Education Reform, Pelto, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker Standardized Testing
(A Blog Post by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto)
Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.
Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.
As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.
Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?
Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.
What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.
Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.
But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.
When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.” She is right.
We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.
Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering. Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids too.
As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?
This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools. And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”
Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators. In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papers and Sarah’s at CTNewsjunkie.
Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Education Reform, Standardized Tests, Stefan Pryor
Contributing a Great Quote is a step toward immortality…here is a leading contender for the list of Great Education Quotes from Connecticut’s own Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
“…after-school programming needs to play a significant role in raising Connecticut Mastery Test scores in Windham.” – Stefan Pryor, Connecticut Commissioner of Education, Norwich Bulletin 4/4/13
Add that one to other Great Education Quotes like;
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
“Life doesn’t come with four choices.” — Linda Darling-Hammond
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle
“My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors.” – Maya Angelou
“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” – Plato
“Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.” - W. B. Yeats
Standardized Testing CMT
No school cancellations, only 90 minute school delays, despite treacherous driving conditions and more snow expected:
WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 7 AM THIS MORNING TO 1 PM EST FRIDAY; SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 3 TO 6 INCHES. TIMING…SNOW WILL DEVELOP THIS MORNING WITH THE BULK OF THE ACCUMULATING SNOW TONIGHT INTO FRIDAY MORNING.
But rest assured – these kids will take these CMTs even if we have to lose a few of them on the way to school…
Meanwhile, up the road in Tolland:
“A tractor trailer crash closed the east bound lanes of I-84 in Tolland this morning. The crash occurred between Exits 68 and 69. One FedEx tractor trailer crashed over the Jersey barrier, blocking the eastbound lanes and reducing traffic on the westbound side. Not too far away another FedEx truck rolled onto its side near a highway off-ramp. At least two passenger cars were involved as well, and were taken away on flatbed tow-trucks. At least one ambulance was seen leaving the scene of the crash, but we don’t know if anyone has been injured in any of the accidents. There are treacherous driving conditions from there towards Union. State police say the conditions are dangerous and there have been numerous accidents.”
Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Wyman Education Reform, Malloy, Stafan Pryor, Standardized Testing, Wyman
All across Connecticut, today – and for much of the next two weeks – educational activities will come to a halt for Connecticut’s 570,000 students. In the state’s more than 1,100 schools, teachers will stop teaching and children will stop learning.
Instead, the attention of teachers and children will turn to the Connecticut Mastery Tests and the task of filling in bubbles.
Faced with a growing state deficit, state and local government are increasing taxes and cutting services….including some of the most vital and essential services provided by government.
However, over the next two weeks, approximately $30 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds will go to one of the nation’s largest for-profit testing companies to pay for these standardized tests, scoring these tests and the necessary profit that goes along with their “work.”
Add in the lost teaching time and overhead and Connecticut will be diverting at least $50 million away from its already underfunded public education system.
All this so that we can determine that, in fact, poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services continue to be the three single biggest factors in determining standardized tests scores.
With less poverty and language barriers, suburban students will do better.
With more poverty and language barriers, urban students will do worse.
Students who require special education services will perform better or worse depending, in part, on whether their districts are providing them with the services they need and deserve. And more often than not, the answer to that question depends on whether the local school districts have the funds necessary to properly cover special education costs.
So that is an expenditure of $50 million to tell us what we already know.
The only difference is that this year, if Governor Malloy and his administration, including Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor have their way, the test results will then be used to punish teachers for factors that are clearly beyond their control.
In honor of this crime against our children, here are three (3) things to consider doing;
1) Sign the Parents Across America – Connecticut Chapter petition against the overuse of standardized testing: Reduce the use of Standardized Testing in Connecticut
2) Drop a note to Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and Commissioner Pryor:
3) Order yourself a Tested to Despair Bumper Sticker: See the link to the right of the Wait, What Blog or click on: TESTED TO DESPAIR BUMPER STICKERS
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Gifted and Talented, Hartford, Jonathan Kantrowitz, New London, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Windham
Okay so that wasn’t one of the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, but maybe that’s because the concept hadn’t been fully developed yet. But things are changing.
