Very Important Warning for Connecticut High School Juniors and their parents

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

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

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

One thing is extremely clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prepscholar adds;

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

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

According to the College Board;

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

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

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

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

Or sent overnight delivery to:

SAT Score Cancellation

1425 Lower Ferry Road

Ewing, NJ 08618

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

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

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

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

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

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look Out Parents – Malloy’s State Department of Education is ramping up Pro-Common Core Testing Campaign

If you weren’t at the “Special” Sherman Board of Education meeting last Thursday you missed the “show.”

Big Brother is Watching and Big Brother is not Happy!

As Connecticut is swamped by yet another state budget crisis and Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy unilaterally makes deep cuts to some of State Government’s most vital services, the Governor’s Education Commissioner is finding the resources to engage in a campaign to persuade parents that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC testing scheme is good and they should not be opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory tests.

Last week began with the Connecticut State Department of Education’s Deputy Commissioner, Ellen Cohn, telling school superintendents that “correction action plans” will be implemented in towns where too many parents opted their children out the tests and that the Malloy administration would be mobilizing to “help educate” parents and communities where parents had stood up against the SBAC testing program.

Later in the week, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Diane Wentzell, focused the state’s bullseye on the small town of Sherman, Connecticut with its 380 or so elementary school students.

Although Malloy and the Department of Education spent nearly two years lying and misleading Connecticut parents about their fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing madness, nearly half of the students in Sherman’s school were opted out of the SBAC testing last spring, making it the elementary school with the highest opt out rates in the state and among Connecticut’s 25 top schools when it came to the percent of students being opted out.

The notion that parents understand that Common Core SBAC testing is undermining public education was just too much for the State to handle and last Thursday, after communications that the State Department of Education has yet to release a response to a Freedom of Information request, the Sherman Board of Education held a “special meeting” to “focus solely on a presentation to the Board of Education by our superintendent, Don Fiftal, and a panel of educational experts to provide direct and up-to-date information about the Connecticut Common Core Standards and the SBAC Assessments.”

Headlining the panel was Commissioner Dianna Wentzell and the Chief Counsel for the Connecticut Boards of Education and former State Board of Education member, Patrice McCarthy, as well as others.  Wentzell and McCarthy are among the state’s strongest proponents of the Common Core, Common Core testing and Governor Malloy’s other “education reforms.”

The “panel” to “educate” Sherman about the Common Core tests did not include an opponent of the testing mandate and parents and public education advocates from out-of-town were instructed that they were not allowed to speak or ask questions at the “special meeting.”

With no mass media coverage of the event in Sherman, Connecticut parents might never have even known about the Malloy’s administration growing PR campaign in favor of the SBAC tests, but thankfully a number of public education advocates attended the meeting and in a piece entitled, “A Different Perspective on the 9/24/15 Sherman “Special” BOE Meeting,” Jack Bestor, a recently retired and award winning school psychologist who worked for 41 years with students, parents, and teachers in the Westport Public Schools has provided us with a summary of what the authorities said in Sherman last week.

In addition to receiving the CT Association of School Psychologists Life-Time Achievement Award, Jack Bestor has written numerous commentary pieces about the dangers associated with corporate education reform for the CT Mirror, CT Newsjunkie and Wait, What?  Bestor also wrote an opinion piece in the March/April 2014 NASP Communique (the newspaper of the National Association of School Psychologists) entitled: “Common Core Standards Do Not Serve the Educational Needs of Children.”

A Different Perspective on the 9/24/15 Sherman “Special” BOE Meeting.  By Jack Bestor

The Sherman BOE did itself and the citizens of Sherman a huge disservice at its “special meeting” on September 24, 2015, to discuss the recent SBAC test results.  In the bucolic atmosphere of this beautiful country town on the western edge of the State, all the Governor’s horses and all the Governor’s men (and women) assembled to present a one-sided view on the many attributes of the Common Core and the improved new-generation, computer-adaptive SBAC test.  Or, so their propaganda would suggest.

