Category Archives: Testing

CCSS relies heavily on increased standardized testing

8 Reasons to Opt Out

Contributed by Dane County OptOut

  1. Currently, the focus on literacy and math Common Core Standards and testing for such standards is squeezing other subjects out of the daily curriculum.​This encourages schools to give less time to social studies, music, art, world languages, physical education, and science. For example, in some schools in Madison, only 150 minutes per week are allotted for science and social studies ​combined​, while in the past​t​hese subjects were allotted 150 minutes each p​er week. Furthermore, the concern of raising test scores is impinging considerably on recess time in many schools, which is a crucial component to children’s social, emotional, and physical well­being and growth.
  2. Thus far the tests have not been shown to be reliable measures of creativity, social justice, critical thinking, and cannot measure alternative understandings of any subjective content. ​They push learning into testable chunks of objective data that don’t allow for complexity or nuance, and certainly do not measure everything our children could or should be learning in school.
  3. Standardized tests continually perpetuate inequalities and have been shown to be particularly detrimental to poor students, students of color, students of differing abilities, and students with limited English proficiency. ​Though many of these tests purport to “illuminate” previously “hidden” achievement gaps between these students and better resourced middle­class and white students, in reality, these tests have never been solidly free of social biases, a​nd it may be that the very culture of this sort of testing is inherently biased against certain groups of children.
  4. Standardized exams are loaded with poorly written, ambiguous questions, and the implementation of these computer­based tests has been fraught with problems all over the country.​  Schools in Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida have reported wide­spread problems with hacking and other issues in using computer­based tests.​These tests are unlike any test your child has ever taken and often result in greater anxiety, thus invalidating the data. Check out sample items at   http://www.smarterbalanced.org/sample­items­and­performance­tasks/
  5. The testing industry is basically the tail that is wagging the dog of the individual teacher.​For­profit companies like Pearson Education are making millions of dollars while Wisconsin public schools are getting hit with massive budget cuts. The tests have a price tag that includes the exam itself, the technology, as well as the scoring of the exam.  This is a national trend: States cut funding to public schools while pouring millions into new computer systems designed for Common Core tests.  Furthermore, collecting data on our children through these computer­based exams has created a “data­palooza” (as one Wisconsin school board member phrased it) for the government and for corporations. ​These companies are profiting on the backs of OUR children and teachers.
  6. In many places throughout the country, these tests are being used to evaluate and even influence teacher pay. ​In spite of the rhetoric of “value­added measures” (i.e., collecting pre and post test data to evaluate “growth” that can allegedly be attributed to teacher effort), ​the statistical extrapolation from test score to teacher effectiveness is a dangerous road to tread. ​Teachers cannot control what students walk into any given exam day facing: homelessness, hunger, heartbreak – all of which can affect a students’ performance on an exam, and hence a teacher’s evaluation.
  7. Parents are leaving public schools for private or charter schools that don’t have the same testing mandates, or because of their belief that public schools are failing.  ​A 2010 Gallup poll showed that Americans continue to believe their local schools are performing well, but the nation’s schools are performing poorly.  77% of public school parents give theIr child’s school an “A” or “B” while 18% of all Americans grade the nation’s public schools that high (http://www.gallup.com/poll/142658/americans­views­public­schools­far­worse­parents.aspx).  ​It’s time to reframe the conversation, support our public schools, and help them to fulfill their promise of education ALL students.

Now is the time to challenge the standardized testing regime.  Corporate driven education “reform” is DE-forming teaching and learning, and threatening the existence of public schools.
From the blog of the venerable Diane Ravitch, educational pundit and self­professed convert from pro­ test­based accountability supporter to anti­standardized testing crusader:

“The Opt Out movement is spreading like wildfire. It is led by parents…Parents understand that the tests are designed to fail most children. They understand that test prep and testing are stealing time from instruction. They aren’t commanded by anyone. They are listening to their children”

… and we would add, to their teachers and a growing number of administrators across the country too!

Constituent Alleges Repeated Deception in Wisconsin

What follows is a well reasoned letter concerning the deception involved with Wisconsin’s embrace of the Common Core, hiding of the results of 2015 Common Core Aligned Smarter Balanced assessments under AB78, and Wisconsin’s march toward test based accountability under AB1.  It should serve as a good example of how to communicate with legislators:

  • Provide reasoned arguments,
  • Crystalize your argument with a single word or phrase (in this case “deception”), and
  • Very clearly asks for action.

