VICTORY in CT!  Parents can opt students out of SBAC Tests – Students will be provided alternative location.

The battle to ensure that local school districts recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test ends in victory.

In a published report today in the CTMirror, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, Joeseph Cirasuolo, has announced that superintendents in Connecticut will now recognize the right of parents to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Testing AND that students who opt out will be provided with an alternative location where they can read a book, do homework or engage in some other educational activity for the eight to eight and a half hours of the SBAC testing.

Mr. Cirasuolo is quoted as saying;

“You can’t force someone to take a test they will not take…They will be sent someplace else.”

This important development should close the book on what appeared to be an unending effort by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and some local school superintendents who have been working to mislead and harass parents into believing that they did not have the fundamental right to opt their students out of the destructive Common Core SBAC testing.

The position being taken by the head of Connecticut’s superintendent association also makes clear that local school districts cannot use the “Sit and Stare” policy to punish or bully students who have opted out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

With the SBAC testing starting in some schools today, and running through June, it is a tremendous step forward that parents will finally be treated with the respect and maturity that they deserve.

The lingering question, however, is why did it take so long for Governor Malloy’s Department of Education and some of Connecticut’s school superintendents to call off their unethical, immoral, and I believe, illegal effort to mislead and harass Connecticut’s public school students and parents.

At this point it is unclear whether the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents has actually informed all superintendents of this important shift in policy.

Parents should know that no school superintendent, principal or school official should now be telling parents that they cannot opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Furthermore, since the “Sit and Stare” policy violates the SBAC Testing Protocol, let alone the fact that the approach is nothing short of bullying, Connecticut public school students who opt out must be moved to a safe, secure, alternative location and may not be left sitting in the testing room during the Common Core SBAC test.

If any school administrators continues to fight a parent’s directive to opt their child out or seeks to punish a child who is opting out, please provide them with a copy of this blog post or point them to Mr.  Cirasuolo’s statement which can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/16/what-you-should-know-about-this-years-standardized-testing/.

Also, parents, students and teachers, please continue to report your experiences related to the Common Core SBAC testing.  Send information to [email protected]

A big week for the Common Core SBAC Opt Out Movement

IMPORTANT:  The Common Core SBAC Testing Frenzy begins this coming week and goes for the next two months!

Despite the best efforts of Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, the underhanded work of a number of school superintendents and the on-going lies being spewed by the corporate education reform industry to mislead and harass parents, Connecticut’s Common Core SBAC Opt Out Movement made important progress this past week.

It is now clear that parents have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test and that local school districts cannot force children who are opted out to sit in the “Testing Rooms” for the eight to eight and half hours that children will be forced to take these destructive tests.

While some local school superintendents continue to mislead and even lie to parents, the undeniable reality is that local school districts have no legal authority to force children to take the Common Core SBAC tests and that the SBAC protocol prohibits local school districts from engaging in “Sit and Stare” strategies as a way to punish and bully children whose parents have decided to keep them out of the Common Core testing scam.

As a Wait, What? Reader, please continue to report information about how your local school district is handling the opt out issue.  Information should be sent to [email protected].

Parents, teachers and public education advocates are asked to read the following blogs, distribute them to other parents and, where necessary, use the information to defend your parental rights with your local schools administrators.

If anyone tries to restrict your right to protect your child, please get in touch immediately and we will work to ensure that their immoral, unethical and illegal actions are put into the public domain.

Last Week’s Wait, What? Blogs about Common Core, Common Core SBAC Test and Right to Opt Out:

Parents can opt their students out of Common Core SBAC Test as New Canaan Superintendent reverses course

Fairfield School Superintendent to go with unethical and prohibited “sit and stare” policy

Sit and Stare Violates Common Core SBAC Protocol

Opt your High School Juniors out of the Common Core SBAC Test

New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

Many questions remain unanswered about Connecticut’s SBAC test (By John Bestor)

CT Superintendent to go with unethical “sit and stare” policy for students opted out of Common Core Test

Is your third grader a failure?  Of course not – But the Common Core Test will say he is.

Parents – Heads Up – Don’t let them fool you!

Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong

Corporate Education Reform Industry – Just too important to follow the ethics laws

BEWARE: 9 in 10 Children who utilize special education services will fail the inappropriate Common Core SBAC Test

Fairfield School Superintendent to go with unethical and prohibited “sit and stare” policy

The latest school superintendent to turn their back on the students and parents of their community is David Title, Superintendent of Schools in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Citing the State of Connecticut Department of Education and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), Mr. Title recently wrote to parents in Fairfield telling them,

“Please understand that every student attending school during the administration of the state mastery test (all components of SBAC and Science CMT and CAPT) will be expected to participate in these tests.  Students who choose not to participate will be marked present and will be required to remain with their class in the test room.  There will be no alternate instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate.  For more information, please see the attached letter from the Interim Commissioner of Education, as well as the following websites:  www.smarterblanced.org and www.sde.ct.gov.

