Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Massive Reporting on Opt Out, NY Times ignores issue, "choice" and "adults" deform line of attack flipped

Oh, that worm is turning.
The latest line of attack on the opt our movement, as evidenced by Tisch in the debate with Ravitch is that the tests are important for tax payers to know that their money is being spent effectively. In other words, the test critics are winning the battle to convince people the tests are not about kids but adults and now the deformers are saying the same thing.
Pretty interesting flip of the deformers claim that unions, etc were about adults and they were about children.
And also note how the charter "choice" argument is being flipped on its head as parents call for choice in opting out.

The Chalkbeat roundup

Rise & Shine

on the first day...

From P.S. 321 in Park Slope — 35 percent opt outs — to P.S. 261 in Boerum Hill — 66 percent — to the Institute for Collaborative Education on the Lower East Side — 85 percent — New York City parents were among the thousands expected to opt their children out of taking the state's English and math exams this month, which began on Tuesday.

Rob Astorino, the former Republican gubernatorial candidate, writes that he opted his children out of taking the Common Core-aligned tests because of concerns about how the standards were developed.

Juan Gonzalez: "Tens of thousands" of parents refused to allow their children to take the annual English language arts and math exams, including a contingent of New York City schools where a majority of of students opted out.

It would be a "huge mistake" for defenders of required testing and the Common Core testing to dismiss the concerns raised by parents this week because their reasons are worth listening to, Frederick Hess writes.

Some city principals, meanwhile, have been pushing back hard against the opt-out movement by discouraging parents at their school from participating.

Amid the flurry of headlines about parents opting out, a pro-Common Core organizations will spend "six figures" on a radio and digital advertising campaign, featuring teachers and parents urging other to allow their children to take the exams.

Here is the Wall Street Journal article. The comments are interesting between the usual WSJ anti-teacher suspects and a parent who makes great points.

Here are Sarah Russo's points:

WSJ care to share why you didn't post my previous comment? Is it perhaps the deeply embedded association you have with this issue that might prevent you from posting comments from dissenting voices?  "Last November, News Corp. dropped $360 million to buy Wireless Generation, a Brooklyn-based education technology company that provides software, assessment tools, and data services. 'When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed by big breakthroughs that extend the reach of great teaching,' Murdoch said at the time."
None of this is about children or education. It's about money. Those of you who think your tax dollars are well spent on these tests are woefully mistaken.

@Douglas Marshall The tests don't do what they say they do. If the test don't accurately show what a student has learned how can you base employee evaluations on them? This is a long article but worth reading if you want to understand the tests and their uses better.
One key point, in case you don't bother digging into it more closely:
"The paradox of Texas’ grand experiment with standardized testing is that the tests are working exactly as designed from a psychometric perspective, but their results don’t show what policymakers think they show. Stroup concluded that the tests were 72 percent 'insensitive to instruction,' a graduate- school way of saying that the tests don’t measure what students learn in the classroom."
The tests are poorly designed and it would seem intentionally so, to further a very specific agenda that is costing tax payers a fortune.

@Douglas Marshall p.s. I'm not anti-testing. I took them as a kid. Testing isn't a big deal, frankly, and we should have an effective standard to gauge how kids are doing across the board.

But these tests aren't doing that and we're wasting billions of dollars on them and time. 3rd-8th graders will sit for 7 hours this year. That's 2x the NYS BAR exam, 3x Med Boards, 2x the Actuary exam. That doesn't factor in all the test prep time.

But if you haven't seen the new curriculum, it's riddled with errors, the math is the most heinous joke you've ever seen. This is a perfect example, and this isn't an anomaly, this kind of thing comes home with my daughter all the time:

@Paul Sussman @Sarah Russo @Douglas Marshall #1: It's not just the typographical error, although the materials are riddled with those too. What does that "model" represent? Explain it to my like I'm a 3-year-old because the "new" math as Pearson has dubbed it is beyond my Calc 2 skill set.
#2: It is not 1% of the school year. They have been test prepping for the last 6 weeks. Drilling, practice tests, all the garbage Pearson feeds them so kids can score well on the trick questions the tests are filled with. It is two weeks of disrupted class schedules for testing--that's 5.6% of the year, plus 16.6% on test prep. That's a whopping 22.2% of the school year lost.

