The Malloy administration’s failed “school turnaround” program

Since taking office, Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-teacher, anti-public education initiatives have done tremendous damage to Connecticut public education system.  Few governors in the United States have implemented such a short-sighted, mean-spirited and down right stupid approach to education.

Among Malloy’s worst “accomplishments” has been his “school turnaround” program that has undermined the local involvement of students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Not only has the Malloy administration undermined the very people public schools were created to help, his efforts have cut deep into the fabric of Connecticut’s historic system of local control.

In her

latest column, education advocate Wendy Lecker takes on the Malloy administration’s failure school turnaround strategies.  In Policy can foster positive relationships for kids, a commentary piece that first appeared in the Stamford Advocate, Wendy Lecker writes;

Current education policy focuses on a failed strategy of school and district “turnarounds;” characterized by staff shake-ups and pedagogical practices that focus narrowly on raising test scores. This reform has been the Malloy Administration’s approach to school “improvement” since 2012. The evidence demonstrates that turnarounds produce at best temporary small increases in test scores, but at the high cost of destabilizing schools and communities in the long run.

While policymakers stubbornly pursue this dead end, they ignore evidence from science and educational practice pointing to methods that result in long-lasting improvements in both academic and life outcomes, especially for at-risk children.

A recent article in the science magazine, Mosaic, described a longitudinal study of children in Hawaii that examined why some at-risk children develop significant problems while others do not. The researchers found that for the one-third of at-risk children who did not develop problems, positive relationships, whether in the context of a community or one adult, were key. Even those who engaged in risky behavior as teens were able to turn their lives around with the help of a personal connection.

One of the researchers observed that resilience, often described as a trait, is instead an adaptive process; one that is helped by relationships.

Education reformers misread resilience as a trait they like to call “grit,” and consequently develop misguided policies such as the recent announcement by the federal government that the National Assessment of Educational Progress will create a standardized test to determine whether children have “grit.”

Understanding resilience the way these scientists have come to understand it would lead to a focus on more successful educational policies. Consistent with what science has discovered, it turns out that school programs and policies that promote the development of relationships are the ones that provide long-term educational and life benefits, especially to disadvantaged children.

It stands to reason that school mechanisms promoting a personal connection improve learning as well as social development. Neuroscientists have found that the brain does not recognize a sharp distinction between cognitive, social and motor functions. Consequently, research has shown that feelings of social isolation impair key cognitive abilities involved in learning.

Though they require substantial initial investments, educational policies that foster relationships save money in the long run.

Developmentally-appropriate preschool, with an emphasis on play, enables children to acquire the skills necessary to form healthy relationships. There is near universal consensus that quality preschool benefits children, increasing the chance of graduation, higher earnings, and decreasing placement in special education, involvement in the criminal justice system and the need for other social services. It also can save society as much as $16 for every dollar spent on preschool, by avoiding the costs of these later interventions.

Small class size, which fosters closer relationships between children and their teachers, has been proven to provide similar benefits, increasing graduation rates and earning potential, and decreasing the likelihood and cost to society of risky behavior. Research also shows that increasing class size has detrimental and costly long-term effects on at-risk children.

Now, new evidence from the Colorado Department of Education shows that increasing guidance counselors in secondary schools saved $20 for every dollar spent. Colorado implemented a grant program enabling 255 high schools across the state to hire more counselors and reduce their student-counselor ratio to a ratio of 216:1; a level below the 250:1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselors Association. As a result, the schools’ drop-out rates decreased, saving the state over $319 million dollars.

The program benefited low-income students of color the most. This result is consistent with research examining why students leave high school. As detailed in an earlier column, many students at-risk of dropping out or who have already left high school are more likely to remain or return if they can develop a relationship with a caring adult. Increasing the number of counselors increases the likelihood that at-risk high school students develop a relationship with such an adult.

Preschool, small class size and counselors are among the educational resources the plaintiffs in Connecticut’s pending school funding case, CCJEF v. Rell, seek for Connecticut’s most disadvantaged children. Educational programs and services that foster positive relationships are proven to pay off for society, by preventing more costly social and academic interventions later on; and most importantly for our children, by increasing the chance that they develop into capable and productive adults.

Wendy Lecker is a columnist for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and is senior attorney at the Education Law Center.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Policy-can-foster-positive-9125538.php 

 

A void in oversight of charter schools (By Wendy Lecker)

Surprise!  Connecticut taxpayers are giving privately owned and operated charter schools more than $110 million a year, with little to no oversight.  Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic controlled state legislature are implementing the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools.  The budget cuts, along with the inadequate funding allocated for public schools mean Connecticut’s public school students will be getting less, while local property taxpayers will be charged even more.

