From Inclusion to Opting Out: Parents Getting Their Way

Originally posted on jeffrey m hartman:

The current standardized testing opt-out movement is a departure from what some parents of special needs students have lobbied for in the past. Examining case law in special education reveals a trend towards increasing inclusion in every area of student life. The opt-out movement follows the opposite trajectory, but it remains part of a larger trend that includes general education. Parents want control over their children’s education to an unprecedented degree.

Recently, parents of students with and without IEPs have been petitioning for their children to be exempted from taking tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The tests of concern are the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Despite differing origins, each test is part of an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education to gauge student preparedness according to the Common Core. States have their own agendas…

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HB 50 Point of Clarification: HB 50 does not opt the state of Delaware out of testing. (click to read)

After watching the despicable behavior of Chairman Jaques and the questions that followed from some republicans, I have to beleive there is a key point not being made well enough:

HB 50 does not, nor does it seek to, opt the state of Delaware out of the SBAC test for statewide accountability. It merely confers upon parents a degree of protection against threats, bullying and intimidation that they may, if THEY choose to, opt their own child out of the test. IT DOES NOT SPEAK TO NOR ATTEMPT TO OPT OUR STATE OUT OF ANYTHING. (DISCLAIMER: I WISH IT DID, BUT IT DOESN’T)

Please Sign The Petition In Support of Delaware House Bill 50: Parent Opt Out Legislation #supportHB50

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

Delaware parents, citizens, and educators: Please sign the change.org petition in support of House Bill 50.  This bill will be heard by the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 22nd, at 3:30 pm, in Legislative Hall, Dover, DE.

https://www.change.org/p/delaware-house-education-committee-pass-house-bill-50-to-allow-parent-opt-out-2

I have heard some parents in Delaware want to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment but won’t do so until House Bill 50 passes.  This bill does not have to pass in order for you to opt out.  This would codify the right you already have.  However, this bill would send a crystal clear message to the Delaware Department of Education, Governor Markell, and the entire corporate education reform movement in Delaware.  It would also prevent certain schools and districts from taking part in some of the shenanigans they have pulled the past few months with parents in regards to opt out.

Please sign this petition. This will…

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Problems with SBAC Focus of State Department of Education Meeting

John Young:

trouble in CT.

Originally posted on BLOGCEA:

Kristine Goldhawk tells members of the state's High School Assessment Working Group about her school's experience with SBAC. At right is Stratford teacher Lisa Tryon. New Canaan teacher Kristine Goldhawk tells members of the state’s High School Assessment Working Group about her school’s experience with SBAC. At right is Stratford teacher Lisa Tryon.

Students and educators who came to the State Department of Education this afternoon to share their experiences with the state’s High School Assessment Working Group said that SBAC is taking away valuable learning time, lacks relevance to students, and places a significant burden on eleventh graders — many of whom are left taking a considerable number of tests in a short amount of time.

In addition to SBAC, many high school students take the SATs and AP exams in the spring of their junior year. That’s why the working group is considering replacing SBAC with another assessment such as the SAT or ACT. Read more about prior meetings of the working group here and here.

Thomaston High School senior Megan Foell…

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Delaware PTA shames Governor Markell on his go-it-alone education agenda! @usedgov #netde @delawareonline @FoxNews @WSJ @HuffingtonPost @nytimes @washingtonpost

Originally posted on Kilroy's delaware:

Delaware PTA’s Response to Press Release on SBAC and DE Higher Ed Institutions 

In a statement made today by Governor Markell, Delaware PTA learned that the four colleges; Wilmington University, University of Delaware, Delaware Technical and Community College and Delaware State University have all agreed that the outcomes of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessments is a good indicator of college readiness. In addition, these institutions have all agreed to accept the assessment in lieu of other placement exams.

At a time when there is so much turbulence in our public education system, we are disheartened to learn that the conversations that proceeded this major conclusion did not include input from any of our major stakeholders. The Delaware Department of Education and the Governor’s office have…

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Exclusive FOIA: The Delaware DOE Human Capital 2017 Project Fully Revealed

Originally posted on Exceptional Delaware:

This was a draft created by the Delaware Department of Education Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit on their Human Capital 2017 project.  I originally wrote about this project here.  In reviewing more of the huge FOIA material I received over two months ago, I stumbled across a Power Point presentation in draft form that gives A LOT of information about the whole purpose of the DOE.

