Sample opt out letter for Connecticut parents

Attention Parents;

The Common Core SBAC test is intentionally designed to fail as many as 70 percent of the children.  With the Common Core SBAC Testing period beginning in March and running through May, now is the time to opt your child or children out of this destructive testing program.

The most important fact for Connecticut parents and guardians to understand is that there is absolutely no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the State of Connecticut or a local school district to punish a child if their parent decides to opt them out of the discriminatory, unfair and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test.

Opt out letters should be sent to your child’s school principal.  You may also want to send a copy of your letter to your district’s superintendent of schools.

The underlying problem is that last year Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education issued a directive to all local school superintendents providing them with a step-by-step guide on how to mislead parents into believing that they did not have the right to opt their child or children out of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Although last year’s memo was an outrageous breach of professional conduct, the Malloy administration has yet to provide local school superintendents with the correct information about a parent’s fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core testing.

A number of local superintendents understand the law and the issues surrounding the Common Core test and are accepting opt out letters without causing a problem.

Some are initially rejecting a parent’s request with the hope that the parent will simply give up and allow their child to take the destructive test, but are then allowing a parent to opt their children out after the initial refusal.

Still other school districts are continuing to bully and intimidate parents by requesting that the parents explain why they have made the decision to opt their child or children out of the Common Core Testing scheme.

And some continue to refuse to recognize that parents have the right to simply say no to this unfair testing program.

To be absolutely clear, parents have absolutely no obligation to explain why they are taking action to protect their children…they simply need to inform their local school district that their child or children will not be taking the Common Core test and that the district need to place the child in an appropriate learning environment while the inappropriate test is being given.

Parents who want to engage their local school officials in a discussion about the appropriateness of the Common Core SBAC test can find plenty of background information here at Wait, What? and at other pro-public education websites, but any parent who wants to opt out their child or children can do so by simply informing their local school district, in writing, that their child will not to take the Common Core SBAC test and should be removed from any activities  associated with the test.

There are no magic words that need to be included in a parents opt out letter.

All it needs to be is a direct statement instructing the local school district that the child is not to be given the Common Core SBAC test or saddled with any of the other activities associated with the Common Core testing program.  The letter should also make clear that that the parent requests and is expecting that the child be provided with an alternative, educationally appropriate activity while the test activities are taking place.

The following is a sample opt out letter that parents can use or revise as they deem necessarily,

Additional model letters will be posted here and can be found via an Internet search for Common Core Test or SBAC opt out letters.

DRAFT OPT OUT LETTER

Dear Principal _____________,’

Thank you for all you do for my child, ___________ (child’s full name), and for our school.

I am writing to inform you that ________ is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

Although I recognize that the language in Connecticut State Statute 10-14n mandates that students take a statewide mastery examination, I know that there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the state or local district to punish a child who does not participate in the testing program.

In fact, each year there are thousands of Connecticut public school students who do not take the mandated tests.

I am writing to request that the school district provide my child with an appropriate education related learning alternative during any Common Core SBAC testing periods or activities.

Respectfully,

______________________

Parent’s name and contact information

 

Superintendents!  Note leading Connecticut law firm’s observation on opt-out issue

As incredible and inappropriate as it seems, a number of Connecticut school superintendents continue to follow the illegal directive of the Malloy administration and are still trying to block parents from opting their children out of the unfair, discriminatory and absurd Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test or, equally as bad, are using their position to try and intimidate parents into thinking that they have lost their fundamental right to protect their children from the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

The superintendent from Ridgefield, Connecticut recently joined the Opt-Out “Wall of Shame” after issuing a misleading letter to parents.

Superintendents who attempt to block or scare parents are asking for a lawsuit against them and their Board of Education because the truth is — as it has been stated over and over again here at Wait, What?,

There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the government or local school districts to punish a parent or child who opts their child or children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Even Pullman & Comley, one of Connecticut’s leading law firms, and the former employer of the most recent appointee to the Connecticut Supreme Court makes the issues clearer in a piece on the law firm’s website entitled, Common Core Testing Opt-Out…..Is it Legal?

While Governor Malloy, his State Department of Education and some local school superintendents continue to trot out the law proclaiming that all students must take Connecticut’s Mastery Test, Pullman & Comley explains in their February 2014 column that;

“In short, simply saying that parent opt-out is “against the law” is not dispositive, for if a law is on the books, but it does not carry any real consequences, then questions of legality become little more than abstract academic exercises.  The obvious follow-up question, then, is whether there is any other recourse available to districts to ensure students’ good-faith engagement in standardized testing?

