Education Reform, Pelto, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Wendy Lecker Standardized Testing
(A Blog Post by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto)
Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.
Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.
As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.
Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?
Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.
What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.
Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.
But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.
When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.” She is right.
We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.
Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering. Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids too.
As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?
This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools. And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”
Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators. In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papers and Sarah’s at CTNewsjunkie.
Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Wyman Education Reform, Malloy, Stafan Pryor, Standardized Testing, Wyman
All across Connecticut, today – and for much of the next two weeks – educational activities will come to a halt for Connecticut’s 570,000 students. In the state’s more than 1,100 schools, teachers will stop teaching and children will stop learning.
Instead, the attention of teachers and children will turn to the Connecticut Mastery Tests and the task of filling in bubbles.
Faced with a growing state deficit, state and local government are increasing taxes and cutting services….including some of the most vital and essential services provided by government.
However, over the next two weeks, approximately $30 million in Connecticut taxpayer funds will go to one of the nation’s largest for-profit testing companies to pay for these standardized tests, scoring these tests and the necessary profit that goes along with their “work.”
Add in the lost teaching time and overhead and Connecticut will be diverting at least $50 million away from its already underfunded public education system.
All this so that we can determine that, in fact, poverty, language barriers and the need for special education services continue to be the three single biggest factors in determining standardized tests scores.
With less poverty and language barriers, suburban students will do better.
With more poverty and language barriers, urban students will do worse.
Students who require special education services will perform better or worse depending, in part, on whether their districts are providing them with the services they need and deserve. And more often than not, the answer to that question depends on whether the local school districts have the funds necessary to properly cover special education costs.
So that is an expenditure of $50 million to tell us what we already know.
The only difference is that this year, if Governor Malloy and his administration, including Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor have their way, the test results will then be used to punish teachers for factors that are clearly beyond their control.
In honor of this crime against our children, here are three (3) things to consider doing;
1) Sign the Parents Across America – Connecticut Chapter petition against the overuse of standardized testing: Reduce the use of Standardized Testing in Connecticut
2) Drop a note to Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and Commissioner Pryor:
3) Order yourself a Tested to Despair Bumper Sticker: See the link to the right of the Wait, What Blog or click on: TESTED TO DESPAIR BUMPER STICKERS
Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, State Budget, Stefan Pryor Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor
Hooray! The U.S. Department of Education is giving away $9.2 million to help states devise better tests for 4 year olds!
According to a recent article in Education Week, “Some state officials say the money would be welcome as they revamp their early-childhood-assessment programs. But others suggest that if the Education Department wants to focus attention on just one part of early learning, an avenue other than kindergarten assessments—teacher professional development, for example—would have been more welcome.”
But I say, to Hell with “teacher professional development.”
We are Connecticut and more assessments is our motto.
For example, just this past year, Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative included not one, but two major laws creating new reading assessment programs targeting pre-k to 3rd graders.
According to Public Act 12-116, the State Department of Education was required to “develop or approve reading assessments for districts to use to identify deficient K-3 readers. The education commissioner must submit these assessments to the Education Committee by February 1, 2013. Districts must use these assessments beginning July 1, 2013.”
In addition, according to the new law, “Assessments must frequently screen and monitor students throughout the school year. Screening will measure student mastery of phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Districts can then use data from these screenings to develop individualized and whole class instruction.”
The major for profit educational testing companies have already lined up to start collecting taxpayer funds.
The noted education testing company, Pearson Education, has been selling a product called “Work Sampling System” and another company, Teaching Strategies LLC, has their own assessment product called the “Teaching Strategies Gold” program.
And it’s not like we’re starting from scratch.
According to the Education Week article, Connecticut is already well-known for its existing assessment program.
The Education Week article explains that Connecticut’s “kindergarten-entrance inventory” is administered in October. Teachers evaluate children on a variety of skills, such as counting to 10; holding a book and turning pages from front to back; and following classroom routines. An “exit inventory” also measures pupils’ skills as they prepare to leave kindergarten.”
And speaking of assessments, Connecticut’s new law also adds new rounds of testing of teachers.
According to the law, “Teachers certified in comprehensive special education or remedial reading and language arts must pass the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2013.