While converting the document on a Scribd file, some of the material overlaps, and I was unable to fix it, but make sure you read every single word in this document.  It’s amazing how much long-term planning goes into these DOE programs, including legislation in the General Assembly.

After watching the Director of this unit, Christopher Ruszkowski, at the February 18th Delaware House Education Committee meeting, it is amazing how much power he has at the Delaware DOE.  The website Education Pioneers.org has a…

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#WhyTeach: Our Chance to Push Back

Originally posted on Young Teachers Collective:

Over the past several years the narrative around public education has grown increasingly negative, and young people are often discouraged from going into the profession at all. One of the main goals of the Young Teachers Collective is to amplify the voices of new and future teachers. We started the #WhyTeach campaign to provide new and future teachers with the opportunity to share their reasons for becoming a teacher despite all of the negative rhetoric. It is a way to reassert our place in the conversation around education and the teaching profession by allowing us the chance to share our thoughts, experiences and visions for the future of education. Because quite frankly we are the future of education.

So are you a new or future teacher that has decided to go into teaching regardless of all of the voices telling us to find another profession? We would love for you…

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I Quit: What Really Goes on at Apple

Originally posted on Road Less Travelled:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

– Steve Jobs, June 12, 2005.

I’ve just escaped the Apple institution. I’ve sent in my resignation, and fled down its bright white corridors curated by crass colourful pictures of iPhones past. I handed in my security pass and in return I was able to re-claim my creativity, individuality and free thinking from the secure Apple cloak room.  Finally now, for the first time in two years, I feel light, creative and inspired. I am again an individual with my own creative ideas…

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Not Just Naive Teachers

Originally posted on Young Teachers Collective:

By: Hajra Syed, Jacob Chaffin, Melissa Katz, Molly Tansey, and Stephanie Rivera

Since the launch of Young Teachers Collective, we have received a number of negative messages, comments, and tweets. We have been called “poor bastards,” “wannabe newbies,” “naive little kids,” and the most common of them all, “foolish idealists.” We have seen comments arguing that because we are young, our voices and opinions have no substance.

This is why YTC was formed in the first place.

Many assume that we are blind to the realities of the attacks on the teaching profession. Many completely ignore the fact that we, the next generation of teachers, were the exact students who were forced to endure the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era. We don’t know anything about the attack on education? We were the ones educated during it.

Many assume that we have blinders on and live in blissful ignorance…

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Delaware Parent Opt Out comments. #netDE #eduDE

Below are my prepared comments from the Delaware Parent Opt Out press conference

We have a proud tradition of standing up for ourselves in Delaware. As the First State, we take special pride in leading when it comes to important causes. Parental Opt Out is just one such cause.

Our schools deserve the best of everything because they hold the promise of all we hold dear: our children, our dreams and our collective future. Sadly, in the last thirty years, we have decided to implement policies of accountability that while well intended have become embedded in our approach to labeling, shaming and punishing schools: the bedrock institution of our democracy.

Using, or should I say, misusing tests is now how we conduct business in Delaware. The state bureaucrats in the Townsend Building and in Legislative hall have successfully crafted our current status quo. It’s a status quo of constant change and failed reform after failed reform, some of which may have actually worked had our attention span or dedication to allow them to work had not been trumped by our seemingly insatiable desire to label, shame, and punish schools with reckless abandon.

At the cornerstone of this status quo has been the ultimate tool of institutional destruction: the standardized test. I know that sounds like a hyperbolic sentiment, but for 20 years plus, Delaware has seen the DSTP, DCAS and SMARTER deployed with amazing controversy and almost zero return…and that’s using the metrics of the status quo supporters in the DOE! Why don’t they work? Two simple reasons: the DOE intentionally misuses the data and the system they are trying to move has an inertia that is immense and does not react favorably to the force of misused test scores. If our DOE could actually grasp that, many of our problems would disappear and this press conference would perhaps not even be necessary.

Why does the DOE misuse the data from the tests? To fit the ideological narrative that students who don’t or can’t succeed in DE schools are the victims of soulless teachers and administrators who wake up every day with the exclusive goal of making excuses for poor performance. This approach breeds deep and resentful mistrust that only further locks up the system. DOE’s predictable response, take that bad data to the group of people who work in that building, (point at Leg Hall) and ask them to pass laws to force the schools to comply. Well, what these status quo protectors fail, every time, to recognize is that the work environment that these laws and policies create in our schools drives high turnover and low morale that proves to those in the system that what they just saw, or did, or cared about, will just change again and therefore to not invest emotion and time…not because they don’t care (DOE’s constant erroneous conclusion), but because they are sick and tired of being duped by this pernicious status quo. And that work environment happens to by my son’s learning environment. Maybe that’s why the dedicated professionals that work with my son have personally thanked me for opting my son out.