Please continue to make calls and emails on AB1 and AB78 to your legislator and members of the Assembly Committee on Education.

Re: AB1 AND AB78

Way to Go!  The Wisconsin Legislature just passed Right to work – after how many decades?  This freedom is truly good news for all of Wisconsin’s workers.

Now workers can choose whether or not to join a union and pay dues, but parents and students do not have a similar choice regarding Common Core and the related tests.  What happened to their freedom to choose?

Common Core was conceived in deception and we know that professional educators did not sign off on Common Core standards.

The deception continued for three years when DPI Superintendent Tony Evers did not disclose to Wisconsin state legislators that he had signed Wisconsin on to Common Core for the entire state’s Public School children.

More deception continued these same three years as DPI and local school districts were busy implementing Common Core to hundreds of thousands of public school children without holding required public hearings.

And now this legislation intends to end LOCAL CONTROL?  The district administrator is hired.  School Board members are elected.   Why this deception?

More deception when districts ask for additional funds through referendums “for the children.”  My husband and I are retired.  Our real estate taxes have gone up considerably due to new technology.  And significant overhead staffing, which I’m sure occurs at many districts statewide.

After the 2012 local referendum passed, the local superintendentreceived a 14.57% pay increase which included a $6,600 car allowance.  There are only three campuses in our district, a total drive of about 40 miles from one end to the other.  The salary survey indicated he was due for a parity raise comparable to income of other district superintendents.   Listed are salary levels.

2013 – 2014    $193,090.95
2014 – 2015    $199,090.95 – 5 weeks vacation – $6000 pay raise
2015 – 2015    $205,090.95 – 6 weeks vacation – another $6000 pay raise

School District Administrators / Superintendents are high-priced talent ($150K – $200K+) and it may take a year for a school district to hire a replacement.  Therefore, many school boards take the advice of the district administrator, which may or may not coincide with the wishes of the local community.

Does this new legislation deceptively make the superintendent accountable to DPI in Madison or will accountability remain with the local school board, parents and community?

Deception again as teachers must teach to the curriculum and are not allowed to voice opposition.  Who can parents and taxpayers believe or trust?  Teachers?  Administrators?  Legislators?   DPI???

It’s almost five years into Common Core for Wisconsin school children. Students have been taught the ‘rigorous’ Common Core standards. Now students are about to be tested according to Common Core with a predicted 40 percent failure rate for students!

DOES ANYBODY SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS DECEPTION?

Millions of dollars have been taken from the federal government for Common Core, (a bribe???). Now hundreds of thousands of students have been taught according to those rigorous standards. And now the proof of the pudding is the test.

And the legislators and DPI don’t think the results should be publicized?

DOES ANYBODY SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS DECEPTION?

I am a retired taxpayer without children in Wisconsin public schools.

However, as a parent, I would be furious that the state of Wisconsin legislators and DPI is forcing this test on innocent children. This is tantamount to abuse. With the current legislation under proposal, AB1 and AB78, the students take a horrible test and then the failing results are hidden from the public.

DOES ANYBODY SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS DECEPTION?

Results must be made public.

Legislators were elected to legislate on behalf of ALL of the citizens in the state. Not just those who are going to profit by this test.  FOLLOW THE MONEY!

  • the curriculum writers
  • the test writers
  • the test givers

But what about the children, the parents, the elected school board members, the highly paid administrators, and the taxpayers who have no children in the district but a substantial financial commitment called real estate taxes?

Drug companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research.  However, if the results do not benefit patients (customers) THEY DROP THE RESEARCH!  Money spent – lesson learned – life goes on to something better.

It’s time to pull this legislation and drop it from further consideration.

Shirley Kufeldt
Conover, WI

SAY NO TO AB 1 AND THE DEATH OF LOCAL CONTROL!!!

state-accountability-kills-local-control

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt’s School Accountability Bill has morphed into a LOCAL CONTROL DEATH BILL.

At the hearings back in January, Thiesfeldt promised that modifications would be done to improve this bill, but it appears it HAS ONLY GOTTEN WORSE for our children and our freedom.

