Wednesday, December 4, 2013

UPDATED: Teachers Talk Testing Forum at PS 321 a Rousing Success

Now, with student performance on state tests also factoring into teacher evaluations, the system may not only weed out ineffective teachers but also discourage highly effective teachers as well, said Julie Cavanagh, a special education teacher at P.S. 15 Patrick F. Daly in Red Hook. "I find myself subjecting these kids that I love to this thing that's not good for them, doesn't benefit them, doesn't give me the information that I need -- which is supposed to be the purpose of assessments," she said. "It is the definition of insanity." ... WNYC, Schoolbook

... very moving as teachers from the school were joined by MOREistas Sam Coleman and Julie Cavanagh on the panel. Principal Liz Phillips was also on the panel as was well-known college education prof Celia Oyler.

UPDATED WITH WNYC ARTICLE and PIC.

Professional film makers filmed the event so I could just sit back and enjoy.

Many Change the Stakes people were there too -- the synergy between MORE and CTS, the two branches of what used to be the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) just keep growing. (A joint Feb. 1 conf is planned.)

During the QandA questions about the opt-out movement were asked. Liz Phillips, who has issues with the opt-out movement gave a pretty clear explanation as to why. And she makes sense from a certain point of view, pointing to how much extra work put on teachers by a large opt-out - they do not have to do portfolios but have to give each child a one-on-one test.

But there is another side to the question. And while I don't think Liz changed her view I did think there was a lot of food for thought after, from the stage, Julie pointed to CTS/MORE Jia Lee who was sitting in the audience as an expert on opting out, both as a teacher, chapter leader and a parent, who explained equally clearly how a school could support opting out.

Jia responded to the question of the challenge and extra work teachers would face if parents opted their children out of the tests and to the issue of making a difference within a school if the opt out numbers were small or large. She responded with the Earth School's opt out experience from last year and stressed how important coming together as a community was in this effort, and that we shouldn't let the extra work be the stumbling block to opting out.

This year should be interesting in terms of the growth of the opt-out movement, mostly at this time, a white middle class movement. There will not be enough traction until it grows in non-white areas of the city. CTS has some intentions of reaching out to these areas.

Here is a report from CTS stalwart parent activist Janine Sopp.

Many of our 9CTS) members attended the event, Teachers Talk Testing, at PS321 in Park Slope. Please check the website (http://www.teacherstalktesting.com/) and spread the word about the petition they've created:

Help us lower the stakes around testing for teachers and families in NYC! Addressed to Mayor DiBlasio.

The panel tonight was incredible. Every teacher gave strong, informative and passionate testimonies, many of which brought us to tears. Julie Cavanaugh and Sam Coleman were part of the panel and Change the Stakes was mentioned a number of times throughout the evening. The video of the event will be posted to the website for all to see. 

I believe it was one of the most meaningful forums I've attended and those in attendance were moved by hearing these first hand accounts from teachers and principal. This is clearly an important aspect of educating parents and the website will have a place for teachers to post their testimonials. Hearing from both ends of the district was really meaningful. Seeing how teachers in all learning environments are being compromised and how the tests are effecting all children, and most dramatically, children with special needs. Julie's testimony on this was quite vivid.

Both Fred and Jia spoke during the Q and A, responding to questions about opting out, which seemed to be what most parents wanted to know about. Jia responded to the question of the challenge and extra work teachers would face if parents opted their children out of the tests and to the issue of making a difference within a school if the opt out numbers were small or large. She boldly responded with the Earth School's opt out experience from last year and stressed how important coming together as a community was in this effort, and that we shouldn't let the extra work be the stumbling block to opting out. 

Fred addressed the way opt out could be meaningful w/o consequences via the field tests, this in response to how we can hurt Pearson, since the bottom line is where the buck stops. Celia Oyler, professor who trains teachers at TC, spoke to us about the corporate side of ed reform, giving a perspective that many parents still know little about. A former PS321 teacher who now teaches in Chinatown spoke about how this community sees the tests as their ticket out and how can we support this community and others who believe the tests are their answer.

There were many parents in the audience, and even a MS447 teacher and other teachers, expressing how important opting out will be as a strategy. We heard over and over again that it's the PARENTS who have the power. 
What I did not have the chance to express is that we need to WIELD our power, and not just by adding our name to a petition (though this is one step), but by taking the bull by the horns and leveraging our weight by throwing a wrench into the system by using opt out as a way to halt or stall this run away train. Many parents feel compelled but so many are so afraid. I will say that I saw Liz Phillips actually move her position slightly on opt out as the conversation unfolded. What I did not see, however, was a formal means by which to gather parents and teachers in the moment to really hash out a strategy. I think this is one of the most important aspects CtS needs to discuss, how best to support these pockets of resistance. As well, Rosalie handed out about 100 CtS fliers.
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Brooklyn Teachers Blast Emphasis on Testing

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - 04:00 AM


Alex Messer, a teacher at P.S. 321, describes the stress of testing on students and teachers. (Yasmeen Khan). MOREistas Sam Coleman and Julie Cavanagh on panel.
 
A group of veteran teachers described in detail Tuesday night how an emphasis on standardized tests was sucking the joy out of the classroom, adding undue stress to students and educators themselves.

"The tests are kind of ruining what we love," said Sara Greenfield, a third-grade teacher at P.S. 321 William Penn in Park Slope.... Greenfield and others spoke to parents and fellow teachers in the P.S. 321 auditorium at a forum under the umbrella of Teachers Talk Testing, a newly-formed group seeking to reduce the emphasis on testing in three ways: ending grade promotion tied to test scores; ending middle school and high school admissions tied exclusively to test scores; and revising the way test scores factor into school progress reports..... P.S. 321's principal, Liz Phillips, bluntly brought the problem with the Common Core back to testing. "The value of the Common Core has become totally tainted because of the tests," she said.

Read entire piece: http://www.wnyc.org/story/brooklyn-teachers-decry-high-stakes-attached-tests/


1 comment:

  1. I still have Jeanette Deutermann's presentation in Nassau County telling other parents the steps and the ramfications (there are none, lies put out by NYS PTA) on opting out. I am having difficulty at successfully uploading the videos to my PICASA..

    will try again tonight..

    TG

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