Fairfield Superintendent Title seems to have a great deal of difficulty dealing with the facts and the laws and policies surrounding the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scam.

ITEM #1:

IT IS NOT THE CHILD who makes the decision to skip the Common Core testing.  It is the parents who are refusing to have their child participate in the testing and have therefore informed the school district that the child will be opting out of the test.  High School juniors may well have the right to opt themselves out of the Common Core test, but for Mr. Title to write, “Students who choose not to participate” is an unacceptable insult to the parents’ fundamental rights and he is putting the child in an inappropriate and unacceptable position.

Fairfield’s Superintendent – or any superintendent – does not require the child to sign the form so that he or she can take an Ibuprofen, the parent must sign.

Nor does Superintendent Title – or any other superintendent – require the child to sign the permission form so that the student can watch certain movies as school, the parent does.

Mr. Title’s claim that it is the student’s responsibility to “refuse” to log into the computerized test during SBAC testing needs to be withdrawn immediately.

ITEM #2   

FURTHERMORE, Superintendent Title claims that his policy is that students, “will be required to remain with their class in the test room.”

This approach is not only immoral and unethical, but as noted in yesterday’s post, Sit and Stare Violates the Common Core SBAC Protocol as outlined in the SBAC Administration Manual.

“Sit and Stare” is an immoral and unethical approach because it seeks to punish, humiliate and bully students whose parents have opted them out of Common Core testing.   Sit and Stare policies are nothing short of child abuse since they will lead to anxiety and the very real likelihood of resentment on the part of the children who are taking the test.  As a matter of ethics and principle, let alone their legal duty, educators do not engage, condone or allow bullying or child abuse.

In addition, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual PROHIBITS THE “SIT AND STARE” approach that a number of school districts, including Fairfield, have said they will be utilizing.

See:  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual (page 11)

Only students who are testing can view items. Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered

Any Superintendent or principal who forces children who have been opted out of the Common Core SBAC test to “Sit and Stare” is not only engaging in bullying but is in direct violation of the mandatory protocol for the SBAC Common Core test.

Parents in Fairfield or any other town that is refusing to provide students who have been opted out of the Common Core testing with a safe, secure and appropriate alternative location in which they can read or do their homework should demand that their school board take immediate steps to force the local superintendent of schools to conduct themselves in a morally, ethically and legally appropriate manner.

There is absolutely no doubt that parents have the right to opt their children out of the SBAC test

The situation is not one in which a parent is asking that their child be allowed to skip the test.   Opting out means a parent is RESFUSING to have the test administered to their child.

Parents have an inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children and to make decisions on their behalf.  Any school administrator who prohibits a parent from opting out (refusing) to have their child take the destructive Common Core SBAC test is putting themselves and their board of education in serious legal jeopardy by engaging in a civil rights violation.

There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or school district to punish a child (or parent) who decides to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

This is not like Connecticut’s Truancy Laws, which do hold parents accountable for a child’s failure to attend school.

And finally, less than one year ago, when the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education went before a special legislative hearing on the Common Core, both of these public officials admitted – on the record – that there was no law or mechanism to prevent a parent from opting their children out of Common Core SBAC testing.

Superintendents must acknowledge the following;

Parents have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Testing

School administrators are prohibited from having a “sit and stare” policy.

And students must be provided with a safe, secure and appropriate alternative location in which they can read or do their homework.

Sit and Stare Violates Common Core SBAC Protocol

Today brought the news that schools officials in Granby, Connecticut will be instituting a “Sit and Stare” policy for children whose parent have opted them out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test that begins next weeks.

Two days ago, it was West Haven that made Wait, What? with the news, “CT Superintendent to go with unethical “sit and stare” policy for students opted out of Common Core Test.”

Also add Cheshire, Fairfield, Westport and Portland to the towns that are intending to engage in the immoral and unethical “Sit and Stare” abusive practice.

Last year, both Granby and West Haven were towns that allowed parents to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test and provided those children with an alternative location where they could read or do their homework.

But all that has changed due to the pressure that has been brought by Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration, along with the not so subtle help of the leadership of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents.

Following orders delivered by Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell, school superintendents are misleading parents into believing they do not have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and harassing those who are stepping up and demanding that their children not participate in the testing.

The time is long overdue for Connecticut’s school superintendents and school principals to decide whether they are educators or whether they are nothing more than Common Core SBAC Test proctors.

If these public officials decide they are educators they need to stop harassing and misleading parents and must immediately suspend any use of “Sit and Stare” policies for those children who are opted out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced School Testing Scheme.

“Sit and Stare” policies seek to punish, humiliate and bully students whose parents have opted them out by requiring those children sit silently in the testing room for eight to eight and half hours while students whose parents have not opted them out take the destructive tests.