I’m sure you’ve all heard politicians talk about how Wisconsin is a “Local Control State”… often time with a wink and a nod. In case you had any doubts, this bill clears it up. Local control in Wisconsin is at best lip-service. It is not respected by our legislature, DPI, or the governor.

AB1 IS THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF LOCAL CONTROL IN WISCONSIN

From the bill language (emphasis my own):

In addition, the school board or operator of a charter school other than an independent charter school MUST authorize the school district administrator to act, UNILATERALLY and on matters related to the operation and administration of the school that is subject to sanctions, CONTRARY TO policies and procedures adopted by THE SCHOOL BOARD. The substitute amendment PROHIBITS the school board from retaliating against the school district administrator for any lawful actions undertaken pursuant to this authority.

The bill further enables superintendents to SUE school boards should they attempt to fire or discipline their superintendent for carrying out…THE STATE’S WILL. Not the will of LOCAL PARENTS AND TAXPAYERS. Not the will of the SCHOOL BOARDS that represent them. The STATE OF WISCONSIN’S will.

THAT IS NOT LOCAL CONTROL! THAT IS STATE COERCION!

How exactly does such a measure honor local control? School boards are being told they MUST cede their own authority and proper representation of the people that elected them, handing their authority instead to an APPOINTED superintendent who will carry out the will of the State? Moreover, how does this not incentivize superintendents to achieve failure in order to gain powers that supersede their local boards’?

THIS BILL IS A THREAT TO YOUR CHILDREN

It guarantees that children will spend ever increasing amounts of time in high stakes testing and test preparation. It assures that less and less time will be spent on actual learning and in subjects like shop, home economics, art, music and even science and history.

THIS BILL IS A THREAT TO TEACHERS

It reduces teachers to a value added measure based on their students’ performance on Common Core aligned assessments. This objectifies and deprofessionalizes teachers. They will be forced to teach to the standards and teach to the test instead of treating each of their students as a unique, valuable individual.

THIS IS A THREAT TO YOUR FREEDOM

Let’s be clear on what this is: AB1 is the state putting chains around the wrists and duct tape on the mouths of local citizens and their ELECTED representatives. Are there problems in some school districts? Sure. Is this the way to solve them? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

THIS BILL HAS IT ALL

  1. Unelected, unaccountable boards.
  2. State takeover of schools.
  3. Invalid value added measures correlating several tests in a way absolutely nobody can comprehend.
  4. Top down control of local school districts from the State with threats against any local representative that would intercede for the people.
  5. A timeline to passage that allows no discussion on the matter. (Thiesfeldt says it will be voted on by the full legislature in less than a week)

A legislator that votes for this bill needs to know this is not the last they will hear of accountability. They will each be held accountable at the ballot box. A governor that signs such an overreach into law needs to know he will not get our support!
1. CALL JEREMY THIESFELDT

Call Jeremy Thiesfeldt, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee and tell him that he needs to pull his bill — that it runs contrary to our local control statutes and to the representative system under which we [supposedly] live. Ask him what exactly representative government means to him while you’re at it. Tell him we will not accept the undermining of our local representatives, that it is our job to deal with them if they fail and to ensure that they deal appropriately with the people they appoint on our behalf. PERIOD.

JEREMY THIESFELDT’S OFFICE: (608) 266-3156
EMAIL: Rep.Thiesfeldt@legis.wisconsin.gov
TOLL FREE LEGISLATIVE SWITCHBOARD: (800) 362-9472

2. CALL YOUR ASSEMBLYMAN

Call your own assemblyman as well to ensure that they’re not tempted to support this revised bill for even one moment. You can find them by using the “Find My Legislators” here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

3. CALL THE ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE

Call each of the members of the assembly education committee:

  • Representative Thiesfeldt (Chair) – (608) 266-3156
  • Representative Kitchens (Vice-Chair) – (608) 266-5350
  • Representative Jagler – (608) 266-9650
  • Representative Knudson – (608) 266-1526
  • Representative Rodriguez – (608) 282-3621
  • Representative R. Brooks – (608) 267-2369
  • Representative Horlacher – (608) 266-5715
  • Representative Murphy – (608) 266-7500
  • Representative Quinn – (608) 266-2519
  • Representative Hutton – (608) 267-9836
  • Representative Pope – (608) 266-3520
  • Representative Sinicki – (608) 266-8588
  • Representative Genrich – (608) 266-0616
  • Representative Barnes – (608) 266-3756
  • Representative Considine – (608) 266-7746

DO AS MUCH AS YOU CAN TO STOP THIS STATE TAKEOVER OF OUR SCHOOLS!

