Oh no!  69.4% of Connecticut juniors are FAILURES according to SBAC math results

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As designed, intended and projected, the vast majority of Connecticut stuents have been labeled as failures according the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC math test results.

With the Malloy administration finally releasing the long awaited SBAC results, parents can see for themselves what happens when students are tested on content that they haven’t even been taught.

According to the Common Core SBAC results, a majority of Connecticut students  – in every grade – failed to meet the so-called “achievement” level.

The destructive testing scam has labeled;

52% of 3rd graders as failure

56% of 4th graders as failures

63% of 5th graders as failures

64% of 6th graders as failures

61% of 7th graders as failures

63% of 8th graders as failures

And 69% of 11th graders as failures  

COMMON CORE SBAC MATH RESULTS   

Grade Percent at Level 3 & 4:
Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
3 48.0%
4 44.2%
5 36.9%
6 37.3%
7 38.8%
8 36.8%
11 30.6%
State 39.1%

 

The Common Core SBAC Math results have also labeled

92% of students requiring special education services as failures

93% of students who need help with the English language as failures

Mathematics
Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Students with Disabilities 8.2%
English Learners 7.0%

 

Students from poorer families are also unfairly labeled by the SBAC testing

85% of students who get a free school lunch have “failed”

And 74% of students who qualify for a reduced price lunch have “failed”

As proof that these tests are driven in no small part by family income, compared to students who get free or reduced lunches, “ONLY” 46% of students who can afford to pay for their own school lunches have been deemed failures by the SBAC math test.

Statewide results by free or reduced priced meal eligibility status Mathematics
Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Free 15.4%
Reduced 26.4%
Not Eligible 52.3%
All Students 39.1%

 

Check back for more information about the absurd SBAC testing scheme

NEWS FLASH on SBAC:  Beware the cozy relationship between Malloy and the Education Reform Industry.

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Prior to the Malloy administration even announcing that they would be releasing the 2015 SBAC results today, the state’s two major corporate funded education reform lobby groups, ConnCAN and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), invited reporters to join a “media call” in which the groups would discuss the SBAC results.  Then, just as quickly, the call was cancelled.

As we learned this morning – Friday, August 28, 2015 – Governor Malloy’s administration is finally releasing the 2015 SBAC results this afternoon, but the super-secret nature of the information didn’t stop ConnCAN and CCER from announcing on Wednesday that they were holding a “press call” this morning so that the two pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing, pro-charter school, anti-teacher advocacy groups could discuss the SBAC results with the media — prior to those results actually being released.

And then, when questions arose about what communication had taken place between the Malloy administration and the two lobbing groups, ConnCAN and CCER quickly cancelled the media call, leaving one wondering whether the Malloy administration broke the law by refusing to give information about the SBAC results to the media and Connecticut citizens while actually providing the information to the two private lobbying entities.

Here is what ConnCAN and CCER sent out:

ConnCAN and CCER to Host Press Call and Outline Expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment Results

***Media Press Call on Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM EST***
Please Click Here to Register for the Call
–Call-in number will be made available upon registration–
Media Participants Should Dial-In 5-10 Minutes Prior to Call Start Time

New Haven, CT — The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) has teamed up with the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) to host a press briefing call, which will walk reporters through their organizations’ expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment results.

The briefing will be an opportunity for media to learn more about the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the benefits of the test, and each organization’s plans and expectations as the state prepares for the public release of the results.

Right now, the state has only released the results to district superintendents. The test results and data have not yet been widely released. The results are expected to be made publicly available within the next few weeks.

ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander and CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar will be available for questions immediately following the call. 

WHO:
Jeffrey Villar, CCER Executive Director
Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer
Yamuna Menon, Director of Research and Policy, ConnCAN

WHEN:
Friday, August 28, 2015
10:00 AM EST

CALL-IN NUMBER: 
***Made available upon registration***

And then came this…

POSTPONED
ConnCAN and CCER to Host Press Call and Outline Expectations for the Smarter Balance Assessment Results
***Media Press Call on Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:00 AM EST***
**Postponed until a later date**New Haven, CT —  Due to scheduling conflicts, the media briefing call regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment results with the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) will be postponed until a later date.