This reading instruction test was approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. Teachers must receive a satisfactory score on the test in order for their teaching endorsement to be valid for grades K-6 and K-12.
Additionally, K-3 teachers and local boards of education employees who hold certificates with nursery-3 or elementary endorsements must take the practice version of the SBE reading instruction test beginning July 1, 2014. Employees holding initial, provisional, or professional educator certificates must comply.
Unfortunately, the legislation was so poorly written that, “It is unclear if each affected teacher must take the above tests once or yearly.”
You can find out more about Connecticut’s new reading assessment program here http://www.cga.ct.gov/2012/rpt/2012-R-0519.htm and more about the national scene via the Education Week article here:
Christina Kishimoto, Corporate Viewpoint, Education Reform, Hartford, Sarah Darer Littman, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Education Reform, Hartford, Standardized Testing
Earlier this month, teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School announced that they would be boycotting the (Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test system. The also released a letter explaining why.
The teachers wrote, “…MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress…It produces specious results, and wreaks havoc on limited school resources during the weeks and weeks the test is administered.”
By standing up to this flawed testing program, the Garfield High School teachers have sparked a national movement in opposition to the MAP Test. The effort has received the support of nationally renowned pro-public education individuals and groups including the American Federation of Teachers, California Federation of Teachers, California Teachers Association, Change the Stakes, Diane Ravitch, FairTest, Matt Damon and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, National Education Association, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools and many more.
Over the same period, but at the other end of the spectrum, education officials in Hartford, along with their corporate education reform allies, have committed even more money, time and effort utilizing the very test that the Seattle teachers and their supporters are condemning.
Sarah Darer Littman, a CTNewsjunkie commentary writer and pro-public education blogger, has done an extraordinary job writing about the latest counterproductive efforts in Hartford.
In two recent commentary pieces, Littman has highlighted the ongoing effort to saddle Hartford’s students and teachers, and Connecticut’s taxpayers, with this MAP testing outrage.
To understand the underhanded, heavy-handed and behind the scenes maneuvering that “education reformers” are engaged in, read Beware of Foundations Bearing Gifts and An Expensive ‘Gift’ for Taxpayers Without Accountability.
The following passages summarize the problem;
“In August, the [Hartford Board of Education] was asked to renew the contract for the Northwest Evaluation Association MAP program for two years at a cost of $592,443, or $11.50 per student. MAP, or Measures of Academic Progress, was piloted with the 9th grade last year, but this year was extended K-12. At the time the school board was asked to renew the contract with the rollout of the program, the source of funding was described as “special funds”, with no mention of the Gates grant.
The full board was only notified of the grant in October. But because the money is being administered through the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, which will receive $50,000 per annum of the three year grant period to manage it, the school board was not given the opportunity to vote on the matter despite the cost implications for Hartford Public Schools and state taxpayers.
One of my major questions regarding the Gates grant and the impact on HPS has to do with technology resources. According to the NWEA technology requirements, each student requires a workstation or client and these must have adequate and stable Internet connectivity for the test to be successfully administered. “NWEA requires a persistent connection to the wireless access point, free of interruptions, to successfully run Test Taker. Any outages in the connection, regardless of how brief, may cause errors during testing or require re-testing particular students.”
Although the Gates grant budgets $592,443 over the three-year period for license fees for NWEA computer adaptive assessments, there is a mere $34,500 budgeted for computers and equipment, and that goes to Achievement First for “Technology for Residency Program for School Leadership.” As far as HPS goes, there is zero in the grant for the implementation of any technology.
According to Ms. Frederick, “HPS has been planning for the MAP testing for three years including extensive training for teachers and administrators in order to ensure all were and are prepared for the administration. In addition we have conducted a technology readiness survey to determine the level of resources available in each school. Our goal is to ensure that all schools are fully resourced to implement the test during the testing period. Purchasing computers for the schools that are the most in need is an ongoing priority in the district. When dealing with technology, issues can and do come up. When that happens, we have a system in place for resolving the issue immediately. To date, we have had very few problems administering the test district-wide.”
