Archives For standardized test scores

TestingTomorrow, April 1st, students across NY State will take the second year of Common Core aligned tests.  Last year’s test administration was a disaster, but continue rollout this year of the standards revealed what a deeply flawed project they are. The resistance, however, is growing: parents are opting their children out of the tests in large numbers, and some teachers are refusing to administer them.*

MORE adds its voice with the following statement about why we oppose the common core:

MORE is opposed to the Common Core standards because they are inextricably linked to a reform package that includes punitive high-stakes testing, unproven and unreliable measurements of student and teacher performance and scripted curriculum produced not by teachers, but by corporations. After 30 years of manufactured crises and failed solutions, the elements of this package, including the standards, are being used as ideological battering rams to attack the very concept of public education, replacing it with a profit-making privatization scheme.

The Common Core standards are undemocratic. They were written without meaningful teacher input, and educators do not have the freedom to use them as they see fit.   Continue Reading…

Change the Stakes
Changethestakes.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2014

CONTACT:
Janine Sopp, 917-541-6062, janinesopp@gmail.com
Nancy Cauthen, 646-438-1233, nkcauthen@earthlink.net

Number of NYC Parents Refusing State Tests Expected to Triple in 2014

New York City –What began two years ago as a small pocket of resistance has burgeoned into a full-blown protest movement: public school parents are demanding an end to the excessive use of standardized tests and top-down, corporate-backed reforms.  Change the Stakes estimates that three times as many NYC school children as last year – perhaps exceeding 1,000 – will refuse to take the annual English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams that begin next week.

At the Brooklyn New School, well over 200 students – nearly 80% of students in testing grades – will not take this year’s exams; last year only 4 BNS students opted out of the tests. The estimated test refusal rate at the Earth School in Manhattan is 50%, compared with 30% last year. At P.S. 446 in Brownsville, as many as 25 3rd grade parents have submitted refusal letters. At the Academy of Arts and Letters in Fort Greene, the number is 40, representing 75% of the 3rd grade. Principals say they expect the numbers to continue to rise until the exams begin April 1st.

Although children not taking the tests span the full range from 3rd to 8th grade, parents of younger children often refuse the tests because of changes in their child’s attitude toward school as a result of the testing.

Roseanne Cuffy-Scott, parent of a 3rd grader in the East Village said, “My son used to love going to school until his evenings were filled with homework assignments that confused him with complicated and poorly written math and reading questions. His assignments are stressful for both him and myself. I have to spend hours explaining concepts that he’s not ready for developmentally.” As for the tests, she said her son is nervous and “is fearful he will have to attend summer school or repeat third grade.”

Many parents refusing to have their children tested encounter supportive principals and teachers, while others are not so fortunate. Samantha De Los Santos, parent of a 3rd grader with special needs in Queens’ District 25, wants to opt her son out but says administrators and staff are pressuring her to allow her son to be tested. “They’re telling me he’ll be scored as failing if he doesn’t take the test and that he might not be promoted. They’re really scaring me.”

The lack of direction from the NYC Department of Education has led to uncertainty among administrators about how to respond to families refusing the tests; parents are still seeking guidance from the DOE. Although the new Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, has made clear her intent to be more responsive to parents, her department’s efforts have been hampered by the transition falling in the middle of the school year and pressure to tackle a multitude of issues at once.

The information vacuum has fostered misinformation, with students being threatened with various punishments – being forced to attend summer school or denied promotion as well as being excluded from graduation ceremonies and other school celebrations – for opting out of the tests.

But many parents refuse to be dissuaded from protecting their children from a public education system gone wrong. Dawn Babbush, a 3rd grade parent in Brooklyn’s District 13, asks “What has happened to our schools? How did it get this bad? The voices of trusted educators and caring parents have been completely disregarded.  Our children are being subjected to a curriculum that lacks joy and life – it’s scripted and standardized and full of test prep. Test scores are used to sort students and rank teachers, creating a climate of competition and fear. It’s no wonder teachers feel pressure to teach to the test.”

Ms. Babbush added, “This is not the education we want for our children and we will not stand for it any longer. Parents have a voice, and our elected officials need to recognize us. We’ll be paying attention come November.”

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Change the Stakes (changethestakes.org) is a group of New York City parents and educators promoting alternatives to high stakes-testing.

"Students are more than a test score teachers are more than a test score schools are more than a test score WE are more than a test score"

Billionaires and politicians tend to forget this.

Calling all NYC Metro community activists (“voices of resistance”), families, students, civil rights advocates, voters, immigrant families, policymakers and legislators, union members, teachers, and faith leaders…

This rally and march is part of the national Testing Resistance & Reform Spring campaign. We aim to support the efforts of parents, teachers and community members to have public schools that work for the community.

