLECT INFORMATION RELATING TO COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION; Purpose: To create a database to track funds being used to implement the common core state standards. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5680 – AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS.  Purpose: To conduct a study of the effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards to help policymakers evaluate whether and to what extent the Common Core State Standards are working or should be modified.   Sponsors: Rep. MacLachlan, Rep. Carney

SB 785 – AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS CURRICULUM. Purpose: To allow for necessary changes to the Common Core State Standards.  Sponsors: Sen. Markley

SB 344 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PHASE IN OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS AND SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT; Purpose: To phase in the common core state standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in the public schools.  Sponsors: Sen. Boucher

HB 5544 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF CURRICULUM MATERIALS RELATING TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND TEACHERS. HB 5544 Purpose: To support school districts and teachers by supplying them with materials necessary to teach the Common Core State Standards. Sponsors: Rep. Yaccarino


Proposed legislation to protect student data from the Common Core Testing Companies

SB 786 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DISCLOSURE OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE STUDENT INFORMATION. Purpose: To prevent the disclosure of student information. Sponsor: Sen. Markley

Proposed legislation requiring an appropriate teacher evaluation program THAT DOES NOT INAPPROPRIATELY utilize standardized test scores.

HB 5400 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROHIBITION OF THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.     Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5138 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.      Sponsors: Rep. Srinivasan, Sen. Witkos

HB 5681 -AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS INCLUDE STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS; Purpose: To uncouple students’ test results on the Smarter Balanced Assessment from a teacher’s performance evaluation. Sponsors: Rep. Candelora, Rep. Fritz

HB 5987 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN ELL STUDENT TEST SCORES AS PART OF TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICT PERFORMANCE MEASURES. Purpose: To limit the use of certain ELL student performance data in teacher performance evaluations and school district performance measures.    Sponsors: Rep. Candelaria, Sen. Boucher, Rep. Johnson, S. 049

Proposed legislation holding Charter Schools accountable:

HB 6003 – AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS AND A REVIEW OF EXISTING CHARTER SCHOOLS.  Purpose: To place a moratorium on the approval of new charter schools by the Commissioner of Education require the Department of Education to conduct a review of existing charter schools. Sponsors Rep. Vargas, Rep. Gonzalez, Rep. Johnson, et. al.

HB 6532 – AN ACT CONCERNING CHARTER SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE. Purpose:  To improve charter school transparency, accountability and performance. Sponsor: Rep Rojas

Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests


FACT #1:

Connecticut parents and guardians have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Standardized Testing Program

FACT #2:

In addition to all myriad of problems associated with the Common Core Standards, including the concerns that some of those expectations are not developmentally appropriate, the Common Core SBAC Standardized Test is literally designed [rigged] to ensure that the vast majority of students are deemed “failures.”

Late last year, the Malloy administration joined with the other members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and voted to define the “proficient levels” on the SBAC tests.  The “Cut Scores” were set at a level where about 38 to 44 percent of  elementary and middle school children will meet the so-called “proficiency mark” in English/Language Arts and only 32 -39 percent will reach that mark in Math.

At the same time, SBAC set the cut score for the 11th grade SBAC Common Core Test so that approximately 41 percent will show “proficiency” in English/Language Arts and 33 percent will do so in Math.

This means that the Common Core SBAC Test is designed in such a way as to deem as many as 6 in 10 – and potentially as many as 7 in 10 – children as failures.

The scoring system is nothing short of child abuse.  (For details read: Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!)

FACT #3:   

While the overall waste of taxpayer money and student instructional time associated with the Common Core SBAC Testing disaster undermines the educational opportunities of every public school student, the testing scheme is particularly discriminatory against children who face English Language barriers, children who have special education needs and children who aren’t “excelling” at one to two grade levels ahead of their classmates.


The only thing that will stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing scam from completely destroying our system of public education will be if our elected officials stand up and fight back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

For that to happen, parents need to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test and send a loud and powerful message to our elected officials that the time has come to put the word “PUBLIC” back in Public Education.

[More on the legislative effort and legislative heroes in an upcoming post]

Here are the other FACTS Connecticut’s school parents and guardians need to know;

According to Connecticut State law, all public schools must administer the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  This year the Common Core SBAC test will be given to all students in Grades 3 through 8, and those in Grade 11.

However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests.

To repeat:  There is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests AND there is no law that allows the government or local school districts to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing program.

Last year, a directive issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, instructed local school superintendents and principals that Connecticut parents COULD NOT opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and his memo even provided districts with step by step instructions on how to pressure parents into not utilizing their rights to opt their children out of the tests.

According to the CT Mirror, in an interview with John Dankosky, last spring, on WNPR’s public radio show, “Where We Live” Governor Malloy said that, “federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.”

Malloy’s statement was simply untrue.

When the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Commissioner Pryor were finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 1014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

The Chairman of the State Board of Education agreed that there was no legal action that the state or school district could take to punish a parent or child who opted out of the Common Core SBAC test.

While a law clarifying that parents can opt their children out would be helpful, and has been introduced into this year’s General Assembly (more on that soon), a parent’s right to opt their children out cannot be denied.

However, in response to Commissioner Pryor’s directive to local school superintendents, the majority of local schools inappropriately informed parents (and teachers) that students could not opt out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

But regardless of the false information and rhetoric coming from the Malloy administration, parents not only have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair testing program, they should strongly consider doing just that as a way to protect their children, Connecticut’s teachers and our state’s historic commitment to local control of public education.