In another MUST READ piece, public education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker reports on the void in oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools.

Wendy Lecker writes;

One would think that after the scandals involving Connecticut’s two large charter chains, Jumoke and Achievement First, Connecticut’s education officials would finally exert some meaningful oversight over Connecticut’s charter sector.

One would be wrong.

This week the Connecticut Mirror reported that Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell dismissed a complaint against Bridgeport Achievement First, for using uncertified teachers for 47 percent of its staff, in violation of Connecticut statute. Wentzell unilaterally decided that the law allowing complaints against public schools does not apply to charters; despite the fact that charters receive more than $100 million each year in public taxpayer dollars.

Wentzell disregarded the data showing Achievement First’s misdeeds, claiming the State Department of Education (SDE) will wait until the charter comes up for renewal. Wentzell apparently ignored the law allowing her to put a charter on probation “at any time.”

The laissez-faire attitude toward charter schools pervades this administration. At the June 1 State Board of Education meeting, where the board voted to grant waivers to six charters to increase their enrollment beyond the statutory cap, Mark Linabury, head of SDE’s Choice Bureau, stated that when it comes to charter oversight, “we operate in the dark” until the renewal process.

While SDE closes its eyes, the complaints against charters pile up. Last week, students at Achievement First’s Amistad High School in New Haven staged a mass walkout to protest racial insensitivity and harsh discipline. They might have also protested the abominable graduation rate which, counting attrition since ninth grade, was 53 percent in 2015 — well below New Haven’s.

Amistad is one of the schools granted an enrollment increase waiver on June 1; supposedly based on Amistad’s academic performance (a 53-percent graduation rate?). Recommending the increase, SDE declared that Amistad draws 100 percent of its students from New Haven. However, the New Haven Independent, in reporting the walkout story, noted “(a)t 10:20, students who live in Bridgeport went inside after they were told they would not be allowed to board buses home if they didn’t.” Indeed, students told reporter Paul Bass that half of Amistad students come from Bridgeport every day. Is anyone at SDE minding the store?

Students have well-founded complaints about Amistad’s discipline practices. While suspensions statewide decreased from 2010 through 2015, they skyrocketed at Amistad, from 302 to 1,307 suspensions. There were more suspensions in 2014-15 than there were students, who numbered 984. During that five-year period, enrollment increased by about 25 percent, while suspensions more than quadrupled.

Other charters granted enrollment expansion waivers on June 1 also have deplorable suspension rates. Bridgeport’s Achievement First had 1,641 suspensions, almost double the number of students, 977, in 2014-15. The number of suspensions more than tripled since 2010-11, when there were 456, and 409 students.

Great Oaks Charter School in Bridgeport, operating for just one year, had 154 suspensions, outpacing its enrollment of 127 students. Great Oaks received the waiver for the largest increase in seats. Explaining the basis for exceeding the statutory cap, Linabury stated that there was a strict focus on the school’s performance.

Apparently SDE does not consider abusive discipline worth investigating. It should. A recent UCLA report found that nationwide, suspensions lead to dropouts, costing more than $46 billion in lost tax revenue and other social costs.

SDE admitted that, academically, Great Oaks performs well below the state average, and worse than Bridgeport, its host district. Yet SDE still recommended Great Oaks for an increase, which the board rubber-stamped.

Beyond its appalling lack of oversight, SDE made blatant misrepresentations in its quest to expand charters. SDE’s CFO Kathleen Dempsey, declared that before these charters opened, “local approval and support” were required. For Great Oaks and another school granted a statutory increase, Stamford Charter School for Excellence, that statement is false. The public and the local boards of education opposed these charters.

Some state board members feigned dismay that there was ample funding for charter increases while the state slashed hundreds of millions of dollars from vo-tech, magnets and public schools. They then approved the enrollment increases, without any investigation into discipline abuses, uncertified teachers or other misdeeds.

The members declared it would be unfair not to expand enrollment because the charters already held the lotteries for these seats. When asked why the charters held lotteries for seats before they were even approved, SDE again abdicated responsibility, claiming SDE has no say over charter lotteries.

With billions of dollars and student well-being at stake, Connecticut’s children and taxpayers deserve better than officials who sit idly by while charter schools call all the shots.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s original article in the Stamford Advocate at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-A-void-in-oversight-of-charter-7988759.php

Maintaining the status quo of two Connecticuts (By Wendy Lecker)

Wendy Lecker, leading public education advocate, education funding expert and fellow education columnist, returns to the issue of Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration’s utter failure to address the historic underfunding of Connecticut’s public schools or provide our students, parents, teachers and public schools with the resources and support they need to ensure a quality education for every Connecticut child.

