Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Parent-led Protest Against High Stakes Testing Thursday, June 7th

I will be there to tape this. And see below for notes on Pearson feeling the heat.
See Leonie Haimson at Schoolbook:

Press Contacts:
Martha Foote            

Anne Stone

Parents in X* Schools Boycott Field Tests for High-Stakes Exams:
Fed Up With Over-Testing, Parents Protest at Pearson Headquarters

"Enough is enough - we want more teaching, less testing!"

WHAT:        Press conference and demonstration against the State Education Department, the NYC Department of Education, and Pearson over excessive and high-stakes standardized state testing.

WHEN:        Thursday, June 7th at 10:45 A.M.

WHERE:      Outside Pearson headquarters, 1330 Sixth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets, Manhattan.

VISUALS:   Parents and children holding posters and giant puppets; a theatrical marching band; children in costumes.
WHY:         From June 5th to June 12th, children across the state are being forced to give up learning time solely to serve the research purposes of billion-dollar test publisher Pearson, which has a $32 million contract with the New York State Education Department. But parents in an unprecedented number of schools (number to be revealed at the press conference) are fighting back by refusing to allow their children to take these field tests and joining a protest at Pearson headquarters. 

*Number to be revealed at the press conference

Here is a comment from a NYC teacher pointing to the Pearson spin job at the Pearson site: 
In my seven years of teaching, I have written many "tests" to measure the learning of my own students. I weed out unfair questions by reading the test over carefully and revising it as needed. Sometimes I ask colleagues for suggestions about wording or presentation. On rare occasions a student raises his hand and asks for clarification about the wording of a question. If I can answer him without compromising the content I'm testing, I do. Having the ability to recognize when you don't understand something and asking a reliable person for clarification is, after all, an important college- and career-readiness skill. Apparently the test-writing experts at Pearson cannot determine the fairness of a question without subjecting hundreds of students to it first. Field testing DOES affect students; this year I had 3 students (2 with special needs, 1 an English Language Learner) break down crying during the state math test upon encountering untaught non-grade-level material that may or may not have been embedded field items. Now that teacher evaluations are going to be tied to test scores, I guess the field tests will affect me too!

Here is an internal communication about their response strategy.

Dear Colleagues,

This spring testing season, we’ve seen misinformation and misperceptions on standardized assessment permeate media coverage and call into question Pearson’s role in the educational testing process. Doug Kubach, our CEO of Assessment and Information, shared information today on NEO to answer your and your customers’ questions on testing. 

He also announced the launch of a new social media campaign to demystify testing for parents:  “Parents, Kids & Testing.”  Through the campaign, we will share links to education and testing resources along with information about testing in all 50 states and U.S. territories for parents and their children. 

To read Doug’s full announcement, visit his blog on NEO.


Shilpi Niyogi
Executive Vice President, Public Affairs

Another response:
Dear Colleagues:
Here in our Department of Hispanic Studies at the University of Northern Colorado we have been using the texts published by Pearson.  However, in view of the company’s involvement in high stakes standardized testing and the stranglehold the regimen has on public schools, and thanks to all the information that has come through this open forum subscribers’ list, we dropped Pearson from our Spanish curricula for our Spanish 101 and Spanish 102 classes.  I summarized our rationale in the attached letter to a CEO at Pearson.

In appreciation,
Don Perl
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.
Sandi Kirshner                                                                                                                       
Executive Vice President
Pearson Higher Education
75 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116                                                                            May 23, 2012

Dear Sandi Kirshner:

I appreciate your detailed response received on May 22nd to my questions regarding Pearson’s “philosophy of education.”  Here in Hispanic Studies at the University of Northern Colorado we have discussed in some depth the most appropriate direction for implementing resources for our Spanish language students. 
I think a bit of professional information about me is relevant at this time.  As a middle school teacher in the academic year 2000 – 2001, I was charged with administering high stakes standardized testing to my inner city students.  I studied the issue in considerable depth and after much deliberation decided that I could not, in good faith, administer these tests and still consider myself a professional educator.  That act of civil disobedience began a journey to raise the awareness of the citizenry of the dangers posed by high stakes standardized testing.  Enclosed please find a copy of the letter dated January 16, 2001, stating the reasons for that refusal. 
We started a coalition, we forwarded a ballot initiative, we have advertised on billboards on the roadways of Colorado advising parents of their rights as their children face high stakes standardized testing, and have played a part in crafting legislation to take a bit of the onus off the testing regimen.
In view of this mission and our moral opposition to the dangers inherent in high stakes standardized testing, and in contemplation of  Pearson’s involvement in the creation of these tests now so ubiquitous throughout the nation’s public schools, we must look to other publishing houses to provide our students with the necessary resources for Spanish language acquisition.


Don Perl
Department of Hispanic Studies
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, Colorado 80639

cc Seth Osburn – Pearson Publishing – 16816 South First Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85045

In trolling on the Internet, (I Googled "field test" "New York" "2010"), I somehow stumbled on to this!

(I've saved to my hard drive and doc is attached, in case it disappears online.)

It came from:

Franklin Essex Hamilton BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services)

The embedded link to NYSED looks dead, but the info here says that each school's strand number stays the same from school years 2010-11 through 2013-14. So perhaps this is a way to predict what field test your school might be offered next year and the year after!
For example, I don't know my school's strand, but from looking at this, it seems my school is "E3." This year's field test was 5th grade math; looks like 
next year's is 5th grade ELA.


concerned NYC parent of a fourth grader/amateur detective ;)

No comments: