Posts Tagged ‘high-stakes testing’

Please share this testing survey with 5th-6th grade parents/students

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

High-Stakes Testing; The Student Voice Flyer

PLEASE SHARE THIS IMPORTANT SURVEY WITH CPS 5th and 6th grade PARENTS AND STUDENTS!

Deadline April 23.

Dear Parent or Guardian,

I am conducting a research study entitled “High-Stakes Testing: The Student Voice” with 5th and 6th grade student in the Chicago Area. We are interested in examining the student perspective of high-stakes standardized tests. Ultimately, my hope is to learn if students feel that high-stakes testing affects them emotionally or academically. We are requesting that you allow your child to participate.

Participants in the study will be asked to complete an online survey which consists of 45 questions. Afterwards, 10-25% of the students will be selected to participate in a one-on-one interview. The total time to participate in the study will be approximately two hours. Students who participate will complete the survey online.

There are no foreseeable risks to participating in the study.

Names will be used in filling out the study’s forms, but all responses will be anonymous. No one at the school will have access to any of the information collected. Surveys will be kept on Loyola University server and will be accessible only to the researchers.

Participation in the study is entirely voluntary and there will be no penalty for not participating. All students for whom we have parent consent will be asked if they wish to participate and only those who agree will complete the forms. Moreover, participants will be free to stop taking part in the study at any time.

Loyola University Chicago’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) has approved this study. Should you have any questions about the study please contact Dr. Noah Sobe at (312) 915-6954 or, if you have questions about your rights as a research participant, you can contact the Loyola University Office of Research Services at (773) 508-2689.

Confidentiality will be maintained to the degree permitted by the technology used. Your participation in this online survey involves risks similar to a person’s everyday use of the Internet.

Please print this letter for your records.

Sincerely,
Julianna Cechowski
Culture of Education and Policy Studies
Loyola University Chicago

PSAT for 1-28-14: Time to ICE the ISAT?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

ICEtheISAT

Please plan to attend this important forum next week, and share the Facebook event and flyer with your networks!

 More Than a Score presents a free public forum

What's Up with Testing in CPS?

Is NWEA the new ISAT?

More testing, less testing?

What does it all mean for opting out?

When: Thursday, February 6, 2014 6:30 to 8 pm

Where: Haas Park (2402 N. Washtenaw at Fullerton – ample free street parking)

We'll talk about:

  • the many testing changes in CPS this year,

  • how these changes may affect opting out and other testing resistance activities, and

  • better ways to assess student progress.

For more information please go to www.morethanascorechicago.org

or e-mail us at info@morethanascorechicago.org

Thanks!

NYC Council passes anti-testing resolution

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

pizzaNot convinced about the pizza, but check this out:

Press Contact: Jane Hirschmann, 917 679 8343

HISTORIC VOTE BY CITY COUNCIL ON HIGH-STAKES TESTING

The New York City Council passed today Resolution 1394.  This is historic because it is the first time that a legislative body has sent a clear directive to the DOE, NYSED and Governor that high stakes standardized tests must be replaced by multiple measures.  As heard in testimony endorsing the Resolution, “Learning is complex, assessment should be too. A one-size fits all approach to learning and testing fails children, teachers and families.  And, as we have seen, the so-called testing reform approach used by Bloomberg/Klein for the last 12 years resulted in many negative unintended consequences and failed to deliver quality education.

Resolution 1394 was modeled on a national piece of legislation that has been endorsed by many Boards of Education across the country, and more than 500 organizations. In Texas alone more than 80% of the school boards endorsed a similar position. “The New York City resolution is an important step in the growing, grassroots-powered national movement seeking to replace testing overkill with better, educationally sound forms of assessment. Across the U.S. parents, students, teachers, community leaders and, increasingly, local elected officials, are saying ‘Enough is enough!’ to politically mandated standardized exam misuse and overuse, said Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest)

“Our New York City electeds have taken the lead by passing Resolution 1394, ” said Evelyn Cruz of Time Out >From Testing. “The City Council is sending a loud and clear message that we have had enough of this testing mania which drives curriculum. When these tests have such high stakes attached to them —graduation, promotion, school grade, teacher evaluations, school closings and even principal bonuses—there is no question that teachers will teach to the test. This is not a 21st Century education. We want more for our children.”

“All of us think our children should be challenged by difficult tasks in school and that the performance of teachers in the classroom should be judged by the highest standards, but there is no scientific validity whatsoever to the use of high stakes tests as the primary instrument for evaluating children and teachers. We cannot kid ourselves that just because high-stakes testing has become predominant in our schools, it is moral or even rational,” said Jeff Nichols of Change the Stakes.

” This action by the City Council is of central importance to all those who care about public education. Since NYC has been seen as the leader of the so called “reform” movement, the fact that our City Council took action will be regarded nationally as a critical moment—turning around a 12 year failed experiment, said Dani Gonzalez, Co-chair of Time Out From Testing.

Chicago parents to CPS: use report card grades, not test scores, for promotion

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

gradeDminusPress release **** For immediate release *** November 12, 2013

Parents Give district a “D” for its test-focused policY

Chicago, IL: Today, tens of thousands of Chicago Public Schools (CPS)parents will flock to their children’s schools to pick up student report cards and meet with teachers. They look forward to these meetings as an important step in strengthening the home-school connection. Report card pick-up day is the best opportunity most parents have to learn how to help their children succeed in school from the people that know the most about how to do that – their children’s teachers.

Parents take the report cards home and study them. They discuss them with their children – sometimes those are happy discussions, sometimes not so happy! Parents sign the back of the report card and slide the cards into their children’s backpacks, often taking that moment to resolve to do more to help their children learn and improve in the weeks ahead.

This process has been meaningful to parents for decades, but it’s been increasingly pushed aside as school districts like CPS give standardized test scores more and more power over students, teachers and schools.

Parents from the Chicago group More Than a Score disagree with this trend, and have presented CPS with an alternative promotion policy that relies primarily on report card grades and uses standardized test scores in the way they were intended to be used, as diagnostic tools and not high-stakes “gotcha” measures.

More Than a Score parents give CPS a “D” grade for a promotion policy that continues to focus too much on test scores and ignores the value of report cards.

Report cards are the only evaluations that look at the students’ work over time and across all areas of learning. They are the only evaluations done by experienced, qualified adults who personally observe and assess each student’s progress,” said CPS parent Julie Fain.“That’s the kind of information that makes sense to parents and actually helps children. When we get our children’s standardized test scores at the end of the year, we don’t get to see the questions or their answers. We have no idea whether they missed a certain concept or were just distracted for part of the test. In any case, our children are so over-tested that these results have become less and less useful to parents.”

The CPS promotion policy begins and ends with the state test score,” said Julie Woestehoff, head of Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE). “Most of the information from report cards is ignored by CPS when end-of-the-year promotion decisions are made.”

I believe standardize testing is a harsh way to keep a child from thinking outside the box. All our children have different needs, speeds, and challenges. I have witnessed up close and personal the emotional stress testing causes – creating a lack of self-esteem while labeling my children as dumb only because they did not meet your standardized laws. I support my children by opting them out of testing,” said Rousemary Vega, a CPS parent.

Parents who have opted their children out of standardized tests are also confused and concerned because the new promotion policy just swapped one high-stakes test (the SAT-10), for another (NWEA), making opting out more difficult.

Since the promotion policy was first implemented in 1996 by Paul Vallas, it has focused on test scores on the Iowa test, then the IGAP, ISAT, and SAT 10. The new proposal substitutes the NWEA, which CPS officials say is just temporary until they replace it with the PARCC Common Core tests.

How are we supposed to keep track of this alphabet soup of tests?” asks Linda Schmidt, a CPS parent who notified her child’s school at the beginning of this school year that she does not want her student to take the NWEA. “Will my child be held back next August because I made a decision last September?”

Policymakers often cite the subjective nature of teacher grades as a reason for giving them less weight than standardized tests scores. However, test questions are written by subjective human beings, too, and test makers consistently state that their tests should not be used to make high-stakes decisions about children. The manual for the SAT-10, which CPS used last year to retain students, states that test scores “should be just one of the many factors considered and probably should receive less weight than factors such as teacher observation, day-to-day classroom performance, maturity level, and attitude” – just the kind of information in report cards.

“What’s wrong with report cards?” asked Wanda Hopkins, the parent of a CPS high school student. “If CPS does not trust teacher grades, they need to explain why and what they are doing to fix it. I trust my child’s teacher more than I trust for-profit test companies.”  

Parents with More Than a Score believe that our proposed promotion policy offers an alternative to the CPS test-based promotion policy that respects input from teachers, avoids the pitfalls of standardized test misuse and retention, makes sense to parents, and – most importantly – provides a higher quality evaluation of each student’s progress and needs.

See more at www.morethanascorechicago.org.

