Has your State Department of Education told you to stand down and shut up because they are the experts and you are just parents, teachers and communities?
Call their bluff. These experts have totally messed up according. This is not just our opinion, this is the declaration of the Federal Department of Education. The Feds ripped the "Consolidated Plans" that the State Departments of Education experts submitted to them to report on how the states are implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Here are some excerpts from the Federal critique of our States:
"Disappointed in how the plans fall short on ways to improve public education systems,"
"Just because a plan complies with the law doesn't mean it does what's best for students,"
"Compliance mentality in dealing with schools where students are bullied, stepping over rats, breathing in mold, dodging fists, and lacking the teachers and technology they need to learn,"
"Takes no advantage of ESSA's flexibility,"
"Does not collect reliable data,"
"Racially and economically discriminatory,"
"They have repeatedly said they're committed to equity between student groups, though a growing chorus of civil rights groups say that's not true based on the evidence they see."
Do the experts in your state insist that the excessive testing is needed?
The Federal Fact Sheet: Testing Action Plan calls out their testing plans as malpractice:
"Done poorly, in excess, or without clear purpose, they (state tests) take valuable time away from teaching and learning, draining creative approaches from our classrooms."
"In the vital effort to ensure that all students in America are achieving at high levels, it is essential to ensure that tests...take up the minimum necessary time"
"In too many schools, there is unnecessary testing and not enough clarity of purpose applied to the task of assessing students, consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students."
"What follows is a set of principles and steps to correct the balance...unwinding the practices that have burdened classroom time or not served students or educators well."
What exactly are the Federal testing requirements under ESSA?
(note: the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA, is the current re-authorization of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act, ESEA, so in the regulations the acronyms ESEA and ESSA are used interchangeably)
"ESEA does include Federal testing requirements under section 111(b)(2(B)(v)(I)-(II), to assess
all students in a State annually in reading/language arts and mathematics in grades 3-8 and
once in grades 9-12 and
to asses all students in the State in science at least once in each grade span (i.e., grades 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12)...
The Department does not now, and never has, required any specific set of standards or assessments under title 1. part A."
If your State Department of Education tries to argue or convince a legislator or Governor that your public schools need to do any testing beyond ESEA section 111(b)(2(B)(v)(I)-(II)), they are bluffing.
You must call their bluff because our Legislatures and Governors have been trusting them for two decades.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced NCLB and explictly returned to states and communities the freedoms they had before NCLB.
Are the experts still insisting on "criterion-referenced" questions, rubrics, a state-specific test, excessive High Stakes Testing and other failed PARCC and Common Core ideas?
Inform the "experts" that you won't let them get away with their bluffs anymore. Federal Statute frees us from the No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top nonsense that has been abusing our children for two decades. It's time to move on and let schools try to repair the damage the experts and elite have inflicted on our children. The 2015 Every Student Succeed Act declares:
"The Secretary shall not require a State....to include..specific academic standard, such as the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative or any other standards." Sec. 8013
"It is the sense of Congress that States and local educational agencies retain the rights and responsibilities of determining educational curriculum, programs of instruction, and assessments for elementary and secondary education." Sec. 8549A
"It is the sense of Congress that a student, teacher, school administrator, or other school employee of an elementary or secondary school retains the individual's rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States during the school day or while on the grounds of an elementary school or secondary school." Sec. 9202
Experts make a lot of money from the tests
- even though the tests are failures -
by "collaborating" with State Departments of Education
Corporations and consultants made billions from the takeover of the public schools
"In the high-stakes world of American education, Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up."
No Profit left Behind (Politico, 2/10/2015)
"Amid all this mediocrity comes Pearson, the company that makes millions on standardized testing contracts in Florida ($254 million), New York ($32 million), and Texas ($468 million), among many others."
Holding Arne Duncan to a Higher Standard (01/23/2014 Huffpost)
How Pearson Made a Killing on the US Testing Craze
"Their first objective is to manufacture educational policies and processes which Pearson itself will then provide the services for. Whether or not these policies and practices offer meaningful or beneficial services to children is a far distant second."
From 2010 to May 2013, Pearson spent millions on lobbying
"Now an unprecedented need exists for "collaboration" between vendors and assessment specification governance boards to determine coherent and comprehensive assessment standards. Such standards must support the full life cycle of building, delivering, scoring, and reporting assessments..."
