Madison Superintendent provides Parents with the truth about the Common Core SBAC Test

As George Orwell wrote in his initially classified book of fiction,

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

To which it is well to remember the words of Winston Churchill who observed,

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

If you had a child in the Madison, Connecticut public schools you’d have a superintendent, school administrators and Board of Education that was committed to telling the truth about the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing System and dedicated to putting children, parents, teachers and their public schools above the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s ongoing attempt to undermine public education in the United States.

If you had a children in the Madison, Connecticut public schools you would have received the following a letter from Superintendent Thomas Scarice and Assistant Superintendent Gail Dahling-Hench, a letter that honestly and truthfully explains why the Common Core SBAC test is not an appropriate tool or mechanism to judge our children, their teachers or our public schools.

The letter to Madison Parents states;

Individual Student Reports for the 2015 Smart Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) standardized test were mailed this week. This specific report format is provided to the district by the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) and is a product of the national Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, consisting of 18 states.

Tests are designed with a purpose. The SBAC test was designed to measure the college and career readiness level of students through their achievement on the Connecticut Core educational standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics in grades 3-8 and 11. In addition, as in prior years, the science CMT/CAPT test was administered in Grades 5, 8, and 10.

One singular test provides an extraordinarily limited view of individual student performance. This particular test is based on an incomplete view of “college and career readiness”. In fact, this test endeavors to provide parents and educators with a predictive measure of an individual student’s college and career readiness by mere achievement of educational standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The reliability of these predictions is imprecise and suspect at best.

Resources provided by the CSDE clearly state that characterizing a student’s achievement solely in terms of falling in one of four categories (levels) is an oversimplification, and that the specific achievement levels should not be interpreted as infallible predictors of students’ futures.

Perhaps most concerning in the student reports is the definitive nature of the claims made about an individual student based on one test. This can be found in the language that declares whether or not your child has “met the achievement level” expected for a specific grade, and whether or not your child will need “substantial support to get back on track for success in the next grade”. These claims are particularly alarming given the inadequacies, imperfections, and lack of reliable evidence on one singular test to make such assertions. A balance of assessment tools at the school level provides a more complete picture of individual student performance, as well as timely and actionable data. We encourage parents to look at student performance over various measures when understanding the academic performance of their child.

You are also invited to review the March 2015 report commissioned by the SBAC entitled, Making Good Use of New Assessments. This report conveys numerous cautions about the use, and most importantly, the misuse of these scores.

When examining your student report, we ask that you refer to the online parent interpretive guide provided by the CSDE.

We hope you find this summary helpful when examining the enclosed results for your student. If you have questions about this report….

You can read the letter at:

When every superintendent, school administrator and Board of Education are willing to speak the truth about the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam we will have taken a gigantic step forward in our battle to put the world “public” back into our nation’s system of public education.

Thomas Scarice: Superintendent of Schools and leading voice for public education (updated)

Thomas Scarice is the Superintendent of Schools in Madison, Connecticut. 

Last January, Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading voice for public education, added Superintendent Scarice to her champion of public education honor roll for his leadership in bringing together the Madison school board, teachers, parents and the local community. Rather than accepting the regimented, dictatorial, top-down teacher evaluation system being pushed by Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education, Scarice led a community based planning process that developed a home-grown teacher evaluation system that should be used as a national model.

Although Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, has yet to approve Madison’s teacher evaluation plan, it is and will remain as a true example of what communities can do when given the opportunity to make public education a true priority.

This week Thomas Scarice reiterated his role as a major voice for public education in Connecticut when he used his back to school address to lay out a vision for his students, teachers, schools and community.

In addition, the event included an extraordinarily powerful student produced documentary entitled “What makes a great teacher.”

As you watch the video and read Superintendent’s Scarice’s speech, imagine the state and country we could have if every elected official and policymaker took the time to truly listen to learn from these two examples.

Here is a link to the student video:

And here are the remarks made by;

Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools
Madison, Connecticut



Continue reading “Thomas Scarice: Superintendent of Schools and leading voice for public education (updated)”

Children before politics: Madison, Connecticut: Standing up to the Corporate Education Reform Movement

This weekend, Hearst newspaper columnist and fellow public education advocate, Wendy Lecker, has published a “must read” commentary piece that reveals that in at least one Connecticut community local elected officials, school administrators, teachers and parents are have the courage and conviction to stand up for the needs of their children – even if it means taking on Connecticut’s “education reform at all costs” State Department of Education.

Two weeks ago, Lecker used her column to ask; “Will one superintendent please stand up?”

This week we learn that yes, there is a Connecticut superintendent of schools, in fact, there is a whole local board of education and education community that isn’t being bullied by the forces that are seeking to turn our schools into privatized testing factories.

As Lecker points out, “The story of how [Madison, Connecticut] Superintendent Scarice and his community crafted the district’s recommendations for its teacher evaluation plan is a model of how education policy should be made. In Madison, the process and results reflected a consensus of the entire community and a focus on what children need.”

Unlike the policies being put forward by the Malloy administration, Madison recognized that primary and secondary education must be about instilling a love of learning, while providing the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the complex, changing world in which we live.

It is an approach and concept that standardized tests fail to measure.

Put more bluntly, as one Madison Board of Education member told Wendy Lecker, “We want to take that joy of learning kindergarteners come in with and stop stamping it out of them as they progress to 12th grade.”

The town, using a 45-member advisory council, rejected the state’s reliance on standardized testing and instead developed an alternative model that seeks to capture the real factors that promote student success and achievement.

Lecker’s latest piece should be mandatory reading, not only for those who are losing hope that we can preserve what is good about Connecticut’s public education system, but for those who continue to push their destructive “education reform” agenda; A program that is based on the over reliance of standardized testing and the continued effort to privatize our state and nation’s most important public service — our public education system.

You can find Lecker’s commentary at: