He Just Sued the School System

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This video is very well done and makes great points.  It highlights problems in our public school system, especially the current one-size fits all approach.  A lot of points, issues, and possible solutions are touched on in this video and … Continue reading

The Ledger, Millennials, Dear Hillary, and Free College

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In mid-August, Peter Greene posted an article called The Ledger: Lab Rat America on his Curmudgucation blog. His article addresses issues related to a video posted at the end of the article. You can view the video below. Prior to … Continue reading

A Teacher’s Professional Conscience: Objecting to the Assessments

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I have had the immense fortune of being able to be in front of children for 25 years, as of this year, as a teacher in many different capacities. It truly humbles me to know that for 25 years, parents … Continue reading

Opt Out Season is Upon Us

Assessment season is here.  That signals the beginning of the Opt Out season.  Interested parents may want to read the Opt Out Info page.

The Network for Public Education (NPE) Calls for a National Opt Out.  The NPE is supporting parents who are opting out of the 2016 state assessments and are calling for a national Opt Out.  Diane Ravitch is NPE’s board president.  Here is a video where she tells why parents should opt their students out.

Message from Diane Ravitch about Opt Out from Shoot4Education on Vimeo.

The Seattle Education blog has featured an article called Opt-Out Bus Spring Tour in Seattle.  And yes, there really is an Opt Out Bus and it does have a tour schedule.  Here are front and back pictures of the bus.

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I have met and talked with a number of parents in Washington State who are interested in opting out, have opted out in the past, and are currently opting out.  The stories I hear these parents tell of their experiences are a mixed bag.  Some parents report their child’s teacher is supportive of their opt out decision.  Others report being cornered by the school principal who has tried to talk them into changing their minds and not opt out.  And there are those who have been out-right bullied by school officials.  A few parents, in more than one school, in one district have reported that upon submitting an opt out request they were told they are required to meet with the principal and sign a form acknowledging their child will not be permitted to participate in activities like band and orchestra unless they take the state assessment.  The experience of being bullied over opt out requests and the punitive consequences for opted out students has led a few of these parents to withdraw their children from public schools and start homeschooling.

Alternatives to SAT/ACT to be Available

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The claims that ACT and SAT are aligned with the Common Core State Standards has had some parents, including homeschool parents, across the country hoping for alternative college entrance exams. It appears there is one alternative ready for students to … Continue reading

Introduction to data mining our kids

Moms Alyson Williams, Jenni White, Alisa Ellis and Christel Swasey, of Utah and Oklahoma, chat in a Google Hangout about their concerns and experiences with government data mining children without parental consent.

This also appears on Common Core: Education Without Representation.

Conservatives for Exit Exams: A lesson in high-stakes testing

Why conservatives should celebrate, not bemoan, the passage of California’s SB 172 eliminating exit exams.

Breann Treffry
Opt Out Spokane
Washington State Against Common Core

There seems to be some confusion among conservatives regarding recent developments in education reform. As previously evidenced by Congressional Republicans’ support of the Every Student Succeeds Act (a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and a bill that delivers veto power over state education plans to the U.S. Secretary of Education) and now by what we hope is a misunderstanding over the good news of California’s repeal of exit exams, many trusted conservatives appear to be doing very shallow research and a great disservice to the anti-Common Core and opt out movements.

Tests known as exit exams, while they have been around for over a decade in California, are a relatively new element of the same federal reforms that have brought us the Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, and a gutting of FERPA laws to allow student data collection and sharing on a phenomenal scale without parental knowledge or consent. All of these reforms are sustained by high-stakes testing. Testing and standards are directly linked, and the data through which policies are influenced and profits are made is gathered directly by the tests. Nevermind that these tests are often invalid, with cut scores being set after results are in, with scorers hired via Craigslist ads, with questions being psychological (not just academic) in nature, and, in the case of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, with the entire test being experimental and unproven. As many parents are becoming more informed about high-stakes testing, the numbers who choose to allow their children to participate are falling. 2015 produced Washington state’s highest opt-out numbers ever.