"We mark large-scale school examinations for the US federal government and more than 25 American states, scoring billions of machine-scorable test questions and evaluating more than 111 million essays, portfolios and open-ended test questions every year"
"Working with educators and education advocates, our experts are helping to lead the development of Next Generation Assessments that feature technology-enhanced items, performance-based assessments, and adaptive learning."
By 2010, the US Department of Education already awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to Smarter Balanced and PARCC
Texas paid Pearson $468 million for state assessments
What's with Texas' $500 Million Testing Contract with Pearson?
New Jersey gave Pearson a $108 million contract..
But nobody really knows how much New Jersey taxpayers will really spend.
A norm-referenced test like the Terranova3, a modern version of the California Achievement Test, would cost your state about $10/student.
With no need to hire extra consultants, developers or bureaucrats.
But State Departments of Education choose not to spend a well-defined and accounted for $10/student for a useful norm-referenced, well-established test.
Instead, state bureaucracies spend inordinant and unknown amounts of taxpayer money on experts, consultants, "test developers," "pilot testing," state and local implementation bureaucracies and their corporate friends.
The money awarded to corporations and consultants is hidden in obsure Public Works awards and is very, very difficult for parents, teachers, communities and even elected officials to notice or trace. Old budget items are buried, new ones are hidden in Board of Public Works agendas and Division of Purchase and Property Approved Sole Source Waivers.
Here are a few examples:
New Jersey paid New Meridian $6,025,078 on 10.14.20, search https://www.nj.gov/treasury/purchase/solesourcewaivers.shtml for "New Meridian" to see the record.
New Jersey paid New Meridian $5.3 million in 2018 read the article under the heading "No Bargain" (or search NJ Division of Purchase and Property Approved Sole Source Waivers Exceeding $500,000, AL-040 $5,213,789 on 3/19/18 )
Illinois paid New Meridian $19.6 million in 2018 PARCC pushback propts Illinois to remake controversial test for 3rd-8th graders (Chicago Tribune, Feb 9, 2018)
Indiana dumps CTB-McGraw Hill, picks Pearson to create future ISTEP $38 million, 2015
"Pearson is described as the most powerful force in US education by Fortune Magazine"
Pension funds say Pearson relies too much on U.S. testing business (Washington post, March 10, 2016)
Don't be fooled by the new names for the same old players
When PARCC collapsed, the Common Core developers reorganized and took on Many New Names (aliases) so that the same "experts" could sneak back into the lucrative game. If you see "Next Generation," "MAP," "computer-adaptive," "criterion-refereneced," "Smarter Balanced," "New Meridian," recognize that these are the powers behind No Child Left Behind."
Anything other than a norm-referenced state test that can be administered state wide in a single day, paper and pencil, for about $10/student TOTAL is probably the choice of the experts and elite, not the real stakeholders.
Pearson, always earning
Pearson and the Neo-Liberal Global Assault on Public Education (pdf)
Call out "The Emperor Is Naked" when the experts insist that RUBRICS and "Criterion Referenced" questions are all the rage and belong on state tests
Do you think any grader can accurately and consistently determine whether a Grade 3 student's prose provides: "effective development" (3/3 pts. = 100%), "some development"(2/3 pts. = 66%), "minimal development (1/3 pts. = 33%) or is "underdeveloped" (0/3 pts. = 0%)?
This is example of the vague "criterion-referenced" rubric language used to judge our children as adequate or as failures on high stakes state tests.
There is no way a grader can accurately and consistently judge the difference between "some" and "minimal" prose development.
Yet, "some development" will result in a passing grade but "minimal development" will fail the student.
Do you see the problem with giving state tests with any criterion based questions??
You might never get an "expert" to see the problem. The "experts" will insist, like they do about good art, "I know some vs. minimal when I see it."
But classroom teachers consider these kinds of rubrics a cruel joke.
The experts don't really care what classroom teachers think so they LABEL OUR CHILDREN AS FAILURES based on subjective criteria like the PARCC scoring rubrics.
In addition to the vague rubrics, every "criterion-referenced" question - even multiple choice questions that are criterion-referenced require experts to interpret the results.
The experts may show you thousands of pages of research justifying criterion reference questions but the fact that they promulgated obvious nonesense, like the PARCC Scoring rubrics, put a lie to any claim they make that their ideas are credible.
The Emperor's New Clothes are a sham; the dishonest tailors are bluffing, and any honest child in the crowd can rectify the situation by shouting and call them out on their scheme. Read this sample criterion-referenced rubric with open eyes and be that honest child today. Trust your judgement; question the elite "experts," and make some noise.