What can we do to break through the status quo of test and punish?

Well, that’s why we are here today: take away the ultimate tool of institutional destruction: the test itself.

Without this data, the DOEs ideology starves and teachers can teach. As I have noticed recently, this also dovetails with a new campaign nationwide: Time to teach, Time to learn.

As parents we need to do both: Learn why opting out is not only your right, but why it is right so we can teach our children why opting out serves them not only today, but the rest of their school career. I strongly recommend parents consider taking advantage of a basic, inalienable parental right and Opt Out of the state “mandated” standardized test. Thank you Representative Kowalko and Senator Lawson for sponsoring such a common sense approach to making sure parents can safely do what they already have the right to do. I also thank all of the other co-sponsors and supporters of this important legislation as well.

Democracies Need More Than One Kind of “Good” School

Originally posted on Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

This post is a revised and updated version of one I wrote June 2, 2010

[A good education] “teaches you how to ask a question… it is knowing what you don’t know….”

“Ideally, one should know who Shakespeare was and why Shakespeare was important to us…. At the same time, one should know who Toni Morrison is and why her voice and take on America is important to us.”

“An educated high school grad must read, compute, persevere, organize, and problem-solve well enough not just to attend college, but to graduate from college.”

[A good education should instill] “a love of lifelong learning.”*

No surprise that views of what makes a good education differ. Such opinions about what makes an education “good” have differed for millennia among religious leaders, Greek philosophers, and those rebels in the 13 colonies who shaped a democratic experiment in America. Not now, however, in a…

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Measured Progress and Its Temporary Test Scorers

Originally posted on deutsch29:

The standardized testing industry is taking over the American public school classroom.

Increasingly more class time is being devoted to preparing for and administering standardized tests in the name of “global competitiveness” and ensuring students are “college and career ready.”

Even though promoters of corporate reform idolize standardized testing to the degree that many seem to honestly believe standardized testing a flawless indicator of both student progress and teacher worth, there are many weak points to such a position.

For the time being, let us just consider one: The test scorers.

The constructed response portions of most standardized tests are graded by human beings.

Who are these people?

Temp workers with at least some college experience and who are hired en masse with little to no supervision– and whose college transcripts need might not even be verified.

Take the assessment company, Measured Progress. It directs individuals interested in temporary test…

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The Sunlight Governor redux. #netDE #eduDE #FOIA #SecretEmail

In light of Rep. John Kowalko’s FOIA to gain access to Governor Markell’s muddy e-mail usage, I just wanted to blast out a couple of humorous blasts from Governor Markell’s past:

http://archive.delawareonline.com/assets/pdf/BL11437881.PDF

http://governor.delaware.gov/news/2009/06june/20090612-opengovernment.shtml

Are You Part of the Hunger Games?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Bonnie Margolin, a teacher in Florida, remembers a time before No Child Left Behind. She remembers when politicians did not tell teachers how to teach. She remembers when teaching was far more and different from preparing to take tests.

We are now trapped in The Testing Games. Like The Hunger Games, the odds are never in your favor.

“The obvious comparison is the idea that education is some form of competition. We know this concept is a popular one, just based upon the fact that our own US President named his education reform, The Race to the Top. In this race, states are encouraged to create education policies based on test scores. Student promotion, teacher evaluations, and school grades are all based on test scores. Funding is then tied to the student achievement. In simple terms, how well the students race decides how much money the schools get in funding.

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PARCC Tests in Louisiana: No Seals, No Security

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

This is very puzzling. Standardized tests usually arrive with seals or stickers so that no one can read them without authorization. In the case of the PARCC test administered in Louisiana, there were no seals or stickers. Students could flip ahead to the next day’s tests.

That has raised concerns among some critics of the test, and the related Common Core national academic standards, that the partnership test made it easier for students to get a head start the content of the next unit — or even for administrators to get a look and prepare a study guide for students.

Those concerns are only the latest to be aired in the most controversial and politicized public school testing period that Louisiana has seen in years. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to Common Core and the national tests, and a vocal but small test-boycott movement, put extra pressure on educators. Low…

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MUST READ: Revelations of a Disillusioned Reformer

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

WOW.