 

CT SBAC Results – It’s a Friday afternoon in August – Good time to release the results – Today at noon!

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Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration is finally ready to release the 2015 SBAC results!

Two months after parents in Washington State and Oregon were informed about how their state’s children did on the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC tests, Connecticut will finally get the news today about how our children “performed” on the absurd testing fiasco.

The first rule of modern government and politics is that when you don’t want people to know something, release the information on a Friday.  If possible, a Friday in August is best time to make something “public” if the goal is to make sure the public doesn’t actually hear about it.  The technique is an “art form” and strategy that the Malloy administration has used repeatedly over the past five years.

So now, after the spending more than $50 million dollars in state funds over the post two years on the new Common Core standardized testing scheme, and local school districts spending millions more, the Connecticut State Department will be revealing the test results this afternoon… A Friday afternoon in August.

In addition, apparently the wait for the CMT/CAPT Science test is finally over as well.  While the Common Core and Common Core testing scheme has obliterated the usefulness of the Math and English Language tests, the traditional testing process is still being used to measure whether students are learning the state’s science curriculum.

Unfortunately, the education reform industry’s definition for being “college and career” ready only applies to Math and English so other important subjects, like science, go unaddressed.  If policymakers were really concerned about the “whole child,” the science results would have been released long ago so that schools and parents could be focusing on the full array of subjects that allow student’s to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to live fulfilling lives.

Check back later for the numbers and the political spin from Governor Malloy’s administration and the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

Malloy’s Education Commissioner blames teachers for lack of support for Common Core SBAC Testing

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In what may be the most incredible, insulting, outrageous and absurd statement yet from Governor Malloy’s administration about the Common Core SBAC testing program, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is now blaming teachers for the fact that there is growing opposition to the SBAC testing scam.

In their warped world where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” these people have the audacity to blame the victims for the crimes that are of the politicians’ making.

Forget that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test (SBAC) is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.

Forget that the SBAC test is designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

Forget that the SBAC test is particularly discriminatory for children who come from poorer backgrounds, those who face English Language barriers and those who require special education services.

Forget that the SBAC test results are being used to inappropriately “evaluate” teachers

Forget that state taxpayers have paid well over $50 million for this disastrous test program just over the past two years and local taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars more.

And forget that the SBAC testing has wasted hundreds of hours of instructional time, time that our children could have been getting the education they actually need and deserve.

Forgetting all that and proving that Governor Malloy’s administration has lost all contact with reality, the Commissioner of Education is now claiming that the lack of support for the Common Core SBAC tests is the fault of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

The message from Malloy and his administration is loud and clear… They will say and do anything to defend the indefensible.

In a MUST READ article in yesterday’s Journal Inquirer newspaper entitled, Ed commissioner: Teachers must get students to buy into testing, reporter Mike Savino writes,

Don’t count the state’s education commissioner among those who think results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test are useless because the exam is flawed.

[…]

Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said Thursday that students who negatively viewed the Smarter Balanced test, referred to as the SBAC, are only reflecting what they see from teachers.

Wait, What?

The Malloy administration is actually suggesting that parents and students are rising up against the unfair testing system because teachers aren’t doing enough to mislead people about the testing scam?

According to the JI story, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education went even further,

Wentzell also said the state Department of Education conducted a survey of students in 2014, when some school systems took the Smarter Balanced test as part of a field study, and found students had an “enthusiasm” for it.

She said one of her own children, who took the test as a third-grader last year, reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.

Are you ****** kidding me?

The SBAC test is designed to label the majority of children as failures but it’s okay because one of the Commissioner’s own children took the test and, “reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.”

Meanwhile, as the JI explains;

The Education Department has not yet disclosed the Smarter Balanced results, rejecting a request under the Freedom of Information Act submitted by the Journal Inquirer on the same day the state distributed the information to superintendents.

The department has claimed that the results are exempt because they are preliminary data and “the public interest in withhold documents outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

A spokesman said the department still is finalizing data and shared it so superintendents could ensure accuracy.