In a highly controlled informational meeting, it was made clear from the beginning that only Sherman residents would be allowed to speak.  As a result, the BOE and public in attendance were presented with lengthy series of misleading statements that were marked by their omissions, partial truths that were delivered with a smile and disarming reassurance.  The State Education Commissioner (Dr. Dianna Wentzell), RÈSC (Regional Educational Service Center) administrator, and an attorney from CABE (CT Association of Boards of Education) – all steadfast promoters of the education reform agenda in CT – were joined on a panel by two district administrators and a classroom teacher, moderated by the district school Superintendent.  Since a large percentage (48% overall, 57% of middle school group, the largest percentage in the State) of Sherman students across this small district refused to take last Spring’s SBAC test, it was incumbent on the State Department of Education to convince the parents of these students and the older students themselves that they should comply with federal test accountability requirements.  Their presentation was startlingly disingenuous: never referencing the nationwide controversy associated with this testing, misleading those listening as to transparency of privacy policies, and implying that there could be serious financial consequences for future test refusals.

The series of prepared questions presented by the Superintendent to the “expert panel” included how to explain the newly-named CT Core Standards and how they would be evaluated; the legal grounds of local BOEs relative to test compliance mandates; what was the “actual origin” of the Common Core Standards; who stands to profit from testing; and what about privacy and data-mining.  The panelists responded with partial truths that displayed their compliant acceptance of the unsubstantiated underlying premises promoted by the education reform industry.  In claiming that the Common Core was developed by thousands of persons (though admittedly “not enough K-3 representation”), Dr. Wentzell misrepresented the universal understanding of the test industry’s lead role in developing the Standards, after all, that’s “not unusual in Standards development actually” she said.   Further claiming that the SBAC tests were developed with hundreds of CT educators working with the SBAC development team was undoubtedly exaggerated.  Fortunately, she did not attempt to claim the SBAC test results as “valid, reliable, and fair” as she had told the school superintendents in August.  She must have received the memo that such a claim had been thrown out by a Missouri judge in a Summary Judgment against the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium.

Soon thereafter, the attorney for CABE advised the Sherman BOE that there was no legal requirement to implement the Common Core Standards, although she claimed the majority of local districts found the Standards appropriate and were implementing them.  The testing requirement, however, was a federal mandate demanding that the State administer an “approved exam” to 95% of all public school students.  The implication was that, although students would be tested on the Common Core Standards, a BOE would not have to adopt those standards.  Don’t need to adopt, but if your students perform poorly, the district could be taken over by the State.  Definitely a Catch-22.   Bottom line, even though there is technically no State-required curriculum because those are “local decisions”, there is certainly pressure on BOEs and school administrators to comply.

As the evening wore on, the State Department representatives and the local educators did their best to re-assure the BOE and audience that their students were protected and well-served.  The district curricula specialist repeated the established “talking point” that the test score is “only one small part” of a student’s performance profile.  The local school personnel were, as would be expected, very positive about new curricular initiatives, the technological support provided during test administration, and the “relaxed atmosphere” in which the students took the untimed, computer adaptive SBAC test.  No mention of the psychometric inadequacies of the SBAC or whether it even measures what the test company (for confusion’s sake, let’s call it a consortium) claims to measure.

A more tricky discussion ensued on student privacy and possible data-mining.  Dr. Wentzell indicated that the CT student data system is no different than it had been during CMT administrations which may well be true, but doesn’t really answer the question or reflect the need for any adjustments relative to increased technological capabilities and expectations.  She went on to say that – in her opinion – the State Department is “extremely conservative” in protecting data privacy, even “more so than is required by law” she reported.  Of course, that is because there is no law protecting student data privacy in CT.  The presiding attorney indicated that, in CT, students had “double protection” by “specific statutory language” and because student data is “not public information under FOI” [Freedom of Information Act].  Without saying it, they both seemed to feel that adequate protections were in place despite no changes since the CMT days relative to today’s highly “hacked” technological climate.  They admitted that, though they felt confident SBAC test results could not be data-mined, schools and parents had to be careful in protecting students from many other software programs that did not have such protections.