Ms. Frederick continued, “In administering the test, schools are very creative in using the resources they have while ensuring there is little disruption for other students. Many students take the test in a dedicated computer lab, others take the test in their classroom using either classroom computers or laptops. Several schools have laptop carts that move from classroom to classroom allowing students to remain in their classroom to take the test. In year one of the test, we have been pleased with the results both in participation and how successful schools have been in administering the test. We continue to evaluate and plan for improvement.”
Something about “creative use of resources” sounded the alarm bells with me, particularly because I’ve been hearing concerns from media and technology specialist friends in wealthy school districts about having adequate resources to implement SBAC, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium adaptive tests that will replace the CMT/CAPT in 2014-15.
I put out feelers to teachers in the trenches to try and ascertain the picture. Most were not willing to go on the record for fear of retribution. But William Morrison, a social studies teacher at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School, painted a somewhat less-than-rosy picture in telling me that the testing was problematic because of bandwidth problems.
Another teacher at a Hartford magnet school told me the school’s Wifi is turned off during assessments in order to limit bandwidth to testing computers. This means students and teachers not taking the assessments cannot use tablet devices. Both of the school’s laptop carts are used for testing for 3-4 weeks, making them unavailable for student projects.”
And the list of problems associated with even taking the tests goes on and on, not to mention the fact that the test results themselves are of little use.
If parents and taxpayers want to know the truth about this MAP testing program, they should start by reading up on the Scrap the MAP effort that is sweeping the nation. Begin by checking out the Scrap the MAP Blog.
And then ask your state and local elected officials why Hartford and Connecticut are moving in exactly the wrong direction on this vital education issue.
Bridgeport, Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Education Reform, Malloy, Standardized Testing, State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor
When the Connecticut State Board of Education met yesterday to approve their 2013 legislative agenda, a primary initiative was to expand the state’s mandatory standardized testing program to include all Connecticut students in the 11th grade.
As of now, the state’s absurd mandatory Connecticut Mastery standardized testing extravaganza begins in grade three and runs through the CAPT test in grade 10.
Last year, Governor Malloy’s “education reform” proposal included a new mandatory test for students in the 11th grade. The Democrats on the General Assembly’s Education Committee quickly quashed the idea recognizing that students are already wasting way too much time being tested when they should be spending time learning.
Well, brace yourselves, the NO Child Left Untested industry is back.
In addition to the state’s mastery test program, school districts are required or are voluntarily engaged in a variety of other standardized testing programs and schemes. There are the Direct Reading Assessment (DRA) or Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) tests. There are the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Performance (NWEA MAP) tests.
Then there are the LAS, LAU and NOCTI tests.
Add of course the PSAT and SATs for high school students.
And of course, each round of tests requires hours and hours of practice tests.
As parents know, “Reading Prompts” now begin in 1st grade in order to position children correctly for the first round of testing that takes place two years later in 3rd grade.
One seasoned veteran teacher recently reported that from 3rd grade through 12th grade, students and teachers in suburban districts now spend more than six weeks taking standardized tests, and that doesn’t even count the practice tests.
The time wasted on standardized testing is even greater in our urban school districts like Hartford and Bridgeport. In just the past few years, those districts have shifted from one district wide Connecticut Mastery Test program a year to three rounds of district wide standardized benchmark tests PLUS the Connecticut Mastery Test.
Recently Bridgeport’s massive benchmark testing program crashed their computer system and children spent countless hours sitting around waiting while the information technology people worked with the out-of-state testing companies to try to figure out how to get the testing program back up and running
The Connecticut State Department of Education has estimated that just CMT/CAPT, the mastery test program alone, costs more than $25 million a year and if you add up all the standardized testing efforts, Connecticut and local taxpayers may be shelling out as much as $100 million a year for testing programs.
In nearly every case, the money goes directly to out-of-state, for-profit testing companies.
So here we are.
Cutting essential services to deal with a state budget deficit of more than $400 million this year and looking at a $1.2 billion projected budget deficit next year.
And all this is AFTER the state increased taxes by $1.5 billion during Governor Malloy’s first year in office.
And what do Malloy’s appointees to the Connecticut Board of Education decide to do?
They proposed a whole new round of standardized testing for another whole grade, the grade in which college bound students are supposed to be focusing on their grades, as well as the PSATs and SATs, while other students are looking ahead to prepare for work and other post-secondary education opportunities.
It is, as Wait, What? readers like to call – another “you can’t make this sh*t up” moment.
Standardized Testing Standardized Testing
It is a good day to make a big difference!
Follow this link to the anti-standardized testing petition being circulated by the Connecticut Chapter of Parents Across America.
Connecticut state government and public schools have been spending too much time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing. The over-reliance on these tests is harmful to our children and to our schools.
With over 750 signatures, the petition is almost ready to go to Connecticut’s elected officials. A few more names and we’ll have a strong statement the inappropriate reliance on standardized testing in our public schools.
As we know, the overuse of standardized testing is a waste of time and money and this is the legislative session when our elected officials can stand up and make our schools and our children truly a top priority.
Take a moment and join the list of those who have said enough!
Follow the link to add your name to this important petition and then send the link to friends and families.
Sign the petition and then pass it on.
Together we can successfully fight back.
Click here for the petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/reduce-the-use-of-standardized-testing-in-connecticut
Thanks for all you are doing to enhance and protect public education in Connecticut.
Arnie Duncan, Education Reform, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor Arne Duncan, Education Reform, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor
CTNewsjunkie commentator, Sarah Darer Littman, wrote a must read “education reform” commentary piece in the middle of December, but alas, it came out on the weekend of the horrible events that took place in Newtown.
I’m taking the liberty of highlighting it here. You can find the full piece at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_beware_of_foundations_bearing_gifts/
OP-ED | Beware of Foundations Bearing Gifts
by Sarah Darer Littman | Dec 14, 2012
News of a $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the Hartford School District was reported with the usual unquestioning cheerleading from the state’s news media.
But Connecticut parents and students should be wary of billionaires bearing gifts. Close reading of the proposal reveals the grant, lauded as a gift of altruism, shares many characteristics with the Trojan Horse in terms of what it means for both the well-being of our children and for our state’s education budget.
Page 6 of the grant proposal states: “Major outcomes . . . are district-wide implementation of a standards-based grading system, and the capacity to consistently and continually measure student growth related to the standards for the purpose of guiding and individualizing instruction.”
Sounds reasonable. It’s when one looks at what this entails for students, teachers, costs, and actual learning time that the picture becomes disturbing.
On page 7, the proposal lists the components necessary to achieve the above outcomes: 1) Integration of the Common Core Standards into the curriculum so that the first students to take the new SBAC test that replaces the CMT in 2014-15 will have been exposed to it for at least two years; 2) A new standards-based report card that is integrated into “PowerSchool” (an electronic grading system), and; 3) The use of the NorthWest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Assessment.
Number 3 was the one that set my alarm bells started ringing, particularly when I read this: “In addition, the State of Connecticut is moving to NWEA providing additional information to Gates Partners.”
Oh really? That’s news to us. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the NWEA assessment is a computer-based adaptive assessment that is meant to:
-Provide teachers with timely information to improve student learning
-Monitor academic growth and consistently track progress over time
-Inform students, teachers, and families about student skills
-Make data driven decisions about instruction
-Provide reliable data to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and curriculum.
Again, this all sounds wonderful in theory. But let’s have a look at what this means in practice.
MAP tests are computer based and, according to the technological requirements on the NWEA site, they require an individual workstation for each student taking the test. Even in Greenwich, one of the wealthier and well-equipped districts in the state, I’ve heard concerns about adequate technological resources to administer the SBAC tests when they are implemented. To achieve this, schools will have to set aside much-needed resources — in addition to staff, for proctoring — such as the computer labs and libraries for extended periods of time to allow the test to be administered. These facilities are needed for other purposes with actual educational merit.
Then there’s the cost. I didn’t receive an answer to my request for information from Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s office, so I can only go from the experience in other districts where MAP testing was implemented. Here’s a post from theSeattle Education Blog about how it went down in their city after a similar grant from the Gates Foundation:
The initial subscription to the test cost $370,000. But the district has spent much more since then in implementation costs. A portion of the $7.2 million Gates Foundation grant to SPS in 2009 went toward MAP®. Another $4.3 million of the February 2010 school levy was also earmarked for MAP®. Some believe that the proposed $2 million network capacity upgrade currently before the school board is also associated with the test. By some measures, MAP® has cost our school district as much as $10 million. [UPDATE: The yearly subscription/licensing cost for MAP® was estimated to be $500,000 per year, according to SPS staffer Brad Bernatek and then-Broad Resident Jessica DeBarros in a report on April 2009.] . . . This makes MAP® essentially an unfunded mandate . . . As many as 40 percent of Seattle’s public schools lose their libraries to MAP® testing for as much as three months of every school year, according to SPS’s Jessica DeBarros.
Being a billionaire doesn’t make you an educator, or even an expert on education. But it does give you undue influence. As Valerie Strauss reported in theWashington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, The Gates Foundation spent over $3.5 million to start a front group — “Communities for Teaching Excellence” — in order to “win public approval for the foundation’s investment of more than $335 million in teacher effectiveness programs in four school districts that involve controversial initiatives including linking teacher pay to student standardized test scores.” The organization has since closed its doors because, as former Board Chairwoman Amy Wilkins pointed out, “Gates was such a big part of the funding . . . That made some of the partners and other funders nervous. How do you look like an independent actor? You have to show broad public support so you’re not seen as a phony-baloney front for Gates.”
Phony-baloney front indeed.
But let’s not single out the Gates Foundation for bearing the Trojan Horse of the Education Reform movement. They’ve got company with the Broad Foundation. Just this week, after the Education Law Center filed an Open Public Records Act request, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration was forced to reveal the terms of a $430,000 grant from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. One of the more disturbing terms of the grant was that it was conditional on Christie remaining the governor of the state.
According to the Star-Ledger, there were other curious provisions in the grant, including lengthy provisions about secrecy, to the point that if the Christie administration were required by law to make the document public, it was required to let the Broad Foundation know first “so that TBF may contest the disclosure and or/seek a protective order.” Perhaps the Broad Foundation folks were worried New Jersey parents might not like some of their “benchmarks.” For example, “the percent of high quality public charter schools in New Jersey, as measured by [the New Jersey Department of Education’s] definition of high quality, will increase by 50 percent by 2014-15.” After all, shouldn’t elected legislators make such decisions, rather than foundations controlled by opinionated billionaires in deals shrouded by secrecy?
The news media owes it to the state’s residents to do some actual journalism instead of just regurgitating press releases. After all, our kids’ futures — and the future economic health of our nation — are at stake.
Gov. Malloy has made his position clear: “I’ll settle for teaching to the test if it means raising scores.”
Here’s another point of view from Henry Rollins:
“When you teach to a test you’re basically just trying to get reelected. You’re looking good at tax time. You’re looking good when they come through the building and evaluate you, well they learned the test.
They learned the test, but they didn’t learn how to learn and so that’s what I find as a breakdown in teaching systems. They don’t teach you how to think because as soon as you get that under your cap books are books, information is information. You just find what pleases you. But if you have the ability to learn you’re going to make better choices and you’ll have an intellectual confidence that will allow you to really maximize your potential.”
Or, as I quoted in my college application essay all those years ago: “A child is not a vase to be filled, but a fire to be lit.” Are these billionaires afraid of lighting fires of genuine intellectual curiosity and learning?
Be sure to follow Sarah’s writing at www.ctnewsjunkie.com
Dianne Kaplan DeVries, Education Reform, Malloy, Sarah Darer Littman, School Funding/ECS, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Wendy Lecker ECS, Education Reform, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor
As Governor Malloy’s PR operation continues pumping out the education reform rhetoric, we can be confident that should he seek re-election, he’ll be running on the most anti-public education record of any governor in living memory. His “Education Reform” package was certainly the most anti-teacher, anti-union bill introduced by any Democratic governor in the nation.
Earlier this year we heard Malloy claim, “I don’t mind teaching to the test as long as test scores go up,” while proudly uttering the falsehood that teachers need only show up for four years to get tenure.