Despite unprecedented financial pressures, three of the poorest cities in Connecticut will be redirecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in education funding to create special academies for a small group of their most gifted students.
In what might be called the most bizarre turn of events yet in Connecticut’s “education reform” movement, education reformers extraordinaire, Special Master Steven Adamowski and Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas, are teaming up with the University of Connecticut’s Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development to create three Gifted and Talented Academies in New London, Windham and Bridgeport.
The purpose of the new schools will be to educate the “brightest young students” of those three cities. The new schools, which will be called Renzulli Academies, are named after UConn Professor Joe Renzulli, who is widely considered one of the world’s experts on developing programing for gifted students. According to the plan’s proponents, the new programs will be modeled after the existing Renzulli Academy in Hartford.
Each of the new schools will start with about 50 students and will expand, over time, to about 100 to 125 students.
According to media coverage, a $500,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will be split between the three cities to provide initial seed money; however the money will not be used to “sustain the program or build new schools.”
Therefore, in addition to the $166,000 each city will receive from the grant in the coming year, the three local school systems will be expected to use a “money follows the child” approach and dedicate another $350,000 or so in taxpayer funds to run the special schools. That amount will increase as the programs expand in the coming years.
Traditionally, rather than permanently pull “gifted” students out of their schools; supporters of gifted and talented education have urged that schools develop additional academic programing for those that are especially proficient in certain academic fields.
In this case, Renzulli is apparently pushing for a far more dramatic approach to support gifted and talented programing by actually removing the highest performing students from the existing local schools.
In a Hartford Courant article, Renzulli supported the move saying, “I think the superintendents in those districts are very courageous, because with so much going on and schools under so much pressure, it takes courage to do this for a very targeted group of students.”
Although the gifted students are being segregated out of their schools, New London’s Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer explained to the Day Newspaper of New London, “We’re very excited about the possibility to create a Renzulli Academy in New London…It’s a great chance to highlight and encourage the potential of the young people in New London.”
The paper went on to explain, “In the model academy in Hartford, classes include weekly enrichment clusters on topics that appeal to the teacher and students and stimulate investigation and creativity, making learning fun.”
Of course, the whole notion of pulling select public school children out of the broad-based public education system is an extremely troubling one and fraught with problems.
In New York City, for example, the NAACP has filed a major law suit against the City because its “high performance” schools, such as Stuyvesant High School, use entrance examines that effectively discriminate by blocking equal participation by Black and Latino students.
And while one of the three superintendents explains that test scores will be used to identify which students will transferred to the new Renzulli Academies, Connecticut’s State Department of Education has been clear that CMT (Connecticut Master Tests) should not be used for individual student placement decisions because of their level of inaccuracy in determining future individual performance, let alone the fact that the test results so correlate so significantly with student poverty, language barriers and special education disabilities.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the players in this initiative are absolutely and totally silent about the biggest issue of all; If the Renzulli teaching model works, and I’m sure it does knowing his level of expertise on the subject, the logical and appropriate public policy decision would be to insert Renzulli’s approach into more schools and provide a broader range of children, included those “most gifted,” with the benefits of curriculum that includes “enrichment clusters that stimulate investigation and creativity, making learning fun.”
The proposal coming forward would move us in exactly the wrong direction.
When all is said and done, segregating students, diverting scarce resources and creating new administrative structures is hardly the “reforms” that Connecticut’s children need or deserve.
Yesterday, fellow blogger and political activist Jonathan Kantrowitz took a look at the overall proposal in the context of Bridgeport, see the CT Post: http://blog.ctnews.com/kantrowitz/2013/02/26/gifted-and-talented-school-coming-to-john-winthrop/ and you can read more about the proposed Gifted and Talented Academies at the Courant: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-renzulli-academy-0226-20130225,0,3871187.story and the Day: http://www.theday.com/article/20130221/NWS01/130229925/1018
Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, State Budget, Stefan Pryor Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor
Hooray! The U.S. Department of Education is giving away $9.2 million to help states devise better tests for 4 year olds!