1554380_351907538283396_1733073351_nIn order to coerce parents and students into taking these tests, governments, districts, and schools will raise the stakes, often at the behest of private interests who profit greatly from the testing industry. The federal government threatens to withhold funding or close schools; states and districts instruct their principals to hold high pressure meetings with each parent who wants to exercise their right to opt their child out of state testing; the Washington state legislature required (thankfully, now amended) that retention be considered for THIRD graders who scored too low on the state test; state colleges are convinced to accept the SBA as an entrance exam; and so on. But by far the highest of the stakes placed on any test is requiring it as an exit exam to receive a diploma. This creates the potentiality that a student who has spent 13 years of his life working hard in school could pass all courses with a 4.0 and be denied a high school diploma because he did not take or pass one particular test. Creating this situation, as has been done in Washington state, is nothing more than a top-down coercion tactic aimed at increasing the number of students testing and, therefore, the amount of data collected and profits made through the test.

California’s SB 172 removes the highest of stakes on testing by eliminating the requirement of an exit exam. This does not mean high school students will not take tests and be required to pass them. In the state of Washington and elsewhere before exit exams and requiring a single test for graduation, performance was demonstrated in part through course finals that helped the teacher determine whether a student had sufficiently mastered a course. It is a system of greater local control and, indeed, students are still required to take and pass their finals.

The idea of local control in education, typically touted by conservatives as a desirable one, includes the notion that determinations affecting a student should be made as close to the student as possible. California’s former exit exam (CAHSEE) was determined at the state level. Washington’s exit exam is moving toward being determined at the national level (transitioning from the HSPE/EOC to the SBA). It seems the best we can hope for is that conservatives expressing support for what is a move away from local control are simply confused and misinformed. As a new legislative session and election season is nearly upon us, we can also hope that they do continue to speak up. Conservatives should be cheering California’s passage of SB 172 and supporting similar legislation in other states.

48,000+ WA Students Refused Testocracy–Here are the Opt-Out Numbers for Seattle

This is a re-posting of an article published on Seattle Education.  It is re-posted here with permission of the author, Carolyn Leith, and Dora Taylor who maintains Seattle Education.

Seattle opt-out numbers for 2014-2015. It’s on!

hale_opt_out_kiro_smallSeattle had an incredible first year resisting the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).

To see what occurred statewide, see 48,000+ students refused the testocracy in Washington State by opting out. This isn’t an “anomaly”, it’s an uprising.

Let’s take a look at the final numbers for Seattle and see what happened. It’s also worth noting Seattle’s opt out numbers turned out to be higher than what was initially reported by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) in July.

11th Grade

Seattle’s 11th graders captured the media’s attention with their willingness to step up and opt out. This became such a phenomenon John Oliver mentioned Nathan Hale in his profanity laced take down of high stakes testing.

What do the final numbers look like? A mind blowing 76.1% of 11th graders opted out of the English Language Arts test (ELA) and 80.5% for Math.

For ELA, this translates into 2,425 students.
ela1For Math, this translates into 2,557 students.
math1What’s also interesting is a significant number of 3rd through 8th grade students opted out. After the OSPI press release, the narrative became parents of 3rd through 8th grade students must be OK with the SBAC.

Granted, the final numbers aren’t as stunning as the 11th grade. That said, the final count was high enough to throw a wrench into the system. Each grade, from 3rd to 8th, failed to meet the 95% participation requirement. That’s quite an accomplishment for the first year of resistance to a brand new assessment.

It’s important to remember that these are the kids who will face the SBAC as a graduation requirement. Now is the time to rise up and push back on it, before more harm is done.

Below is a break down of the opt out numbers by grade for Seattle Public School (SPS) students. (Click on the image to enlarge. Opt outs are listed as “No Score”)

3rd Grade

OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade” ELA. Student refusal = 118.
In final report, total students with no score = 235. Total refusal rate of 5.3%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 3rd grade Math”. Student refusal = 121.
In final report, total students with no score = 245. Total refusal rate of 5.5%
ela3math3
4th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade ELA”.  Student refusal = 145.
In final report, total students with no score = 235.  Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 4th grade Math”  Student refusal = 144.
In final report, total students with no score = 247.  Total refusal rate of 5.8%
ela4ela45th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 167.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.0%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 5th grade Math”. Student refusal = 171.
In final report, total students with no score = 269. Total refusal rate of 6.7%
ela5math5
6th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 178.
In final report, total students with no score = 206. Total refusal rate of 5.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 6th grade Math”. Student refusal = 200.
In final report, total students with no score = 241. Total refusal rate of 6.5%
ela6math6
7th Grade
OSPI Not Tested Report for 7th grade ELA. Student refusal = 235.
In final report, total students with no score = 284. “Total refusal rate of 8.3%”
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 7th grade Math”. Student refusal = 238.
In final report, total students with no score = 275. Total refusal rate of 8.1%
ela7math7
8th Grade
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade ELA”. Student refusal = 312.
In final report, total students with no score = 359. Total refusal rate of 10.6%
OSPI “Not Tested Report for 8th grade Math”. Student refusal = 346.
In final report, total students with no score = 386. Total refusal rate of 11.4%
ela8math8
Another interesting trend, the higher the grade, the larger the refusal rate. Third grade starts out with a solid refusal rate of 5%, by eighth grade the refusal rate climbs to 10% for ELA and 11% for math.

How many SPS students opted out of the SBAC?

For the ELA assessment, the number is 3,985.

For the Math assessment, the number is 4,220.

Not a bad start resisting a new assessment many parents had never heard of.
you-canCarolyn Leith

 

 

 

 

Common Core System

This is the fourth in a series about the report released by American Principles in Action, ThePulse2016, and Cornerstone Policy Research Action.  Permission has been granted for text from Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates to be published on Stop Common Core in Washington State.  The Executive Summary from the report was published in the first post.    The second post in the series was The Need for a Scorecard.  The third post in the series was The Public-Private Partnership: How Private Entities Developed the Common Core and Enlisted the Federal Government to Drive It Into the States.  Here is the third section.

3. Common Core System

The Common Core Standards do not exist in isolation. The stated plan of Common Core’s owners and funders and of the federal government is that the assessments required by No Child Left Behind would align with the Common Core and that teachers, schools, and school districts would be evaluated in significant part according to how students perform on those assessments. The states would continue to build out massive student databases that the federal government had incentivized beginning in 2002.45 The data from the assessments (and from other sources) would be, and is, fed into these databases. The goal is to track teacher-student connections for purposes of performance evaluation, and to track all students from early education into the workforce.46

Standardized testing deserves special mention. From kindergarten through 12th grade, depending on the state, district, and school, children may be subjected to as many as 113 standardized tests.47 In a single year, class time devoted to preparing for and taking such tests can amount to over one month. This is in large part due to No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements and attempts by administrators to prepare children to do well on those tests, sometimes by providing for additional tests.

But it gets worse.

Often, such tests have very little instructional value. As Prof. Christopher Tienken explains, to be useful for instruction, test results must be returned quickly to teachers and parents, who need to see a child’s actual questions and answers.48 Standardized tests fail on these counts. For most Common Core students, the lost instructional time is precious time wasted. This will not close achievement gaps, nor will it prepare children for college.

UntitledThe footnotes are available in the full report.  You can download the full report by clicking on Common Core Report: Grading the 2016 GOP Candidates.

ECAA Talking Points

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American Principles in Acton’s talking points about the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) are posted below.  You can download the four page pdf file by clicking here:  ECAA Talking Points. It appears ECAA is scheduled to be heard on the … Continue reading