The above is the press release with Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Randy Dorn’s statements about assessment opt outs.
SPI Dorn says statewide testing is important. It may be important, but for whom? For the students and parents who won’t see results of an assessment that is not valid and reliable until the late summer or the following school year? For the teachers who no longer have the students in their classroom? Or for SPI Dorn and his standing with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who is also making bullying and threatening noises? Did both of them attend the same professional development session on bullying?
We have had statewide testing for decades and have never seen the number of opt outs we are seeing now. What is different? Is it the assessment? Should decision makers pay attention and take action to effectively address the situation or should they just double down with bullying, threats, punishment, and consequences?
SPI Dorn says statewide assessments are important because they help ensure all public school students receive a quality education. Great sounding statement. SPI Dorn needs to provide evidence and explain how statewide assessments ensure a quality education and specifically how SBAC ensures this better than previous statewide assessments used in Washington.
SPI Dorn says:
“But the Smarter Balanced tests, with their emphasis on real-world skills, are better than any standardized test our state has administered before.”
Like so many other statements, this sounds nice. Where is the proof that backs it up? Evidence, evidence, evidence—please provide it if you are going to make such statements. There’s not even any proof the Smarter Balanced Assessments are valid and reliable. Is that what makes them better?
SPI Dorn says:
“we are able to see where learning gaps exit and know where to target funds for additional help.”
Show when and where such assessments as SBAC have shown where learning gaps exists and how targeting funds have shown successful results in improving student academic achievement. Evidence, evidence, evidence.
Let’s not forget parent rights. Were parents consulted and involved in the planning and development of the assessments or the policies related to them? If you want to do something with a parent’s child, it is advisable to consult the parent and obtain their consent. This is a missing aspect of the education reform movement, including the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.
Why are SPI Dorn and OSPI bowing down to the federal government instead of the will of the people in the state of Washington? Since parents were not included in the decision making regarding statewide assessments, opting out is one way the people have of expressing their will. Why is it being ignored?
Instead of paying attention to the will of the people, the system, with SPI Dorn as spokesperson, is threatening and bullying the people into compliance with measures that have become not only unreasonable, but are illegal.
SPI Dorn says:
“If you don’t like the federal law, don’t refuse to have your child take the tests; call your U.S. representative and senators and tell them to change the law.”
Would it make any difference if the laws were changed? Would SPI Dorn adhere to those laws any better than he does existing law? SPI Dorn should comply with federal law and the Constitution of the United States. More than comply, he should be held accountable for not complying. Why is he allowing the federal government to make decisions about education in our state when the Constitution and the 10th Amendment clearly makes it the responsibility of the state and the people, not the federal government? The Race to the Top Assessment Grant awarded to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium required the development of a valid and reliable assessment. No proof or evidence of SBAC’s validity and reliability exists. NCLB requires the state to administer valid and reliable assessments. By using the SBAC, WA is not in compliance with federal law. Why is SPI Dorn having the state administer an assessment that does not meet the requirement of federal law? The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal interstate compact under the Compact Clause of the U. S. Constitution. Why did SPI Dorn commit and allow the state to participate in an illegal interstate compact using taxpayer dollars?
It is legal for parents to opt out of, or refuse, the assessments. Yet when they do, many get bullied and threatened. By making decisions that violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution, SPI Dorn is acting illegally by opting out of or refusing to adhere to federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Where are the sanctions and consequences for violating federal law and the U.S. Constitution? Is this a case where elected officials are exempt from the law?
While SPI Dorn points out academic and monetary consequences in his press release, parents are pointing out the consequences of imposing these assessments on their children by taking action. The consequences of such imposition will be a growing number or parents opting out or refusing to have their children subjected to these assessments.