Finally, after speaking with many local school superintendents and reviewing the correspondence that they sent out to teachers and parents last spring, it is clear that Malloy’s Department of Education also tried to scare local officials into believing that any widespread opt-out or  boycott of the Common Core SBAC test would jeopardize funding for the local school district.

Again, the state government used misinformation in their misplaced and ongoing attempt to mislead local superintendents.

The issue in question is called the “95% Rule”

According to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), school districts are required to show, every year, that their tests scores are improving and that 95% of all students have taken the standardized tests.

But according the nationally-respected nonprofit, non-partisan, Fair Test organization,

 “No school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students.

Even more importantly, at least 41 states, including Connecticut, have been given federal waivers that supersede and preempt those provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead, Connecticut has chosen to go with a system of categorizing schools based on test scores and a number of other criteria.  According to Connecticut law and regulations, Connecticut categorizes its schools as being (1) Turnaround Schools, (2) Review Schools, (3) Transition Schools, (4) Progressing Schools and (5) Excelling Schools.

Turnaround Schools are defined as the 5% of the lowest performing schools and are subject to state intervention, state takeover, and even a state determination to close them and hand them over to a private charter school company. (The disgraced policy of giving Jumoke Academy control of the Milner School in Hartford and the Dunbar School in Bridgeport)

The next category, according to the State Department of Education, are “Review Schools” and this is where the so-called “95% Rule” might come into play….but not the way the Malloy administration has explained.

Review Schools are, “All schools with [Standardized Test] participation rates less than 95 percent, four-year cohort graduation rates below 60 percent, three-year baseline School Performance Indexes (SPIs) below 64…”

There is no financial punishment for being a “Review School.” In fact, there might even be some financial benefit if the state was actually allocated its funds appropriately.  But even more importantly, a school with a graduation rate of 60% or more has successful proven that it is making progress and no state official would have the audacity to define a school as failing simply because its participate rate fell below 95%, but it was successfully meeting all the other criteria for being a “transitioning school” or “progressing school.”

If parents take the time to examine graduate rates for their schools they will quickly see that the so-called “95% Rule,” is nothing more than a red herring.

As parents look around the nation they will discover that Common Core Testing opt-out and boycott efforts are taking place from sea to shining sea.

In New York States, entire school districts are refusing to even offer the test, a number of courageous teachers in various states are actually refusing to give the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Tests and tens of thousands of parents are stepping up to protect their children by opting them out of the tests.

Connecticut parents should certainly consider doing the same.

In the coming weeks, Wait, What? will be posting more information about how to opt your child out of the Common Core test and the issues surrounding the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco.

For now, here are the primary steps are protecting your children:

Submit a letter to your school principal and your child’s teachers indicating that your child will not be taking the test.

Let them know that you are aware that you are not required to keep your child at home during the testing windows and that your child should be provided with appropriate instructional activities while the Common Core Testing is taking place.

Ask them what arrangements they will make for your child during that time.

Also, here is a sample Opt Out letter follows:

Dear Principal _____________,

Thank you for all you do for my child, ___________ (child’s full name), and for our school.

I am writing to respectfully and formally inform you that ________ is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

Please note that this is not a “request” to be excused from the tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

I am aware of Connecticut State Statute 10-14n which mandates that students take a statewide mastery examination. However, as you know, I have the legal right to refuse to allow my child to participate in these tests and neither the state nor the school district has any legal right to punish me or my child for taking this action.

Furthermore, please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently. As such,   _______ will not be required to participate in any makeup tests.

I will be informing ________ that he/she is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC), and that if he/she is given one he/she is not to work on it in any way.

I would ask that the school please provide him/her with an alternative, instructionally appropriate activity during any and call SBAC related testing.

Please confirm your receipt and understanding of this letter.



Parent’s name and contact information

Finally, you can also get more information about these issues from a variety of websites including the following:

United Opt Out: Connecticut Page

Truth in America Opt Out Form

Connecticut Against Common Core (and its Facebook counterpart Stop Common Core in CT )

You and Your Children Cannot Be Punished For Opting Out in Connecticut (Common Core in CT Blog)


And here are some of the previous Wait, What? Blogs on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective

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

Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster

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

A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker

Greenwich superintendent joins Commissioner Pryor in misleading parents

An Open Letter to Parents from a Connecticut Parent

How much time and money can Malloy and Pryor Waste on the Common Core Test of a Test

The Malloy Administration’s Big Lie: Parents Can’t Opt Out.

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Commissioner Pryor’s agency tells superintendents to mislead and lie to parents – and they are

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Time to stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing Madness


Take note Connecticut;

Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged to “stay the course” on the Common Core and said he didn’t mind having teachers teach to the test as long as the test scores went up.  We can continue to follow the lead of Governor Malloy and the Corporate Education Reform Industry or we can actually do what is right for our children, parents, teachers, public schools and our society.

The movement to put the PUBLIC back in Public Education is building.

Will Connecticut’s elected officials step up or will they continue to follow Malloy’s “education reform” agenda?

From Washington State –

The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.

More than 200 delegates representing 49 legislative districts, from 29 counties, gathered at the Red Lion Inn in the state capital, Olympia on Saturday, Jan. 24, where there was a showdown between “new Democrats” and a scrappy coalition of education and labor activists. Activists mixed in with the delegates, and carried homemade signs expressing their opposition to the Common Core. They also arrived early and made sure there were flyers on each chair carrying their message.”  (For more go to:


And from New York State -

The stopcommoncorenys website in New York State is dedicated to “HELPING PARENTS AND TEACHERS END COMMON CORE.” See

Stop Common Core NYS posted the following picture over the weekend – it was a stark reminder of damage we are doing to our children and another call to action about why we must all join together and beat back the Corporate Education Reform Industry and their inappropriate, unfair and absurd Common Core and Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme.

