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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The SBAC protocol reads;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT:

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

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

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

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

CEA wrong to claim NWEA’s MAP test is an appropriate tool for evaluating teachers.

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In a recent Hartford Courant commentary piece entitled, ‘Smarter Balanced’ Test Wrong Answer For Students, Teachers, Connecticut Education Association President Sheila Cohen correctly explains that,

[The] Smarter Balanced and other high-stakes standardized tests are not useful measures of student success — and were not designed to evaluate teachers. Smarter Balanced is an invalid, unfair and unreliable test that does not measure student growth within a school year. Smarter Balanced does not assist teachers in measuring academic growth, takes away precious instruction time and resources from teaching and learning, and is not developmentally and age-appropriate for students.

Teachers, administrators and parents want an evaluation system that develops and sustains high-quality teaching and provides teachers with more time to collaborate on best practices that result in a better outcome for all students.

But then, in a bizarre move that appears to be yet another attempt to acquiesce to Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s ongoing education reform and anti-teacher agenda, the leader of the CEA claims that although the state should not use the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC test as part of the state’s teacher evaluation program, it is okay to use the NWEA’s MAP standardized test as a teacher evaluation tool.

The CEA’s President notes,

Teachers are evaluated appropriately by measurable results using:

  • Standardized progress monitoring tests like NWEA or STAR.

  • Progress on student performance rubrics tied to external standards in their evaluations.

  • District- and department-designed common assessments

When developed correctly, student performance rubrics and district and department designed common assessments can be useful tools when it comes to evaluating and improving teacher performance.

However, standardized tests like the SBAC or NWEA’s MAP are inherently unfair and inappropriate for use as part of a teacher evaluation system.  Period.  End of Story.

Education Advocate and columnist, Wendy Lecker, addressed this very point when she recently published, Connecticut – A failed application of standardized tests by Wendy Lecker.

One of the most damaging practices in education policy, in Connecticut and nationwide, is the misuse of standardized tests for purposes for which they were never designed. Standardized tests are being used to measure things they cannot measure, like school quality and teacher effectiveness, with deleterious results; such as massive school closures, which destabilize children and communities, and the current troubling shortage of students willing to enter the teaching profession.

Connecticut policy makers engage in this irresponsible practice constantly. They jumped on the bandwagon to adopt the SBAC as the statewide accountability test, despite the complete lack of evidence that it the SBAC can support reliable or valid inferences about student performance, let alone school quality or teacher effectiveness. After abandoning the SBAC for 11th graders, our leaders hastily approved the mandated use of the SAT for accountability purposes, despite, again, the absence of evidence that the SAT is either aligned with Connecticut graduation requirements or valid or reliable for use a test to measure student performance, school quality or teacher effectiveness.

Connecticut’s political leaders also blindly adopted the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluations in 2012, despite the evidence, even then, that standardized tests are inappropriate for this use. Since that time, every reputable statistical and educational research organization has repudiated this invalid practice; because a mountain of evidence proves that standardized tests cannot be validly or reliably used to rate teachers.

If only our leaders would examine evidence before adopting a policy, our state would not only save millions of dollars, but it would guide education policy in a direction that is good for students and teachers. Engaging in thoughtful educational policymaking requires a more nuanced understanding of what happens and should happen in schools. It demands an acceptance that in this very human endeavor, objective measures are not always possible and even when they can be applied, they can only measure a fraction what we want schools to accomplish.

As for the claim that the NWEA MAP (“MAP”) is a valid teacher evaluation tool, Wendy Lecker explains,

The MAP test is a standardized tests some districts use to measure progress during the year. In other words, it is used to measure students, not teachers. Some teachers find the MAP test helpful, although a study from the national Institute of Educational Sciences found that the MAP test has no impact on student achievement.

There is only one study on the use of the MAP for teacher evaluation. An urban Arizona district interested in using the MAP for teacher evaluation engaged a well-known expert, Professor Audrey Amrein Beardsley, and her team, to determine whether this use of the MAP would be valid. Unlike Connecticut officials, these Arizona district officials wanted to be sure of its validity before imposing it on their teachers. Thus, they requested the study before beginning implementation.

The MAP test is closely aligned with the Arizona state test. However, despite the close alignment, the study revealed that the MAP test is unreliable for use in teacher evaluation. Consequently, the district decided against this use of the MAP.

The study’s authors stressed that measuring “growth” is not as simple as policy makers think it is; and “it is certainly unwise for states or school districts to simply take haphazard or commonsense approaches to measure growth. While tempting, this is professionally and (as evidenced in this study) empirically misguided.”

The truth is that the NWEA’s MAP standardized test is just as inappropriate a tool to evaluate teachers as is the SBAC and the unions that represent teachers have a fundamental obligation to ensure that public policy makers understand what are and what are not valid techniques for determining how well an individual teacher is doing in the classroom.

The CEA’s latest move to condemn the SBAC but endorse the MAP is an uncomfortable reminder that, over the past six years, teachers and other public employees have watched as their union leaders have engaged in an almost schizophrenic approach when it comes to dealing with Governor Malloy’s bully, while standing up for their members.

Wanting to be perceived as “insiders” for the purpose of “getting into the rooms of power,” some union leaders have consistently dismissed or tried to explain away Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman’s ongoing anti-teacher, anti-public employee agenda.

On the other hand, recognizing that their membership is getting angrier and angrier and that the Malloy/Wyman agenda is undermining public education, public services and is translating into public employee layoffs, some of these same unions have taken to running television advertisements urging citizens to stand up for the public servants who educate our children, provide critically important support for those in need and ensure that government programs are available to the people of Connecticut.

The CEA’s initial approach to the teacher evaluation issue was a case study in the strategy of trying to get-along to go-along.  But, after failing to successfully fight off Malloy’s inappropriate and unfair teacher evaluation initiative, the union changed course this past January.

As the January 5, 2016 Wait What? post,  4 years late[r] – The Connecticut Education Association may finally be standing up against Malloy and Wyman on their teacher evaluation disaster, reported,

According to a press advisory issued earlier today, the Connecticut Education Association will hold a press conference at 11am at the Legislative Office Building on Thursday, January 7, 2016 to call on Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly to “join with the majority of states in the U.S. that have replaced the federally-sponsored SBAC or PARCC tests with better, more authentic and effective assessment programs.”

If the announcement is as impressive as suggested, it would mean that the leadership of Connecticut’s teacher unions have finally moved 180 degrees from the position they held on January 25, 2012 when the CEA and AFT joined with the other members of Governor Malloy’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) to approve the so-called “teacher evaluation framework” that inappropriately and unfairly mandates that student’s standardized test scores be a major factor in the teacher evaluation process.

In addition to reversing their position on the SBAC test, the CEA and AFT-CT have been working extremely hard to get the Connecticut General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 380 which would prohibit the state from using the results from the Connecticut’s Mastery Testing program in the state’s teacher evaluation program – a proposal that Malloy and his education reform allies strongly oppose.

And yet, as the CEA seriously – and finally – engages on this vital issue, along comes the claim that the NWEA MAP test is a valid mechanism for evaluating teachers – a claim that may please Governor Malloy and his anti-teacher friends but is absolutely and completely out of line with the academic evidence and good public policy.

Connecticut can and should have a strong and effective teacher evaluation system, but using standardized test results to evaluate teachers has no place in such a system.

It does a tremendous disservice for the CEA to suggest otherwise.

OPT OUT: What would Kurt Vonnegut do? By Ken Previti

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Ken Previti is a retired Illinois teacher, public education advocate and a fellow education blogger.

Among the most outspoken education advocates in the nation, Ken Previti is known for his hard-hitting, truth-telling blog posts about the ongoing efforts to undermine public education and the issues surrounding the legal and contractual rights of active and retired teachers.

Ken’s blog is titled, “Reclaim Reform,” because, as he puts it, we must “’Reclaim Reform’ from the Corporate Industrial Education Complex which is attempting to dismantle public education and attempting to raid public pension (deferred income) funds for the profits of multinational investors.”