Sit and Stare policies are nothing short of child abuse since they will lead to anxiety and the very real likelihood of resentment on the part of the children who are taking the test.

As a matter of ethics and principle, let alone their legal duty, educators do not engage, condone or allow bullying or child abuse.

Educators do not utilize Sit and Stare practices!

If on the other hand Connecticut’s school superintendents and school principals decide to dismiss their duties as educators and accept the mantle of Common Core SBAC Test proctors then they should stop what they are doing and actually read the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test Administration Manual that is required reading for people involved in the administration of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Because — If they read the SBAC Test Administrator’s Manual — They would know that the SBAC Test Protocol prohibits a “Sit and Stare” approach for children who are not participating in the Common Core SBAC Test!

Let’s reiterate that point;

Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual PROHIBITS THE “SIT AND STARE” APPROACH that a number of school districts have said they will be utilizing.

See:  Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test Administration Manual

Only students who are testing can view items. Students who are not being tested or unauthorized staff or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered

 

Any Superintendent or principle who forces children who have been opted out of the Common Core SBAC Test to “Sit and Stare” is not only engaging in bullying but is in direct violation of the mandatory instructions for the SBAC Common Core Test.

And as an FYI to Superintendents and principles who haven’t actually read the SBAC Test Administrative Manual…. of which there are apparently many…

The SBAC Test Manual also states,

For students who do take the inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory test, students may bring a book or do homework after they have finished the test.

 

 Plan a quiet activity for each test session for students who finish early
The activity should not be related to the test being given. For example, students who finish early may work on assignments for unrelated subjects or read a book.

 

Parents should opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Testing madness.

School administrators need to fulfill their duties as educators and treat parents and children with respect.

Failing that, superintendents and principles should, at the very least, actually respect the fundamental and legal right of parents to opt their children out of the tests while reading the SBAC rules.

If they do, children who opt out of the inappropriate Common Core SBAC test will be allowed to go to the library or some other safe, secure environment in which they can use those 8 plus hours of testing in a useful and productive way.

[A special thanks to the dozens and dozens of parents who have written to me in the last few days reporting on how they and their children have been treated by local school officials.  And a truly special thanks to the amazing parent who actually read the SBAC Testing Manual and provided the background for this blog.  As parents we have and will continue to do what is right for our children. Superintendents and principals you are, once again, on notice]

NOTE:  Any superintendent who is treating their parents and children with respect should send me a note at [email protected] so we can add your town to the list of communities in which educators, not test proctors, are running the local schools. 

New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

Please Note:  This blog post has been corrected and updated to reflect that the article in the New Canaan Advertiser was a straight news story concerning the Superintendent’s statement about the Common Core Testing Program.  The article, written by the New Canaan Advertiser’s editor, can be found here:  Luizzi: Schools’ new standard tests are not optional.   The article was in no way an editorial about Superintendent Luizzi’s handling of the facts or the situation but a  news story about what New Canaan’s Superintendent said to the newspaper.

The following is the corrected version of the blog – New Canaan Superintendent joins colleagues in misleading parents

From Bristol to South Windsor to Lyme/Old Lyme to Madison and in at least two dozen other school districts across Connecticut, parents are reporting that they are being treated with respect and dignity when it comes to their right to opt out their child out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

But the same can’t be said for other towns.

Add New Canaan Superintendent Bryan Luizzi to the list of Connecticut School Superintendents who can’t be bothered with telling his community’s parents the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to the Common Core SBAC test.

In a recent article entitled, Luizzi: Schools’ new standard tests are not optional, Greg Reilly of the New Canaan Advertiser newspaper reported about a recent interview with New Canaan Superintendent Dr. Bryan Luizzi  about the Comm Core SBAC Testing that will begin next week.

In the article, Superintendent Luizzi explained,

“New Canaan is ‘mandated to administer the test’ and there is no provision in the law for an individual to opt-out of the test.”

That, to put it mildly, is not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

New Canaan’s Superintendent Luizzi failed to even mention that parents have an inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children and to make decisions on their behalf.  Any school administrator who prohibits a parent from opting out (refusing) to have their child take the destructive Common Core SBAC test is putting themselves and their board of education in serious legal jeopardy by engaging in a civil rights violation.

Superintendent Luizzi failed to explain that there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or school district to punish a child (or parent) who decides to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Superintendent Luizzi failed to distinguish between Connecticut’s Truancy Laws, which do hold parents accountable for a child’s failure to attend school and the lack of such laws when it comes to deciding to protect one’s child from the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

And Superintendent Luizzi utterly failed to fulfill his moral and ethical responsibility to New Canaan’s parents and students by putting the entire Common Core SBAC testing situation in perspective.

Parents know and understand that a school cannot give their child an ibuprofen without parental consent.  Parents recognize that they are often asked to sign permission slips so that their child can watch a particularly violent documentary or a movie that includes “adult” language.