This photo was posted. Watch what happened next.


This photo was submitted by a parent. Her child is suffering with the age inappropriate, error and trick laden, too much, too soon, too fast, common core homework. This photo was shared on social media. Without asking for any response, it still received hundreds of commiserating comments within a half hour.

Below are some of the responses to this raw photo. They have been listed anonymously to protect the teachers involved. They need no names; they could be any parent. This is every child. Common core has failed all the children.

Legislators need to see these faces and hear these parents and teachers. This must stop.
Heartbreaking! School should not make any child feel this way. We need to bring the fun back to learning.

Is this grounds for a class action lawsuit against New York State, NYSED and the Board of Regents?This picture is so upsetting.

I live this horrible reality everyday with my kids when I come home from teaching.

We have all seen our kids in this child

The is child abuse; we are mandatory reporters. If only CFS would prosecute

I’ve had this scene at my house more than once as well. I hate it.

This is exactly how my 6yr old gets with math homework. Poor kids..

Mine too.

My 10 yr old on a nightly basis.

This is so heartbreaking…kids shouldn’t dread going to school….if we thought there were a lot of kids that dropped out of school before just wait a couple years and they’ll all be leaving! Luckily my child is only 2 so I have a couple years to decide if I want to attempt homeschooling, if we can afford it, or if we are actually going to move out of NYS. Who ever thought we would become a nation whose leaders are so blind to see that they’re destroying the very people they supposedly “represent”. It’s sickening that citizens have to seriously consider uprooting their entire family to avoid the devastating effects of common core and to get a quality education!

This is what my 6 yr old looks like every day.

My 12 yr old has a nervous breakdown every night!!! Terrible

I HATE this! This poor baby.

My 9 year old every night with his math …. Breaks my heart

Educational malpractice…no love for learning here.

This could be my 6-year old twin daughters. We go through the same thing every night with math. One of them hates it so much that she’ll scream about all her homework just because of the math. This past week, I did an experiment. We didn’t do math homework. Both girls were much more able to do the rest of their homework without a meltdown.
The math homework is very often a repeat of what was already done in school. It’s just drill and kill.

Heart breaking for sure and VERY REAL; I have that child at home too. Just older. 7th grade! Cries like that over math too!,

I see it all the time w/ my kids for a couple of years now.

This happens in my house as well, sadly.

Poor buddy! This is child abuse that is being legalized. We must speak up for our children!!!

I too have seen this with up close and personal with my granddaughter for over a year now its child abuse plain and simple

What about us poor parents that didn’t learn this way! I have to learn all over again because not even I get this common core crap! I just teach them how I was taught it’s so much frigging easier!!!!

Poor baby. Breaks my heart. School work should NOT cause this!

That’s a Pearson worksheet for sure. I teach K and refuse to have my classroom resemble a factory with workers sitting quietly, behind shields!! I DON’T CARE! I will continue to do it my way, develop the whole child. They are not numbers, scores or HEDI ratings. They are children and this is a criminal and egregious act against the children of America! They don’t want to educate; they want a future of complacent workers for their corporations to grow as well as their bank accounts. Parents please this IS NOT education. Maria Montessori knew how to educate and enrich a child. She’d be revolting and so should we.

I see this all the time. Sadly.

My son is in 5th grade and he calls himself stupid! Teachers and parents MUST UNITE AGAINST THIS!!!!!

My 7th grader hates school. Guess what ? She didn’t before the tests. Every night and weekends Math homework even weekends – takes over one hr+ just on math – much of what is learned in class is not reviewed – you are screwed if you don’t understand. Tests every week. Never have I seen her this stressed and miserable about school. Now I pay a tutor on top of my huge school tax bill. I hear kids are doing worse than having meltdowns and losing sleep…what’s it gonna take for them to realize this. Tutor cannot believe what they are doing to them either. I loved school – I hoped my kid who loves to learn would have the same chance as me. It’s crazy.

My son was like that last year…I e-mailed the teacher I would never allow my son to get like that again and that if we can not get it done in 20 minutes (math then I will send it back to be re-taught….)

No child should be put through this. The government has no business being involved with education.

The math is developmentally inappropriate for his age. He can’t read it let alone cognitively translate what the worksheet wants. I read yesterday about a 6th grade test that had 11th grade reading material. This is cruel and a setup for failure.

They must first learn it in school, not by us! Teachers have too much to fit in now and if a child isn’t getting it, sorry, need to move on. Terrible!

I predict that the future will see an increase in student drop out rates, teen suicide rates and a lack of motivation for life long learning if Common Core continues.

my kids feel the same way with all this HW

I am teaching algebra in Kindergarten. The kids are so confused! Some of them just learned their numbers and how to count! Its ridiculous!

Every parent needs to call our “wonderful” Governor and tell their stories.

It pains and angers me to see my kids cry over HW!

I know this all too well and i think boys in general are having a harder time . This is my son some nights and it kills me .

It’s not just boys. My 2nd grade daughter cries weekly because “I’m not smart enough to do the math”.

How can we make a statement strong enough to get it through the thick self-centered skulls of our government. ..they sit on their pedestals and think they know more than the teachers and parents that work with these children every single day…

Been there and living it for 3 years now!! Kids are desensitized to it now and like those victims of abuse, are not only dumbed down but are numbed down as well.

We have the same problem, HW time is sad. At the end of the day they do not retain this crap. Our children do not want to do this they fell out of love with learning. We need to get back to the basics!