Perhaps the answer lies in Connecticut General Statute §10-14n (e), which provides:  “No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.”  Notice the phrase “the sole criterion.”  Could its use imply that while a satisfactory score cannot constitute the sole criterion, it could be a “significant criterion” or a “necessary criterion” that must be satisfied in order for a student to move up a grade or graduate from high school?  At the same time, would such an approach create other, even thornier issues?

For example, if a student does not, or perhaps cannot, perform well on standardized testing, precluding promotion or graduation, what would the district’s responsibility be to these students?  Would it be in either the student’s or the district’s best interest to have a student retained in his then-current grade despite mastering – or at least showing a sufficient grasp of — the grade’s academic requirements simply because this significant or necessary criterion in determining promotion had not been met?  Similarly, what if a student were deemed ineligible to graduate solely because of a less-than-satisfactory score on a standardized test?  It is doubtful that the student’s parents would be supportive of this decision.  Additionally, what curricular or alternative educational programming would the district have to provide to this student who was now caught in a kind of academic limbo?

Of particular note are the consequences that such a policy might have for special education students, for whom school districts are responsible until they either graduate or turn 21.  Currently, the inability to establish proficiency or mastery on a standardized test does not preclude a special education student from receiving his or her diploma.  If the district implemented a policy that in significant part predicates a student’s ability to graduate upon satisfactory completion of the testing, would the student’s inability to do so require that the district continue providing educational services until he or she turned 21?  Would it provide parents with a basis for demanding that these additional years within the district’s educational jurisdiction be spent in an out-of-district placement given the district’s apparent inability to prepare the student sufficiently to satisfy this standardized-test criterion?

Most importantly, such a policy could possibly have a disparate impact upon disabled students, thereby raising concerns as to whether it was inherently discriminatory and thus illegal.

It would appear, then, that school districts ultimately have little leverage when confronted with students who have decided to opt out of Common Core standardized assessments.  Instead, they are most likely reduced to hoping that the vast majority of parents will not elect this approach on behalf of their children to standardized testing.”

As this blog has noted before, Connecticut General Statute § 10-14n (b) (1) states that, “each student enrolled in grades three to eight, inclusive, and grade ten or eleven in any public school shall annually, in March or April, take a mastery examination in reading, writing cs.”

But this law, in its basic form, has been in the Connecticut statutes for over thirty years.

Connecticut children have always been required to take the Connecticut Mastery Test, but during the past three decades tens of thousands of public school students – for various reasons – have not taken the so-called mandated mastery test.  Neither those students nor their parents were punished for the child’s failure to take the state’s Mastery Test because there is no mechanism, nor should there be, to punish a child or parent for failing to take the so-called “mastery test.”

With no legal backing to their claim, the Malloy administration and some superintendents are now attempting to claim that the new Common Core SBAC test is somehow more “mandated” than the previous “mandated” tests, but that is simply untrue since the federal laws that they cite go back more than a decade to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

Even more importantly, the law “mandating” a “Mastery Test” simply does not trump a parent’s fundamental and inalienable rights under the United States Constitution and the Connecticut Constitution.

The reality is, as one Connecticut’s premier law firms so clearly states, “school districts ultimately have little leverage when confronted with students who have decided to opt out of Common Core standardized assessments.”

Governor Malloy, his Department of Education and local school superintendents need to stop telling parents they do not have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC.  Their ongoing efforts to intimidate and scare parents into thinking they have lost their right to protect their children is downright appalling.

The Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme – a program that is intentionally designed to fail 60 percent to 70 percent of all children – begins in less than a month in some Connecticut public schools.

The time is now to tell your local school system that your child will not be taking these unfair and discriminatory tests.

And if they give you a hard time, tell them it is not negotiable.

Then send the correspondence they have given you to Wait, What? ([email protected]) so that we can post the information and make sure that the public knows which local education officials are refusing to stand on the side of students, parents and teacher and have decided to hook their professional conduct to the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda.

You can find the full post by Pullman & Comley at: Common Core Testing Opt-Out…..Is it Legal?

The destructive impact of accountability on public education (Guest post by Joseph A. Ricciotti)

An important guest post from Josesph Ricciotti, a retired educator and a leading public school advocate in Connecticut.  His commentary pieces can be found in many of Connecticut’s media outlets as well as here at Wait, What?

School districts in Connecticut will soon embark on another round of standardized testing referred to as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium( (SBAC) which are tests administered to all students in school districts that are implementing Common Core. Hence, as a life-long educator and a former principal the question I would ask is why? Education officials from the Connecticut Commissioner of Education down to the superintendents of Connecticut school districts immersed in implementing the SBAC tests would say we need “accountability.” Ah, yes, that infamous word “accountability” that has a thirty year record of failing children, parents, teachers and communities.

The era of “accountability” started back in the early eighties when Ronald Reagan was president. Education historian Diane Ravitch and author of the best selling book, “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools” traces the accountability movement back to 1983 when “A Nation at Risk” was published. Ravitch cites “For the past 30 years, U.S. educators have been like a dog chasing its tail. What has happened is tragic.” Ravitch is also of the belief that our nation’s political leadership “have become obsessed with the idea that everything that matters can be measured and that test scores are the ultimate measure for children, schools, teachers, and now, higher education.” As one educator said, “it is as though we want to quantify everything.

For the past fourteen years also in the name of “accountability” we have had No Child Left Behind (NCLB) followed by Race to the Top (RTTT) which, because of the testing aligned with these programs, have been utter failures. And now we are entering a new era of “accountability” with Common Core and the SBAC tests, again, all in the name of “accountability.” In essence, what NCLB and RTTT and now Common Core have done according to Tom Skelar, Dean of the Edgewood School of Education in Wisconsin,”was that over the last 14 years it has literally denied a generation of children access to their fundamental right to a powerful and critical education.” Skelar goes on to state that the only beneficiaries of “accountability” have been legislators and, of course, the testing companies that have made millions on the sale of tests and data systems to schools.

The SBAC tests aligned with Common Core were largely designed by testing experts with minimal input from teachers. Yet so much of teachers’ success under the guise of “accountability” will now be determined by SBAC test scores – or more commonly known in educational circles as “high-stakes testing” – which includes teacher performance evaluations as well as their salaries. As George Ball in an op-ed piece in the San Franciscogate so appropriately stated, “What’s lost in Common Core is the human factor. Teachers are deprived of the freedom and creativity that is the oxygen of learning. Common Core sacrifices the magic of teaching and learning at the alter of metrics.” Needless to say, these are powerful words aimed at what is occurring throughout the nation’s schools in the name of “test-based accountability.

In Westport, where Staples High School principal John Dodig is retiring, he cites his displeasure with the state’s implementation of the SBAC testing tied to teacher evaluation emphatically stating “I don’t believe in it. I think it is hypocritical, it’s destructive and it’s not going to change education.” Under Dodig’s tenure, Staples High School in 2008 was named by Connecticut Magazine as “#1 High School in the State and was also recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education in 2013.

The new interim Connecticut Commissioner of Education Dianne Roberge-Wentzell has wasted no time as her top priority in pushing school districts in Connecticut in the administration and implementation of the SBAC tests aligned with Common Core which are schedule to be given to public school students during the spring of 2015. Why the big rush for tests that are destined to create havoc? According to Jonathan Pelto, the SBAC tests are “designed to ensure that potentially up to 70 percent of students fail to reach goal.” Hence, critics of Common Core testing believe that its evaluation methods are built on bad science, faulty research and compare it to “ building a plane while flying it.” Do we really want the test makers experimenting with our children in the name of “accountability”? Is Common Core and the SBAC aligned tests yet another train wreck waiting to happen?

Research on testing indicates that SBAC test scores will, in reality, simply and basically describe the demographics of students. That is why school districts such as Fairfield and Westport will have high SBAC scores while Bridgeport and Hartford will have low scores. In the end, the SBAC test scores will tell more about the real estate values than the quality of its schools. University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber has shown that nonschool factors such as family income amount to 60% of achievement.

Karen Lewis, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, in a recent talk had  a poignant message to education reformers and test makers when she said, “Testing does nothing but show you the educational attainment of the child’s mother. We don’t even see the test results, Why? What is the point of all this testing? These tests are what they are using to ruin people’s lives-adults and children; and then they run around saying, “I’m for the kids.” We continue to brand education as a failure. Why are we telling these lies?”

In light of the nonschool factors that impact student achievement, the Connecticut State Department of Education needs to take a step back and reflect on what their focus on high-stakes testing is doing to our students and what they are doing to our teachers and schools. There is more to teaching and learning than test scores. “Accountability” is the culprit that is demeaning our public schools.

Here we go again! Malloy Administration misleads mother on Common Core SBAC Test

Governor Malloy and his administration are continuing to tell Connecticut parents that they do not have the right to opt their children out of the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Test that begins next month.

Even worse, local school districts are using that false information to intimidate Connecticut parents.

Parents — do not let them fool you – you can and should opt your children out of these destructive tests, a set of Common Core standardized exams that are rigged to ensure that up to 7 in 10 children fail.

When Christine Murphy, a resident of Bristol, Connecticut, informed her son’s school that he would not be taking the Common Core SBAC Tests, the assistant principal, on behalf of the superintendent, informed her that she did not have the right to opt her child out of the test.

[School Superintendents!  Stop harassing parents for opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test]

Christine, recognizing that this is still America, reached out to the NBC Trouble Shooters who did a news segment about her attempt to utilize her fundamental right to determine what is best for her child.