Since then he has pushed an agenda that makes greater use of inappropriate standardized testing and has continued to champion a teacher evaluation system that relies on the outcome of those tests, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence the greater standardized testing leads to better outcomes.
Of course, that assumes that Malloy’s goal is better educational outcomes and not better salaries and better publicly funded contracts for the education reformers and the education reform industry that is rapidly sucking up more and more taxpayer funds in an attempt to fill their bank accounts and increase stock values.
By one estimate, the state is already spending $25 million a year on standardized testing, and that is before all the new testing kicks in.
Under Malloy’s approach and policies, cities and towns like Bridgeport, Hartford, Windham and New London are reducing teaching and support staff and dramatically increasing the number of standardized tests the children are forced to take.
Over the past weekend, a number of must read commentary pieces were published by Connecticut media outlets. Here are just three. Anyone concerned about ensuring our state provides every child with a high quality education should definitely read these pieces.
Wendy Lecker: It’s time to really put kids first
A favorite line of so-called education reformers is that we need to put students first and stop focusing on adults. However, these reformers then advocate policies that ignore the realities children experience. Achieving child-centric education policy requires first examining the lives of children, especially our most vulnerable.
As reported in Education Week, researchers at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard and elsewhere have studied how children’s lives affect learning and development. They found that a phenomenon called “toxic stress” has a profound influence on children’s ability to learn and their success later in life. Toxic stress includes physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence and the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship. Experiencing one or more of these events for a prolonged period puts the stress reaction system in a child’s body on permanent high alert. The result is that neural connections in the areas of the brain dedicated to learning and reasoning are fewer in number than they should be, and weaker, when they should be multiplying.
Read more: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-It-s-time-to-really-put-kids-first-4081549.php#ixzz2Dzy3sPwl
Sarah Darer Littman: Attract Great Teachers Without Cherry-Picking Evidence
After the less than flattering rhetoric and misinformation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy regarding teachers during the education reform debate, it was refreshing to read that state Education Commissioner Stephen Pryor has suddenly decided that we should start trying to attract great teachers.
During a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Pryor apparently blamed a perception gap for the lack of great teachers. Pryor cited statistics from Finland, where he said 100 percent of school teachers came from the top third of their graduating class, according to the New Haven Independent. In the U.S., only 23 percent of our teachers came from the top third. In low-income U.S. communities, the percentage is only 14 percent.
But like most proponents of the corporate education reform model, Pryor is cherry-picking data to support his argument
Read more http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_attract_great_teachers_without_cherry_picking_evidence/
Dianne Kaplan DeVries: Turkey Last Week, Another In The Oven?
The ECS Task Force has been slow-roasting its work at a low temperature over the past 15 months. Slow-roasting a turkey is a great way to prepare a Thanksgiving bird. It requires no expert cooking skills and no special tools, yet it produces a fully cooked, moist and tender bird. Not so with revamping state education aid! And just when it looked as if dishing-up time had arrived, the fowl was deemed too rare and returned to the oven.
Having earlier this month redirected my attention to the promise and progress of this illustrious body, I want to register disappointment with both the cooking process and the glimpsed product of their labors. Time to turn up the heat over the next few weeks in hopes of inspiring the group to serve up a more seasoned and tasty main course that some half a million public school kids and their school districts across the state, as well as the mill rates of 169 municipalities, may all be forced to eat should the legislature go along with the final recommendations.
First, let’s talk failed process. With so much at stake for virtually every community in the state and all current and future public school children, expectations were high that the task force would be conducted with great public transparency, reach out for advice from state and national experts in school finance, and intensively listen to input from all major stakeholder groups and knowledgeable citizens who stepped forth to weigh in on how best to modernize, rationalize, and suitably fund our public schools. Driving the issue was the constitutional challenge brought by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF), charging that the state’s current school finance system is inadequate and inequitable.
Read more http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_turkey_last_week_another_in_the_oven/
Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Malloy, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski
We all remember, earlier this year, when Governor Malloy saying, “I don’t mind teaching to the test, as long as the test scores go up.”