According to a recent article in Education Week, “Some state officials say the money would be welcome as they revamp their early-childhood-assessment programs. But others suggest that if the Education Department wants to focus attention on just one part of early learning, an avenue other than kindergarten assessments—teacher professional development, for example—would have been more welcome.”
But I say, to Hell with “teacher professional development.”
We are Connecticut and more assessments is our motto.
For example, just this past year, Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative included not one, but two major laws creating new reading assessment programs targeting pre-k to 3rd graders.
According to Public Act 12-116, the State Department of Education was required to “develop or approve reading assessments for districts to use to identify deficient K-3 readers. The education commissioner must submit these assessments to the Education Committee by February 1, 2013. Districts must use these assessments beginning July 1, 2013.”
In addition, according to the new law, “Assessments must frequently screen and monitor students throughout the school year. Screening will measure student mastery of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Districts can then use data from these screenings to develop individualized and whole class instruction.”
The major for profit educational testing companies have already lined up to start collecting taxpayer funds.
The noted education testing company, Pearson Education, has been selling a product called “Work Sampling System” and another company, Teaching Strategies LLC, has their own assessment product called the “Teaching Strategies Gold” program.
And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch.
According to the Education Week article, Connecticut is already well-known for its existing assessment program.
The Education Week article explains that Connecticut’s “kindergarten-entrance inventory” is administered in October. Teachers evaluate children on a variety of skills, such as counting to 10; holding a book and turning pages from front to back; and following classroom routines. An “exit inventory” also measures pupils’ skills as they prepare to leave kindergarten.”
And speaking of assessments, Connecticut’s new law also adds new rounds of testing of teachers.
According to the law, “Teachers certified in comprehensive special education or remedial reading and language arts must pass the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2013.
This reading instruction test was approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. Teachers must receive a satisfactory score on the test in order for their teaching endorsement to be valid for grades K-6 and K-12.
Additionally, K-3 teachers and local boards of education employees who hold certificates with nursery-3 or elementary endorsements must take the practice version of the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2014. Employees holding initial, provisional, or professional educator certificates must comply.
Unfortunately, the legislation was so poorly written that, “It is unclear if each affected teacher must take the above tests once or yearly.”
You can find out more about Connecticut’s new reading assessment program here http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0519.htm and more about the national scene via the Education Week article here:
Charter Schools, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Corporate Viewpoint, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Wendy Lecker Charter Schools, Connecticut Council for Education Reform, Jumoke, Malloy, Stefan Pryor, Wendy Lecker
Will someone speak up for Latino students?
Corporate reform group overlooks the truth in effort to bolster charter schools.
Rae Ann Knopf, the Executive Director for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform recently took issue with a commentary piece written by Wendy Lecker (recent commentary) that was published in the Stamford Advocate and Connecticut Post and then reposted here at Wait, What?
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a business group that was one of the biggest supporters of Governor Malloy’s” Education Reform” proposal. The organization’s board of directors is made up of a number of corporate executives including the Presidents, CEO or COOs of United Illuminating, First Niagara Bank, The Travelers, Nestle Waters North America, the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Retired Chairman & CEO of The Hartford.
In her commentary piece, Wendy Lecker reminded readers that as part of Malloy’s education reform effort, Hartford’s Milner School, a school where 40 percent of the students go home to households where English is not the primary language, was given to a nearby charter school management organization Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), despite the fact that FUSE has never had a non-English speaking student attend their Jumoke Academy schools.
Rather than devote the time and resources to help the Milner School succeed, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education gave the school, the students and millions of taxpayer dollars to a private entity that has no experience teaching bi-lingual students. Not surprisingly, according to a recent report to the State Department of Education, the Jumoke Academy has failed to take the necessary steps to strengthen its bi-lingual program and the number of students attending the Milner School has dropped.