This is a remarkable and candid story of Jorge Cabrera, who joined the reform movement as a believer. He wanted to help the children of Bridgeport, where he grew up. He wanted better schools. He was a community organizer for Excel Schools.

And then he learned the truth.

“As I began my work in the “education reform movement” in Bridgeport, I noticed a plethora of ivy league educated “consultants” and “transformational leaders” that littered the often loose coalition of funders, new organizations and executive directors. From the beginning, it was clear that many of these new “leaders” that were emerging were well credentialed. They had graduated from prestigious universities and, it was presumed (though not by me), that alone qualified them to lead. Many were very young (recent graduates), energetic, unmarried with no children and little life experience. They often exhibited a cultish commitment to “the movement.” Their zeal…

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Teachers: Time for Civil Disobedience

John Young:

Comment Rescue from the blog post: seriously – we adults, in REFUSING TO PUT A STOP TO IT, are as bad as the plutocrats using our kids as profit centres….

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Never have the stakes attached to testing been higher. If a student doesn’t reach proficient on a Common Core test where most students will not reach proficient (a passing mark set artificially high), the student is a failure, her teacher is ineffective, and the school is stigmatized. How to counter this madness?

Consider the following comments by teachers, posted on this blog:

“I would encourage all of my students to post pics of the questions or tweet the questions as they remember them. I did this several years ago when Indiana had just one graduation qualifying exam. I got reprimanded and transferred to a terrible inner city school, but the action did have some impact because the state had to admit that a great deal of the exam questions were wrong or too poorly worded to make sense. I realize that in today’s testing-mania culture I would probably have been…

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Earl Jaques pens an editorial (I think) and I red pen it here. #OPTOUT #SBAC #netDE

keep-calm-and-opt-out-15

Delawareonline.com has Rep. Earl Jaques Opt Out Op-Ed here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/03/15/opting-viable-option/24807005/

My rejoinders are in RED:

I will come right out and say it: I do not agree with the movement for parents to opt their children out from standardized testing, you must hate parents and feel they have no right to control the education of their own child then. I have several reasons for that that I won’t bother to share because they are terribly inarticulate, but I want to acknowledge that while I don’t agree, I understand why some parents, teachers and advocates are pushing for this no, you don’t as evidenced by you calling them failures!. They are frustrated by a system that does not function as well as it should, with different versions of tests seemingly not seemingly, in actuality being rolled out every couple years and students and schools being labeled as failing when that might not DOES NOT reflect the entire picture.

These are all valid concerns but I will write here why they are not to me, and whether you believe that opt-out is viable or not, we all share the same common goals I bet we don’t…: We want our children to be successful, and for that to happen, we need to ensure that our schools are functioning well and our teachers have the resources they need to educate their students. I believe that standardized testing plays an important role in this because we have allowed our DOE to tie them to funds from the feds.

Is there too much testing? Absolutely. Is the testing itself bad, unproven and wasteful? Absolutely. But while much of the focus on standardized testing is on the federally required tests, a sizable amount is state- or district-administered. Smokescreen alert, bullshit alert, all the eggs are in the federal basket and Rep. Jaques knows it. That is why I joined with Governor Markell Thursday calling for a comprehensive review of all state/district testing and assessment look at me do something, anything to divert your attention! I even called you a failure at the press conference if you are of the Opt Out persuasion… I have asked Rep. Stephanie T. Bolden, a former teacher, and Rep. Sean Matthews, a current teacher, to be part of that study group. I believe no, you don’t this could result in the biggest change and eliminate much of the pressure our teachers, students and parents are feeling today regarding testing. You will never find out because you will stack the task force.

I recently had the pleasure to attend a forum of the past Teacher of the Year winners a group selected by the DOE…just sayin’ . During that forum, I was able to ask several of them what they thought of the Smarter Balanced test. Each one stated that they like the test and believe we should keep it. I can’t say bullshit because I believe fully that THAT group did say that, but I can say not a monolithic nor majority view with great certainty.That is not to say there aren’t teachers who are frustrated with the assessment good one…this would be you lying, Rep. Jaques, but it is not a universally held opinion…nor is the opposite as you imply with your lame T.O.Y. story.

We must remember that the Smarter Balanced assessment is supposed to be a measuring stick – not a whip to induce pain on our children and teachers yes, YOU must remember that Rep. Jaques, we, know what it is. When I graduated from high school I had to compete with children from within our state. But today, our children compete against children across our nation – and even globally – for jobs and schooling opportunities. This is a garbage line and the one sentence in here that makes me think you did not write this op-ed. It’s based on flawed PISA analysis.