Parents are cognizant that we, as a society, are beginning a debate about whether parents should be able to maintain their right to keep their children from being vaccinated and whether a parent’s right outweighs the related issues associated with public health and safety.

For a high ranking school official, whether through an act of omission or commission, to suggest that they have “no choice” but to force every child to sit through 8 to 8 ½ hours of Common Core SBAC testing is beyond unreasonable, beyond absurd and beyond belief.

New Canaan Superintendent Luizzi, like far too many of his colleagues, are hiding behind the inappropriate and misleading directive that was sent out last week by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell.

To make matters even worse, Superintendent Luizzi is undoubtedly well aware of that fact that less than one year ago, when the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education came before a special legislative hearing on the Common Core, both of these public officials admitted that there was no law or mechanism to prevent a parent from opting their children out of Common Core SBAC testing.

By telling a New Canaan media outlet that there is no provision for an individual to opt-out of the Common Core SBAC test, New Canaan Superintendent Luizzi decided that rather than side with the students and parents of New Canaan he would step in line behind the unfair, inappropriate, and I would argue, illegal stance that is being taken by Governor Dannel Malloy and his political appointees.

The parents and student of the New Canaan Public Schools – like the parents and students throughout Connecticut – deserve better!

To state the obvious…

If parents from Bristol to South Windsor to Lyme/Old Lyme to Madison, and in at least two dozen other school districts across Connecticut, are being treated with respect and dignity when it comes to the right to opt out their child out of the Common Core SBAC testing program, there is absolutely no reason that New Canaan’s parents shouldn’t be treated with the same degree of respect and honesty.

CT Superintendent to go with unethical “sit and stare” policy for students opted out of Common Core Test

Since unethical government policies lead to unethical actions, it was only a matter of time before some education official turned the whole Common Core SBAC testing farce into something even more reprehensible.

Enter West Haven Connecticut School Superintendent Neil Cavallero who earns an “F” for his proposed policy on handling children whose parents have opted them out of the Common Core SBAC testing.

As the saying goes, the story pretty much says it all when it comes to the state of public education in Connecticut.

As readers of this blog know, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his State Department of Education continue to claim that federal and state laws prohibit parents from opting their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme.

Just last week, Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell, issued a directive to all local school superintendents informing them that the Common Core SBAC testing program was mandatory and that, “These laws do not provide a provision for parent’s to ‘opt-out’  their children from the taking these tests.”

However, with more and more serious questions being raised about the validity and appropriateness of the Common Core SBAC tests, record numbers of Connecticut parents and guardians are informing their local school districts that their children WILL NOT be participating in the destructive Common Core SBAC tests.

Some towns are reporting that the number of parents opting their students out of the Common Core testing is three times higher than last year when students were told they were taking the SBAC test of a test.

Connecticut parents know, or are coming to realize, that no edict from a government official can take away their inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children  when it comes to deciding whether their public school student will or will not be taking the Common Core SBAC tests.

In addition, there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the government or school district to punish the child (or the parent) should the parent decide to refuse to allow their child to participate in the SBAC testing.

Unlike the state’s truancy laws that do hold children and parents liable for failing to go to school, there is simply no mechanism for the state or school district to require students to take the Common Core SBAC test.

That said the Malloy administration’s untenable position that opting out is “against” the law has put local school superintendents into an extremely difficult position.

Do school superintendents follow orders from above and turn their backs on the parents whose fundamental rights cannot be abridged or do they stand up and fulfill their moral, ethical, and I would argue legal, responsibility to create healthy, safe and productive learning environments for all of their students, including those whose parents have opted them out of the Common Core testing.

Sadly, the reaction of Connecticut’s local superintendents varies significantly.

Many Connecticut superintendents are simply hiding behind the Commissioner’s inappropriate directive and continue to tell parents that they may not opt their children out of the Common Core tests.  It is a stance that is not only unethical but places them and their school boards in significant legal jeopardy as they violate parental rights.

Other superintendents are moving forward with the Common Core SBAC testing program while accommodating parents who want to opt their children out of the SBAC testing.

For example, after a rocky start on the issue, local education officials in Bristol Connecticut have become a model on how to handle this entire situation.

With SBAC testing beginning next week for those who have not opted out, the Bristol school system is handling parental opt out requests in a mature and responsible manner.

Bristol Schools recently sent the following email to a parent who had informed the school that their child was opting out of Common Core SBAC test:

“This email acknowledges receipt of your request to exempt your son ****** from the SBA assessments. Although our testing schedule has not been finalized, we plan to test students during their English and Math classes. We will provide **** an alternative setting where he can work on homework or read silently, while his classmates are testing. We will also exempt him from the SBA classroom activity. If you have any additional questions, or concerns, feel free to email me. Thank you. — Bristol Central High School

The word is there are a number of other enlightened and dedicated superintendents who are taking a similar approach.  These Connecticut school superintendents are actually developing alternative programing for students who are opting out of the testing or, at the very least, providing students with access to the school library or a particular resource room where they can attend to their school work.