At a time when a comprehensive, quality education is more important than ever, it is a stunning and terrible commentary that a governor, commissioner of education and legislature would intentionally refuse to fulfill one of their most fundamental and important responsibilities.  It is truly a sign of the times.

In her latest column, that first appeared in the Stamford Advocate this past weekend, Wendy Lecker writes;

Maintaining the status quo of two Connecticuts

The defense is in full swing at Connecticut’s school funding trial, CCJEF v. Rell. The state is attempting to make the case that Connecticut’s poorest schools do not need any more state funding.

As if to hammer home their point, the newly minted deal from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Democratic legislators slashes nearly $100 million from state education aid. More than $30 million will be cut from the state’s funding formula, ECS, along with tens of millions cut for school transportation, millions cut from special education; and cuts to additional state aid to Connecticut’s poorest districts, such as millions cut from priority school grants and turnaround funds.

These state aid reductions will have the most devastating effect in our poorest school districts. As detailed in an earlier column, Hartford is already forced to cut teachers, guidance counselors, intervention specialists and other key staff and programs. Further cuts to state aid will force more deprivation for these already starving schools.

How is the state dealing with this reality in court? The testimony of Education Commissioner Wentzell provides a clue. Wentzell, who spent most of her career in wealthy school districts or selective choice programs, repeatedly asserted on the stand that “leadership is much more important than money.” She even went so far as to claim that “(l)eadership without money works very well.” When asked whether resources might have something to do with student achievement, she pointedly evaded the question, even when the judge asked her directly.

Wentzell clung to her notion that all schools need is “leadership” even while conceding that CCJEF districts lack adequate basic resources such as guidance counselors. She downplayed the importance of other essential educational resources. For example, despite universal agreement that pre-K improves academic and life outcomes, especially for poor children, Wentzell said she did not know whether pre-K helps close achievement gaps. She also discounted the shortage of library and media specialists in Connecticut’s poorest districts.

Wentzell sang a different tune at Connecticut’s All-State Music Festival, just days after her testimony. The All-State Festival selects, based on auditions, student musicians from across the state from among those who already made the cut in earlier regional festivals. The students who were selected spent two days rehearsing with guest conductors, then performed for the public at the Connecticut Convention Center. Addressing the audience and more than 400 student-musicians before the concerts, Wentzell emphasized that music is essential to a quality education; claiming she and the state are committed to music education in Connecticut’s public schools.

Although the festival took place in Hartford, not one Hartford student participated in the concerts. Nor were there students from Bridgeport, Windham, New Britain or New London schools — all CCJEF plaintiff districts. The concert participants were virtually all from Connecticut’s wealthier districts.

It is not that talent only resides in Connecticut’s affluent towns. In Bridgeport, because of a lack of resources, instrumental programs are virtually nonexistent. There is no instrumental program in elementary school and very little in middle school. Harding High School had no music teacher until last year. Only one Bridgeport high school has a small band. The story is similar in Hartford. Many schools cannot offer any music classes at all. There is no instrumental music in Windham’s elementary schools, except for the higher-funded STEM magnet, and very little in middle school. As a result, Windham’s high school music programs are small. New Britain has to rely on outside grants to try to cobble together an elementary music program. Children in our poorest districts have little exposure to music education and their talent goes undeveloped.

Does Commissioner Wentzell think that “leadership” will enable these districts to conjure flutes and violins from thin air?

The contradictory messages Wentzell sent in court and on the stage at the All-State Festival are telling. For her, children in Connecticut’s poorest districts do not need essentials such as guidance counselors, pre-K, libraries, or music, as long as they have “leadership.” But children in Connecticut’s wealthiest districts can have it all.

Wentzell, Malloy and our other state leaders are clearly content with the status quo of two Connecticuts: well-appointed schools in wealthy mostly white towns, and our poorest schools, serving our neediest children and mostly children of color, unable to provide the basics. Let us hope that the judge sees the injustice Connecticut’s political leaders refuse to acknowledge.

Wendy Lecker’s article first appeared in the Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Connecticut Media Group publications.  You can read and comment on it at at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Maintaining-the-status-quo-of-two-7467340.php

Connecticut Legislators – Now is the time to act on the inappropriate SBAC testing program!

Anne Manusky is a Connecticut parent, education advocate and trained academic researcher.  In this commentary piece she lays out why the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) testing system fails to provide accurate and useable information about student performance, why it should not be used as part of an effective teacher evaluation system and why Connecticut’s elected officials should defund the SBAC testing madness and use those funds to help address Connecticut’s budget crisis.

Anne Manusky writes;

As a parent and former psychological research assistant, I have had great concerns with education reform:  Common Core implementation and their reportedly ‘innovative’ tests – CT’s choice, the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

The concerns have become real, and as our elected officials review and make legislative decisions, a critical element must be reviewed: credibility of the state test, statutorily the “state Mastery test”, as well as the questionable Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s interstate compact.

Currently there are two CT General Assembly bills which consider the Smarter Balanced Assessments the state “Mastery Test” (requirement of state statute):

SB 380 ‘An Act Concerning the Exclusion of Student Performance Results on the Mastery Examination on Teacher Evaluations – https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB380

And,

HB 5555 ‘ An Act Concerning the Minimum Budget Requirement and Prohibiting the Inclusion of Participation Rates for the State Wide Mastery Examination in the Calculation of a School District’s Accountability Index Score – https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/CGABillStatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB5555

The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) has no psychometric analyses providing the validity and reliability of the assessment; no independent verification of this assessment exists.

These analyses are necessary to determine credibility of this test.

An FOIA request was recently submitted to the CT State Department of Education for

1) Any and all materials providing validity and reliability of the Smarter Balanced Assessments; and 2) the “deep psychometric study” the State claims to have completed.

Commissioner Wentzel made a point to provide that the Smarter Balanced testing was being reduced due to a said “deep psychometric study”.  Top state officials lop off almost two hours off the ‘Smarter Balanced’ test. Hartford Courant   http://www.courant.com/education/hc-state-officials-cutback-smarter-balanced-test-20160225-story.html.

Materials provided from the State Department of Education to substantiate these questions did not provide validation or of further psychometric testing to determine a “deep psychometric study” had been conducted.

On the other hand, 100 education researchers from California provide “The assessments have been carefully examined by independent examiners of the test content who concluded that they lack validity, reliability, and fairness, and should not be administered, much less be considered a basis for high-stakes decision making.”  Common Core State Standards Assessments in California: Concerns and Recommendations, CARE-ED, Feb 2016,  (See http://media.wix.com/ugd/1e0c79_2718a7f68da642a09e9244d50c727e40.pdf)

Testing which has no credible basis should not be used to assess children in California, or anywhere else for that matter. It then becomes even more of an issue that these tests were believed to be suitable for assessing children, it has no credibility in use for the evaluation of classroom teachers.

Unfortunately, Commissioner Wentzel even acknowledges in her CGA HB 5555 Testimony:

“…Without reliable measurements….. it would be difficult to “measure improvement and growth among our students from one year to the next.”

Why wouldn’t the State Department of  Education’s highest officer and/or staff review the validity, reliability and construct validity of what is being considered the “state Mastery test”?

How much time have CT’s children wasted on taking this “test”?

At this time, the state of CT is under a 3-year SBAC compact. This compact was found in the state of Missouri to be an unlawful interstate compact, never was approved by Congress. .https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/26/judge-rules-missouris-membership-in-common-core-testing-group-is-illegal/

The current fiscal issues for the testing include the Smarter Balanced Consortium Membership fee is $8,080,331 for 3 years, as well as fees for the American Institutes of Research (AIR – which gives the Smarter Balanced) – $13,555,173 for 3 years.

These are serious issues which need to be addressed by our Connecticut Legislature.

Defund the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium compact, cut the unproven, invalid Smarter Balanced testing saving the CT taxpayers over 7 million in one year alone.

Also, an investigation into the State Department of Education as well as the State Board of Education’s decisions to use this “test” without review of basic statistical significance should be completed.

Anne Manusky is absolutely correct.  As Connecticut’s elected officials grapple with Connecticut’s ongoing budget crisis, they can make a significant and positive difference for Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, public schools and taxpayers by passing Senate Bill 380 and requiring that the Malloy administration stop using the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory SBAC test as part of the state’s mandated teacher evaluation program.

In addition, as Anne Manusky points out, the Connecticut legislature should stop funding the failed SBAC testing program and use those funds to preserve some of the vital services that Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens need and deserve.

If Connecticut’s state senators and state representatives are committed to doing the right thing for Connecticut, they should start by reading this commentary piece and acting on its recommendations.

Are school administrators bullying and abusing your child over the SBAC testing frenzy?

There is an extremely serious problem taking place in some school districts across Connecticut and parents, teachers, child advocates and elected officials must act immediately to protect our children from the corporate education reform industry and their lackeys.