We need a means to see how we compare with others. why? proof?  If we use this measuring stick correctly you seem pre-occupied with measuring things, then we can make the necessary changes to our educational system necessary changes? Like the constant, unending change we have shoved down the system’s throat since A Nation at Risk in 1983? Change for change sake? Really?  This is why HB165 and SB51 were TERRIBLE policies and why HB334 got a second specious vote? , ensure that we provide the necessary resources you and your General Assembly and our Governor have been nothing but a non-stop fail factory at this job…and you want me to believe that a test will make the resources appear? or even more so that opting out will make it worse?  Now that’s funny. , and above all provide the best opportunities for each and every child to succeed. One way to improve upon the existing system you haven’t met the burden of proof that it’s failing and neither has your puppet master is to create a method to evaluate these results to make them more informative.

That is how we should be addressing the concerns we are facing with standardized testing – by tackling the problems we perceive head-on. For those that think that SBAC is the problem, Opt Out seems pretty head-on , sir. Again, why are you disparaging and calling parents failures for doing what you say needs to be done: tackling the problem head-on?

The idea of “opting out” sounds appealing to some parents. No, it IS appealing. Removing their child from testing is a form of protest protection, a parental right above all others and a way for them to take ownership control, again a right of the situation. But consider the side effects are you deigning to suggest we haven’t?. Imagine a class of 25 students where five opt out of the tests. What message does that send to the other 20 children who have to take the test? That they have yet to figure out how deleterious the test and the misuse of the results are? But that there is still hope and time, and RIGHTS on their side…

How does that teacher convince students that the tests are important if a segment of the class has said they’re not worth taking? It doesn’t, and shouldn’t. If the tests are so awesome Rep. Jaques shouldn’t they sell themselves…shouldn’t the market forces lead children and parents in droves to take the test? It becomes that much more difficult to keep students focused on taking the assessment and this is bad how?, which also will be part of that teacher’s evaluation process Why???  Because you and your peers have abdicated your responsibility to kids by letting the DOE and their merry band of sycophants shove unproven reforms, notably ARTC that allows teachers to come into classrooms with 5 WEEKS training (TFA) and have permitted the scores of these tests to control component V of DPAS which controls the overall rating…insane. Fewer children taking the test means other children will need to do better to reflect positively on the teacher What? Why would that be? Oh, yeah, because you don’t care enough about the evaluation process to make it right or fair. Guess parents aren’t the only group you have disdain for these days.. That’s not fair to our hard-working teachers. Nice try, they’re on to you. Bellowing your anti-opt out rhetoric at union halls and all. They know you don’t care.

To be clear, I do not support test scores being part of the teacher evaluation system STOP: then introduce a bill to eliminate it…stop all other rhetoric and do that. To use an internet meme: pics or it didn’t happen. I have joined my colleagues in requesting an additional year be added before we allow test scores to be part of the teacher evaluation system as part of our state’s ESEA waiver process. Yawn, and it erodes your previous statement and exposes it as duplicitous.

Lastly, the consequences of opt-out policies remain largely unknown. Be afraid of the unknown, right?  Don’t dare to be different. Change is bad. In other states where opt-out policies are in place, opt-out rates are far from uniform across demographic groups, which could compromise the data we receive from the tests and jeopardize our federal Title I funding. Now you are parroting a basic, classless scare tactic. Nice.

I sympathize with those parents, teachers and advocates who have grievances with our current standardized testing system, no you don’t and I am committed to working with all stakeholders to tackle this problem to benefit our children and grandchildren. How? When? We disagree on the opt-out method, but we are heading toward the same goal. I’m pretty sure this is another lie.

Will the US Department of Education take your school’s Title 1 funds if you opt your student out of the SBAC? Short answer, no.

Originally posted on Seattle Education:

95-participation

There is no federal or state law that requires financial penalties to schools’ Title I funds if parents refuse to allow their children to take the PARCC tests. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law did include a mandate that required schools to have a 95 percent participation rate on state tests or face sanctions. The intent of that law was to prevent schools from hiding subgroups of students from the accountability structure and was not aimed at preventing parents from refusing to have their children tested.

The parents in the states of New York and New Jersey have been fighting back against the Common Core Standards for the last year and the corresponding  PARCC battery of tests which is our SBAC set of tests in Washington State.

But let’s start at the beginning.

It is illegal for the Federal Government to specify a national curriculum or national test.

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