I teach several strategies in 2nd grade and modify homework to make it shorter. The repetitiveness of the CC is torturous. I have always taught that we all think differently thus problems may be solved in such a way that the work is valid!

It’s horrible, my son’s math test grades just keep going down and down..the sad part is I don’t even understand most of it so I can’t even help him. Now I’m looking into a tutor.

We went thru this for weeks.. until I decided enough was enough!!! I will not let my child feel this way over math! It’s awful. If she don’t understand it…we don’t do it anymore !!

I think reporters at press conferences should ask politicians to solve problems from Common Core Math exams, just so we can enjoy how stupid they look when they can’t solve them either!

(This is) the raw image that TRULY represents the reality of CCSS

My 9 y/o is like this all the time, it breaks my heart.

It is sickening. The only way to stop it is to refuse the tests. If nobody takes them, a clear, expensive message will be sent.

That’s my son EVERY night!

Powerful picture. I need to take one of my son and share it too.

My 6 year old was like this the other night while I tried to explain this math sheet(which made no sense to me or my husband).

We went thru this for weeks.. until I decided enough was enough!!! I will not let my child feel this way over math! It’s awful. If she don’t understand it…we don’t do it anymore !!

I hope the parent who took this picture sends it to the governor, Regents, every member of government, and to the media. This is not acceptable.

My son fights with us every night to do the homework. says it’s too hard. he can’t read the sentences and we have to read the sentences to even figure out what they hell they are trying to say. so if a 36 yr old and a 40 yr old can’t undertsand the questions how the hell can a 6 yr old who can bARELY READ UNDERSTAND THEM? this has gone too far. its time to take a stand, maybe have a statewide walk out on testing day or something but we have to let the government know this cannot go on that its torture and not important. we will never use it in college or the real world so why put so much pressure on our children to benefit yourselves. u dont care about us or our kids u just care about yourselves.

My teenage children get like this especially my 15yr old who has always loved math and been good at it…she gets the answers rt but bc she doesn’t use the common core method she doesn’t get full credit or any credit at all…

So sad ! I HATE that this is happening to our kids!!! I’d like to shove this common core down their throats!

We complain and sign petitions but it’s not enough we need to make a statement that will wake up the government and show them they are bullying our kids and teachers

My 9 year old spent 20 min crying because of the division homework. We tried to help but she kept saying that’s not the way my teacher teaches it. Nothing against her teacher, but this common core is pure cruelty to our children! 1+1=2. Simple and less complicated!

The instructions said “Make a 10. Then add”. It was difficult to explain to my son why 5 has to break down to 4+1 to be correct and not 3+2. This is beyond him right now. His brain does not work this way. He says he hates school. At 6 years old he should love school.

My 9 year old girls are having the same problems. One is actually regressing. In addition to all the work they have to do. Her teacher is a horrible for her. She is picking her fingers raw from stress. Something has t give for these kids. It’s so sad

I can remember, over the course of my elementary years, getting frustrated over homework maybe once or twice. The difference now is that this is an everyday occurrence for many children.

This just broke my heart. I see my fourth grader struggle with it also.

That’s me attempting to help my son during homework

My son is autistic I was told early on as long as he was in a restricted program he would not have to learn cc and yet in first grade he is but kindergarten he didn’t which is confusing to a child with special needs. Just getting the child to do the work is hard enough without cc confusing them. Thank god math is one of his best subjects but he still struggles regardless

Too many homes go through the same thing. It’s very sad. Cuomo doesn’t know about child development. If a child is NOT DEVELOPMENTALLY READY for certain skills, we’re doing more MORE HARM THAT GOOD. Why frustrate them? We will need more psychologists in schools.

Wait until they see the drop out rate in 8 or 9 years!!! Disgusting setting children up to fail.

It’s so sad. We go thru it every night and my son is only in the 1st grade.

Breaks my heart. We have been there many days and that’s when I close and move on. When they calm down I try “my” way the old-fashioned way

Since I pulled my kids and put them in Lutheran school I can’t tell u how wonderful . They are happy healthy love school never cry or ask to stay home. This kills me knowing this was my boy last year in second grade

We deal with this in 1st, 3rd and 5th. It is real and I have similar photos. My kids do not take the state exams.

Very true, that was my son, and I am now home schooling, we have no more of that

Breaks my heart. Just teaching to hate school.

I feel bad for any child struggling in school. My son is having a hard time also .

Say NO to these stupid tests! Why put your child through it for what. So these Big Shots can make more money, that is what this is all about. They don’t care about your child.

It’s insane my daughter asked me to help with division Ok I can do that easily but NO..They don’t just do simple long division she had to do some sort of estimating with it!!! WHY GOD WHY

I started homeschooling. My husband and I both work. I hope refusing the tests helps…

I predict that there will come a time that these years will be labeled the Common Core Years and our students at this time, the Common Core Kids. In the history of education, neither will have a positive connotation. Heartbreaking for our children.

And the grande finale:

Looks like my son when it’s HW time….these poor children. Shame on Albany.
Shame indeed. Thank you to the parents and teachers for your heartfelt replies. These thoughts have not been edited.

*** *** ***

It is time time to push back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry and Governor Malloy’s unwavering commitment to the Common Core and Common Core Testing Scheme.

Feel free to add your thoughts or list information about how others can join the battle to protect our children and save our public schools.


Will Malloy decouple Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system from the unfair Common Core SBAC Test?

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Last January, facing a tough re-election campaign, Governor Dannel Malloy and his pro-corporate education reform industry allies threw teachers a bone by postponing – for one year –the requirement that towns use the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test results as part of the state’s mandatory teacher evaluation program.