Thousands of Students Expected to Opt Out of N.Y. State Tests

Parents are protesting standardized exams that they say are too time-consuming and stressful

Updated April 14, 2015 8:25 p.m. ET
At the Brooklyn New School, the principal said 95% of eligible children didn’t take state tests on Tuesday.
In West Seneca Central School District in western New York, 70% skipped them—roughly double the amount last year.
But in some places just about everybody sat down to fill in the bubbles. At P.S. 171 in East Harlem, only one student opted out.
During a spring when test refusal has become a trend in pockets across the country, Tuesday marked a moment of suspense across New York state. Many expected at least tens of thousands of children to stay away from exams that critics see as too time-consuming and deeply flawed.
Backers of the tests say they reveal important clues to the strengths and weaknesses of students and schools, improve instruction and highlight achievement gaps so they can be addressed. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch has called it a “terrible mistake” to miss out on that information.
New York education officials said more than 1.1 million children in grades three through eight were supposed to start the annual standardized tests in reading and math, given during six days this week and next. The official tally of students who skipped them won’t be known until scoring is complete.
State education officials say that last year, about 67,000 children skipped the math tests and about 49,000 didn’t take the language arts exams without giving a valid reason.
Some children who took the English language arts test Tuesday weren’t fazed. Dakota Swart, a fifth-grader at P.S. 234 in Tribeca, said she approached her exam with confidence after weeks of test preparation and a performance-boosting plate of waffles.
“I’ve been doing this since third grade and we’ve been preparing for a while so I was comfortable with it,” she said.
Courtney Simon, a fourth-grader, said she was scared beforehand because last year she couldn’t complete it.
“This time, I finished 30 minutes early,” she announced proudly.
“Thirty minutes?” asked her mom, Ann Simon.
“I went through and checked it three times,” Courtney assured her.
Students who are opting out of the state tests sit in the auditorium of William S. Covert Elementary School.ENLARGE
Students who are opting out of the state tests sit in the auditorium of William S. Covert Elementary School. PHOTO: ANDREW HINDERAKER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The opt-out movement has become a way for some parents to vent frustration with state and federal education policies that they see as unfair intrusions on local control. Some said they were driven to protest Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s April 1 budget deal, which continues to make test scores a substantial, and possibly increasing, part of teachers’ evaluations. Some researchers say computer models that aim to isolate a teacher’s impact on student growth are unreliable.
Test refusals were high Tuesday in spots where school leaders or parent activists crusaded for the cause. In Rockville Centre Union Free School District on Long Island, high school principal Carol Burris was a pioneer in the movement, and officials said the share of test refusers had jumped to 60%.
Many parents said tests ate up too much learning time. Fourth-graders sit for a total of seven hours of tests, and scores aren’t available until late summer.
Rockville Centre Superintendent William Johnson said his district got much more nuanced feedback using online assessments; they cost $12 a child, take less than an hour for each subject and generate scores within days. “We don’t use the state test data for anything,” he said. “It’s a waste of time.”
In spots across New York and elsewhere, parents have mounted social media campaigns encouraging families to boycott tests. In the past week, New York State United Teachers reminded members of their right to opt out; the group’s president, Karen Magee, has said the teacher evaluation system will be invalidated if enough children do so.
Some parents complain the pressure on schools to show high test scores has spurred too much test preparation in language arts and math, and cut time for untested subjects such as social studies, art and music.
Lisa Rudley, an Ossining mother and a leader of New York State Allies for Public Education, which promotes opting out, said one of her main concerns was the narrowing of the curriculum.
Some principals say the exam results are illuminating when combined with other data, and some parents say poor scores have triggered helpful tutoring.
—Sonja Sharp contributed to this article.
Write to Leslie Brody at

1 comment:

  1. 43% opted out in the school district in which I live (Orange County). Here's a link that updates NYS schools regularly. Unfortunately you have to go to NYSED webpage and look up enrollment data in order to calculate the percentage. this link provides number of students who opted out but not the total number of eligible students or percentage. At the top of the page, however, they keep a running total number. Roseanne McCosh


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