His blog posts are always informative, witty and powerful.  His latest is entitled, OPT OUT: What would Kurt Vonnegut do?.  Ken writes,

Kurt Vonnegut, the writer and seer, was famous for seeing right through the fallacy of blind acceptance. Anything presented as progress that wasn’t actual progress was repeatedly exposed by Vonnegut for the destructive stuff it actually was.

State mandated high stakes tests for children are the latest for-profit craze that monetizes and dehumanizes children.

But, hey, that’s progress and we can’t go backwards, can we?

UnitedOptOut Vonnegut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.”  Kurt Vonnegut

How can you opt out for your child?

Go to United Opt Out for sample letters for each state. The letters work, but it’s up to you to take “a step backward, after making a wrong turn” to make “a step in the right direction.” Your children will know that that is true progress for children.

A previous piece Ken asked, Does Don DeLillo support Opting Out ?

You can read Ken Previti’s work at: https://reclaimreform.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Common Core testing frenzy leads to taxpayer funded SBAC Test Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WARNING!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what a pro-public education leader does!

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

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

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

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

Hey Malloy, Wyman and Wentzell – READ THIS;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sbac graphic

Moving The Goal Post (By Ann P. Cronin)

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Educator and education blogger Ann Cronin has a powerful piece on the corporate education reform industry’s fixation on measuring “student achievement.”  She takes on the education reformers’ notion that turning students into data points is the best vehicle for providing children with the comprehensive education they need to live more fulfilling lives.

You can read Ann Cronin’s great columns at http://reallearningct.com/.

In Moving The Goal Post, Cronin writes;

How do we measure student achievement?  By its standardized test scores or by something else? And what is the relationship between student achievement and the economic strength of a nation?

Arne Duncan, when he was Secretary of Education, spoke about the achievement of South Korean students, as measured by standardized tests, and advocated that the United States follow the South Korean approach to education so that our students can achieve as the South Korean students do on those standardized tests. A recent (March 15, 2016) letter to the editor inEducation Week described how the South Korean students achieve those high test scores.

Here is that letter:

South Korea’s ‘Top Performance’ Numbers Should Not Be Applauded

To the Editor:

As a student from South Korea who is now studying in the United States, I find it surprising that many people here applaud the South Korean education system. The Center on International Education Benchmarking lists South Korea as a “top performer,” and even Arne Duncan, the former U.S. secretary of education, has asked why the United States can’t be more like South Korea. As a recent Commentary argued, the United States should not blindly applaud and emulate countries that perform well on international assessments.

I want to share what South Korea’s high performance on these assessments is not telling you.

First, beyond South Korea’s impressive scores on international exams, there are unhappy, sleep-deprived, and suicidal South Korean students. South Korean students report levels of happiness that are among the lowest for youths in developed nations. High school students report sleeping an average of 5.5 hours per day in order to study. Alarmingly, slightly more than half of South Korean teenagers reported having suicidal thoughts in response to a 2014 poll conducted by the country’s Korea Health Promotion Foundation; over 40 percent of the respondents listed academic pressure and uncertainty over their futures as their greatest concern.

Second, South Korea’s high scores are a reflection of private tutoring rather than the public education system itself. About 77 percent of South Korean students participate in an average of 10 hours of private tutoring a week. This percentage is more than double the average rate of private tutoring in countries tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2013, South Korean parents paid the equivalent of $18 billion for private tutoring in order to give their children a competitive advantage.

Moreover, in the education system where high performance is all that matters, struggling students as well as students with disabilities are often neglected and left behind.

Thus, no matter how high the country ranks on international tests, our seemingly impressive test scores come at too high a price.

As a South Korean, I call on the world to see what is beyond my country’s high scores on international assessments. Until South Korea addresses its pressing educational issues, such as student well-being, reliance on private tutoring, and support for students with disabilities, the country should not be considered a model system for the United States.

April B. Choi
Cambridge, Mass.

I would bet that most of us are not willing to pay the price that the South Koreans are paying for their children to get high scores on standardized tests.

