Saturday, March 28, 2015

Teacher Says Refuse the Tests

DAWN ASKS WHY NOT Refuse the Tests?
By gutsy teacher D.A.W.N. in New York State

Parents have the power to stop the madness. Refuse the unfair test!

It is really quite simple. Yes, Goliath, the giant testing steam roller, which includes everyone and everything that is tenaciously moving forward to implement the testing schedule can be defeated by David. The young boy who picked up a stone and flung it at the forehead of a giant defeated the Philistines in the Bible.

The young children in grades 3 through 8 who come to school and refuse to participate in the ten hours of high-stakes standardized testing can bring the whole invalid, unfair, worthless testing system to a halt. Parents have the power to stop the madness. Refuse the unfair test!

Notify your child’s school principal that your child will be refusing the PARCC tests or the Common Core standardized tests in April and May. PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers which is one of the two multi-state consortiums that every state has to participate in. New York is administering the Common Core test this year, not PARCC, but it is still a lousy product created by Pearson.

Last year over 44,000 students in New York State refused the test. The recent reports confirming that Pearson and the NJ Department of Education is aggressively surveilling student social media such as Facebook and Twitter should inspire an exponential increase in that number.

Pearson is an international corporation, with headquarters in London, which has no business tracking the conversations of our children. Who knows where these conversations will end up?

The NJ superintendent of the district including Watchung Regional High School, Elizabeth Jewett, stated that “her testing coordinator received a late night call from the state education department saying that Pearson had initiated a ‘Priority 1 Alert’ for a test item breach within our school. The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during the PARCC testing.”

Jewett continued: “I have to say that I find that a bit disturbing—and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out.”

School officials may tell you that you can’t “opt out.” Tell them that you are not “opting out,” you are refusing the test, which you have every right to do. You, the parents, are ultimately in charge of your children’s educational experience. You do not have to allow the district to subject your child to ten hours of boring, tricky, frustrating, and ultimately pointless testing.

The PARCC tests, created by Pearson, are poorly designed and confusing. It has been discovered for many of the sample released questions that there is no correct answer. There are many plausible answers which supposedly requires “higher-order thinking” in order to discern the “best” answer.  In actuality these tests are confusing to adults with PhDs in English so how valid can they be as assessment tools for children?

The tests are diagnostically and instructionally useless because teachers and students cannot even see the tests to find out what they got wrong and why. Even the simple scores are not published until the following year when the child is in a different grade with a different teacher, therefore, they cannot be used to drive instruction.

The PARCC tests have not been validated by any of the normal procedures for test validation. Validation requires that the test maker show that the test correlates strongly with other accepted measures of what is being tested, both generally and specifically. This has not been done.

It is a much more difficult test that will increase students’ anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. The cut scores have been adjusted to intentionally and predictably fail more than 60% of all students. Many of these newly designated “failures” were quite bright and on level just months ago. We are fools if we accept these snake oil tests.

The PARCC tests have an enormous financial cost. The PARCC contract itself is worth over one billion dollars to Pearson in the first three years. It is especially egregious that this money is going to a foreign corporation headquartered in London.

This is a complete misuse of tax dollars that could be spent on things that matter, such as making sure poor children have eye exams, warm clothes, and enough food to eat. This money could go to make sure libraries are open and school nurses are on duty in every school in America.

This money could go to hire more teachers and reduce class size which is the one change that every school could immediately make that has been proven to improve learning. Check out any good private school and notice the class size. Small works best. Ask any teacher. “What is the one factor that impacts their teaching ability the most?” They will invariably answer, “Class size.”

Teachers know how to teach. They know how to create diagnostically valid assessments. They know how to create relationships with the unique students in their classrooms. They know how to use their creativity to motivate hard to reach students and inspire students to soar to explore their full potential. They are tired of being micromanaged by Arne Duncan who knows nothing about how children learn best. Let teachers teach.

No other nation is implementing a testing regime like this. It is not valid and not necessary. It is costly and counterproductive. See the following website for helpful forms and sample letters.  

The quicker we reject these new tests, the quicker we can get back to teaching and learning. 

New York Common Core standardized tests begin on April 14. Help your child refuse the test! Notify the schools now.

Read more articles from true grassroots citizens at this blog:
New Jersey Superintendent Reveals Pearson Spying On Students
Watch Out For Opt Out! A "Seismic Shift" In Assessing Students