Monday, October 8, 2018

Fred Smith:“Kids were stupified by these questions,” Fred Smith, a former test analyst for the city Department of Education, told The Post.

The UFT pendulum has now swung back to the middle, with President Mulgrew writing a Daily News Op-Ed last week, using words like "of little or no use"  "flawed" and affliction to describe the testing program.  But, then he never really offers to do the obvious: organize and join with parents to wage a successful campaign against the system.  In fact, he shamelessly says "Finally tens of thousands of parents pulled their children out of the process, joining teachers in rebelling against the test-and-punish regimen..."  That's not the order in which I remember it occurring.  With him, it's always about so-called leadership that values political leverage above truth or principle.  So the Union's decades of hedged positioning on important issues and raising false hopes leads us not to expect sincere support ..... Fred Smith
I'm leading with this comment on the UFT from Fred who dropped this through my transom after the Jets game --- Note for his final comment --- Fred works as a statistician for the NY Jets. Give him the credit for every victory and ignore the losses.
Norm, thanks for everything you do to stay ahead of the curve and inform your astute readers.

I hope you can use this from Sunday NY Post and link below it to study I did with Robin Jacobowitz, director of education projects at the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives (SUNY New Paltz).

That is, I hope you can use it to drop another shoe on the pernicious nature of an essentially covert testing program.  The work I did with Robin Jacobowitz at SUNY New Paltz should not go unnoticed for what it means to New York City.  We, in the City, for many reasons have been unable to mount a large opt-out movement.  Two of the reasons have been Mayor deBlasio and former Chancellor Farina.
Now we have a chancellor who seems to get it.  That remains to be seen.  But immediate investigation of the impact of the latest exams furnished by Questar, Inc. under a 5-year, $44 million contract with NYSED, is warranted and would be a good test (no pun intended) of where he stands.  We know the parents and guardians of 440,000 students in the citywide test population love their kids as much as any mothers or fathers outside of NYC.  But, down here, they have been kept in the dark, confused and fearful, by City Hall; too busy coping with the struggles they face each day to make testing resistance a priority; and thwarted from engaging in unified action by a insurmountable, dysfunctional school system that has an impenetrable structure.
Perhaps, the stars are aligning to challenge the testing status quo.  Who knows?  Chancellor Carranza has taken a strong stance against the value and influence of the Specialized High School Admissions Test.  He's not afraid of stirring the pot.  But when it came to questions about testing kids in grades 3 - 8, he was quick to characterize opting out as an "extreme reaction." Indeed, he would allow results on the 7th grade statewide tests to be entered into murky composites to somehow reach fairer admissions decisions.
But I digress.  If we truly believe that mass annual testing has poisoned education and caused harm to children, teachers, classrooms and schools--then as a vital first step toward recovery, I would urge parents and readers of Ed Notes and others to petition, in writing or in person (City Council Education Committee Members, in particular), to urgently seek data on how the 2017 and 2018 exams functioned.  This is a no-risk/high-reward step.  And even if we can't promptly rally our representatives to respond to the cause it remains a no-risk action for parents to pursue the information.
In a rational world, the information would be available for review to better understand how the Questar test material--reading passages and items--worked.  The focus would be on how the tests performed in practice, not on assurances that they were soundly developed and valid, the usual spin we get from Albany and City Hall about how good the tests looked on the drawing board. It's the actual evidence that we must no longer be denied--evidence that provides insight into the content of the test and quality of the questions in operation.
When we finally secured the data, uur study found that the Common Core-aligned tests, developed by Pearson and administered statewide under a five-year contract with SED (2012-2016 at a final cost of $38 million) had a crushing impact on our kids--particularly the youngest in grades 3 and 4, as well as on ELLs, students with special needs and minorities.  We can't afford to let the State and City pull the wool over our eyes again.  We have every right to the information without delay, and I believe it is our obligation to engage NYC parents in this matter.
But, I am not an organizer, Norm.  So, I'm hoping you will lend your cutting edge Ed Notes to those many discerning folks in your audience who are equally concerned about doing what's best for NYC's children, parents and schools.  Perhaps, we can set up a mechanism or forum to gain feedback and suggestions.  And I trust our collective judgment to come up with an effective course leading to the timely transparency that is needed. Whatever path we choose--Count me in!
(PS: The Jets won a laugher.  If that can happen, maybe there's hope for all of us.)

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