What parents want in a renewed NCLB

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Signing upToday’s Tribune editorial proposed that a renewed No Child Left Behind law be based on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s “waiver” program, by which they mean more testing and “accountability.”

I wrote this response (though the Tribune has not printed one of my letters in quite a while…):


The Tribune’s editorial proposal that a renewed No Child Left Behind law be based on Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s “waiver” program is not supported by research, best practices, or most U.S. parents.

For example, test-score based teacher evaluation is strongly discouraged by experts at the National Academy of Sciences and elsewhere as unreliable and potentially damaging.

The Tribune’s overall idea of “accountability” is rejected by most Americans. For example, 54 percent polled by Gallup in 2010 agreed that the best thing to do about low-performing schools is to keep the school open with the same staff and give it more support. Only 17 percent wanted to close the school and reopen it with a new principal, and just 13 percent wanted to replace it with a charter school.

These findings are echoed in a July 2013 poll of public school parents by the American Federation of Teachers, which found that 77 percent support strong public schools over expanded vouchers and charters. 57 percent agreed that there is too much emphasis on testing today.

No one has more at stake in better schools than parents, but parents want improvements to be based on responsible, effective policies, not the misguided and destructive initiatives of Secretary Duncan’s waiver program.

Most parents support fair, adequate school funding, smaller class sizes, and experienced teachers who are respected as professionals. We want our children to be treated as individuals, not data points. And we refuse to be used as pawns in corporate reformers’ “parental choice” game. Parents across the U.S. want a real, substantial role in all decisions that affect our children’s schools, such as the one provided by Chicago’s local school council system.

PSAT for 5-11-13: Sign this Declaration to Rebuild America

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

psat_logoI know, there are a lot of petitions and sign-ons these days. Do they do any good?

This one seems especially comprehensive and is already signed by a good mix of people and organizations. It demonstrates that the message of true education progressives is becoming clearer and more unified.

The full Declaration to Rebuild America is too long to reproduce here, but its main aspects are very similar, for example, to Parents Across America’s statement of beliefs.

The Declaration includes seven principles including opposition to school privatization and high-stakes testing, as well as the need for equitable funding and a more engaging curriculum. The Declaration makes recommendations in seven areas including better assessments, effective discipline, and meaningful engagement of parents and others in setting school policy.

The statement concludes: “As a nation, we’re failing to provide the basics our children need for an opportunity to learn. Instead, we have substituted a punitive high-stakes testing regime that seeks to force progress on the cheap. But there is no shortcut to success. We must change course before we further undermine schools and drive away the teachers our children need.”

Take a look and consider signing and sharing.

Testing resistance: What LSCs can do

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

MTASlogo

What Local School Councils can do to challenge

the misuse and overuse of standardized tests

Learn more about standardized testing.

  • Check out the More Than a Score web site for resources to share with your school’s parents, teachers and community. Share the MTAS fact sheets, “What Parents Need to Know about High-Stakes Testing,” in English and Spanish.
  • Download user-friendly fact sheets about a wide range of testing issues on the FairTest web site, on the testing resources page of PURE’s site, and from CReATE, a collaboration of local university researchers.

Hold a parent and/or community meeting where people can talk about testing. Ask teachers, education experts, More Than a Score or other group representatives to speak, and invite your local newspaper (see FairTest’s media toolkit for pointers)

Vote to sign the National Resolution on High-stakes Testing, and/or vote on your own resolution. Join the more than 80% of school boards in Texas and dozens in Florida and other states that have passed resolutions challenging high-stakes standardized testing, along with 11,000 individuals and 400 national organizations. Sign on to the National Resolution here: and/or vote on your own resolution (suggested versions here, a shorter one here and an even shorter one here).

Send or bring a copy of your adopted testing resolution to your local, state and federal legislators.

Pass the More Than a Score petition in English and/or Spanish in your school. Your can also sign our online petition here. 

The petition asks CPS to:

  • Eliminate standardized testing in grades K-2nd grade and greatly reduce it in all other grades.
  • End the use of standardized testing data to evaluate students and teachers and close schools.
  • Fully disclose the cost, schedule, nature and purpose of all standardized tests.

Get more involved with More Than a Score:

Consider carefully any budget expenditures for test preparation materials and programs. Your school’s discretionary funds are precious and might be better used for enrichment programs and other areas of learning which may have been reduced due to the pressures of standardized testing.

See more at www.morethanascorechicago.org.

You can download a pdf version of this LSC tip sheet here.

Support PURE!
About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.
@pureparents