Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Parents Lead Massive Opt-Out of Kindergarten Tests in Washington Hts (District 6)

“My feeling about testing kids as young as 4 is it’s inhumane,” said PTA co-chairwoman Dao Tran, mother of first-grader Quyen Lamphere, 5. “I can only see it causing stress.”... Rachel Monahan, Daily News
The revolt is growing and this story is HUGE, as Diane Ravitch points out below (and a good story from the ed press - though we would love to see a piece analyzing the growth of the opt out movement). Remember - this K test was going to be used as a baseline to measure teachers and this kills the baseline.

DENY THEM THE DATA. If we had a union with balls they would be using their muscle to promote the opt-out movement like Karen Lewis is doing in Chicago. But they so fear attacks on them for not going along with the executions of teachers.

Recognize  the name of one of the children featured in the story: Lamphere. Yes, the daughter of MORE stalwart Peter. Nothing happens in a vacuum. No spontaneous combustion but educating, organizing and mobilizing. A parent commented:
all the credit should go to the parents and educators who established the school last year based on a model of education that teaches to the whole child and immediately mobilized to challenge the abusive farce that is K-2 testing as soon as they learned what the state had planned for them. In other words, many new parent and educator leaders joining this struggle! Good luck with your articles!!
 Let's be clear. This revolt is not taking place in schools loaded with poor struggling parents but in a clearly middle class school. And in schools with friendly principals. The big battle for opt-outers is to reach into areas like East New York and even poorer areas of Washington Hts and that is still a questionable proposition. And expect attacks to come on them by the ed deform press when the opt-out movement grows this spring.

One of the awesome parent activists in Change the Stakes sent this comment:
As a member of Change the Stakes and a new parent at this thriving school I can tell you the parent activists at Castle Bridge are already thinking about next steps in this challenge to the ridiculous K-2 testing, in conjunction with NYC-based groups like Time Out From Testing and Change the Stakes (and in solidarity with groups elsewhere). Please stay tuned!
We haven't seen nothing yet. Wait 'till the spring tests. District 6 in Wash Hts in northern Manhattan is the base of many of the parents involved in Change the Stakes (one of the two offshoots of Grassroots Education Movement - GEM - the other being MORE)  - as are MORE members with kids who are taking on the dual role of parent and teacher.

Kudos came in from people on the Change the Stakes listserve:
Laura
Bravo, again, to the parents and Leadership of their Principal, without a question we could use more Principals with ethics.

Janine
This is so thrilling! They will become the model for other K-2 schools and beyond. Hooray for the parents who have kept their sense and stepped up to protect their children! Great work Andrea and others who helped make this happen. This is going to be a wonderful year!
Here is some important info re the K-2 tests from the teachers on the CTS listserve:
Can anyone explain how K-2 testing in "early childhood schools" (K-2) compares with testing at K-5 or K-8 but in K-2?  Thanks!
 Leonie:
Suransky said that K-2 schools have to do testing in these grades but K-5 schools don’t, because they have other schoolwide measures to use.
Jia:
In the K-2 schools where they do not have the grades 3-5 test scores as options, they were told that they HAD to administer the locally approved assessments. There are around 32 such schools (they were start up schools, all adding a grade each year.)
The difference is that at some of the K-5 schools, the lower grades agreed to go with the default for the 20% local measure, which is the state standardized assessments. It's viewed as an act of solidarity since the local measures in K-5 schools are designed to cause divisiveness between teachers and grades. However, some K-5 schools did choose different local measures and must submit baselines by Oct 31. I've heard horror stories: cancelled field trips, students in auditoriums watching a movie during the school day so that teachers could get mass preps to input the "data".

The Ravitch piece and the DN article below the break.




THIS IS HUGE!!! No Testing at This School! Parents Say NO!

by dianerav
Almost everyone agrees that high-stakes testing for little children is a huge mistake. The parents not only wrote their elected officials, they took direct action.
More than 80% of the parents of the children at the Castle Bridge Elementary School in New York City refused to allow their children to be tested.
They opted out.
The tests were canceled.
NO TESTS. NONE!
The parents knew that the only purpose of the tests was to evaluate the teachers, not the children.
Most Castle Bridge School parents — representing 83 of the 97 students — refused to permit their children to be tested.
“My feeling about testing kids as young as 4 is it’s inhumane,” said PTA co-chairwoman Dao Tran, mother of first-grader Quyen Lamphere, 5. “I can only see it causing stress.”
The state now requires schools to factor test scores — in one form or another — into their teacher evaluations, which are new this year in the city.
The parents thought the testing was absurd.
As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.
It’s like the SAT for kids barely older than toddlers. And parents resent it.
“Our principal does a good job,” said PTA co-chairwoman Elexis Pujolos, mother of kindergartner Daeja, 4, and first-grader AJ, 6. “A test could not possibly measure what she is able to.”
Principal Julie Zuckerman canceled the required tests because the scores wouldn’t provide statistically meaningful data once so many parents opted out.
She also hates judging teachers even partly on the basis of a test.
“It can’t be used as evaluation tool of teachers even if it were a valid test — which it’s not,” she said.
If all parents did this, they could stop the testing madness that is ruining education and children's love of learning.
If it can happen at Castle Bridge, it can happen anywhere!
Without data, the giant testing machine can't function. The children can learn stress-free. Education becomes possible.
Message: OPT OUT.
Read the DN article here or below the break.

Forget teaching to the test — at this Washington Heights elementary school, parents canceled it! 

More than 80% of parents voted to skip an exam that the state says helps evaluate teachers. Move is believed to be unprecedented.

By Rachel Monahan / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Monday, October 21, 2013, 5:20 PM
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

(From left) Andres Pujols, 6, Elexis Pujols, 37, Daeja Pujols, 4, Quyen Lamphere 5, Dalyair Mackey 5, Dao Tran, 40, Yvene Mackey 7, Vera Moore, 43, oppose testing.

A Washington Heights elementary school has canceled the new standardized multiple-choice tests for the youngest public school students — after more than 80% of parents opted to have their kids sit out the exam.
In an apparently unprecedented move, Castle Bridge School parents — representing 83 of the 97 students — rejected the new city requirement that affects 36 schools that serve only K through second grade.
“My feeling about testing kids as young as 4 is it’s inhumane,” said PTA co-chairwoman Dao Tran, mother of first-grader Quyen Lamphere, 5. “I can only see it causing stress.”
The state now requires schools to factor test scores — in one form or another — into their teacher evaluations, which are new this year in the city.
RELATED: KINDERGARTEN GETS AS TOUGH WITH MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTS
Students at the 36 “early education” schools are too young to take the regular state reading and math exams, so the littlest kids are sitting down for different tests.
As the Daily News reported earlier this month, such exams, given to kids as young as 4, require students to fill in bubbles to show their answers.
It’s like the SAT for kids barely older than toddlers. And parents resent it.
“Our principal does a good job,” said PTA co-chairwoman Elexis Pujolos, mother of kindergartner Daeja, 4, and first-grader AJ, 6. “A test could not possibly measure what she is able to.”
A vast majority of parents at Castle Bridge School in Washington Heights opted to have their kids skip a city-mandated test.

Enid Alvarez/New York Daily News

A vast majority of parents at Castle Bridge School in Washington Heights opted to have their kids skip a city-mandated test.

Principal Julie Zuckerman canceled the required tests because the scores wouldn’t provide statistically meaningful data once so many parents opted out.
She also hates judging teachers even party on the basis of a test.
“It can’t be used as evaluation tool of teachers even if it were a valid test — which it’s not,” she said.
It wasn’t clear exactly how the teachers at the school would be evaluated under the state’s requirements, given the widespread decision to opt out the tests.
RELATED: EXPERTS IN EDUCATION FIELD OFFER ADVICE FOR THE CITY'S NEXT MAYOR
“We will work with the school and the state to determine the appropriate measure of student learning for this school,” said Education Department spokeswoman Erin Hughes.
Castle Bridge, which reserves up to 10% of its spots for kids with a parent in jail, has some touchy-feel practices.
Kids get a quiet time nearly most days, where they can snuggle up with a teddy bear for nap or read a book quietly. Teachers write multiple-page narratives instead of giving report cards.
But parents said they chose the school because the project-based, more creative forms of learning develop critical thinking skills better than the required tests, which parents were shocked to learn about.
“I was irate. I was very angry,” said Vera Moore, mother of second-grader Yvene Mackey, 7, and kindergartner Zalyair Mackey, 5. “This school teaches to the child not to the test.”


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