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform’s Rae Ann Knopf came to the Jumoke Charter School’s defense writing, “Observing that enrollment at Milner, a school partnering with Jumoke Academy, has gone down, Ms. Lecker writes, “we can already see that Jumoke’s Milner is not the same as last year’s Milner.” (see Knopf’s response here)
Knopf adds, “Well, we certainly hope not. Over the last three years at “last year’s Milner”, students scored an average of 32.8 on the School Performance Index (SPI). Put in lay terms, that means most Milner students were not even scoring at the “Basic” level on their CMTs. In contrast, Jumoke students scored a three-year average SPI of 80.1 (which is close to the statewide achievement target of 88). That score indicates that many Jumoke students had “Advanced” and “Goal” CMT scores. As measured by test scores, students at Jumoke were more than twice as successful as students at Milner. There’s nothing unreasonable about the hypothesis that a partnership between Milner and Jumoke should advance student learning at the former Milner School.”
Once again, the education reformers will go to any length, even misrepresent the facts, to defend their school privatization agenda.
Rae Ann Knopf claims, “As measured by test scores, students at Jumoke were more than twice as successful as students at Milner.”
Even the education reformers recognize that the three most powerful factors determining test scores are poverty, language barriers and the number of students who need special education services
So what are the facts?
|Percent of Students not fluent in English
|Percent of Students going home to non-English speaking households
|Percent of Students with special education needs
|Percent of Students qualifying for Free or Reduce Lunch
So if the students attending the Milner School are significantly more poor, have far greater language barriers and a far greater number need special education services, is it surprising that test scores are lower at Milner than at Jumoke?
Of course not!
So do you then give the Milner School, its students and its taxpayer funds to a school that doesn’t have any experience with a major portion of the community?
Of course not! Unless you are part of Governor Malloy’s education reform plan.
And what happens when you transfer all that money to an entity that doesn’t have any experience?
According to the Commissioner’s Network Midyear Operations and Instruction Audit for the Thurman Milner School;
Four months into the year, Jumoke still hadn’t hired a bi-lingual teacher
And “Some teachers described an ELL push-in model and others describe a pull out model, so it is assumed that both approaches are used. While classroom teachers have had training in instructional strategies to use in teaching ELL students, some report that they could use more training in that area.”
One in five Jumoke-Milner students are not fluent in English and 40% of the students go home to households that don’t speak English and Jumoke still hasn’t hired a bi-lingual teacher and the teachers report that they DON’T KNOW if the Jumoke Administrators are using a “push-in or pull out” model of teaching English Language Learners?
Not only is CCER’s Executive Director overlooking the facts by defending the Jumoke Academy but the Commissioner’s Network Program and Governor Malloy’s education reform plans are failing to provide the most vital services to the children of the Milner School and especially the schools large Latino population.
If that is what the Connecticut Council for Education Reform considers a success, it is a sad day in Connecticut.
Diane Ravitch, Standardized Testing
(Cross posted from http://dianeravitch.net/)
Wednesday, Feb. 6th, 2013 is the National Day of Action to support Garfield High School and the other MAP test boycotters who are facing possible 10 Day Suspensions without pay for refusing to force students to take an unfair, counterproductive and bad standardized test.
Information about the Day of Action can be found here: http://scrapthemap.wordpress. com/2013/02/02/national-day- of-action-to-support-seattle- map-test-boycott/
Share the Facebook Day of Action page here by going here: https://www.facebook.com/ events/366568146775772/
Sign the Support the Seattle Teachers Petition here:
Call, email, and write to Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José L. Banda to let him know that you support the boycott:
Superintendent José L. Banda [email protected]
Office of the Superintendent
P.O. Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165
Read more about this historic boycott in Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian’s op-ed in the Seattle Times here: http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2020158085_jessehagopianopedxml.html
And various resolutions and letters of support can be found here: http://scrapthemap.wordpress.com/solidarity-statements-2/ and http://brianpjones.tumblr.com/post/41098555088/educatorssupportghs and http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/29/seattles_teacher_uprising_high_school_faculty
Christina Kishimoto, Corporate Viewpoint, Education Reform, Hartford, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Education Reform, Hartford, Standardized Testing
Earlier this month, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School announced that they would be boycotting the (Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test system. The also released a letter explaining why.