But then there is the example being set by West Haven, Connecticut Superintendent Neil Cavallero who wrote the following to one of his community’s parents:

As Mrs. XXXXX stated in her initial response to you, local school districts do not have the authority to permit parents to opt-out their children from mandated testing, as testing all students is required by state and federal law.  She also points out the applicable language that requires our district to participate.

Please understand that every student attending school during the administration of the state test will be required to participate in them.  Students who choose not to participate will be marked in attendance and will be required to remain with their class in the test room.  There will be no alternated instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate.

For more information, please consult the following websites:  www.SmarterBalanced.org and www.sde.ct.gov.”

Really?

 “…every student attending school during the administration of the state test will be required to participate in them.  Students who choose not to participate will be marked in attendance and will be required to remain with their class in the test room.”

In the real world that policy is known as “sit and stare” and is  typically seen as a way to punish and humiliate students while creating unnecessary resentment from those students who will be sitting there for the eight to eight and a half hours of inappropriate Common Core SBAC testing.

In the real world that policy would be considered a prime example of what is called bullying, a dangerous and illegal practice that leads to anxiety, depression and disastrous outcomes.

It is quite a commentary on our times and the notion of “education reform” when West Haven Superintendent Cavallero writes,

 “There will be no alternated instructional activity provided for students assigned to the test session who refuse to participate.”

Like Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy who once said that he didn’t mind teaching to the test as long as the test scores went up, West Haven Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallero has become a poster boy for the Corporate Education Reform Industry and their stance that you will take the tests or you will sit there.   To them, school is no place for alternative instructional activities when students are supposed to be taking the inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory Common Core SBAC tests.

If it was my kid being forced to sit and stare, my first call would be to the Department of Children and Families and its Office of Child Advocate.  My second would be to the police department.

As a society, we can never, ever accept behavior or policies that reek of child abuse.

And making a child, as young as nine years old, sit for eight hours or more in a room while everyone else around them is taking the test because an administrator doesn’t want to allow them to go to the library or some other room to engage in some educational activity is, in my mind, a form of child abuse.

Parents – Heads Up – Don’t let them fool you!

Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration and far too many local school superintendents are engaged in an immoral and unethical campaign to scare parents into believing that they DO NOT have the right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

Do Not Let Them Fool You!

Parents HAVE a constitutionally guaranteed right to opt their children out of these destructive tests and neither the state nor local school districts can punish a child if a parent opts them out of this destructive testing program.

The truth is that neither Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education nor your local superintendent of schools can take away your right to opt you child out of the Common Core SBAC test.  Period, End of Story.

Here are the FACTS:

  • The Common Core SBAC test is not a mastery test of what students have been taught. It is an artificial and poorly created attempt at testing students against a set of standards that are a number of grade levels above what schools are now teaching.
  • According to the entity that created the Common Core SBAC tests, up to 7 in 10 children will fail the Math portion of the test this year and up to 6 in 10 will fail the English and Language Arts portion of the test.
  • The “failure” rate is projected to exceed 90 percent for students who utilize special education services and students who are not fluent in the English Language.
  • This label of “Failure” will become a permanent part of a student’s record.
  • The State of Connecticut and the SBAC organization claim that the percent of students achieving “goal” should improve over time as curriculum and teaching strategies shift to meet the expectations of the new standards and tests. However, in the meantime, a generation of children will unfairly be labeled as failures year after year.
  • The Malloy administration and some local school superintendents will tell parents that Connecticut state law mandates that school districts use the Common Core SBAC test and that all students must take the Common Core SBAC test.
  • However what they refuse to admit is that this “mandatory” language has been state law for decades and that every year thousands of students did not take the older CMT/CAPT Mastery Tests and those students were not punished in any way – – – because the law does not allow the state or local school districts to punish a child (or parent) if that parent opts them out of the tests. (Meaning the parent Refuses to allow the child to take the test.)
  • Unfortunately, although their action is unethical, the Malloy administration and some local school superintendents will tell parents that, “There is no process specified in the statute or in associated regulations for a student to “opt out” of the testing.”
  • Their claim is irrelevant. The situation is not like mandatory attendance of school or the resulting truancy if a child does not attend public school.  In the case of truancy parents can be held liable for a child’s failure to attend school.
  • But in the case of opting out of the Common Core SBAC test, there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local school district to punish a child (or parent) if the parent opts their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.
  • To repeat, neither the Malloy administration nor a local superintendent of schools has the right to take away a parent’s constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children from the Common Core SBAC test.
  • In addition, there are some school superintendents who are claiming or implying that failure to take the Common Core SBAC test could jeopardize a child’s right to graduate from high school or be promoted from one grade to the next.
  • Such a claim is blatantly untrue!
  • Connecticut state law prohibits a school district for requiring that a student achieve a satisfactory grade on the Common Core SBAC test in order to graduate or be promoted to the next grade.
  • Schools districts can and must have graduation and promotion requirements that are not dependent on the results of the Common Core SBAC Test.
  • Whether  a student achieves mastery on the Common Core SBAC test, does not achieve mastery on the Common Core SBAC test or doesn’t even take the Common Core SBAC test will have no legal impact on whether a child does or does not graduate or move on to the next grade.