Malloy’s 2014 announcement maintained the requirement that the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test results be counted for nearly a quarter of each teacher’s evaluation, but he agreed to postpone the requirement that the test results be used as part of a teacher’s evaluation until the 2015-16 school year.

However, as was reported at the time, Malloy went out of his way to make sure that everyone understood that he was not “backing off his support for the teacher evaluation system or the Common Core.”

Those supporting Malloy’s education reform initiative were quick to add that the delay in using the corrupt Common Core standardized tests scores shouldn’t be for more than a year.

Jeffrey Villar, the executive director of the corporate-funded Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) was quoted by the Hartford Courant saying that standardized test scores needed to be part of any program that measured teacher performance starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

Villar explained, “Moving backward would be detrimental to our students and we want to make sure that we are globally competitive…”

Malloy’s action also received praise from the leadership of Connecticut’s two teacher unions who heralded the move as an important step in the right direction.

In fact, the press release issued by the State Department of Education announcing the one year delay even included quotes from CEA President Sheila Cohen and AFT-CT President Melodie Peters.

CEA President Cohen was quoted as saying, “Today’s PEAC changes will foster a new climate that moves away from the rigidity and moves toward the healthy flexibility that our schools communities sorely need…,” while AFT-CT President Peters added, “With PEAC’s approval of new flexibility options, our state’s children will be the primary beneficiaries of this course correction.”

But the one year delay is quickly coming to an end and the unfairness of the Common Core SBAC test has become even clearer with the disturbing news that the Malloy administration supported setting the Common Core SBAC test “goal level,” at a point that is designed to ensure that approximately 70 percent of students fail to reach goal.

If the Governor or legislature do not move quickly to eliminate the expensive Common Core SBAC testing scam or decouple the use of the SBAC results from the state’s teacher evaluation system, Connecticut’s public schools will be forced to give the inappropriate Common Core SBAC test this spring and towns will be mandated to use the results from that unfair test to measure the “effectiveness” of their teachers.

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective


Teachers, Parents, Public School Advocates, it is probably best to sit down for this one….

That bizarre and disturbing statement was the headline in a piece recently posted by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) following this week’s meeting of a Connecticut State Department of Education Working Group.

Reporting on the event, the CEA explained;

“Details are emerging about how the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) program will affect students, teachers, and communities.”

Wait?  “Details are emerging”?

The Common Core Standardized Testing Scam, known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium (SBAC), is actually designed to ensure that about 70 percent of Connecticut students fail. [Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is! and Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster and A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker]

Not only is the Common Core testing system created to generate the false impression that Connecticut and the nation’s public education system is failing, but by tying the Common Core SBAC test results to the new inept, illogical and counter-productive Connecticut Teacher Evaluation System, the incredibly expensive “golden nugget” of the corporate education reform industry aims to denigrate teachers and blow apart what is left of the teaching profession.

But despite this truth, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration remain wedded to the implementation of the Common Core, the Common Core standardized testing program and a teacher evaluation process based on the results of those tests.

As the CEA’s January 21 2014 blog post explains,

“Most school districts in Connecticut administered a field test last year, but this year the program will be in high gear with educators administering the tests to students in grades 3-8 and 11 this April/May.


This year, the stakes will be high as students establish a baseline for the test. Jacqueline King, who works for the SBAC program, says the baseline data about Connecticut students’ performance on the first-time test has the “potential to shock” students and their families.”

The CEA goes on to report that at this week’s Working Group Meeting,

“Members of the working group [said they] are concerned about how test results will be messaged to ensure that the public understands that the SBAC program is still a work in progress.”

How the test results will be messaged??

That the SBAC program is still a work in progress?

It was Governor Malloy’s own Commissioner of Education who joined the other state education chiefs who voted to set the “cut score” so that 70 percent of Connecticut’s public school students would be deemed failures.

It was Governor Malloy and his State Department of Education that remain committed to linking the unfair test to the state’s new teacher evaluation system.

And it is because Malloy’s complete unwillingness to de-couple the Common Core SBAC test results from the teacher evaluation system that teachers across Connecticut are being coerced to teach to the very Common Cores Standardized SBAC test that their students will fail – and those failing scores will be used to “evaluate” the teachers.

The CEA article adds,

“Mark Waxenberg, executive director of CEA, raised a series of concerns at today’s meeting, saying that the new testing program is still in “the developmental stages.”

The article also noted that Joseph Cirasuolo, who is the executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents and one the most vocal supporters of Governor Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiative, said the results from the Common Core SBAC tests could, “scare the hell out of parents.” He apparently added, people “are talking about this as if it has a level of precision that it does not.”

“The new testing program is still in “the developmental stage”???

“A level of precision that it does not have”????

These two individuals and everyone else involved in the discussions surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing debacle know perfectly well that the SBAC test is designed to fail 70 percent of the students and that the SBAC test will be used as a significant factor in determining which Connecticut teachers are deemed to be “good’ and which will be deemed “not good.”

Instead of raising these “concerns” at a State Department of Education Working Group, the CEA, AFT and the other Connecticut organization purportedly committed to Connecticut’s students, teachers and public schools – such as CABE and CAPSS – should be demanding that the Common Core be halted, the Common Core Tests eliminated that Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system should be fully de-coupled from the SBAC test or any other standardized tests.

As if all of this wasn’t clear enough, in what is undoubtedly one of the most incredible and shocking comments to come out of the Malloy administration yet, the representative of the State Department of Education told the SDE working group,  “best practice dictates that educators should never make consequential decisions based on a single test score.”

OMG, What the____?????