Join us on May 17, 2014 in NYC!
City Hall Park (permit pending)

2:00 p.m.
Click here to RSVP Today! Continue Reading…

Randi-VAM

by Jia Lee for MORE

UFT Chapter Leader of The Earth school

Recently, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, surprised many a disillusioned public school teacher with her new mantra: “Vam is a Sham”. This is a major shift from her previous agreement and collaboration with Race to the Top policy enforcers. She admits that she has always been leery of value-added “but we rolled up our sleeves, acted in good faith and tried to make it work.” Now, she’s disillusioned. Welcome to the world we have been living in since this all started. We now wait for a public statement by UFT leaders.

Whatever the reason, educators, parents and students welcome this realization and acknowledgement that the use of faulty metrics to measure the value of students, teachers and schools has dangerous consequences. One of the very reasons why the grassroots union caucus, Movement of Rank and File Educators, formed last year is due to the acknowledgement by educators in the ranks who already read the warning signs.

With this welcomed change of heart and, now, staunch campaign against the use of value added measures, we are aware that this could affect contract negotiations in local districts, and the union also plans to lobby the Education Department. We are also rightfully cautious, yet hopeful, that we will not be faced with the patterns of our past. With an entire generation of new teachers, many of whom were not a part of the previous contract negotiations, will we be facing concessions to our working conditions? Will we be told to continue waiting for the curriculum or improved standardized state tests that align undemocratically set Common Core Standards?

We are certain that the grassroots efforts of groups such as MORE, as well as with the movement of parents in New York City who have risen against the over reliance on test scores, have contributed to Randi’s public change of heart. We will be here to provide our experiences and support in efforts to ensure that our teaching conditions positively impact our students’ learning conditions. MORE has generated alliances with parents and students who have felt the consequences of a leadership that had, for far too long, ignored the truth about high stakes testing and the faulty metrics of value added measures.

Last year, MORE published as part of its election platform;

“Testing has narrowed the curriculum our students are being offered. Quality teaching and education is developmentally appropriate and responsive to diverse student needs and abilities. A systemic obsession with quantitative data has increased teachers’ paperwork and stripped them of their professional discretion”.

Our leadership took longer to come to this realization:

Here’s a brief glimpse of AFT leadership attitudes and alliances past and present.

In November of 2009, Randi issued this statement of support in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s press release, “Foundation Commits $335 Million to Promote Effective Teaching and Raise Student Achievement” : “This process has been a thoughtful, deliberative, collaborative way to understand—and then design and implement—systems that improve teaching and learning. These districts, working with their unions and parents, were willing to think out of the box, and were awarded millions of dollars to create transparent, fair, and sustainable teacher effectiveness models.”

The National Education Association president, Dennis Van Roekel, also issued a statement, “Collaboration and multilevel integration are important when it comes to transforming the teaching profession…These grants will go far in providing resources to help raise student achievement and improve teacher effectiveness. Our local NEA affiliates are working daily to help improve the practice of teaching.”

Our national teacher union leaders taking funds to collaborate with problematic policies that have no reliable evidence for raising student achievement and improving teacher effectiveness, back in 2009, is what started the most vocal of educators, researchers, policy analysts and even psychometricians grumbling. By August 27, 2010, the Economic Policy Institute published an open letter, Problems with Using Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers.

Just a little less than a year ago, Randi collaborated with Vicki Philips of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to author this article Six Steps to Effective Teacher Development and Evaluation (March 25, 2013) (Note that the article states: “Sponsored content by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and American Federation of Teachers.”) Under the subsection: “Include evidence of teaching and student learning from multiple sources”, they write:

“The Gates Foundation’s MET project (much but not all of which the AFT agrees with) has found that combining a range of measures—not placing inordinate weight on standardized test scores—yields the greatest reliability and predictive power of a teacher’s gains with other students. And the AFT and its affiliates are exploring ways to accurately determine what measures best serve as a proxy for our work.” Still showing outward public collaboration with the Gates Foundation, funder of ill-conceived high stakes testing and teacher evaluation policies, continued to prompt parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and by this time, the punitive practices imbued by these policies have sent invaluable educators leaving the profession or fighting for MORE.

Then, on January 10, 2014, Randi posted in the Huffington Post “Teaching and Learning Over Testing” alone and not associated with the Gates Foundation. She states that the AFT has long known that VAM is unreliable and that they have always questioned the use of test scores to evaluate teachers. The UFT’s own high stakes testing task force in 2007 came to the same conclusion. This is contrary to the earlier co sponsored written articles, but what matters is the shift that has happened.