Parents, do not let these bullies scare you, harass you, or intimidate you.

You have the right to opt your children out – [refuse to allow them to take] – the Common Core SBAC test.

Considering that the Common Core SBAC test is calibrated to ensure the vast majority of Connecticut students fail, parents should seriously consider protecting their children by opting them out of this incredibly unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory testing madness.

Tracing the Malloy Administration’s deceit on Opting Out of the Common Core SBAC Testing

Late yesterday afternoon, Dianna R. Wentzell, Governor Malloy’s Interim Commissioner of Education issued a directive to Connecticut school superintendents reiterating the lie the Connecticut parents do not have the fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Program.

For information about the letter see Wait, What? Post: Malloy’s Education Commissioner seeks to stamp out parental rights on Common Core SBAC Testing opt out

After months of silence and despite the overwhelming fact that there is no federal or state law that allows the government or school districts to punish children (or parents) who opt their children out of the Common Core Testing Scam, Malloy’s interim Commissioner of Education incredibly instructed school superintendents to continue their unethical and immoral harassment of parents who are seeking to protect their children by opting them out of the Common Core SBAC Tests – A test that is rigged to ensure that as many as 7 in 10 Connecticut public school students are deemed failures and that more than 90 percent of special education students and English Language Learners have “fail” attached to their academic records.

Last year, attorney Alan Taylor, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, made it extremely clear in his testimony to the Connecticut General Assembly that these was no mechanism to punish students (or parents) who opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests.

With that background, the Interim Commissioner’s action is not only highly inappropriate but suspect.

What is going on behind the scenes that would lead Malloy’s Commissioner to issue a threatening letter that seeks to limit parental rights?

As John F. Kennedy said,

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”

Considering the decisions are being made by public employees, who are paid with taxpayer funds, Connecticut parents have a right to know who and why their government is seeking to limit their rights.

To that end and pursuant to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act, the Interim Commissioner of Education (and her staff) is being asked to turn over all documents, communications, emails, attachments and memos about the Common Core SBAC Test Opt-Out issue that were written, sent or received since January 1, 2015.

Parallel requests are being submitted to a select group of school superintendents who have maintained that parents do not have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test.  This list includes the school superintendents of Westport, Fairfield and Ridgefield Connecticut, as well as others.

Connecticut’s Freedom of Information laws require that the receipt of these requests be acknowledged within twenty-four hours and that the materials requested by provided in a rapid and appropriate time frame.

Furthermore, since the requests are for electronic copies of all documents, communications, emails, attachments and memos about the Common Core SBAC Test Opt-Out issue that were written, sent or received since January 1, 2015, these public officials are required to provide the information free of charge.

As the information is provided, it will be posted here so that Wait, What? readers and the public can learn the truth about why government officials are engaged in an ongoing effort to prevent parents from utilizing their constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children from the damage that will be caused by the Common Core SBAC testing.

At the State Department of Education, the Freedom of Information request will be directed to Interim Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell, her Executive Assistant and Kelly Donnelly the State Department of Education’s Director of Communications and Community Partnerships.

Superintendents receiving the Freedom of Information Act requests include;

Westport Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon

Fairfield Superintendent of Schools David Title

Ridgefield Superintendent of Schools Deborah Low

To illustrate the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory nature of the Common Core SBAC test, a parent need only look at the projected “Failure Rate” for students with disabilities that require special education services.

These pass/fail “cut scores” were adopted by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium in November 2014 with Governor Malloy’s administration voting in favor of the “cut scores,” while the representatives of the governors’ of Vermont and New Hampshire (the other two SBAC states in New England) abstained in the vote, refusing to support the discriminatory pass/fail “cut scores.”)

As readers can see, the projected “Failure” rate for special education students on the Common Core SBAC Test [A rate that mirrors that of other demographic sub-categories of students] is more than immoral; it is nothing short of illegal.

SBAC  Test (Sub-Group Special Education/IEP) % Projected to FAIL
English/Language Arts
3rd Grade – Special Education Students 84.2% Projected to FAIL
4th Grade 83.6%
5th Grade 87.0%
6th Grade 91.1%
7th Grade 92.7%
8th Grade 91.5%
11th Grade 91.0%
Math
3rd Grade – Special Education Students 81.6% Projected to FAIL
4th Grade 87.1%
5th Grade 90.5%
6th Grade 90.3%
7th Grade 91.2%
8th Grade 92.2%
11th Grade 92.5%

Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster

Thanks to Governor Malloy, his out-going Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and the corporate education reform industry, well over 300,000 Connecticut public school students will be taking the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized test in just a couple of months.