Malloy, with the support of the Connecticut legislature is the one that MANDATED the expensive and wasteful Common Core SBAC tests be given and MANDATED that the Common Core SBAC test scores be used to evaluate teachers.

As the CEA post adds,

“Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education reportedly already has placed SBAC results on its list of multiple measures that colleges and universities can use to evaluate student readiness and placement. SDE officials also envision scenarios where high schools could include SBAC scores on student transcripts (as reportedly has been done in the past with CAPT scores)…”

The real problem is that the Common Core Standards were developed without the proper participation of educators and experts in child development.

Furthermore, as has been widely reported, some of the Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate and the foundation of the Common Cores Standards are demanding that students immediately perform at a level that is at least two grade levels above what students have been learning.

The Common Core Test (SBAC) also discriminates against English Language Learners and students who require special education services…not to mention, as noted, that the absurd and warped system is actually designed with a pass/fail rate that will ensure that nearly 7 in 10 students fail.

The real problem with the entire situation lies with the Common Core itself and the way in which the Common Core standardized tests have been designed to undermine the stability of public education in America.

The solution is that the leadership of the two major teacher unions, and all of the others committed to public education, should be retreating from their support of the Common Core and its associated testing scheme.

Yet even now, while the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers raise concerns and call for action, their fundamental position of support for the Common Core remains intact.

The National Education Association’s website reports that the,

“NEA believes the Common Core State Standards have the potential to provide access to a complete and challenging education for all children. Broad range cooperation in developing these voluntary standards provides educators with more manageable curriculum goals and greater opportunities to use their professional judgment in ways that promote student success.”

At the same time, the American Federation of Teachers says,

That if implemented carefully and with the needed supports and resources, these new standards will help improve education for all students.  At last July’s  AFT Convention, “AFT members today passed a resolution at the union’s national convention reaffirming the AFT’s support for the promise and potential of the Common Core State Standards as a way to ensure all children have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century while sharply criticizing the standards’ botched implementation. “

But the Common Core Standards are inappropriate, unfair, and discriminatory.  The Common Core standardized tests are inexorably linked to those Common Core Standards, and until we set aside the Common Core and the Common Core testing, our nation’s children, teachers and our entire system of public education system will remain the primary target for those who seek to destroy public education for their own financial and political gain.

And when it comes to the relationship between the Common Core, Common Core testing and the teacher evaluation systems, those who are responsible for speaking up for our children, our teachers and our schools simply say enough is enough and corporate education reform initiatives need to be dismissed and real action taken to reduce the barriers to academic success – poverty, language barriers, and unmet special education needs to name a few.

Perhaps the leaders of the CEA, AFT, CABE and CAPSS should also read or re-read the commentary piece published last year by Wendy Lecker, one of the state’s leading public education advocates.

Wendy Lecker’s piece entitled, “Solution to failed tests is not more tests,” first appeared in the Stamford Advocate, and she wrote;

Fact: Connecticut’s teacher evaluation plan, because it relies on student standardized test scores, is fundamentally flawed. Student test scores cannot measure a teacher’s contribution to student learning. In fact, the president of the Educational Testing Service recently called evaluation systems based on student test scores “bad science.”

Rather than admit failure, the Malloy administration is trying futilely to “fix” the fatal flaw. Last week, PEAC, the panel charged with developing Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system, working under the direction of Commissioner Stefan Pryor, approved a change which calls for more standardized tests to be included in a teacher’s evaluation.

The commissioner’s “solution” is to add interim tests to a teacher’s rating. Determining what tests will be used, how they will be aligned to the standardized tests, and how all the test scores will be rolled into one “score” for teachers, will likely render this change completely unworkable.

However, there is an even larger issue at play. Will the addition of more tests in a teacher’s evaluation help us measure whether a teacher is effective?

According to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Connecticut’s public schools must prepare children “to participate in democratic institutions, and to prepare them to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy, or to progress on to higher education.”

Thus, we want our children to acquire the skills and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in college and in life. We want teachers who will help our children develop these skills.

Standardized tests have no bearing on college success. Moreover, although standardized tests are supposed to measure cognitive skills, research from MIT has shown that increasing test scores does not increase cognitive skills.

Even more striking is that cognitive skills, while important, are not the most important skills in determining success either in college or in life after college. Research has shown again and again that non-cognitive skills such as self-discipline, taking responsibility, and listening skills are more critical.

A recent comprehensive study by Northwestern Professor Kirabo Jackson found that children with teachers who help them develop non-cognitive skills have much better outcomes than those who have teachers who may help them raise test scores. Jackson found that every standard deviation increase in non-cognitive skills corresponds to a significant decrease in the drop-out risk and increased rates of high school graduation. By contrast, one standard deviation increase in standardized test scores has a very weak, often non-existent, relationship to these outcomes. Test scores also predict less than two percent of the variability in absences and suspensions, and under ten percent of the variability in on-time grade progression, for example.

Increases in non-cognitive abilities are also strongly correlated with other adult outcomes, such as a lower likelihood of arrest, a higher rate of employment and higher earnings. Increased test scores are not.

In short, focusing on non-cognitive abilities, those not measured by test scores, are more important in predicting success in high school and beyond.

Jackson also found that a teacher’s supposed effect on test scores is not related to how well that teacher can improve non-cognitive skills.

Moreover, a new statement by the American Statistical Association reminds us that ranking teachers based on test scores does not even work for measuring their effect on cognitive skills.

ASA notes that teachers account for 1-14 percent of the variability in student standardized test scores. The majority of variability in test scores results from “system-level conditions”; meaning everything affecting a student outside the teacher’s control: the child’s socio-economic status, parental background, language barriers, medical issues, student mobility, etc. Rating systems cannot eliminate the “noise” caused by these other factors.