Interestingly rather than telling NBC news the truth, the whole truth and nothing be the truth, the spokesperson for Governor Malloy’s Department of Education and the paid lobbyist for one of Connecticut’s Corporate Education Reform Industry groups decided that they would intentionally mislead the mother, NBC news and the people of Connecticut into thinking the mom did not have the right to opt her child out of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Sadly, NBC news fell for the trick and failed to report the truth.

Governor Malloy’s State Department of Education issued a statement which read;

“These laws do not provide a provision for parents to ‘opt-out’ their children from taking state tests. These mandates have been in effect for many years and the State Department of Education, as well as all public schools, must comply.”

– Kelly Donnelly, Connecticut Department of Education

The Malloy administration’s response is at best disingenuous and should more appropriately be called blatantly deceitful considering the reality about parental rights in Connecticut when it comes to the Common Core SBAC Test.

The FACT is there is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the government or local school district to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

Yes it is true that Governor Malloy and his administration have been telling parents that they do not have the right to opt their children out.  But those statements are false.

When Stefan Pryor, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, was finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 2014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core SBAC testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

“On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

At the same public hearing, Allan B. Taylor, the Chairperson of the Connecticut State Board of Education stated,

 “There is no law that says they can’t. Certainly no state law that says they can’t. Therefore, residually, presumably they have that right … but that is the parent’s choice, the local district’s choice. The State Department of Education will not be reaching down and sanctioning parents.”

The state and local districts will not be punishing parents and their children because they have no legal right to take any action against parents for removing their children from the Common Core SBAC tests.

What the Connecticut General Statute §10-14n(e) does say is that,

“No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.” 

This means that towns cannot promote or graduate a student on the basis of their Common Core SBAC Test score and they certainly cannot hold back a student or refuse to allow them to graduate based on their Common Core SBAC Test score.

Unfortunately, NBC news failed to do its job.

Rather than push past the political spin coming from the Malloy administration, the reporter simply accepted the misleading statement issued by the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Connecticut citizens deserve better from their government and the media.

You can see the NBC segment by going to http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/troubleshooters/State-Prohibits-Parents-From-Opting-Kids-Out-of-Testing-291119901.html

School Superintendents!  Stop harassing parents for opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test

With the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing beginning in less than a month, more and more parents are informing their local school districts that they have decided that their children will not be taking the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Common Core SBAC tests this year.

Parents who understand the issues associated with the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam are opting their children out.

Despite repeated posts here at Wait, What? and the work of a number of state-wide efforts to inform state and local officials that they must respect a parent’s fundamental right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC Test, a significant number of local school superintendents, and their staff, continue to mislead parents, throw up barriers or harass parents into believing that they have lost their right to protect their children from an unfair test that is rigged to ensure that as many as 7 in 10 children fail.

So once again, let us be clear!

  • There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests.
  • There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that allows the government or local school districts to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing scam.

Not only is there no law, regulation or policy that prohibits parents from opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC test, but although the Malloy administration issued a memo last year instructing superintendents, principals and local school officials on how to mislead parents, when Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education was finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 2014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core SBAC testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

“On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

The Chairman of the State Board of Education, Attorney Alan Taylor, agreed with the Commissioner and went even further stating that there was no legal action that the state or school district could take to punish a parent or child who opted out of the Common Core SBAC test.

While a law clarifying that parents have the opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test might be helpful to school officials, and such legislation has been introduced into this year’s General Assembly, the underlying issue would remain the same….A parent’s right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test cannot denied.

The latest inappropriate effort to mislead parents comes from Bristol Connecticut, where the Assistant Principal of Bristol High School was put into the unenviable position of trying to instruct Chris, a mother of a student at Bristol High School that she could not opt her child out of the Common Core SBAC Test.

Bristol High School’s Assistant Principal wrote;

“Connecticut State Statute mandates that all students take the Smarter Balanced Assessment…No provision has been made to “opt out” of these tests. Dr. Solek our superintendent has instructed that you will need to submit your request in writing outlining your specific reasons for not taking the test. She, in turn, will alert the CT State Department of Education.”

Yes, Connecticut does have a law that states that all students shall take Mastery Test in grades 3-8 and in 11th grade.  However, putting aside the fact that the Common Core SBAC test is hardly a true mastery test, state and local school officials know that, on average, about 3,000 Connecticut public school students have failed to take the Connecticut Mastery Test each and every year.

And the 30,000 students who have failed to take the Connecticut Master Test were not punished and could not have been punished by state or the local school district for failing to take the Mastery Test

State and local education officials also know that Connecticut State Statute 10-14n(e) states,

“No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.”