As for teacher evaluations tied to student test results, the state does not require a certain percentage at this time, but that does not mean local districts can’t require it if they so choose.  For now, the federal government has “delayed that requirement”, but we will have to wait on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) re-authorization – currently known as No Child Left Behind – before  we will know how to move forward.  “Teachers can trust us,” stated a local administrator.  No discussion of the research-based inadequacies of the widely discredited VAM (value-added model) algorithms.  No professional opinions put forth.  Implication is that, if required to comply, we will certainly acquiesce.

When asked about potential consequences of a low participation rate, Dr. Wentzell expressed relief that the State average met the 95% federal requirement.  Her presence was intended to convince parents to allow their students to take the SBAC test next year.  Although the Superintendent informed Sherman residents that this meeting was intended to educate the BOE, Dr. Wentzell addressed the audience all night.  She implied that a “pattern of low participation” could result in withholding of Title 1 funding.  She did not, however, tell parents that they could not refuse to have their children take the test; she simply did not address the issue.

As designed, public participation was limited to three minutes for Sherman residents only.  First up, a school administrator from a neighboring district sang the praises of the Common Core Standards and the aligned testing.  A resident asked about upcoming 11th-grade use of the SAT and the panel was unwilling to inform the audience that David Coleman, the renowned “architect of the Common Core Standards”, was now leading the College Board which oversees not only the newly-designed SAT, but all Advanced Placement tests, the PSAT/NMSQT (for qualifying as a National Merit Scholar), the traditional PSAT, and more.  He had been hired, of course, to improve the College Board’s diminishing market share as more and more colleges and universities are no longer requiring test information because they know it is least revealing of how a student will perform in college.  As so eloquently expressed in the movie All the Presidents Men: “Follow the money” … just follow the money, folks, it bears repeating.   A student from neighboring New Milford High School was allowed to speak on behalf of her Sherman classmates and expressed the frustration that students were having with instructional lessons geared toward telling them what to think rather than encouraging them to think for themselves.  Another parent asked specifically about the loss of privacy protections; she had been particularly alarmed to learn that parents were unaware “that twenty-two private companies as subcontractors to AIR” (American Institutes of Research) had access to “enormous amounts of student data” without parental notification or disclosure.  Even though Dr. Wentzell attempted to refute that point, it is truly hard to know where the truth lies on these contentious issues, but clearly the bully pulpit belonged to the forces of education reform this evening.

Partial Truths.  Half Truths. Three-quarter Truths.  No Truth.  Who is to say?  The whole truth was not in evidence tonight.  Good people, informed people can disagree.  However, it seems to me that those professionals charged with leading our State educators and elected BOE members should give all sides of such a contentious debate, not simply sell a predetermined message.  No mention of the raging controversy surrounding the SBAC test.  Not the kind of professional leadership I expect from my State education leaders.  Lots said, more left out.  Their disingenuousness lies in what was not said.  Sad night for full and honest disclosure.  Hopefully their mission was not accomplished.

Since the courageous parents and students of the Sherman Public Schools pushed-back against the unproven and invalid SBAC tests in ways comparable to our determined ancestors at Lexington and Concord 240 years ago, the proverbial shots have been heard around the State.  As government forces double-down by misleading, exaggerating, and blindly promoting misguided public policies, think biblically of David against Goliath, think cinematically of Luke Skywalker against Darth Vader and the Evil Empire.  Our history abounds with examples of individual’s protecting their rights for freedom and liberty against the forces of greed, corruption, and the arrogance of entrenched power.

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

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

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

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

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

It turns out, they took the wrong test.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hartford Courant story goes on to add,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

School Safety – Appearance more important than substance for Malloy

The Malloy administration has failed – again – on the issue of safe schools and the State of Connecticut’s school climate and anti-bullying law!

For far too many politicians, all that matters is the publicity.

That disturbing truth is apparent even on the most important issues such as ensuring children have safe and secure schools and positive learning environments.

While Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration consistently claim safe schools and fostering positive school climates are a top priority, they have, yet again, failed to fulfill their legal duty to issue the Connecticut School Climate Report.

Despite the clear and concise responsibility to issue an annual report about developing safe school climates, Malloy’s team have dropped the ball in 2012, 2013, 2014 and now in 2015.

This year’s Connecticut School Climate Report was due on February 1, 2015, however there is still no report … more than six months after its due date.

The problem isn’t the lack of professional staff at the State Department of Education, while relegated to the back offices, SDE’s experts remain engaged in helping Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and schools.

But the disaster lies with the reality that Malloy has appointed agency heads who are more dedicated to making him look good than actually doing the people’s business.

In the case of safe schools and creating better school climates, Malloy’s PR operation has remained in full swing despite the fact that his administration hasn’t done the required work.

Here are the facts;

On July 13, 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws. This legislation takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn in Connecticut public schools without fear of teasing, humiliation, or assault.

On June 25, 2014, Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman led a ceremony at the Connecticut Children’s Museum in New Haven to celebrate the signing into law of Public Act No. 14-172, An Act Concerning Improvement Opportunities Through Education and Ensuring Safe School Climates.

For background, the foundation of Connecticut’ safe school climate and anti-bullying law is the requirement that the State Department of Education produce a comprehensive report that provides policymakers, parents, teachers and the public with information about the steps school districts are taking to create safer schools.

The law even requires the State Department of Education report provide annual recommendations on what school districts should be doing to ensure safer, more secure and healthier schools for all children.

With the Newtown Massacre highlighting the unacceptably dangerous world in which we live, Governor Malloy backed an effort to reduce bullying and improve school safety through an initiative that included the provision that the State Department of Education release a comprehensive school safety report every two years.

As part of Malloy’s 2014 “gun control” law, the statute was even changed to require that the report be issued annually.

But four years into the process, the Malloy administration has had an absolutely unblemished record of failure when it comes to producing the important report in a timely or appropriate manner.

Like so many  of Malloy’s “initiatives” once the cameras are turned off and the media walk away, the Governor and his top political appointees move on to the next media opportunity without following through with the actual task of governing.

In an April 8, 2013 Wait, What Post entitled, Commissioner Pryor, where is your Department’s mandated report on school safety and bullying? it was noted;

It is one of the most important reports that the State Department of Education produces.

It was supposed to include recommendations for how to create safer school environments.

It WAS DUE February 1, 2012…more than a year ago!

Where is it?

Although Connecticut is learning the hard way that lawyers, with no classroom or education background, don’t make the best education leaders, it’s impossible to believe that Governor Malloy’s Education Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, and his senior leadership team fail to understand that creating a safe school environment is one of the most important educational issues of our time.

At the very least, we would expect that as lawyers, these “education leaders” would appreciate the need to follow the law.  But these days, even that appears to be a reach.

The fact is that parents expect and demand that our state, the Department of Education and our schools are doing everything possible to keep our children safe.  It is especially understood that a safe and healthy school environment is the single most important element in creating successful learning environments.

It is also the law in the State of Connecticut.

[…]

For reasons beyond comprehension, it appears that Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, never released the report.

When Connecticut’s School Climate Report was finally issued, there were simply no recommendations, despite the specific legislative language mandating that recommendations be provided.   See Wait, What? article, Commissioner Pryor issues bullying report without recommendations, despite law… (5/20/2013)

The law required the State Department of Education to issue its report on Safe School Climate Plans in Connecticut no later than February 2012…

Commissioner Pryor issued his report 14 months late, in April 2013, after his failure to follow Connecticut law was reported on here at Wait, What?

