Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Students aren't guinea pigs

The parent anti-testing movement grows. I have lots of stuff to post on pearson field tests from Fred Smith and our chgange the stakes listserve and will try to do so soon.
In the meantime check out our change the stakes blog.

Albany Times Union letter re field testing

Letter: Students aren't guinea pigs

To the editor

Published 7:58 p.m., Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recently, I received a memorandum from the state Education Department informing school districts that students must participate in an additional round of field tests this fall.

For those unfamiliar with field tests, let me explain: The Education Department has a $32 million contract with Pearson to design its state standardized tests. To do that, Pearson embeds "field test" questions in the test given each spring. Students in grades 3-8 take tests over three days, three hours each day, in English/language arts and math for a total of 18 hours over two weeks.

These new field tests are separate, stand-alone tests that will be given to the same students this fall. In other words, our children are being used as virtual guinea pigs by Pearson to develop the state tests.

When I inquired whether an "opt out" clause would be offered to parents so they could allow their children to be excused from the field tests, I was informed by Ken Wagner, deputy education commissioner, there isn't one. This bothers me as an educator and as a parent of four children.

Perhaps I will take the lead of Dr. John King, state education commissioner, whose children won't be in a school where this field testing will occur because they go to private school. Maybe I'll keep my children home.

Actually, I may be on to something. I did a little research, and it appears I am far from the only critic of Pearson, the "high stakes testing" or the use of our children. Groups like "Change the Stakes" and "ParentVoicesNY" are speaking out and boycotting these tests.

In a recent commentary by Dr. King ("Give students their moment," Sept. 5), he writes of the so-called "education reform agenda" including teacher evaluations and the Common Core Standards: "These changes will be felt in every classroom in the state." This statement is not true, as private schools are not subject to these mandates and are therefore exempt. Besides the obvious hypocrisy, it seems patently unethical to not allow an "opt out" clause for the field tests being foisted upon students attending public schools.



Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Letter-Students-aren-t-guinea-pigs-3905545.php#ixzz280BQRymK

Help spread the word.

The Niagara Regional PTA passed an emergency resolution to submit at the New York State PTA convention this fall. The resolution, see link below, calls for  a move away from 3-8 testing and the elimination of teacher and principal evaluation by test scores. Press release attached.  If local PTAs would support this resolution and send out press releases about it, it would be huge.

Link to the Resolution:

This is the link to the press release

A great article that refers to the resolution:
New teacher evaluations start to hurt students


Norm Scott

Twitter: normscott1

Education Notes

Grassroots Education Movement

Education columnist, The Wave

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