The good news for the United States, which never scored at the top of the pack in the 50 years there have been international standardized tests, is that standardized are not important. Standardized tests measure only one thing: the ability to take a standardized test. And that is a skill rapidly going out of vogue because that skill does not equip students for the world of work they will enter. The world of work in our postindustrial era demands other skills. The current time in history and the decades that stretch ahead are described in the report as the Conceptual Age. That age requires skills such as designing, making meaning, creativity, problem-solving, and developing new ideas and artifacts.

The even better news for the United States is that the kind of education that our students need and which will engage their minds and touch their souls is exactly the kind of education that will make our country economically strong in this Conceptual Age. They need to learn to question and to explore those questions. They need to learn how to learn. They need to learn how to collaborate so that they deepen and broaden their individual thinking through interaction with others. They need to learn to tell the stories of their past learning and to tell the stories of what has not yet been imagined. The need to learn to tap into their own creativity and their own passion.

Arne Duncan was wrong. John King is wrong. U.S. education policy is wrong. High standardized test scores are not a worthy goal.  We will harm the minds and deplete the souls of our precious children if we stick with emulating South Korea. We will head for economic peril as a nation if we do not create a different kind of education, one that can never, ever be measured by standardized tests.

It’s time for a change. Let’s get on it.

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

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

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

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

Legislators should;

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

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

These politicians should not be allowed to hold public office.

For more about these issues read:

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

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

Education reformers and charter school industry are jacking our legislature.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Connecticut State Department of Education has decreed that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests will be given between March 15, 2016 and June 10, 2106, for public school students in grades 3-8.

In New York State last year, a massive protest against the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scheme resulted in approximately 200,000 students (about 1 in 5 students in New York) being opted out of that state’s Common Core testing program.  New York State’s opt out numbers are expected to be very high again this year.

Although New York Governor Andrew Cuomo supports the Common Core and the testing frenzy that goes with it, he has publicly recognized that parents have a fundamental and inalienable right to opt their children out of the testing program and his administration has announced that they will NOT be taking any action to punish students, parents or school districts due to the low participation rates in the Common Core tests.

As Wait, What? readers know, however, the story in Connecticut has been the exact opposite.

Under incredible pressure from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration, many Connecticut school districts continue to mislead and lie to parents about their right to opt their children out of the SBAC testing.  Furthermore, in response to large opt out rates in some schools, the Malloy administration has announce that they will begin to punish districts by withholding federal funding that is intended to help poor children and will be taking additional action if school districts fail to stop parents from opting their children out of the SBAC tests.

As a result of the pressure, one school district outside of New Haven, the local superintendent recently sent an email to all the teachers and staff in the district saying,

“Once again, I want to be extremely clear that there will be no opting out of state testing for any student…”

The superintendent is taking this stance despite the fact that there is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent from opting their child out of the test.

As if the state and local effort to undermine parental rights wasn’t outrageous enough, parents are reporting that some school districts are actually going after the children themselves.

In an unbelievable abuse of authority, a school district near Hartford is telling parents and students that any child who is opted out of the unfair SBAC test must remain in the testing room with their classmates for the 7 hours or so of SBAC testing that will be taking place in the coming weeks.

To refuse to relocate a child, some as young as 10 years old, to the library or an alternative location and forcing them to sit silently for seven hours with nothing to do is nothing short of child abuse.

In addition, to leave the child who is not taking the test in the testing room is in direct violation of the SBAC testing regulations.  See:  ALERT – Students opted out of SBAC testing must be provided alternative location during testing

The SBAC Test Administrators Manual could not be clearer;

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

The requirements in the SBAC Test Administration Manual are not optional.  See Smarter Balanced: Summative Assessment Test Administration Manual English Language Arts/Literacy and Mathematics 2015–2016 Published January 3, 2016 (page 2-4)

So Students, Parents and Teachers:

With the Common Core SBAC testing scam about to begin in Connecticut schools,  please take a moment to report on how you school is handling opt out requests and how the school is dealing with students who have been opted out?

Please send information to [email protected]

All communication will be kept confidential unless permission is given to use some of the information.

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