The law also mandated that the report include recommendations for reducing school bullying and improving school safety.  In fact, the law actually reads that the Commissioner and the State Department of Education provide recommendations “… regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate.”

Now that Pryor’s report is finally out, it turns out that his report FAILS TO MAKE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS for reducing bullying or improving school safety.

One of the most important issues of our time and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor didn’t have a single recommendation for making our schools safer?

With much fanfare and press releases, the law in question was signed on July 13, 2011 by Governor Dannel Malloy.

It was called An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying laws.  According to the Malloy Administration, “This legislation takes comprehensive steps to ensure every child’s right to learn in Connecticut public schools without fear of teasing, humiliation, or assault.”

[…]

Commissioner Pryor explained the lateness of the report by writing, “This report is being filed late due in part to personnel changes that occurred in the course of the agency review process.”

Wait, What?

Commissioner Stefan Pryor took office in September 2011, five months before the report was even supposed to be issued and now he wants us to believe that it took him and his personal staff 14 more months to review a 6 page report?  (17 pages if you count the appendices).

[…]

Pryor added, “Given recent legislative activity, including PA 13-3 and a new survey that will be distributed in the Spring of 2013, the CSDE plans to issue recommendations in the January 2014 report so that such recommendations address the current conditions in  Connecticut.”

But come February 2014 the Malloy administration missed the deadline – yet again.  The story was reported in the Wait, What? article, Oh for crying out loud – Pryor misses deadline for vital school safety report AGAIN! (2/10/2014)

And now it is August 2015, Connecticut’s students will be headed back to school in just a couple of weeks and it turns out the Malloy administration never even issued this year’s school climate report.

They failed to issue it on in February or March or April or May or June or July….

It is said that action speaks louder than words.

In this case it is the Malloy administration’s inaction that is speaking volumes about their failure to get the job done and done right – even on the most important issues of our time.

What possible excuse do they have this time?

More than 7 in 10 high school juniors in Washington State FAIL the Unfair SBAC Math Test

While there is nothing but silence from Connecticut’s State Department of Education about the results of this year’s unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test, the Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction (Washington State’s equivalent of the Connecticut State Department of Education) is reporting that,

Only 29 percent of Washington High School students passed the SBAC math test.  That means that about 50,000 high school juniors, many of who are preparing to apply to college next year, are unfairly being labeled as failures.

As anti-SBAC advocates in Washington State are reporting, “By comparison, only 12,380 students from the Graduating Class of 2015 failed to pass the previous state math test.”

As in Washington State, Connecticut juniors will soon discover that they too have been the victims of the test designed to fail the vast majority of public school students.

And rather than protect Connecticut’s public schools students, Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly provided the funding and support for this outrageous injustice.

In a series of Wait, What? posts last spring, including articles entitled Is your public school student a “failure” – the Common Core SBAC Test says probably yes!  and  Opt your High School Juniors out of the Common Core SBAC Test, it became increasingly evident that the Common Core SBAC test is literally designed to fail students.

According to the SBAC  organization’s own reports, approximately 70 percent of high school juniors would fail the Common Core SBAC test in math and, as the Washington State results reveal, the SBAC has succeeded in failing 7 of 10 high school juniors in that state.

But those young people are anything but failures!

As Washington State anti-SBAC advocates note,

“What is most shocking about this result is that these same students who were not able to pass the unfair SBAC Math test were second in the nation on the NAEP (National Assessment of Student Progress) Math Test and among the highest performing math students of any students in the entire world on international math tests!”

Connecticut’s public schools students and their parents will soon learn that the pro-common core, education reform industry and their allies like Governor Malloy have succeeded in undermining our children as well.

For Connecticut parents who did not have the foresight to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test, if you aren’t angry yet…. You will be soon …. just wait until the Malloy administration releases Connecticut’s SBAC results.

For more about this news go to: http://coalitiontoprotectourpublicschools.org/50-000-juniors-in-washington-state-fail-to-pass-the-unfair-sbac-math-test and http://k12.wa.us/Communications/PressReleases2015/PrelimSmarterBalancedResults.aspx

What is the story with the disastrous Foundations of Reading Survey

If you are a K-3 teacher who has taken Connecticut’s new Foundations of Reading test you know something has gone very wrong.

The new Foundations of Reading test is made up of 85 multiple choice questions addressing “3 subareas and 9 objectives.”  The Connecticut State Department of Education writes that the goal of the test is to measure where K-3 teachers are properly prepared in “(I) Foundations of Reading Development, (2) Development of Reading Comprehension and (3) Reading Assessment and Instruction.

The monstrous Pearson Education Inc. was hired by Governor Malloy’s State Department of Education to design a Connecticut specific test so that the state could measure and determine the capabilities of all Kindergarten through 3rd grade teachers.

However, according to a significant number of people who have taken or seen Pearson’s Connecticut “Foundations of Reading” test many of the questions relate to teaching children older than third grade or children who require English Language assistance.  If true, this is a perplexing and jarring development considering the state law was only intended to measure the practices directly related to teaching reaching in K-3.

In addition, many of those taking the new K-3 reading test report that the actual “ready survey” is completely different than the practice tests that the State Department of Education had been urging teachers to take in preparation for taking the new exam.

As more and more reports come from teachers who have actually taken the test, the question now arises as to whether the state paid the Pearson Company for a Connecticut specific test, but has been given something completely different.

Since corporate education reform industry groupie Dannel Malloy was elected governor of Connecticut, Pearson Inc. has collected just over $3 million and counting from the taxpayers of the state of Connecticut.

Some of those funds were specifically used to develop and administer Malloy’s new reading exam.

The mandate requiring that teachers take the new exam was part of Malloy’s anti-teacher, anti-public school education reform initiative of 2012.

The law states that teachers in Kindergarten through 3rd grade must “take a survey on reading instruction, developed by the Department of Education.”

Pearson Inc. and its affiliate, the Evaluation Systems Group, was apparently hired by the State Department of Education to modify their Foundations of Reading test to be used in Connecticut.

According to the company, the Foundations of Reading test “assesses proficiency in and depth of understanding of the subject of reading and writing development. The test reflects scientifically based reading research and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards.”

Pearson, of course, is the “global leader in educational publishing, assessment, information, and services and Pearson is committed to innovative print and digital educational materials for pre-kindergarten through professional learning. The resources of Pearson span the breadth and depth of its internationally successful brands, including Addison Wesley, Allyn & Bacon/Merrill, Benjamin Cummings, the Stanford Achievement Test Series, the Wechsler family of assessments, SuccessNet, MyLabs, Scott Foresman, Prentice Hall, AGS, PowerSchool, SuccessMaker, TeacherVision, and many others.”

Pearson goes on to brag that it is, “renowned for its student information systems and learning management systems, teacher development programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry through a combination of research, technology, and expertise.”

For state governments, Pearson advertises, ““Our custom evaluation services represent a full range of services for creating and administering teacher certification tests that align 100 percent with the teacher certification requirements and student academic standards of an individual state. Our programs span the country and include such states as Arizona, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. We have the people, experience, and technology to tailor our services to a state’s most exacting needs.”

So now the question is —- what exactly did the state of Connecticut get for its money and what are Connecticut K-3 teachers being tested on.

According to the law, the “survey” must “identify strengths and weaknesses of the teachers’ reading instruction, practice and knowledge on an individual, school, and district level.”

While the law states that the “survey” results will not be used as part of a teacher’s “summative performance evaluation rating under the new teacher evaluation program,” the results will be used, “in developing the professional development plans for the individual teacher.”

But if it is true that many of the questions included in the survey don’t actually relate to the work these teachers are doing or aren’t even appropriate for the age group these teachers are educating, then how are local districts supposed to interpret and use the results?

Anyone with information about the test is welcome to post their comments here or send them along to [email protected] where they will be collected, synthesized and posted in a future article.