The teachers wrote, “…MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress…It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.”
By standing up to this flawed testing program, the Garfield High School teachers have sparked a national movement in opposition to the MAP Test. The effort has received the support of nationally renowned pro-public education individuals and groups including the American Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers, California Teachers Association, Change the Stakes, Diane Ravitch, FairTest, Matt Damon and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, National Education Association, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools and many more.
Over the same period, but at the other end of the spectrum, education officials in Hartford, along with their corporate education reform allies, have committed even more money, time and effort utilizing the very test that the Seattle teachers and their supporters are condemning.
Sarah Darer Littman, a CTNewsjunkie commentary writer and pro-public education blogger, has done an extraordinary job writing about the latest counterproductive efforts in Hartford.
In two recent commentary pieces, Littman has highlighted the ongoing effort to saddle Hartford’s students and teachers, and Connecticut’s taxpayers, with this MAP testing outrage.
To understand the underhanded, heavy-handed and behind the scenes maneuvering that “education reformers” are engaged in, read Beware of Foundations Bearing Gifts and An Expensive ‘Gift’ for Taxpayers Without Accountability.
The following passages summarize the problem;
“In August, the [Hartford Board of Education] was asked to renew the contract for the Northwest Evaluation Association MAP program for two years at a cost of $592,443, or $11.50 per student. MAP, or Measures of Academic Progress, was piloted with the 9th grade last year, but this year was extended K-12. At the time the school board was asked to renew the contract with the rollout of the program, the source of funding was described as “special funds”, with no mention of the Gates grant.
The full board was only notified of the grant in October. But because the money is being administered through the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, which will receive $50,000 per annum of the three year grant period to manage it, the school board was not given the opportunity to vote on the matter despite the cost implications for Hartford Public Schools and state taxpayers.
One of my major questions regarding the Gates grant and the impact on HPS has to do with technology resources. According to the NWEA technology requirements, each student requires a workstation or client and these must have adequate and stable Internet connectivity for the test to be successfully administered. “NWEA requires a persistent connection to the wireless access point, free of interruptions, to successfully run Test Taker. Any outages in the connection, regardless of how brief, may cause errors during testing or require re-testing particular students.”
Although the Gates grant budgets $592,443 over the three-year period for license fees for NWEA computer adaptive assessments, there is a mere $34,500 budgeted for computers and equipment, and that goes to Achievement First for “Technology for Residency Program for School Leadership.” As far as HPS goes, there is zero in the grant for the implementation of any technology.
According to Ms. Frederick, “HPS has been planning for the MAP testing for three years including extensive training for teachers and administrators in order to ensure all were and are prepared for the administration. In addition we have conducted a technology readiness survey to determine the level of resources available in each school. Our goal is to ensure that all schools are fully resourced to implement the test during the testing period. Purchasing computers for the schools that are the most in need is an ongoing priority in the district. When dealing with technology, issues can and do come up. When that happens, we have a system in place for resolving the issue immediately. To date, we have had very few problems administering the test district-wide.”
Ms. Frederick continued, “In administering the test, schools are very creative in using the resources they have while ensuring there is little disruption for other students. Many students take the test in a dedicated computer lab, others take the test in their classroom using either classroom computers or laptops. Several schools have laptop carts that move from classroom to classroom allowing students to remain in their classroom to take the test. In year one of the test, we have been pleased with the results both in participation and how successful schools have been in administering the test. We continue to evaluate and plan for improvement.”