ASA further states that test scores at best “predict only performance on the test.” This conclusion confirms Jackson’s results, i.e that tests cannot predict how well a student will succeed in school or life.

In the context of this evidence, what does the PEAC change mean?

By adding more tests of the same skills in the same subjects, PEAC merely added more meaningless “noise.” This addition will not give us any better picture of how well a teacher teaches.

Worse still, adding more tests increases the focus on tests, increases the frequency of testing, and distracts us from considering the skills teachers should be helping children develop. And since Connecticut’s evaluation system completely ignores these non-cognitive skills, they will be de-emphasized in school.

Meaningful evaluations systems can be developed, but relying on faulty measures is simply rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve better.

YES!  Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve better.

It is the unparalleled levels of poverty, inequity and violence!


Jonathan Kantrowitz, is a public education advocate, political activist and blogger.  His blog appears on the Connecticut Post website and the sites operated by the Hearst Media Group.  In a post entitled, “U.S. has the world’s most educated workforce—but students face unparalleled levels of poverty, inequity and violence,” Jonathan Kantrowitz has written an extraordinary and profound piece about the real problems that are causing the growing educational achievement gap in the United States.

This article should be mandatory reading for the President of the United States, every member of Congress, every state governor and every state legislator.

At the very least, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo should read it and be required to respond  – in writing – as to why they are promoting policies that take our public education policies in exactly the wrong direction.

The following is Jonathan Kantrowitz’s post;

Source: Horace Mann League (HML) and the National Superintendents Roundtable

A new study released today challenges the practice of ranking nations by educational test scores and questions conventional wisdom that the U.S.educational system has fallen badly behind school systems abroad.

In their report, School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect, the Horace Mann League (HML) and the National Superintendents Roundtable examined six dimensions related to student performance—equity, social stress, support for families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes—in the G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Finland and China. They then examined 24 “indicators” within those dimensions.

Of the nine nations, the United States remains the wealthiest with the most highly educated workforce, based on the number of years of school completed, and the proportion of adults with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

“Many policymakers and business leaders fret that America has fallen behind Europe and China, but our research does not bear that out,” said James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable.

Despite high educational levels, the United States also reflects high levels of economic inequity and social stress compared to the other nations. All are related to student performance. Measures included rates of childhood poverty, income inequality and violence. For example, in American public schools today, the rate of childhood poverty is five times greater than it is in Finland. Rates of violent death are 13 times greater than the average for the other nations, with children in some communities reporting they have witnessed shootings, knifings, and beatings as “ordinary, everyday events.”

The study is a unique analysis, which for the first time compares K-12 education internationally on an array of social and economic indicators, not just test scores. The goal was to look at the whole iceberg, not just the tip—and provide a clearer snapshot of each country’s performance, including its wealth, diversity, community safety, and support for families and schools.

Some key findings:

 Economic Equity: The United States and China demonstrate the greatest gaps between rich and poor. The U.S. also contends with remarkably high rates of income inequality and childhood poverty.

 Social Stress: The U.S.reported the highest rates of violent death and teen pregnancy, and came in second for death rates from drug abuse. The also one of the most diverse nations with many immigrant students, suggesting English may not be their first language.

 Support for Families: The U.S. performed in the lowest third on public spending for services that benefit children and families, including preschool.

 Support for Schools: Americans seem willing to invest in education: The U.S. leads the nine-nation group in spending per student, but the national estimates may not be truly comparable. U.S. teachers spend about 40 percent more time in the classroom than their peers in the comparison countries.

 Student Outcomes: Performance in American elementary schools is promising, while middle school performance can be improved. U.S. students excel in 4th grade reading and high school graduation rates, but perform less well in reading at age 15. All nations demonstrate an achievement gap based on students’ family income and socio-economic status.

 System Outcomes: The U.S. leads these nations in educational levels of its adult workforce. Measures included years of schooling completed and the proportion of adults with high-school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. American students also make up 25 percent of the world’s top students in science at age 15, followed by Japan at 13 percent.

“Too often, we narrow our focus to a few things that can be easily tested. To avoid that scoreboard mentality, we need to look at many measures important to shaping our future citizens. Treating education as a horse race doesn’t work,” said HML President Gary Marx.

A call for more nuanced assessments

American policymakers from both political parties have a history of relying on large, international assessments to judge United States’ performance in education. In 2013, the press reported that American students were falling behind when compared to 61 other countries and a few cities including Shanghai. In that comparative assessment—called the Program for International Student Assessment—PISA controversially reported superior scores for Shanghai.

“We don’t oppose using international assessments as one measure of performance. But as educators and policymakers, we need to compare ourselves with similar nations and on a broader set of indicators that put school performance in context—not just a single number in an international ranking,” said Harvey.

“Our study suggests the U.S. has the most educated workforce, yet students confront shockingly high rates of poverty and violence. Research shows that those larger issues, outside the classroom, are serious threats to student learning,” noted HML Executive Director Jack McKay.

For more of his posts, go to;

Where’s the praise for Connecticut’s public education?


James Mulholland is a longtime Hartford teacher and public education advocate. The following commentary piece was first published in the CT Mirror.  You can read the full piece at:

Where’s the praise for Connecticut’s public education? by James Mulholland;

Connecticut’s economy is booming with a job base that has not seen such growth in 17 years.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for the 10th straight month, U.S. payrolls grew by more than 200,000, the longest streak in nearly 20 years.  Many factors contribute to the recovering economy, but one factor is conspicuously absent from media reports and political discourse: public schools and the dedicated teachers who work in them.