Computerized state testing disadvantages everyone, especially less affluent children
Everyone on the school campuses knows that we are not dedicated testing centers; setting up computerized testing is a nightmare.
More importantly, testing with technology disadvantages the children who most need a fair test. Read this newspaper report of the reality of computerized testing:
"When students at Govans Elementary School in North Baltimore took statewide standardized tests last year, Principal Linda Taylor said, some struggled with using a mouse to navigate the online assessment. Some didn't know how to scroll to the appropriate sections. Others grappled with how to highlight information. "You're going to stumble if you're struggling to navigate the system before you even look at the questions," Taylor said.
"Test officials say computers are a more secure way to administer a test, allow for faster scoring and enable more innovative questions...But some Baltimore educators worry it presents yet another hurdle for students from poor families."
"Putting the test online just sets the city kids three steps back. It's more a measure of income than skill," said Towson University professor Jessica Shiller, who studies urban education
"Arthur VanderVeen, the chief executive of New Meridian and the leader of the company that manages the PARCC consortium said he is 'committed to fairness and ensuring no student is disadvantaged in how they take the test" and that his company "recently studied the two modes of testing and found that paper test questions and computer test questions yield comparable results." He said the data from those studies likely won't be made public until this summer. (note - Arthur VanderVeen was a spokesperson for New Meridian)
Computer pose serious implementation and security problems
If a state test requires essays and short answers, expect that they will be scored by either minimally trained, part-time graders or by machines
Pearson hired minimum wage temp workers to quickly click scores of 0, 1, 2, or 3 for comprehension and written expression of PARCC essays. The graders could earn small bonuses if they hit daily volume targets, to grade PARCC essays.
Machine scored essays are a joke. Think about it; have you ever been asked by a security app to "identify the pictures of streetsigns" to determine if you are human or robot?
If an artificial intelligence, robot machine cannot identify the bicycles in a grid of nine pictures there is NO WAY a machine can identify whether a Grade 3 student's prose provides: "effective development" (3/3 pts. = 100%), "some development"(2/3 pts. = 66%), "minimal development (1/3 pts. = 33%) or is "underdeveloped" (0/3 pts. = 0%).
Computers are bad at understanding and interpreting human writing.
For example, when an essay filled with nonesense text like:
"Even though the brain counteracts a gamma ray to veracity, the same pendulum may catalyze two different neutrinos with the promptly erroneous contentment"
was graded as a 6 on the GRE by an artificial intelligence machine. The AI awarded the essay (click the link to read the full essay) a 6 because it determined that the nonesense essay "presents a cogent, well-articulated examination of the argument and conveys meaning skillfully."
Remind your Governor and Legislature that their election depends on your vote, not on the lobbyists money
Three Maryland races were won by nine, eighty and two vote margins in 2018.
You know how they say every vote counts? Apparently, it's true. Capital Gazette, 7/9/2018
Sometimes one candidate's election can determine the control of an entire state.
The Opt-Out Movement
If you plan to opt your child out of the state testing we completely agree with and support your reasoning and your decision. We hope you can choose to support One Day in May for the sake of the communities, taxpayers, teachers and the helpless children whose parents do not opt-out and who will end up taking the state tests. We need your help.
If anyone tries to prevent you from opting your child out of the testing, you have solid Federal Statute defending you. Call their bluff. Point to the ESSA statute, page 33, and inform them that your state is in danger of losing their Federal Funding if they prevent you from opting out your child.
Confront their ignorance and do what is best for your children. The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that State Departments of Education permit parents to opt their children out of the state testing. Period.
"Note: Effective on August 2, 2016, paragraph (2), as amended by
section 1005 of Public Law 114–95, is amended to read as follows:
(2) ACADEMIC ASSESSMENTS.—
(K) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PARENT RIGHTS.—
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting
a State or local law regarding the decision of a
parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic
assessments under this paragraph.
(L) LIMITATION ON ASSESSMENT TIME.—Subject to Federal
or State requirements related to assessments, evaluations,
and accommodations, each State may, at the sole discretion
of such State, set a target limit on the aggregate
amount of time devoted to the administration of assessments
for each grade, expressed as a percentage of annual
Principal to parents: 'We don't need to get used to this. We need to stop it." (Washington Post, 3/6/2015)
"Is Andrew Cuomo saying that New Yorkers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on testing and wasting nearly two weeks of instructional time for 'practice?' Practice, exactly, for what?"
Why the movement to opt out of common core tests is a big deal (Washington Post, 3/5/2015)