Not only will it cost Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and mean thousands of hours of lost instructional time, but the Common Core SBAC test is literally designed to ensure than almost seven out of ten students are told that they have failed.

Yes….the Common Core SBAC test is designed in such a way as make sure that nearly 70 percent of public school students are told they are failures.

As part of the ongoing effort to inform students, parents, teacher and Connecticut citizens about the absurd, unfair and inappropriate Common Core testing scheme, the Wait, What? blog post of January 2, 2015 is being re-posted below.

The fact is that while Stefan Pryor will be gone by the end of the week, Malloy and his political appointees on the State Board of Education are charging forward with their Common Core Testing strategy and, to further that effort, have decided to appoint Dianna Roberge-Wentzell as Connecticut’s Interim Commissioner of Education.

Dianna Roberge-Wentzell has been serving as the Department of Education’s chief academic officer for about two years.  When appointed to that position, it was explained that her role would be to “lead the Common Core curriculum development work at the state level.”

And Roberge-Wentzell has proven to be a stellar cheerleader for the Common Core and its related Standardized Testing Program.

In a Connecticut Association of Boards of Education meeting last year, Roberge-Wentzell proclaimed, “There is some anxiety about content readiness, like, ‘Will our kids really be ready?’ ‘Have we fully made that transition in our curriculum and instruction?’ And I think that people need to recognize that this is a multi-year transition.”

But for Connecticut’s public school students and teachers, there is no “multi-year” transition.

The guaranteed failing test rates are a part of THIS YEAR’S Common Core Test!

And those corrupt results will then be used to “evaluate” and punish Connecticut’s public school teachers.

While many of the Common Core standards are developmentally inappropriate and neither Connecticut’s public school teachers nor our public school students have been given the appropriate time and materials to “transition” to these new standards, the punishing Common Core test will occur starting in March unless the Connecticut General Assembly moves quickly to dismantle the massive testing apparatus or parents take matters into their own hands and opt their children out of taking the inappropriate tests.

But as if to reiterate her fidelity to the corporate education reform industry and their Common Core testing scheme, Roberge-Wentzell told the audience at that CABE meeting that everything was moving forward nicely and there was no need to even worry about the technological problems that have plagued the Common Core testing program in Connecticut and around the nation.

The person who will now take over management of the Connecticut State Department of Education told the group at CABE last year that it was full steam ahead, that the State Department had been using the “technology readiness tool” that has been provided by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and that “Our districts input all of their data and then we are able to constantly monitor kind of a dashboard of tech readiness for the state…And we are very close to 100 percent tech readiness in Connecticut—we are lucky. But some communities still have some investments that need to be made and this will help us support them in bridging that gap.”

The truth is Connecticut’s public school students have become guinea pigs for the Corporate Education Reform Industry and implementing a test that is designed to ensure failure for the vast majority of our children is nothing short of child abuse.

For more of the background about the Common Core testing, read the following;

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

This initial Wait, What? post of 2015 may very well be the most important of the year because it reiterates the disturbing truth about the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and what students, parents and teachers will be facing in the next few months.

The shocking truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration have agreed to a Common Core testing program that is designed to label the vast majority of our children as failures.

Of the highs and lows of 2014, a primary contender for the lowest of the low points was when Governor Malloy’s administration, through outgoing Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, agreed, in a closed door meeting in Washington State – on Friday night November 14, 2014 – to intentionally set the “passing” grade on the Smarter Balanced Consortium Common Core Test at a level that ensures that most of Connecticut’s children will unfairly fail the upcoming Common Core test.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is one of the two consortia that were given $360 million in federal funds to design the new Common Core standardized tests. Governor Malloy’s representative on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is Commissioner Stefan Pryor and the Malloy administration is mandating that every public school in Connecticut give the Common Core test this year.

The sad truth is that while Connecticut willingly threw our children and teachers under the Common Core testing bus, other states like Vermont have refused to participate in this Common Core testing charade and abstained on the November “cut score” setting vote.  New Hampshire abstained as well.

But Connecticut joined other corporate education reform industry groupies, and in a shocking display of arrogance and abuse, decided to set the “cut score” on the Smarter Balanced Consortium Common Core Test to ensure that only 41 percent of 11th graders will show proficiency in English/language arts, and 33 percent will do so in math.

Imagine, a standardized test that is designed to ensure that 6 in 10 students fail English/language arts and nearly 7 in 10 fail math.

The so-called group of “state education leaders” also voted to define the “passing mark” on the Common Core tests so that 38 percent to 44 percent of the elementary school children will “meet the proficiency mark” in English/language arts, and only 32 percent to 39 percent will do so in math.