Why the oversight?  Maintaining a competitive workforce has often been a primary reason for school reform for decades.

In 1983, A Nation at Risk stated, “The public understands the primary importance of education as the foundation for a satisfying life, an enlightened and civil society, a strong economy, and a secure nation.”  In 2006, President Bush announced the creation of the American Competitiveness Initiative.  The initiative asserted, “The bedrock of America’s competitiveness is a well-educated and skilled workforce.”

More recently, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced his 2012 agenda for education legislation by stating in a press release, schools “that are missing the mark are causing serious damage to Connecticut’s next generation workforce — and our overall economic competitiveness.”

School reformers who assert that failing public schools are the cause of economic deterioration tell this narrative time and time again, but it’s a false narrative supported primarily by standardized tests scores, the validity of which has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism.

One yardstick for measuring our economic health against that of other nations is, curiously, not an economic one, it’s PISA: the Program of International Student Assessment.

PISA is an international assessment given to 15-year-olds in 65 countries every three years.  The most recent assessment was in 2012 and the next cycle of PISA will take place in 2015. The scores of the United States on this assessment are never very good and are often used to convince the American public that its public school system is failing.

For example, in 2012, the U.S. average score in mathematics literacy was lower than the average for the countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and lower than 29 other education systems. (Connecticut’s rankings are better than those of the United States overall.) The countries of Japan, Vietnam and the Slovak Republic all scored higher than the United States.

Reporting of the scores is often accompanied by a lot of hand wringing that PISA scores reflect our national economic health; like an oracle, mediocre scores are thought to predict our nation’s economic demise.  Even the New York Times chimed in: “The lessons from those high-performing countries can no longer be ignored by the United States if it hopes to remain competitive.” (New York Times, “Why Other Countries Teach Better”, Dec.17, 2013)

With such poor student outcomes that supposedly reveal a failing education system, one would think the U.S. would have subsequent poor rankings on economic measures, but this is not the case.

Each year, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index ranks approximately 140 countries for their overall competitiveness.  In 2012-13, the United States was ranked seventh, ahead of Japan, the Slovak Republic and Vietnam, which were ranked 10th, 71st and 75th respectively.

However, when we look at the 2012 PISA mathematics scores, Vietnam ranked just behind Germany.  With those PISA scores, one would think that Vietnam would have a much higher competitiveness ranking than 75th. In 2013-2014, the United States ranked fifth on the Competitive Index and, in 2014-2015, the United States ranked third, ahead of Finland and Germany.  Only Switzerland and Singapore had a higher ranking.

School reform advocates often conflate PISA scores, and standardized tests scores in general, with economic prosperity and security.  However, the scores are unrelated and do not indicate the strength of our economy.

Standardized test scores are too often used as part of a marketing campaign to mislead the public and discredit the public schools. Those who use them in this way like to remind us of the important role schools play in the economy, but praising schools when the economy is thriving does not fit their narrative of failing schools.

The silence is deafening.

Kids Not Testing

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In an op-ed published in today’s CTMirror, Robert Cotto, Jr., a lecturer in educational studies at Trinity College and one of the only elected member of the Hartford Board of Education makes the case for dumping the corporate education reform industry’s obsession with standardized testing.

Robert Cotto opens his commentary pieces with;

“As the debate over Connecticut’s state budget looms, the legislature must consider smart ways of maintaining support for our state’s children and families. They must also figure out how to save while doing the least harm.

Reducing the number of standardized tests that kids take could be a way to save more for what matters most in education.

For years, Connecticut required students to take tests in only grades four, six, eight, and ten. In order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Connecticut began giving tests to all children in grades three through eight and ten. Twice the number of children tested and new tests equaled more money spent. State spending for the tests more than doubled from $5.3 million in 2005 to $13.4 million in 2006.

Recently, the State of Connecticut allocated more than $18 million each year for tests. However, this amount does not reflect the hidden costs of spending on test preparation. With Connecticut’s No Child Left Behind waiver, both the amount of testing, consequences, and funds to impose the controversial “Common Core” will likely increase.

Reducing the tests that students take in each subject to only grades four, six, eight, and ten could save millions of dollars. The funds saved could help limit any budget cuts that will affect communities across the state, particularly for the most vulnerable children and families.  Cutting testing in this way could also result in yearly savings of up to $9.5 million. That’s half of current state spending to administer the tests.

At best, the evidence is mixed regarding the impact of spending more on testing and ratcheting up punishments.

And Cotto adds;

“Children best develop their abilities, talents, and interests when their schools, parents, educators, and communities support them together. In school, this would mean focusing on quality teaching and leadership, building on children’s academic strengths and interests, developing balanced and culturally relevant curriculum, confronting racial and economic isolation, and standardizing fairness in resources and support.

Outside of schools, this means supporting the well-being of children and families. In places likes Finland, the investment in children and families health and well-being, in addition to fairness in school resources and quality, has resulted in educational equity and shared prosperity. Instead of building up our system of testing, we must build up our system of support for communities.

Helping kids inside and outside of school. That’s a winning strategy.

With limited testing, there could be more time and funds for supporting kids’ academic progress and development. Time not used for testing could go towards building on children’s academic strengths and talents. Funds saved could mitigate cuts to schools, like the disappearing library, and supports for communities’ economic progress, health, and well-being.

With less testing, we can focus on support for students and develop better methods to assess the goals of public education. Maybe we can save even more as we recognize that public education will be better with more attention to learning and support for communities, but limited testing every two or three grades.”

Take the time to read his entire piece at:

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