Education reformers like Governor Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor continue their constant chant – more standardized testing, more standardized testing, more standardized testing!
In Bridgeport, $229,000, part-time superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas, announces that Bridgeport’s schools have gone from having one round of standardized testing each year to four rounds.
Special Master Steven Adamowski, Malloy’s Special Master for Windham and New London schools, already implemented the four times a year policy when he was superintendent of schools in Hartford, and is now implementing more standardized testing in Windham and New London, two more communities without the resources to even maintain basic resources.
Now, a new study by the Brookings Institute has found that state taxpayers, around the nation, are shelling out $1.7 billion a year to pay for these assessments.
And that doesn’t even count the massive increase in standardized testing that will be required when the new “Common Core State Standards assessments” kick in next year.
More on this new study later…
Education Reform, Malloy, Paul Vallas, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor, Steven Adamowski Malloy, Standardized Testing, Stefan Pryor
At school, learning may not be the correct answer.
Thanks to the “education reform” movement, standardized testing now appears to be the Number #1 priority of public education.
Governor Malloy’s 2012 “Education Reform” bill proposed a new standardized test for 11th grade and ended with new standardized tests and assessments for kindergarten through second grade.
Meanwhile, the new teacher evaluation legislation will require additional new standardized testing, in all subjects, at the beginning and end of each year. A growing number of districts, including Hartford, Bridgeport, Windham and elsewhere have or will actually be going to three rounds of standardized tests, plus the Connecticut Mastery Tests. And that doesn’t even count all of the other standardized testing that is already in place.
In fact, depending on what grade level your child or children are in, they are probably busy right now taking a standardized test or being put through the paces in order to prepare them for an upcoming standardized test.
Next time you see Governor Malloy, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, one of your community’s board of education members, your local superintendent of schools or your school principal, ask them…which of the following are the children working on today.
Standardized Testing at the Pre-School and Kindergarten through 2nd grade level:
The Pre-school Assessment Framework Test given three times a year
Or the monthly McCrel Literacy Rubric Test
Or the twice a year One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test
Or the twice a year Get It, Got It, Go – pre DIBELS Test
Or the annual Social-Emotional Needs Assessment Test
Or the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA 2) Tests
Or the Kindergarten Entrance and Exit Inventory Test
Or the LAS LINKS Test
Or the Literacy How Assessment Tools Test
Or the Phonemic Awareness Skills (PAST) Test
Or the Core Phonics Survey Test
Or the Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) Test
Or the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Test
Or the Writing Prompts Tests to prepare them for CMTs
Standardized Testing at the Elementary and Middle School Level (3rd grade – 8th grade):
The annual Connecticut Mastery Test
Or the DRA 2 Tests
Or the LAS LINKS Tests
Or the NWEA-MAP – Math, Reading, Writing Tests
Or the Literacy How Assessment Tools Test
Or the Developmental Spelling Assessment (DSA) Tests
Or the Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) Tests
Or the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Test
Or the Writing Prompts Tests to prepare for the CMTs
Or the Math Unit Pre- and Post-Assessments Tests
Or the Reading Unit Pre- and Post-Assessments Tests
Or the Scholastic Reading Assessment (SRI) Tests
Or the three times a year End-of-Trimester Assessment Tests
Standardized Testing at the High School Level (9th grade – 12th grade):
The LAS LINKS Tests
Or the Scholastic Reading Assessment (SRI) Tests
Or the NWEA-MAP – Math, Reading, Writing Tests
Or the Ready-Step Tests
Or the Scholastic Reading Assessment (SRI)
Or the three times a year End-of-Trimester Assessment Tests
Or the Pre-PSAT Test (Grade 9)
Or the CAPT Test (Grade 10)
Or the NWEA-MAP – Science Test (Grade 10)
Or the CAPT Test (Grade 11 repeat takes)
Or the PSAT Test (Grade 11)
Or the SAT Test (Grade 11 and Grade 12)
Or the Advanced Placement Tests
Then, of course, teachers do try to squeeze in the tests related to what the students are actually being taught, but as far as the “Education Reformers” are concerned, that is a task that is secondary to the vital role of standardized testing.