Something about “creative use of resources” sounded the alarm bells with me, particularly because I’ve been hearing concerns from media and technology specialist friends in wealthy school districts about having adequate resources to implement SBAC, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium adaptive tests that will replace the CMT/CAPT in 2014-15.
I put out feelers to teachers in the trenches to try and ascertain the picture. Most were not willing to go on the record for fear of retribution. But William Morrison, a social studies teacher at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School, painted a somewhat less-than-rosy picture in telling me that the testing was problematic because of bandwidth problems.
Another teacher at a Hartford magnet school told me the school’s Wifi is turned off during assessments in order to limit bandwidth to testing computers. This means students and teachers not taking the assessments cannot use tablet devices. Both of the school’s laptop carts are used for testing for 3-4 weeks, making them unavailable for student projects.”
And the list of problems associated with even taking the tests goes on and on, not to mention the fact that the test results themselves are of little use.
If parents and taxpayers want to know the truth about this MAP testing program, they should start by reading up on the Scrap the MAP effort that is sweeping the nation. Begin by checking out the Scrap the MAP Blog.
And then ask your state and local elected officials why Hartford and Connecticut are moving in exactly the wrong direction on this vital education issue.
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor
When the Connecticut State Board of Education met yesterday to approve their 2013 legislative agenda, a primary initiative was to expand the state’s mandatory standardized testing program to include all Connecticut students in the 11th grade.
As of now, the state’s absurd mandatory Connecticut Mastery standardized testing extravaganza begins in grade three and runs through the CAPT test in grade 10.
Last year, Governor Malloy’s “education reform” proposal included a new mandatory test for students in the 11th grade. The Democrats on the General Assembly’s Education Committee quickly quashed the idea recognizing that students are already wasting way too much time being tested when they should be spending time learning.
Well, brace yourselves, the NO Child Left Untested industry is back.
In addition to the state’s mastery test program, school districts are required or are voluntarily engaged in a variety of other standardized testing programs and schemes. There are the Direct Reading Assessment (DRA) or Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) tests. There are the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Performance (NWEA MAP) tests.
Then there are the LAS, LAU and NOCTI tests.
Add of course the PSAT and SATs for high school students.
And of course, each round of tests requires hours and hours of practice tests.
As parents know, “Reading Prompts” now begin in 1st grade in order to position children correctly for the first round of testing that takes place two years later in 3rd grade.
One seasoned veteran teacher recently reported that from 3rd grade through 12th grade, students and teachers in suburban districts now spend more than six weeks taking standardized tests, and that doesn’t even count the practice tests.
The time wasted on standardized testing is even greater in our urban school districts like Hartford and Bridgeport. In just the past few years, those districts have shifted from one district wide Connecticut Mastery Test program a year to three rounds of district wide standardized benchmark tests PLUS the Connecticut Mastery Test.
Recently Bridgeport’s massive benchmark testing program crashed their computer system and children spent countless hours sitting around waiting while the information technology people worked with the out-of-state testing companies to try to figure out how to get the testing program back up and running
The Connecticut State Department of Education has estimated that just CMT/CAPT, the mastery test program alone, costs more than $25 million a year and if you add up all the standardized testing efforts, Connecticut and local taxpayers may be shelling out as much as $100 million a year for testing programs.
In nearly every case, the money goes directly to out-of-state, for-profit testing companies.
So here we are.
Cutting essential services to deal with a state budget deficit of more than $400 million this year and looking at a $1.2 billion projected budget deficit next year.
And all this is AFTER the state increased taxes by $1.5 billion during Governor Malloy’s first year in office.
And what do Malloy’s appointees to the Connecticut Board of Education decide to do?
They proposed a whole new round of standardized testing for another whole grade, the grade in which college bound students are supposed to be focusing on their grades, as well as the PSATs and SATs, while other students are looking ahead to prepare for work and other post-secondary education opportunities.
It is, as Wait, What? readers like to call – another “you can’t make this sh*t up” moment.