Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The NYC Anti-Test Teacher Rebellion Grows - PS 29 in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill - Farina Territory

Posted on the Ravitch blog. Also - PS 261 in the same neighborhood is holding a rally and forum tomorrow - Thursday - Janine and Fred from CTS will be on the panel. The UFT will probably start trying to take credit for these revolts when in fact they have done nothing to encourage and support the teacher rebellion.

Let me make one prediction which I will make time and again -- the test scores will rise dramatically through NY State Ed manipulation of cut scores to make it look like things are beginning to work. That is the reason getting results takes till summer -- they have to figure out what scores they want for maximum political impact.

Brooklyn Teachers Saw the Common Core Tests, and They Say NO!

by dianeravitch
Parents are not allowed to see the Common Core tests. Teachers do see them. Here is what the teachers at PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, say about the tests.
Dear Diane,
WOOHOO! Don't you feel we've reached a turning point? It is amazing to see all of the incredible acts of resistance bubbling up all over the country!
Thank you,
Michelle Kupper
CEC 15 member
Parent, PS 29 Brooklyn
At PS 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, teachers could not wait any longer to speak their minds about the tests. For too long, they had felt the curriculum growing more restricted, the pressure mounting to get their students to perform, and an increasing dissatisfaction with the profession they so love. A group of six progressive teachers wrote a strong position paper on testing with the intention of moving the conversation along in the neighborhood and forging a path of resistance against the testing machine.
Last year, a forum was held at the school about high-stakes testing. Teachers voiced their concerns about the high-stakes nature and growing prominence of the exams. This year, a group of like-minded teachers and parents came together to form an Education Action Committee. The teachers on this committee drafted the resolution and presented it to the staff as test prep was getting underway. They had the resolution ready to go before the tests began. Out of respect for the community and the families helping to ready their children for these stressful exams, however, they decided to delay its release until after the exams were over. It became clear - with the ELA’s incredibly developmentally inappropriate content and ambiguously worded questions – that they could wait no longer to go public with their sentiments.
They advocate for parents to join the movement against high-stakes tests; they advocate that parents raise their voices and take meaningful actions such as contacting legislators and making informed decisions for their children about the tests; and they advocate for parents to gain a better sense of teachers’ sentiments about high-stakes tests and make public the conversations about tests that have been happening in private for years.
The full resolution is below. Thank you to the growing throngs of parents, students, and educators all over the country raising their voices TOGETHER!
PS 29 Teachers Resolution
April 4, 2014
Over the past decade, standardized tests have taken on greater importance in New York’s public schools. New York City’s students now take state ELA and math exams in grades 3 through 8, and their performance on these tests is linked to promotion, middle- and high-school admissions, teacher evaluations and school progress reports.
Because the tests are now aligned with the Common Core State Standards, they have become more difficult, resulting in much lower passing rates across New York City and State. The tests have also become longer: elementary school students will spend between seven and nine hours taking the state tests this month and next, and students with testing accommodations may have to sit for as many as eighteen hours of testing this spring. Moreover, during March and April, students in testing-grade classrooms can spend up to three hours per day preparing for the state tests.
As teachers, we feel the impact of these changes in our classrooms. In testing grades, the anxiety that students and teachers have about the state exams is palpable. Some students break down in tears during testing and related test-prep sessions, knowing that their performance impacts not only their promotion to the next grade, but also their chances of getting into choice middle and high schools.
Compounding the emotional turmoil, teachers in testing grades must narrow their otherwise rich curricula in order to make room for test prep. Subjects like social studies, word study and read aloud are cast aside, and valuable social-emotional learning and exploration must be limited in order to make sure that students are ready for the exams come spring.
High-stakes tests require that teachers narrow not only their curricula but also the skills they emphasize. As teachers in testing grades prepare students for the state exams, they must often put aside their emphasis on skills like elaboration and creative thinking in order to teach kids to write formulaic responses and find the one right answer.
Even the lower grades have been affected by these high-stakes tests. The pressure to prepare students for their upcoming years of testing has cut time for exploration and play. Additionally, that pressure has increased the need for students to meet, at times, developmentally inappropriate milestones in reading and writing.
Beyond the scope of individual classrooms, high-stakes tests have significant consequences for a school as a whole. As teachers are pulled from their programs to accommodate the proctoring and scoring of exams, a number of critical support services, ESL periods, ICT classrooms and specialty programs are disrupted for nearly a month.
When used correctly, we believe that assessment is a powerful tool. At PS 29, we constantly assess our students, collecting meaningful data that informs our day-to-day instruction. Unlike the high-stakes tests, our assessments improve the education we provide.
Across grades, we feel with great certainty that the rise of standardized testing—and most specifically, its high-stakes nature—has eroded real student learning time, narrowed the curriculum and jeopardized the rich, meaningful education our students need and deserve.
As such, we, the undersigned, believe that it is crucial for teachers to raise our voices on these issues, and we resolve to stand together to advocate for the elimination of the high-stakes nature of standardized tests.
Kim Van Duzer
Leah Brunski
Rachel Knight
Peter Cipparone
Sara Thorne
Susannah Sperry
Liz Sturges Cosentino
Carolyn Rivas
Sophia Soto
Kristen Adamczyk
Sarah McCaffrey
Mollie Lief
Chantelle Luk
Melissa Bandes Golden
Frank Thomas
Jackie Lichter
Tristram Carver
Jessica Albizu
Hana Pardon
Lisa Cohen
Dan Turret
Lauren McGivney
Adam Gerloff
Bradley Frome
Izzi Kane
Molly Dubow
Kathy Nobles
January Mark
Jasmine Junsay
Nadira Udairam
Aaron Berns
Monica Salazar-Austin
Rachel Certner
Alice Pack
Marisa Noiseux

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