Wait, What?  and the JI, among others, have filed Freedom of Information complaints against the State Department of Education in an effort to force the state agency to release the SBAC test results to the public.

You can read the entire JI story at: http://www.journalinquirer.com/page_one/ed-commissioner-teachers-must-get-students-to-buy-into-testing/article_4fbd2dbe-4a71-11e5-a231-9bc848b6f448.html

Malloy – You can’t hide the sham 2015 SBAC results forever!

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The January 2, 2015 the Wait, What? headline read;

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

The 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.

Here we are eight months later and tens of thousands of Connecticut children were given a Common Core test designed to label them as failures.

Two months after other SBAC states like Washington and Oregon have released their Common Core SBAC results, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration continue to play games.

The Common Core Testing scheme is a scam that cost Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of dollars… And yet the State Department of Education continues to rationalize the disastrous testing program.

Here is another powerful commentary piece from fellow public education advocate and regular Wait, What? commentator Jack Bestor.

It appeared first in the CT Mirror: Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results?

Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results? (By Jack Bestor)

Those oh-so-elusive SBAC results: after millions of dollars squandered on broadband improvements, tedious test prep, and time diverted from actual learning, our students, parents, and teachers have been prevented from getting the test results because no one in educational leadership today has figured out how to “spin” the results without facing the consequences of this poorly designed, invalid, questionably-standardized assessment that was perpetrated on our public school students.

Despite the reluctance of school administrators to speak up and push back against this ludicrous accountability exercise that has been promoted by politicians and corporate education reformers who have many self-interested reasons for maintaining this misguided testing endeavor, it is well-known that the “standardized” testing mandate only serves to continue the false narrative of failing American public education in order to drive the profit-making agenda of those who seek to privatize education and undermine the public trust.

For an insightful look at the test industry, Todd Farley’s under-publicized 2009 chronicle, Making The Grades, recounting his many years working in the test industry would make anyone question why we place any stock whatsoever in our children’s “standardized” test results.  Any test that is designed to fail the majority of test takers has no purpose in the education of children.

Rhetorical flourishes citing “rigor” and “higher critical thinking” are nothing but empty words, as repeatedly the test questions have been criticized by both parents and educators and the test answers have been notoriously ambiguous and often wrong.  There is no amount of test industry algorithms that can justify this educational malpractice.

Since the parents of all students in public schools were discouraged from opting their children out of this state-mandated “standardized” test experiment, it should be gratifying to those who saw through the misinformation and controversy associated with the Common Core testing requirement and, with courage and conviction, refused to allow their children to take this unnecessary and unproven test.

When the results are finally reported to your child’s school, you can be thankful there will be no “sticky label” to apply on your child’s permanent record card and no single data-point to upload into your child’s computerized learning profile.  Furthermore, there will be no woefully inadequate measure of your child’s reading, writing, and math skills for teachers and school administrators to use in any future planning of your child’s school program.

Instead, you can rely on your child’s previous teacher — who for a full school year strove to understand and nurture your child’s individual learning needs — to share with receiving teachers what was found to work in developing each student’s academic skills, confidence, and interpersonal abilities.  You are to be congratulated for advocating for your child against the pressures to conform and I hope you will be able to trust that the teachers working with your child will care and protect him/her from any unfair practice derived from this unproven test experiment.

Although unable to come right out and say it for fear of retribution, most teachers do not believe in the top-down, dictatorial approach of the corporate education reform movement that has a stranglehold on American public education today and hope that it will implode of its own malfeasance.

Until then — as parents — you must continue to ask probing questions of district administrators who are mandated to adhere to the flawed educational policies developed by politicians, lobbyists, business leaders, and millionaire philanthropists who have strong opinions, but no actual experiential knowledge of how children learn.  It is only when school administrators, elected board of education members, and state legislators hear the anger and frustration of parents (and voters) that there can be meaningful pressure brought to bear on those who promote the continuation of these failed educational policies.

Jack Bestor of Sandy Hook is a recently retired school psychologist who, for 41 years, enjoyed working with students, parents, and his many colleagues.  He is a past recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CT Association of School Psychologists.