With the state-sponsored Common Core SBAC testing scheme now in full-swing throughout the state, parents and guardians in numerous schools districts are reporting that Connecticut public school children continue to be abused by local school administrators, who are following orders from Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Education Commissioner Wentzell and the State Department of Education.

In addition to lying and misleading parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC tests, a disturbing number of school districts are unethically and immorally punishing students who have been opted out of the tests, while some districts are ordering students to “log-in” to the SBAC tests before the schools will honor the parents’ directive that their child is not to participate in the tests.

As previously reported, some school districts are bullying children who have been opted out by forcing them to stay in the testing rooms despite the fact that the SBAC testing regulations clearly and strictly prohibit students who are not taking the test from remaining in the testing locations.

The practice of forcing students to stay in the testing room, despite having been opted out of the SBAC program by their parents, is an ugly strategy to embarrass, humiliate and ostracize children who are inappropriately being required to sit in the testing room for hours while their peers are taking the defective and high-stakes SBAC tests that are designed to unfairly fail a significant number of the state’s children.

School administrators who refuse to place children in an alternative safe and appropriate environment (such as the school library) during the testing period are not only engaging in an unethical form of bullying, but they are violating the State of Connecticut’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) regulations.

The SBAC protocol reads;

 “Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered.”

See:  Smarter Balanced: Summative Assessment Test Administration Manual English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics 2015–2016 Published January 3, 2016 (page 2-4) which notes;

Violation of test security is a serious matter with far-reaching consequences… A breach of test security may be dealt with as a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for Teachers, as well as a violation of other pertinent state and federal law and regulation.

Under the law, regulations and SBAC protocol, the Connecticut State Department of Education is required to investigate all such matters and pursue appropriate follow-up action. Any person found to have intentionally breached the security of the test system may be subject to sanctions including, but not limited to, disciplinary action by a local board of education, the revocation of Connecticut teaching certification by the State Board of Education, and civil liability pursuant to federal copyright law.

In addition, superintendents, principals or other school administrators who require or permit students who have been opted out of the SBAC tests, to remain in the testing room risk not only losing their certification to work in Connecticut pursuant to Connecticut State Statute 10-145b(i)(1), but they have violated their duties under Connecticut State regulations that require school administrators to adhere to a Professional Code of Conduct.

As if forcing students who have been opted out to remain in the testing rooms during the testing period wasn’t serious enough, some school districts are actually using an additional technique to make it appear that they are achieving extremely high participation rates.  These school districts have taken the despicable step of telling children who have been opted out of the SBAC testing by their parents that they must first sign-in (log-in) to the SBAC test program before the school will honor their parent’s directive that they are not to take the SBAC test.

This strategy is a direct result of the Malloy administration threat that any school district that allows more than 5 percent of their parents to opt out, will lose money – in this case – federal funds that are supposed to be used to provide extra support to the poorest child in the local school system.

IMPORTANT:

If your child or a child that you know is being forced to remain in the testing room during the SBAC testing, you are asked to provide that information, as soon as possible, so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent the continuation of the child abuse and to hold local school officials accountable for their reprehensible actions.

Information about any abusive practices related to the SBAC testing should be sent to Wait, What? via [email protected]or mailed to Wait, What? at PO Box 400, Storrs, CT. 06268

Bullying and abuse have no place in Connecticut’s public schools.

Please help ensure that those engaged in these abusive tactics are held accountable.

State and Local officials abusing students and parents on SBAC test will be held accountable

When it comes to the Common Core SBAC testing mania, a number of parents from across the state – along with students and teachers – have identified a significant number of school districts that are engaged in immoral, unethical and quite likely illegal efforts to undermine parental rights and bully and abuse children who have been opted out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory SBAC testing scheme.

  • Some districts have implemented campaigns to lie and mislead parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to refuse to have their children participate in the SBAC tests.
  • Some districts are bullying children who have been opted out by forcing them to stay in the testing rooms despite the fact that the SBAC testing regulations prohibit students who are not taking the test from being in the room where students are taking the SBAC test.
  • Some districts have taken the despicable step of telling children who have been opted out of the SBAC testing by their parents that they must first sign-in to the test program before the school will honor their parent’s directive that they are not to take the SBAC test.  In an attempt to meet the demands of the Malloy administration, this tactic is being used by some school districts to artificially inflate their SBAC participation rates, although it leaves the unsuspecting child with a score of zero on the SBAC test, a label of failure that could haunt them for years to come.
  • And finally, some school districts are using more than one of this incredibly outrageous strategies.

In various venues, including here at Wait, What?, requests have been made to Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell and members of the Connecticut General Assembly to step up and put an end to the unconscionable abuse of children and parents that is taking place in some Connecticut school districts.

However, these so-called “public servants” have refused to take any action to protect Connecticut’s public school children and their families.

Their utter failure to do what is right has left parents and public school advocates with no choice but to take steps to hold state and local school officials accountable for their abusive strategies and tactics.

Starting next week, school districts that are engaged in these immoral and unethical activities will be publicly identified and complaints will be filed with the appropriate federal, state and local authorities.

Parental concerns about how the SBAC tests are being implemented has been raised over and over again.  For example, the following articles, all published here at Wait, What? since the beginning of the year, clearly lay out the issues.

More reports of state sponsored abuse of children and parents in relation to Common Core SBAC testing

Malloy and Wyman turn their backs on Connecticut students, parents and teachers – What will legislators do?

More shocking and disturbing reports of Connecticut school officials misleading parents and bullying children on Common Core SBAC testing!

Students, Parents, Teachers – Are SBAC testing opt-out requests being handled appropriately in your school?

ALERT – Students opted out of SBAC testing must be provided alternative location during testing

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

As Malloy claims ELA Performance Task not useful his lies and deception about the Common Core SBAC test catch up to him

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

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

Malloy-Wyman Administration ramp-up attack on parents who opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco

Some CT superintendents continue to violate parents’ civil rights and their own Code of Responsibility

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

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

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

IMPORTANT ALERT – Students, Parents, Teachers are being bullied about opting out of testing madness

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

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

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

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

Parents, students and teachers who have violations to report are asked to send the information to [email protected] as soon as possible.

More reports of state sponsored abuse of children and parents in relation to Common Core SBAC testing

WARNING!

Now that the 2016 Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing season has begun for school districts across Connecticut, there has been a significant and disturbing increase in the number of reports that local school districts – driven by Governor Dannel Malloy’s State Department of Education – are engaged in the unethical abuse of children whose parents have refused to allow their children to participate in the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory SBAC testing program.

In addition to misleading and lying to parents about their right to opt their children out of the testing madness, parents in a series of communities are now reporting that school children who have been opted out of the testing are being forced to remain in the testing rooms, despite the fact that this bullying tactic violates the SBAC testing protocol, testing regulations that were approved and distributed by the State Department of Education.

In addition, parents in at least three more Connecticut school districts have reported that their local schools are requiring that students who have been opted out must first “log-in” to the SBAC test before they can be excused from taking the test.

This immoral and abusive directive is being used to make it appear that the school is achieving a higher participation rate, even though it leaves the child with an SBAC test score of “0” – a label of failure that could haunt them in the years to come.

According to the SBAC testing protocol and the State of Connecticut’s earlier pronouncement, children who are not taking the test are to be marked absent and MAY  NOT be in the testing room while the SBAC tests are given to students who have not been opted out.  There is absolutely nothing in the SBAC rules that allows school districts to require students to “log-in” before “opting out.”

The unbelievable requirement that children must log in, even though it could have devastating consequences for the child, is a direct result of the Malloy administration threat that it will withhold federal funds from any school district whose participation rate falls below 95 percent.  The funds that Malloy intends to withhold are federal dollars distributed to communities to help provide extra programming for poor children.

Meanwhile, unlike what is happening in Connecticut, the Governor of New York and his administration have made it clear that parents do have the right to opt their children out of the testing and that New York will not take any action to punish students, parents, teachers or school districts where parents have utilized that right.  New York’s chancellor-elect of the State Board of Regents is actually supporting that opt-out effort. See:  Hey Malloy, Wyman, Education Commissioner Wentzell – NY Chancellor-elect Rosa speaks in favor of test opt out.

Perhaps the most troubling development of all is that despite repeated attempts to get Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell to address these attacks on students and parents and to set the record straight about the rules concerning forcing children to remain in the testing rooms or requiring children to log-in before they can opt-out, the Commissioner and her staff have refused to make any statement whatsoever.

Requests for a statement on the issue from Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman have also gone unanswered.

It is a stunning commentary that Connecticut children, some as young as ten years old, and Connecticut parents are being abused and bullied by Connecticut public officials and yet Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and the Malloy administration refuse to even address these outrageous anti-student, anti-parent, anti-teacher and anti-public education tactics.

Hey Malloy, Wyman, Education Commissioner Wentzell – NY Chancellor-elect Rosa speaks in favor of test opt out

New York Chancellor-elect Betty Rosa speaks in favor of test opt out

This is what a pro-public education leader does!

A real public servant respects students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Instead of doing the right thing, Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and Education Commissioner Wentzell bring shame on themselves and their offices by misleading and lying to parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to protect their children from the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scheme.

And real Public Servants don’t bully and abuse children when their parents have opted them out of the testing.

We will not rest until Connecticut has leaders who will join us in the fight to properly fund public schools and support our children and their future rather than the present lot who seek to undermine and destroy our schools and our parental rights.

Hey Malloy, Wyman and Wentzell – READ THIS;

Chancellor-elect Rosa speaks in favor of test opt out (From Politico – New York)

ALBANY — State Board of Regents Chancellor-Elect Betty Rosa, who is less than two weeks away from leading the education policy-making board, already has made it clear — hers will be a different Regents board.

The Bronx Regent, during a news conference following the leadership vote Monday, answered questions surrounding a Wall Street Journal article published in the morning in which she said if she had an eligible student in the school system right now, she would opt her child out of the state standardized, Common Core-aligned exams.

She again stated the position Monday, saying parents in the state have the right under the law to have their students refuse the tests.

Rosa then added that as a member of the Board of Regents, she plays a “different role.”

“If I was not on the Board of Regents and I had a child, I said I would probably, just like former [Chancellor Merryl Tisch] said, if she had a special needs child, she would opt out, so I that’s exactly what I said,” Rosa told reporters, later clarifying that she would do so even if her student did not have special needs. “If I was a parent and I was not on the Board of Regents, I would opt out at this time.”

When asked if she wanted the number of opt outs in the state to be reduced, Rosa said “I want us to get to a place where we come to the table and examine the current test and move forward in a way that parents have a sense of full trust.”

Rosa has garnered support from the state’s teachers unions as well as test refusal leaders, but Common Core advocates are fearful that Rosa will undo the work of her predecessor, Tisch, who championed the Common Core and the use of student test scores in evaluating teachers.

Rosa also has been backed by Albany Democrats, including Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

But her stance on Common Core could factor into Rosa’s relationship with state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who has supported the move toward higher standards, as well as the use of student test scores in teacher evaluations.

Elia Monday reiterated that parents have a right by law to opt their children out, but stressed the importance of giving them all the information possible to make an informed decision.

Elia has been working to reduce the opt-out numbers. The state education department put together a toolkit for superintendents, parents and teachers with resources including presentations and social media cues to help stem the tide.

“In this state, the parents have a right to opt out,” Rosa said. “Part of the conversation we haven’t had here is that we have to rebuild that trust. We have to rebuild a sense of confidence. We have to rebuild a sense of that we’re in this together. …I want them to be part of the solution.”

[…]

Last spring, more than 20 percent of the state’s eligible students opted out of the state standardized, Common Core-aligned exams. The movement was aided by New York State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of parent groups who endorsed Rosa for chancellor.

It’s unclear if the movement will grow this spring, though NYSAPE and opt-out leaders have said they are not backing down.

Rosa on Monday stressed the “tremendous support” she’s received from parents overall.

She recognized that the board and Elia are still working to review the standards, the testing and the teacher evaluation system — work that is far from over. She also pledged support for getting a federal waiver for English language learners and special education students that would exempt them from the exams.

“[The board is looking at] making sure that every single school, every single classroom has a teacher that not only has the credentials, but more importantly has the skills to reach our children,” Rosa said of the need for teacher evaluations. She said the board is looking into revising the evaluation system, which should include demonstrations of teachers’ work and would be focused at the local level.

The teachers unions, who had at times been at odds with Tisch, praised the appointments of Rosa and Brown.

“There is a lot of hard work ahead. Yet we are optimistic that students, parents and educators will have a more meaningful voice in fixing New York standards; reducing the burden of standardized testing; and creating a fair and objective evaluation system,” New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee said in a statement.

Stephen Sigmund, executive director of the pro-Common Core group High Achievement New York — a nonprofit coalition of mostly business groups — said he was concerned about Rosa’s remarks.

“We don’t think that’s the right direction for her to be going on day one of being the chancellor of the Board of Regents. She was clear that she was talking about herself and not about policy,” Sigmund said. “We’re hopeful in the end that she’ll come around to supporting the test as improvements are made to the tests, she did say that she was open to that.”

Sigmund said he hopes Rosa helps guide the process of changing the standards and improving the tests.

Rosa will officially step into the role April 1. In the interim, and has one overarching message — she’s focused on leading the board into a new era.

“We as a board must move from what was the so-called, as people like to label it, ‘reform,'” she said in the Regents meeting. “I say welcome the transformers. We are agents of transformation.”

For the full article go to: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/03/8594402/chancellor-elect-rosa-speaks-favor-test-opt-out

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Malloy and Wyman turn their backs on Connecticut students, parents and teachers – What will legislators do?

Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman, Commissioner of Education Wentzell – you bring shame to your office and yourselves by denying parents’ fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC tests.

Legislators who support your lies, bullying and illegal tactics should lose in November 2016.

It’s not too late for state senators and state representatives to do the right thing….

Legislators should;

  • Demand that Malloy and Wyman and their administration stop lying and misleading parents about their right to opt their children out of Connecticut’s Common Core SBAC testing program.  As Malloy, Wyman and their top appointees know, there is absolutely NO federal or state law that prohibits parents from opting their children out of the SBAC testing scheme and NO federal or state law that allows the government or local school districts to punish students or parents for opting out.
  • Demand that when it comes to the opt out issue, local school officials must treat their students, parents and teachers with respect and that the ongoing bullying and abuse will not be tolerated.  School administrators who abuse students and parents have violated their duties as educators and public servants and should be removed from their jobs.
  • Stop the Malloy administration’s immoral effort to punish school districts if more than five percent of the students are opted out by their parents.  Withholding federal funds designated for helping poor children and punishing students, teachers, schools and local taxpayers when parents have stood up for their children is beyond unethical – such policies have no place in a civilized, democratic society.
  • Ensure that state law is changed in a way that not only decouples SBAC testing participation rates from the Malloy administration’s absurd school accountability and ranking system, but prohibits the use of the test results in Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system.  Connecticut deserves a teacher evaluation system that provides accurate and relevant information about how public school teachers are doing, not a system that is meaningless because it relies on factors beyond a teacher’s control.
  • And finally, the Connecticut General Assembly should adopt legislation that will protect the privacy rights of students, parents and teachers.  Big data and data mining have no place in our public schools.  The ongoing effort to turn our children into profit centers for private companies must stop.

When it comes to education issues, politicians who align themselves with Malloy, Wyman, so-called “education reformers” and the charter school industry are turning their backs on the students, parents, teachers, public schools and citizens of Connecticut.

These politicians should not be allowed to hold public office.

For more about these issues read:

More shocking and disturbing reports of Connecticut school officials misleading parents and bullying children on Common Core SBAC testing!

What parents don’t know about the massive data collection that is taking place in public schools

Education reformers and charter school industry are jacking our legislature.

ALERT – Students opted out of SBAC testing must be provided alternative location during testing

Why Common Core SBAC results SHOULD NOT be part of the teacher evaluation process

Yes, CT State Department of Education Officials’ behavior was rude and appalling!

 

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More shocking and disturbing reports of Connecticut school officials misleading parents and bullying children on Common Core SBAC testing!

This week’s request by Wait, What? for information about how public school districts in Connecticut are handling parents who want to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests has generated numerous reports that school administrators in a number of districts continue to mislead parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the testing madness. (See:  Students, Parents, Teachers – Are SBAC testing opt-out requests being handled appropriately in your school?)

Even more shocking are the new reports that additional school districts are actually bulling and abusing children whose parents have opted them out of the SBAC testing scheme.

Immediate action is needed to stop the abuse, along with an independent investigation to determine who has been involved in these practices.

A number of schools are informing students and parents that any child who has been opted out of the Common Core SBAC tests by their parent will be forced to remain in the testing room throughout the test periods, despite the fact that such a tactic violates the Mandatory SBAC testing regulations and protocol. (See:  ALERT – Students opted out of SBAC testing must be provided alternative location during testing.)

Requiring students to stay in the testing room is unfair to both the children who have been opted out and the children who are still taking the test.

In addition, there are apparently a growing number of districts that are telling students who have been opted out of the SBAC testing that they MUST SIGN-IN to the SBAC test on testing days before they will be released from having to complete the rest of the SBAC test.

While this unethical maneuver will make it appear that the school district has met their “mandated” participation rate of at least 95 percent, students who are forced sign in – in order to opt out – will be left with a zero for an SBAC test score, a label of “failure” that will become part of their academic record.

PARENTS PLEASE TAKE NOTE!   If you have opted your child out of the SBAC test make sure that the school is not forcing your child to sign into the test BEFORE being released from the test!

With the Malloy administration continues to use the State Department of Education to undermine Connecticut’s students, parents and public schools, the lack of outrage on the part of many of Connecticut’s elected officials is truly stunning!

With Connecticut General Assembly in the middle of the 2016 legislative session, legislators have an immediate opportunity to stand up against Malloy’s State Department of Education.

Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen is also in a unique position to demand that the State Department of Education and local school districts end their illegal SBAC related activities.

As students, parents, teachers and Connecticut citizens look on, the question remains – will Connecticut’s elected officials take action to protect their constituents and their public schools?