If public schools may not require satisfactory achievement on a mastery examination in order to move the child up a grade or graduate, then school districts certainly can’t require an unsatisfactory grade or no grade at all on the mastery test as a requirement to promote or graduate a student.

The notion that students must take the test or else has no basis in law or practice in the state of Connecticut and the abuse of students and their parents by state and local school officials has got to stop.

If Governor Malloy and his Commissioner of Education want to legally prevent parents from opting their children out of the destructive Common Core SBAC Test then they need to introduce legislation to that end and convince a majority of the members of the Connecticut General Assembly to pass a law that forbids parents from opting their children out and providing the state and local districts with a mechanism to punish parents or their children if the students do not take the unfair Common Core SBAC Test.

And while Governor Malloy ponders taking that step, the truth is that this is still America and the reality here in Connecticut is that THERE IS NO LAW that prevents parents from opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

Enough is enough – state and local school officials must stop misleading and harassing parent about their fundamental rights.

If you are told by your school district that you can’t opt your child out of the Common Cores SBAC Test, please send that correspondence here to Wait, What? ([email protected]) so that we can warn other parents in that district.

Other Wait, What? Blog posts about this issue include;

Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests

Question – Can my child graduate without taking the absurd Common Core SBAC Test?

How much will the absurd Common Core SBAC Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

ALERT! Parents – the Common Core SBAC Test really is designed to fail your children

In addition, parents can get more information about opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC test via the following links;

United Opt-Out:  Connecticut Guide

Connecticut Against the Common Core – Opting out of Standardized Testing

Connecticut Against the Common Core – Facebook Page

Common Core CriticsConnecticut – Guide to Opting Out

How To Opt Out of Standardized Testing in Connecticut

 

ALERT! Parents – the Common Core SBAC Test really is designed to fail your children

It is almost impossible to conceive that the Corporate Education Reform Industry and its supporters like Governor Dannel Malloy are poised to define the vast majority of Connecticut’s students as failures…but that is exactly what is going to occur if parents don’t act to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium (SBAC) test the begins in just a few weeks.

As parents step forward, Connecticut’s teachers must act as well.

Now is the time for Connecticut’s public school teachers to instruct their state unions to condemn the unfair Common Core SBAC testing scheme and demand that Governor Malloy and his administration provide parents with information about how to opt their children out of the 2015 Common Core SBAC tests.

As has been reported here at Wait, What? before, despite the fact that parents can and should consider opting their children out of the unfair, discriminatory and inappropriate Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme that begins next month, Governor Malloy and his administration are failing to inform parents about their fundamental right to protect their children from these abusive tests.

Last year, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, provided school superintendents with a step-by-step guide on how local school officials should go about misleading parents into believing that they did not have the right to opt their children out of these tests.

And far too many school superintendents and principals used Pryor’s guide and form letter to mislead their own parents and teachers.

This year, Malloy and his State Department of Education are stunningly silent on this critically important issue.  Their failure to reveal the truth about a parent’s right to opt their children out of the Common Core tests is leaving local school officials and parents twisting slowly in the wind as the multi-billion dollar Common Core SBAC testing scam continues to suck up scarce public funds.

For parents, the bottom line is that the Malloy administration joined with the other Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) states in setting the “pass/fail” rates on this year’s Common Core Test in such a way that it will ensure that the vast majority of children are deemed failures.

For parents that don’t know the issue, please read the following paragraphs.  Parents that do understand what is happening need to take action and pass this vital information onto other parents in your community.

Connecticut teachers can also play a key role by standing up and speaking out on behalf of their students, parents and schools.  Teachers need to tell the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter to immediately issue strong statements condemning this year’s Common Core SBAC tests.  Teachers should also urge their union leaders to use their “close working relationship” with the Malloy administration to demand that the Connecticut State Department of Education immediately provide parents with adequate notice about how to opt their children out of these inappropriate tests.

Here is the single most important FACT OF ALL – The Common Core SBAC Test is rigged to fail the vast majority of children;

The following is taken directly from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Website:

OLYMPIA, WASH. (November 17, 2014) —Members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium [including Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education] 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.

…[T]he threshold scores that distinguish four achievement levels and display the estimated percentage of students across all Smarter Balanced states who would have scored at each level based on data from the Consortium’s spring 2014 field test. Smarter Balanced estimates that the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” in math ranged from 32 percent in Grade 8 to 39 percent in Grade 3. In English language arts, the percentage of students who would have scored “Level 3 or higher” ranged from 38 percent in Grade 3 to 44 percent in Grade 5.

Translated into English this means that the Common Core SBAC test is designed so that percentage of students who have reached the “goal” level in math ranges from 32 percent for eighth grade to 39 percent for third grade.