You can read the original piece at: http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/08/24/whither-the-elusive-connecticut-sbac-results/

Media coverage of Malloy administration’s refusal to release SBAC results

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The power of the media to frame or interpret a news event can be clearly seen in the way Connecticut media outlets covered the Malloy administration’s latest effort to withhold the results of the 2015 Common Core SBAC results.

The CT Newsjunkie focused on the real issue at hand.

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education used the Hartford Courant article to pontificate about the “benefits” of the Common Core testing scheme and the CT Mirror didn’t even bother to cover the breaking news at all.

Across the country states that gave the 2015 Common Core SBAC tests last spring started providing their citizens with information about the test results nearly two months ago, but the Malloy administration has been withholding Connecticut’s results from the public.

Yesterday, the State Department of Education provided town-specific results to each local superintendent of schools but refused to release the statewide results and threatened local officials that they could not publicly discuss the results – in direct violation of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act – because the results were “embargoed” – a concept that is not allowed under Connecticut’s open record law.

To read the Commissioner of Education’s bull about the benefits of the Common Core SBAC testing scam go to the Hartford Courant’s “Education Commissioner: New Test Scores To Usher In New Era.”

To learn more about the Malloy administration’s ongoing effort to withhold public information read the CT Newsjunkie article, “Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents.”

CT Newsjunkie writes;

Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.

The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.

In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”

There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts.

These drafts are exempt if “the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the Education Department, said they are citing that exemption and they don’t want to release the data until it’s finalized because it could be inaccurate. The superintendents and district test coordinators are pouring over the data at the moment for accuracy.

Data isn’t finalized?

While the Malloy administration claims the statewide information is in “draft form,” school superintendents were provided data that is not in draft form nor was it labeled as being in draft form whatsoever.  While the names of individual students cannot be released, the basic information towns were given cannot be withheld by claiming the information is “embargoed.”

Connecticut’s parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve the truth.  The state of Connecticut has spent more than $50 million over the past two years on the sham of Common Core testing.  Local communities have spent even more.  It is time for the Malloy administration to release the data!

For the full  CTNewsjunkie story go to:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/education_department_releases_test_data_to_superintendents_but_not_public/

Malloy administration gives towns the Common Core SBAC test results but not the public

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Action violates Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act.

This morning Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Diana Wentzell, held the state’s annual back-to-school meeting for Connecticut superintendents at A.I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford.

Considering his anti-public education agenda, it was not surprising that Malloy was a no-show at the meeting.  Instead, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman attended, despite the fact that both Malloy and Wyman are attending a joint event at 10 a.m. in nearby Middletown.

State Department of Education staff informed school superintendents that starting today they could access their district’s 2015 SBAC test results via the State Department of Education’s website, but they could not share the information since the results were “embargoed.”

Embargoed?

Superintendents were warned that the state will not be making the test results public until the week of August 31st, 2015.

Local school officials were told that they were not allowed to inform parents, teachers, their local Board of Education or the public about the SBAC results until they are released by the state.

In a companion memo provided to superintendents, the State Department of Education wrote;

“It is critical that districts do not make embargoed results public before the embargo is lifted.  Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases.”

States such as Washington and Oregon provided their citizens with their statewide Common Core test results nearly eight weeks ago, but the Malloy administration has consistently failed to make Connecticut’s results public.

Providing school superintendents with the 2015 SBAC results but claiming those results are “embargoed” is particularly inappropriate and offensive.

“Embargoed” is a PR term used with reporters when issuing selected press releases and has no meaning when it comes to the notion of public access to public information.  Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law makes absolutely no exception for “embargoed” information.

Making public information available to a select group of people but withholding it from others is a serious violation of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law.

The Malloy administration should immediately make the 2015 SBAC results public.  If they refuse, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission should force them to release the information and investigate who was behind this effort to keep public information secret.