While MORE stands in solidarity with our union president’s newly discovered position, we can not forget that she has helped negotiate contracts which include the flawed use of test scores to determine a “teacher’s  effectiveness” in districts around the country. This was against the wishes of her own rank and file and the advice of educational experts. She can not undo the damage that has already been done by her support of test based measures. In addition, Randi continues to relentlessly advocate for Common Core, while the standards are unproven, not field tested, were not created by with the input of public school teachers and parents, and have caused even more reliance on high stakes testing.

Will Michael Mulgrew admit to the truth and take back what he said just a year ago at a delegate assembly?- That the growth model (VAM) they were creating for the local measures of student learning component was a fair and excellent way to evaluate teachers because “In any class…you ought to be able to move kids from point A, wherever they began, to point B, someplace that showed some progress.”

At the November UFT Delegate Assembly, a MORE delegate made the argument that the current teacher evaluation system “Advance” is unviable, and UFT President Michael Mulgrew scowled. If Randi can have a change of heart… say it with us, Michael Mulgrew, “VAM IS A SHAM”.

"It's NOT lack of curriculum or PR Reverse is rotten to the core! There's no right way to judge teachers on test scores"

Too Little, Too Late, Mike!

Support of Union Leaders is Sought in Call for Moratorium on New NYS ‘Test-Prep’ Teacher Evaluation Scheme

MORE and Change the Stakes Team Up for “Win Back Wednesday” Rally at UFT Delegate Assembly, UFT Headquarters, Oct. 9

 For Immediate Release

NEW YORK — On October 9th at 4:00 p.m, activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters to protest the emphasis on high-stakes testing that education advocates denounce for harming students, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by two grassroots organizations: the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), known as ‘the social justice caucus’ of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who oppose reducing education to the pursuit of higher standardized test scores.

According to organizers, the rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because public education must be “won back” from the profit-driven entities behind high-stakes testing and school privatization schemes and returned to actual stakeholders: parents, students, and educators. Wednesday is the monthly UFT Delegate Assembly, when representatives elected by rank and file educators from every school in the city traditionally meet to vote on key decisions.

Organizers are hopeful that union leadership will change course, breaking alliances formed in recent years with self-described education “reformers,” whose agenda typically focuses on increased high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools. To highlight growing opposition to these policies, UFT members throughout NYC will wear anti-high-stakes testing stickers and buttons in their own schools on October 9th, and then gather for a united rally at UFT headquarters downtown after school.

“Our children’s education should never be thought of as ‘common’ or ‘standardized,’” said Mike Schirtzer, UFT delegate and MORE member, referring to the new Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluation system. “Recent educational policies have put a dangerous emphasis on high-stakes testing. The results? A narrowed curriculum. A climate of fear and competition in our classrooms. Students learning to bubble in the right answer, not how to think critically.”

“All too often, our leadership has been complicit in this assault on educational quality and equality,” Schirtzer said. “As the nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can and should lead the charge for real innovation in schools. Rank and file teachers and public school parents want leadership to say loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok. We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be a leading voice for real reform.”

Rally organizers will call on union leadership to demand a “real path to better public schools,” including reduced class sizes; a renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, and physical education; and funding for afterschool programs and wrap-around programs.

Jia Lee, NYC public school teacher and parent worries that, “Standardized testing only gives my son’s teacher this information: if he answered an item correctly or incorrectly. In my son’s school, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning; it’s never punitive as in these new high stakes tests. He doesn’t need the burden of thinking that his incorrect answers will cost his teacher her job.”

“While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new ‘reform’ policies,” Schirtzer added, “our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say ‘enough is enough’! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

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By Mike Schirtzer

Teacher/UFT Delegate

Leon M. Goldstein High School- Brooklyn

2013 MORE Vice Presidential Candidate for UFT

 

On October 9th at 4:00 p.m., activists from all over the city will gather at UFT headquarters (52 Broadway NYC) to protest the emphasis on high stakes testing that is harming our children, educators, and public schools. This action will be led by the grassroots organizations of Movement of Rank & File Educators (MORE), the Social Justice Caucus of the UFT, and Change the Stakes, a group of parents who refuse to allow their children to be measured by standardized test scores.

 

The rally is being called “Win Back Wednesday” because it’s time for public education to be reclaimed from the profit-driven “reformers” and returned to the real stakeholders; parents, students, and teachers. Our children’s education should never be thought of as “common”, “standardized”, or “data-driven”. Recent educational policies that have swept our city and nation have put an emphasis on high-stakes testing that narrows curriculum, turns teachers into test-prep machines, and takes the fun out of learning. Common Core standards, Danielson rubrics, and value added measures are untested, unproven schemes that have been developed with little to no input from public school teachers or parents. It’s time for us to take back our schools from those who seek to exploit our children. Public education should never be a for-profit endeavor- it should be  the foundation of a community where children feel secure and receive an education that provides an opportunity for them to develop critical thinking skills and express creativity.