FACT:  The Common Core SBAC test is purposely designed that almost 7 in 10 eighth graders are deemed failures and that 6 in 10 third graders fail to reach their arbitrary “goal.”

Imagine, the Malloy administration is sending out tests that are designed to purposely fail 6 in 10 3rd graders!

According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s “cut score,”  In English/Language arts, the percentage of students who would have scored a goal will range from 38 percent in Grade 3 to 44 percent in Grade 5.

The Common Core Testing debacle is nothing short of child abuse.

For more background read these other Wait, What? Blog posts;

How much will the absurd Common Core SBAC Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

Question – Can my child graduate without taking the absurd Common Core SBAC Test?

Legislative Champions starting to step forward in Connecticut

Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests

Time to stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing Madness

 

How much will the absurd Common Core SBAC Test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

The following is a “MUST READ” column for Connecticut’s parents and taxpayers.

In fact, it should be mandatory reading for Connecticut’s local school board members, superintendents, principals and all of the state’s local school officials.

So how much will the unfair and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test cost Connecticut taxpayers?

It turns out that no one knows for sure, or if they do, they definitely aren’t telling!

Governor Malloy won’t give a number, nor will his political appointees on the State Board of Education.

State Legislators haven’t been told, nor have local cities and towns.

But starting in just over a month, every public school in Connecticut will be forced to stop teaching and start giving the Common Core Smarter Balanced Consortium SBAC test.

And not only will school districts have to put aside instructional time and give the Common Core SBAC test this year, but they will have to do it next year, and the year after, and the year after that, and every single year until this nonsense stops and the state’s elected officials finally have the courage to stand up and put an end to the Common Core test scam that is designed to intentionally judge the vast majority of Connecticut’s public school children as failures.

While most of Connecticut’s local school boards and officials are remaining quiet about this disaster, in California it is a whole different story.

In California (and in many parts of New York),  local school boards and school leaders have had enough and are pushing back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda of turning public schools into little more than testing factories.

In California, local districts have even gone so far as to bring a class-action lawsuit to force the State of California to pay for the unfunded mandate called the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC test.

Today, the nation’s leading public education advocate, Diane Ravitch, writes about the lawsuit in a post entitled, “California: Districts Object to $1 Billion for Common Core Testing.”

According to media reports, the Santa Ana Unified School District of Orange County calculates that shifting from the previous paper tests to the new Common Core SBAC test “will cost the district about $12 million, including 8.1 million for new computers, $3.3 million for additional internet bandwidth and other costs associated with “accessories and training.”

The total cost of implementing the Common Core SBAC Test — after the State of California has already allocated more than $1.25 billion for the Common Core testing system – is estimated to be at least $1 billion annually for the state’s school districts.

Of course, when confronted with the news, in a statement similar to what we’d likely hear from the Malloy administration, “a spokesman for the [California] Department of Finance declined to comment because officials are reviewing the claim.”

Note that the projected $1 billion additional burden on local school districts in California COMES AFTER California State Government allocated  $1.25 billion to districts in one-time funds to help pay for classroom changes needed to implement the Common Core standards and Common Core SBAC Testing program.

The Orange County Register newspaper adds that the state provided another $26.7 million in state funds last year for high-speed internet access at schools with the highest needs and, “The governor’s latest budget proposal for next year adds $100 million for internet needs.”

However, here in Connecticut, relatively small amounts of state money have been allocated to help the state’s local school districts pay for the tremendous costs associated with ramping up and implementing the Common Core SBAC testing scheme.

Rather than spending their time and lobbying funds cheering on Governor Malloy and his corporate education reform industry agenda, perhaps the publicly funded Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and the publicly funded Connecticut Association of School Superintendents (CAPSS) should stop taking positions that directly undermine their own members – Connecticut’s local school boards and superintendents – and start talking about legal and legislative action to force the State of Connecticut to fund this unfunded mandate or postpone the testing debacle until proper funding is provided.

While it is true that Connecticut may not want to follow California’s lead on all things, it sure would be helpful if more of Connecticut’s local school districts and local school officials were following their colleagues in California (and other states like New York,) and standing up and fighting on behalf of their districts’ students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

But NO – you want to know what the local taxpayer money that goes to CABE and CAPSS is being used for?

They are spending their time – and our money – joining the Corporate Education Reform Industry’s campaign to promote Malloy’s ant-public education agenda!

See:

CT’s Big Six to state legislators: “Continue investing in last year’s education reforms”

“A coalition of six of the state’s leading education and business groups – CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN – urge legislators not to back down from key pillars of last year’s education reform law

“This prompted the Big Six – a group composed of six education and business organizations – to urge lawmakers to protect progress made last year for Connecticut children by continuing to invest education reforms…”

And

BIG SIX INTRODUCES POLICY FOCUSES FOR NEW YEAR

“With the release of the Big 6’s Statement of Principles and Policy Recommendations, the coalition expects elected officials to keep education improvement efforts a priority during Legislative Session.

The Big 6 coalition represents key stakeholders and perspectives from the state’s leading education and business groups and continues to be united in a shared commitment to pursue systemic improvement in the state’s public schools so that every child gets an excellent public education.

Our partnership includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).”

Interestingly none of the priorities pushed by the BIG SIX includes being honest with Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers about the real cost of these “initiatives” or the fact that much of those unnecessary costs will be dumped on the backs of Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

You can read more about the Big Six in any number of commentary piece written by fellow education advocates, but a good place to start is with Sarah Darer Littman piece that was published in CT Newsjunkie and entitled, “Legislate Based On Research, Not Hyperbole.”

Today 11am – Radio 94.9 – A discussion about the Common Core and Common Core testing

If you have a time, listen in as Lori Hopkins-Cavanagh and I discuss the Common Core, Common Core Testing, the privatization of our public schools and the rise of the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Show begins at 11am on 94.9 FM News Now

Or you can listen on-line at:  http://tunein.com/radio/949-News-Now-s157109/

Ralph’s Nader’s latest book, “Unstoppable,” is subtitled – “The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.”

While significant and critically important differences of opinion exist between those on the so-called Left and Right do exist, Ralph Nadar is absolutely correct that while true liberals and true conservatives have been fighting against each other, the corporatization of our government, economy and society are threatening the most basic American values and principles.

If the destruction of the middle class is to be stopped, and public education returned to public control, then conservatives and liberals must team up to fight the true and immediate enemy – the corporatization of our government.

Today’s radio show is intended to be a small step in that direction.

Listen in if you have time.

Question – Can my child graduate without taking the absurd Common Core SBAC Test?

Incredibly, whether it is out of ignorance or deceitfulness, some Connecticut school officials are apparently telling parents that opting out of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing System could jeopardize their child’s chance of graduating.

To be blunt, that is bullsh*t!

Connecticut State Statute 10-14n(e) reads… “No public school may require achievement of a satisfactory score on a mastery examination, or any subsequent retest on a component of such examination as the sole criterion of promotion or graduation.”

This Connecticut state law is particularly important now that the Malloy administration has set the “pass” level on the new Common Core SBAC 11th grade test in such a way that only about 4 in 10 students will reach the “satisfactory” score in English/Language Arts and only 3 in 10 are projected to get a “satisfactory” score in Math.

Since the Common Core SBAC test is designed to ensure the vast majority of students are deemed failures, the state statute prohibiting towns from using the “mastery test” as the sole criterion for graduation is obviously necessary!

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test as the sole criterion for graduation, then it certainly can’t require an “unsatisfactory score” on the Common Core SBAC Test in order to graduate.

And if a town can’t require a “satisfactory score” nor can it require an “unsatisfactory score,” then it becomes obvious that it can’t possibly prohibit a student from graduating if they have no Common Core SBAC Test score due to the fact that they didn’t take the Common Core SBAC test.

So parents – don’t let anyone mislead you.

Under state law, schools must administer the Common Core SBAC test, but to reiterate the point, there is absolutely no state law or regulation that allows the state or school districts to punish the parent or student if a parent opts their children out of the Common Core SBAC test.

And there is equally no mechanism for a school district to prohibit a child from graduating simply because they did not take the Common Core SBAC test.

If parents are told by a school administrator that opting out their children out of the Common Core SBAC test will jeopardize their ability to graduate, simply tell them to stop talking and start reading Section 10-14n(e) of the Connecticut State Statute.

And then— please send that administrator’s name and where they work to Wait, What? so that we can post that information and warn other parents about just how wrong that administrator is.

Connecticut parents and guardians can and should opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Testing Scam.

For more background on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scheme start with the Wait, What? blog entitled, “Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests.”

Legislative Champions starting to step forward in Connecticut

In response to the growing public concern about the Common Core, the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, and the inappropriate and unfair use of standardized test scores when evaluating Connecticut’s public school teachers, a growing number of state representatives and state senators are stepping forward and introducing legislation that would stop, or at least slow down, the damaging Corporate Education Reform Industry’s agenda that is undermining public education in Connecticut.

Congratulations are in order for every one of these elected officials since, in virtually every situation, their legislative proposals are challenging the policies that have been promoted by Governor Dannel Malloy and his pro-education reform administration.

It is interesting to note that most of these important bills have been proposed by Republican members of the Connecticut General Assembly, but an increasing number of Democratic legislators are standing up and speaking out in favor of Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers and public schools.

Special credit goes out to State Representative Melissa Ziobron, who represents the 34th House District which includes East Hampton, East Haddam, and a part of Colchester.

Representative Ziobron, who is in her second term, has become one of the most outspoken proponents of public education.

As a former member of a Board of Education she witnessed the growing negative consequences of the “No Child Left Behind Act” and the “Race to the Top Initiative,” especially in the standardized testing nightmare that is now driving public education in the country.

As a parent and legislator, she used her first term to study the real issues associated with the Common Core, its testing system and the impact of unfunded mandates on public education.

While recognizing that public education continues to face major challenges and problems that must be addressed, Representative Ziobron has become an advocate for parents who wish to opt their children out of the Common Core tests and for policies that support, not undermine, the role of parents, teachers, and local citizens in how their local schools should be run.

As for legislation now before the General Assembly, the following is an initial list of pro-public education bills that have been introduced so far this session.

A review of the list of sponsors highlights the fact that more and more legislators are responding to the demand that legislative action is needed to protect and support our public schools.

This list of bills will be updated as additional pieces of legislation are identified.  Readers can learn more about these bills and identify when action on them is taking place by going to the Connecticut General Assembly’s bill-tracking website:  http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgasearches.asp

 

Proposed legislation on the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) System;

HB 5398 – AN ACT CONCERNING PARENTAL OPT OUT OF STATE-WIDE EXAMINATIONS FOR STUDENTS; Purpose: To allow the parent or guardian of a student to opt their child out of taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron,

HB 6422 – AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT STUDENTS IN GRADE ELEVEN TAKE THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENTS; Purpose: To repeal the requirement that students in grade eleven take the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Sponsors: Rep. Ziobron, Rep. Kokoruda,

 

Proposed legislation to slow down or push back against the Common Core;

HB 5137 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE CREATION OF A DATABASE TO COLLECT INFORMATION RELATING TO COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IMPLEMENTATION; Purpose: To create a database to track funds being used to implement the common core state standards. Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5680 – AN ACT CONCERNING A STUDY EVALUATING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS.  Purpose: To conduct a study of the effectiveness of the Common Core State Standards to help policymakers evaluate whether and to what extent the Common Core State Standards are working or should be modified.   Sponsors: Rep. MacLachlan, Rep. Carney

SB 785 – AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS CURRICULUM. Purpose: To allow for necessary changes to the Common Core State Standards.  Sponsors: Sen. Markley

SB 344 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PHASE IN OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS AND SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT; Purpose: To phase in the common core state standards and Smarter Balanced assessments in the public schools.  Sponsors: Sen. Boucher

HB 5544 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROVISION OF CURRICULUM MATERIALS RELATING TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND TEACHERS. HB 5544 Purpose: To support school districts and teachers by supplying them with materials necessary to teach the Common Core State Standards. Sponsors: Rep. Yaccarino

 

Proposed legislation to protect student data from the Common Core Testing Companies

SB 786 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DISCLOSURE OF PERSONALLY IDENTIFIABLE STUDENT INFORMATION. Purpose: To prevent the disclosure of student information. Sponsor: Sen. Markley

Proposed legislation requiring an appropriate teacher evaluation program THAT DOES NOT INAPPROPRIATELY utilize standardized test scores.

HB 5400 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE PROHIBITION OF THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.     Sponsor: Rep. Ziobron

HB 5138 – AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS IN TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS. Purpose: To prohibit the use of students’ mastery test results in an individual teacher’s performance evaluation.      Sponsors: Rep. Srinivasan, Sen. Witkos

HB 5681 -AN ACT REPEALING THE REQUIREMENT THAT TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS INCLUDE STUDENT MASTERY TEST RESULTS; Purpose: To uncouple students’ test results on the Smarter Balanced Assessment from a teacher’s performance evaluation. Sponsors: Rep. Candelora, Rep. Fritz

HB 5987 – AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXCLUSION OF CERTAIN ELL STUDENT TEST SCORES AS PART OF TEACHER PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICT PERFORMANCE MEASURES. Purpose: To limit the use of certain ELL student performance data in teacher performance evaluations and school district performance measures.    Sponsors: Rep. Candelaria, Sen. Boucher, Rep. Johnson, S. 049

Proposed legislation holding Charter Schools accountable:

HB 6003 – AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS AND A REVIEW OF EXISTING CHARTER SCHOOLS.  Purpose: To place a moratorium on the approval of new charter schools by the Commissioner of Education require the Department of Education to conduct a review of existing charter schools. Sponsors Rep. Vargas, Rep. Gonzalez, Rep. Johnson, et. al.

HB 6532 – AN ACT CONCERNING CHARTER SCHOOL TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PERFORMANCE. Purpose:  To improve charter school transparency, accountability and performance. Sponsor: Rep Rojas