Opt-Out Movement Grows as parents fight back against unfair Common Core tests

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New York’s Common Core testing madness is one year ahead of Connecticut’s, which means parents know more and are taking action to protect their children. Last summer, the majority of parents in New York State were told their children were failures as a result of that state’s version of the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme. As a result, parents were prepared for this year’s testing scam and record numbers of public school students were opted-out of the testing fiasco. Yesterday, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) finally released their test results, admitting that nearly a quarter of a million New York students did not take the test as a result of parental action. The New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), an anti-common core testing advocacy group which is made up of more than 50 parent and educator groups across New York released a major statement calling on parents to step up the opt out movement by handing in their test refusal letters on the first day of school. The NYSAPE statement;

Opt Out to Sharply Rise as NYS Continues to Sacrifice Children With Flawed Tests & Policies Yesterday, released the results of the 2015 3-8th grade English Language Arts (ELA) & Math exams. ELA scores were essentially flat, and the small increase in Math scores (less than 2 percentage points) was smaller than last year’s modest jump. There was also an increase in the percentage of Level 1 students in ELA, and an unchanged percentage of Level 1 students in Math, suggesting that the ratcheting up of high-stakes is leaving our most struggling students behind. Test refusals, also known as opt outs, rose to a record number of 222,500, surpassing advocates’ estimates. More New York parents across the state are informed and have said no to the high-stakes testing regime that is disrupting quality education and harming their children. With no relief in sight, opt out figures are expected to grow significantly again this year until damaging education laws and policies are reversed. Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out said, “How many more children will we sacrifice to a narrow education, excessive testing, and failure, before New York calls a timeout? How many veteran, master teachers will we watch flee the profession before we untie testing from evaluations? How many schools will close before New York State recognizes that public schools are the foundations of every community? Instead of dreaming up sanctions, SED should be working with educators and parents to change course and right this wrong.” “Governor Cuomo, the Regents and SED have been quick to judge teachers through a sham accountability system that wrongfully reduces highly effective teachers to an ineffective rating and claims public schools are failing when, in fact, they are not. But they are slow to accept responsibility for the devastating consequences of these flawed testing and evaluation measures on our children, the teaching profession, and our public schools. Threats of sanctions will not deter opt outs. Parents are onto this sham and will continue to opt out children in order to protect them,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent. “Considering the amount of time, resources and money devoted to the state assessment system, the resulting data does little to help pinpoint specific student, educator or school strengths and weaknesses. The entire testing system is a boondoggle to taxpayers and continues to limit our children’s educational opportunities,” stated Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, educator, and school board trustee. Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent said “Chancellor Merryl Tisch has publicly stated that she would think twice before allowing a child with special needs to sit through an ‘incomprehensible exam’ and has called state exams ‘cruel and unusual’. Yet neither the Board of Regents nor NYSED leadership has taken action to inform parents of their right to refuse harmful testing, let alone curb the eighteen hours of harmful state testing that disabled students as young as eight are compelled to engage in. Until the abuse stops, opt outs will continue.” Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent, educator, and General Manager of the BATs stated, “As research shows, test scores will not close the achievement gap. We need to begin to invest in proven strategies that close the gap, or we will lose an entire generation of children.” “The NY State tests are an illegitimate way to evaluate kids, schools and teachers – as shown by the recent NY Times article, in which questions on the 3rd grade exam stumped the author of the relevant passage. These tests are designed to make it look like the vast majority of our students and schools are failing, when they are not. Until the state provides less flawed exams – and a better teacher evaluation system not linked to them – parents will continue to opt out in growing numbers,” said Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters. “Pearson has been fired as the state’s test vendor, yet our children will be subjected to their tests for another school year. This is outrageous. If Governor Cuomo and members of the legislature who voted to increase the contribution of test scores to teacher evaluation think this is ok, they should prove it by taking the tests themselves. Let our public officials prove that they are smarter than a 5th grader,” said Nancy Cauthen, a NYC public school parent.

The reaction in Connecticut will undoubtedly be similar when the Malloy administration finally releases the results from this year’s Common Core SBAC test.

A Must Read from Ann Policelli Cronin- SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one

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First published in the CT Mirror, SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one fellow public educator advocate and columnist has a great article that provides important information to parents across Connecticut and should be required reading for Connecticut’s elected officials.

SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one by Ann Policelli Cronin

The Connecticut SBAC scores will be released by the State Department of Education any day now. The scores will be low. You will be told that the low scores are because the SBAC tests are rigorous and our students don’t measure up.

Don’t believe it.

First of all, the test can’t possibly be rigorous because the Common Core Standards on which the tests are based are vapid. The Common Core English Standards do not teach students to be thoughtful readers, deep thinkers, or effective writers, so the SBAC exams do not measure those competencies.

Secondly, we have no idea if what is tested has predictability for the students’ future success in the next grade or college because no one checked with grade 4-12 teachers or college professors to see what competencies students will need. The Common Core English Standards were written by makers of standardized tests and are comprised of what can be measured by those tests, not comprised of what students need to learn.

Lastly, even though the Common Core has a low intellectual bar, most students will fail the tests because the passing grades have been artificially set. Last November, before any students had taken the 2015 SBAC tests, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, representing Gov. Dannel Malloy, signed an agreement that the 2015 SBAC tests would fail 59 percent of high school juniors in English, 67 percent of high school juniors in math, 56-62 percent of third through eighth graders in English, and 61-68 percent of third through eighth graders in math       (“Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests”,Education Week, November 17, 2014).

When the majority of Connecticut children are soon told that they are failures, it is not because some absolute measure with objective criteria determined that, but because a test was designed to fail them.

By other criteria, Connecticut students are highly successful. For example, since 1992, Connecticut, along with Massachusetts and New Jersey, has had the highest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in the country, and Connecticut ranks fifth in the world, outranked by only three countries and the state of Massachusetts, in reading scores of 15-year-olds on the international PISA test. And we as a state have accomplished all of that with the highest achievement gap in the country and without excluding our lowest performing students from taking those tests. Somebody, mostly our kids, are doing something right. Yet most of them will be deemed failures next week.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

I have worked with hundreds of Connecticut English teachers and am confident that any of them could design a test that would fail two thirds of their students. But I don’t know one teacher who would do it.  That’s because they are educators and not politicians using manufactured test results to advance political agendas.

Those English teachers and I know how to design rigorous exams. We also know how to teach students so that those who do what we ask of them and put out good effort each day in class will demonstrate competency on rigorous assessments. We also know that some of those students will perform in truly exceptional ways on the assessments and that an occasional student will exceed even our wildest dreams and thrill us beyond belief.

We teach students the skills and then see how far they go with them. We teach for success.

Last January, I reviewed a midterm English exam with high school students who had just taken it. They had their graded exams on their desks along with a description of the competencies the exam asked of them.  Those competencies were:

  • Asking their own complex and multi-layered questions as thoughtful inquiry.
  • Engaging in active and critical reading of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and films.
  • Thinking analytically as they independently interpreted challenging literary texts.
  • Thinking imaginatively as they made connections between a historical or fictional character and their own lives and creating a persona to write about that connection.
  • Engaging in narrative thinking as they told the story of their own learning.
  • Collaborating with others in order to strengthen their own interpretations and evaluations.
  • Writing essays which demonstrate their ability to revise and strengthen a piece over time as well as writing essays in a timed classroom setting.
  • Using correct grammar and usage.
  • Demonstrating focus, energy, and passion as they prepare for and participate in the two-hour exam.

Those students knew their exam was rigorous. Those students had been taught how to succeed as readers, writers, and thinkers. Those students, therefore, did succeed as readers, writers, and thinkers.

After comparing their exams to the list of competencies, the students ascertained their strengths and determined what they needed to work on in the next semester. And, for sure, these students knew they were not failures.

Not so when the SBAC scores come out. Most students will consider themselves failures. Or, perhaps, the Connecticut State Department of Education will do what the State of Washington did and lower the passing grade to keep educators and parents quiet about the low test scores.

Either way, the message of SBAC hurts kids. Either way, SBAC is not about teaching and learning. The truth is: The SBAC test is political monkey business.

It is our job as citizens and parents to tell students the truth about SBAC. It is our job as educators to keep teaching and assessing students in real and honest ways.

Otherwise, we adults are the failures.

You can read more of Ann Policelli Cronin’s pieces at her blog: http://reallearningct.com/

Wendy Lecker Notes – Want to know how a student is doing? Ask a teacher – Forget SBAC

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Fellow Connecticut public education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker has yet another MUST READ piece in last weekend’s Stamford Advocate and the Hearst Media Group’s other Connecticut media outlets.

The Common Core SBAC testing fiasco is becoming a major issue (See NEWSFLASH: Washington State on 2015 SBAC results – “NEVER MIND” and  Shhhh… Don’t tell but Malloy administration will be releasing SBAC test results as early as next week.

Wendy Lecker digs deeper in a new piece entitled, Want to know how a student is doing? Ask a teacher.

A friend of mine had a priceless reaction to the specious claim by education reformers that our children need standardized tests so parents can know how they are doing in school. He laughed and said that in 20 years of parent conferences no teacher ever felt the need to pull out his children’s standardized tests to provide an accurate picture of how well they were learning.

Parents have relied on teachers’ assessments to gauge their children’s progress and most have pretty much ignored their children’s standardized test scores. For decades, this approach has served parents and students well. Recent research shows that non-standardized, human assessments of student learning are superior to standardized tests of all kinds.

I have written about the voluminous evidence showing that a high school GPA is the best predictor of college success, and that the SAT and ACT, by contrast, are poor predictors. (http://bit.ly/1K7CNzG)

Even standardized college placement tests, tests ostensibly designed to measure “college readiness,” fail miserably at that task — with real and damaging consequences for students.

College remediation is often used as a weapon by education reformers. Overstating college remediation rates was one of the tactics used by Arne Duncan to foment hysteria about the supposedly sorry state of America’s public schools and justify imposing the Common Core and its accompanying tests nationwide. As retired award-winning New York principal Carol Burris has written, while Duncan and his allies claimed that the college remediation rate is 40 percent, data from the National Center on Education Statistics show that the actual percentage is 20 percent.

Exaggeration is not the only problem with college remediation. Many of the students placed in remedial classes in college do not even belong there.

Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia’s Teachers’ College and her colleagues examined tens of thousands of college entrants and found that one-quarter to one-third of those placed in remedial courses based on standardized placement tests were mis-assigned. These students wrongly placed in remedial classes could have passed a college- level course with a B or better. Moreover, when students are mis-assigned to remedial courses, the likelihood of them dropping out of college increases by eight percentage points. These high-stakes tests produce high-cost errors.

Scott-Clayton and her colleagues found that by incorporating high school grades into the college placement decisions, misplacements were corrected by up to a third, and there was a 10-percentage point increase in the likelihood that those students placed in a college-level course would complete that course with a grade of C or better.

Once again, non-standardized, human assessments of a student’s learning are more helpful than standardized tests.

Some institutions are getting that message. After California’s Long Beach City College began incorporating high school grades into placement decisions, the rate of students who placed into and passed college English quadrupled. The rate for math tripled. Just last month, George Washington University joined the long and growing list of colleges and universities that dropped the requirement for SAT or ACT scores.

These institutions of higher education understand that standardized tests are poor predictors “college readiness” and that high school grades are superior.

Yet too many policymakers cling to the failed strategy of using standardized tests to try to tell us what teachers are much better at telling us. Congress is set to reaffirm the requirement that states administer annual standardized tests, even though the data show that a child who passes one year is very likely to pass the next. Washington, West Virginia and California announced plans to use the not-yet validated and increasingly unpopular SBAC test in its college placement decisions.

California announced this move even as it is considering ceasing the use of SBACs to judge schools. Equally hypocritical, Washington State’s Board of Education just announced that it is lowering the SBAC high school passing score below the “college-ready” level arbitrarily adopted by the SBAC consortium last year.

Amid opt-outs and outrage at the SBACs, Connecticut passed a law replacing the un-validated 11th grade SBAC with the SAT as a required high school test; even though the SAT has been proven to have little predictive value for determining college success.

The key to ensuring and determining college readiness is clearly not high-stakes error-prone standardized tests. If politicians really want to understand how to prepare our children for college, maybe they should try a new — for them- approach and consult experts with a great track record of knowing what makes kids college-ready. Maybe they should ask some teachers.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Want-to-know-how-a-student-is-6431076.php

 

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