 

We are joining together to let the public know that our teachers, students, and public schools are “MORE than a SCORE”. The new evaluation system called “Advance”  is rating teachers based on test scores for courses they don’t even teach. There is no conclusive evidence that rating teachers based on test scores will make them better instructors or have a positive effect on our children’s education. The worst part of the new evaluation scheme is that 40% of a teacher’s rating will be based on test score growth, algorithms that have never been proven to accurately determine if a teacher is “effective”. 40% or not, New York State Education Commissioner John King has declared that any teacher who is rated ineffective on the test based measures will be rated ineffective overall. Our education leaders have somehow decided that 40% equals 100%.

 

Common Core standards and the new teacher evaluation system have led to a proliferation of testing that is having a terrible effect on our youngest students. Children enter school with a natural curiosity to learn about the world we live in, but constant preparation for, and execution of standardized testing takes has taken that from them. Students need to have a chance to develop skills, and we must engage them in their innate love of learning.

 

When many veteran teachers entered the public school system the emphasis was on helping students to foster their “multiple intelligences” and talents. Learning was designed to be differentiated based on student’s individualized needs. Now our school system has fallen under the dark cloud of standardized testing and “one size fits all” standards which wrongly assumes that all children learn the same way. This is a tragic turn in public education, driven by nefarious preference for profits over what’s best for our children. While corporations and consultants makes millions of dollars, our students are conditioned to take tests, not to provide solutions to real world problems. This is not what education is about, nor can our democracy thrive or survive if this trend continues.

 

We have chosen the UFT headquarters for the rally because we believe they can be the sole voice of real reform. As nation’s largest, most powerful union local, the UFT can lead the charge for legitimate educational innovation ensuring that the real stakeholders- parents, students, and teachers – have a voice in how to best educate our children. We will be there to urge  the UFT leadership to join us in calling for a moratorium of the new hastily implemented evaluation system. Instead of a champion for the Common Core standards and “Advance”, rank and file teachers and public school parents want an advocate for children that says loudly and unambiguously what we all know to be true: the testing regime has run amok.

 

We need our union  leadership to call for real reform, smaller class size, renewed focus on the arts, music, civics, physical education and funding for afterschool programs. While millions of dollars are being wasted on implementing these new “reform” policies, our children lack the services they deserve and our educators enter their fifth year without a contract. The UFT leadership must use its power to say “enough is enough”! We are calling on them to join us in telling the public, politicians, and those that say they care about education that our children, teachers, and public schools are more than a test score!

Details and Facebook Link Here

Lisa North

Teacher/Delegate

PS 3 Brooklyn

As s member of the  2007 UFT Task Force on Testing, I find it unconscionable that our current UFT leadership has agreed to an evaluation system that uses test scores to evaluate teachers when their own 2007 Task Force  on testing states clearly,”Do not use student test scores to evaluate teachers. The use of data from student test scores on standardized tests to evaluate teachers may appear simple, be intuitively appealing, but it is wrong.”

 

It was our UFT leadership that made the agreement with Albany to use test scores to evaluate teachers and in fact to this day they say that it is good to use test data in our evaluations.  Yet, in their own Task Force on Testing they stated that  there is NO research that shows that  a single test should be used to evaluate teachers or students.  Read this section taken from the report:

 

“Professional organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Council of Teachers of English and the National Parent Teacher Association, have all come out against high stakes testing. The American Education Research Association has stated that tests are always fallible and should never be used as high stakes instruments.

Yet wrongheaded proposals from (former) Chancellor Klein, elected officials, corporate heads and other non-educators who do not understand the limitations of the test data continue to call for the misuse of student test scores in order to make important decisions about children as early as kindergarten. They are also proposing misusing these test results as an evaluative tool for teachers, as a factor in determining teacher salaries and as a basis for granting tenure.”

 

Only a few years after their own report, it was the UFT leadership, not Joel Klein and corporate leaders, that signed on to something that they know is not a valid way to evaluate teachers.  It is time for the UFT leadership  to join with community and education groups that are already fighting back against the the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, students, and schools.  Students are harmed when the curriculum is narrowed to subjects that are tested.

Please read the full report from UFT task force here

http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-report-2007-04-high-stakes-testing.pdf

 

If you believe teachers are “MORE than a SCORE’ and the new evaluation system needs to be halted immediately, join us for our day of action on 10/9 Win Back Wednesday! There will be a rally at UFT headquarters at 4:00pm on 10/9 at 52 Broadway NYC. Let’s remind our leadership of the findings of their report

http://morecaucusnyc.org/2013/09/26/day-of-action-toolkit/

"MORE teaching, Less Testing!"

A Sentiment Parents, Students, and Educators Can Enthusiastically Agree On!