Try as you might, you won’t find Connecticut’s “education” governor being quoted much about this outrage.

This decision made 3,000 miles away and behind closed doors will dramatically impact our children and their teachers, since Malloy’s education reform initiative requires that teachers be judged on how well their students do on these unfair tests.

While the action didn’t get a lot of news coverage in Connecticut, fellow public education activist and commentator, Wendy Lecker, did explained the situation in detail in a commentary piece published in the Stamford Advocate and posted here at Wait, What?  The article here was entitled, “A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker.”

While the vote was taken on Friday, November 14th, 2014, safely after the 2014 gubernatorial elections, the PR operation at the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium didn’t issue their press release until Monday, November 17, 2014.  SBAC wrote,

OLYMPIA, WASH. (November 17, 2014) —Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium have voted to approve initial achievement levels for the mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) assessments that will be administered in 17 states and one territory this school year. The vote marks an important milestone in the development of the assessment system.

But Connecticut’s Wendy Lecker laid out the real truth in her recent commentary piece, explaining,

A widely acknowledged flaw of the No Child Left Behind Law is that its accountability system based on inaccurate and narrow standardized test scores unfairly, even if unintentionally, labels schools and students as failures.

So it is unconscionable that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s outgoing Education Commissioner, Stefan Pryor, would agree to a new testing program that intentionally deems Connecticut’s children failures. But that is exactly what Pryor and other leaders from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (“SBAC) did…”

Wendy Lecker added,

Standardized test passing rates are based on arbitrary and political decisions about how many students decision-makers want to fail. SBAC admits it cannot validate whether its tests measure college readiness until it has data on how current test takers do in college. In fact, SBAC declares that the achievement levels “do not equate directly to expectations for `on-grade’ performance” and test scores should only be used with multiple other sources of information about schools and students.

Since the vast majority of factors affecting test scores occur outside school, test scores are poor measures of school quality, teacher quality and student performance.

Yet, with his November vote, Pryor guaranteed that many successful Connecticut students and schools will now arbitrarily be declared failures.

High-stakes testing has proven to be ineffective and damaging to learning. The only way to reduce their effect is to lower the stakes. Vermont’s educational leaders recognize this and advocate abandoning unnecessary yearly testing.

Trying to explain away their action, the press release issued by the Smarter Balanced Consortium (SBAC) sought to explain why it was a good thing that parents will soon be told that their children are failures.  The Executive Director of the Smarter Balanced Consortium wrote,

“Because the new content standards set higher expectations for students and the new tests are designed to assess student performance against those higher standards, the bar has been raised. It’s not surprising that fewer students could score at [a proficient level]. However, over time the performance of students will improve.”

So the action taken by the Malloy administration and other Common Core aficionados’ blithely claim that everything is fine because, “over time the performance of students will improve.”

Of course, they never even mention the fact that the primary factors influencing standardized test scores are poverty, English language barriers and the failure to address children’s special education needs.

The SBAC “policy paper” setting the absurd scoring system doesn’t even call for additional efforts to address those key factors nor does it even mention how inappropriate and unfair it is to evaluate public school teachers on these flawed test scores.

Instead, the consortium celebrates this outrage calling it, “an important milestone in the development of the assessment system.”

Adding insult to injury, the Smarter Balanced Consortium had the audacity to claim that the action taken by Stefan Pryor and the other state “education leaders” represented a “consensus”.

The Smarter Balanced Consortium’s PR operation claim that,

“Teachers, parents, higher education faculty, business leaders, and other community members from all of the Smarter Balanced states took part in a highly inclusive, consensus-based process that asked participants to closely examine assessment content to determine threshold scores for each achievement level. Educators who work with English language learners and students with disabilities also were included to help ensure that the achievement levels are fair and appropriate for all students.”

If parents and teachers across Connecticut fully understood how the education frauds, including those in Connecticut, have set up our children for failure, parents would be opting their children out of these unfair tests, going before local boards of education to demand immediate action and calling upon their legislators to adopt legislation requiring Connecticut to withdraw from the Smarter Balanced Consortium.

But alas, the education reform proponents were among Governor Malloy’s largest campaign contributors and with the Common Core testing craze only a couple of months away, Malloy and his administration remain committed to a Common Core testing plan that will ensure that majority of Connecticut’s children are told they are nothing short of failures.

In the real world, it is called child abuse.

So was their decision to set up our children up failure one of the low points of 2014?

No, let’s amend that phrase.  When it comes to our children and their future, the decision by the Malloy administration to join a testing system that is designed to ensure that our children are deemed failures was nothing short of the lowest of the low points in 2014.

It is a long-shot, but perhaps when the new Connecticut General Assembly is sworn in next Wednesday it will find the courage to say enough is enough on the outrageous Common Core testing scheme and the legislature will actually take definitive action to put the needs of our children first.