SAY NO TO AB 1 AND THE DEATH OF LOCAL CONTROL!!!

Why Accountability Bill (AB 1) Must Be Stopped

pta2

AB 1, otherwise known as the “accountability bill” is being fast-tracked and will have a public hearing at 10am next Wednesday, January 14th.

JUST A FEW of the reasons you should stand firmly against this bill, show up to testify against it, and write and/or call your state legislators to tell them to reject it include:

  1. At the very least, for the next two years, it relies on the Smarter Balanced assessments (SBAC assessments) as a principle measure of accountability; SBAC assessments are, quite simply, the enforcement mechanism for ‪#‎CommonCore‬, meaning that we are actually further entrenching Common Core through this bill.
  2. The SBAC assessments have been exposed as having ZERO validity; if the assessments have no validity, how is it ethical to build an accountability system upon them — one that will be used to hold teachers, schools, and districts accountable.
  3. Moreover, the cut scores for the SBAC assessments have been purposely designed to fail upwards of 60 to 70 percent of the students who take them, meaning that many students, teachers, schools, and districts will be labeled as “failing” when the first round of assessment scores comes back in the spring/fall of this calendar year. It will be a false read, but it will be taken seriously, resulting in deleterious effects to all parties and entities: students, teachers, schools, and districts. REMEMBER: There are REAL PENALTIES tied to this accountability system, up to and including the closing of schools.
  4. The high stakes described above can have no other outcome but “teaching to the test.”
  5. While this bill does provide for the development of alternate assessments by 2017, the manner in which this provision is made and framed suggests that the alternatives will ultimately be no better than SBAC, resulting in a lot of wasted taxpayer money — five flavors of ice cream, and they’re all vanilla.
  6. Even if the resulting alternative assessments ARE appreciably different, which is extremely unlikely, the bill states that any school district opting to administer one of the state developed and approved alternatives will have to pay for it, whereas SBAC will continue to be the “cost-free” option, limiting the number of schools that would actually depart from SBAC.
  7. DPI is given far too much control in this bill.
  8. The bill would create YET ONE MORE UNELECTED, UNACCOUNTABLE BOARD in this state, something we have far too many of already.
  9. The people able to appoint members to this board would largely be those who have already demonstrated that they’re not terribly interested in divesting this state of Common Core; if that’s the case, are we crazy enough to expect anything will change under the plan this bill proposes?
  10. This bill makes school districts increasingly accountable to state government; in a local-control state, that is the wrong direction. We should be pushing for measures that restore greater local control, not solidifying centralization and standardization at the state level. (LOOK BELOW FOR SOLUTIONS.)
  11. This bill reinforces the “grading system” sham that has been foisted on teachers, schools, and school districts. The grading system sounds like a good thing on the surface, but in fact it is not about measuring academic success at all; instead, it’s about measuring compliance to a centralized, standardized model of education. Anything that reinforces it should be rejected out of hand. If we’re going to measure something, it ought to be actual academic knowledge…something that can be measured by well-educated (notice I don’t say “trained”) classroom teachers.
  12. Despite the fact that there is an attempt to frame it otherwise, this bill could have no other effect than to homogenize educational alternatives over time, because it ultimately brings public, charter, and voucher schools all under the same accountability measure. Again, for AT LEAST the next two years, that’s SBAC, the enforcement mechanism for Common Core.

WHEN LEGISLATORS INEVITABLY ASK YOU WHAT THEY SHOULD DO INSTEAD, tell them that there are three things they should aim to do:

  1. Suspend the SBAC tests IMMEDIATELY.
  2. Propose a bill that would give local school districts the freedom to choose from a range of properly validated, reliable, and COMMERCIALLY AVAILABLE assessment measures that have no resemblance to or association with SBAC, PARCC, VARC, AIR, PEARSON, or any other outfit that has been part of or demonstrated willingness to play ball with Common Core development and/or advocacy.
  3. Start to figure out a plan to move the bulk of funding for public education back to the local level. Since the Thompson administration, the State of Wisconsin has funded education at about two-thirds. That was the beginning of the end for true local control. Until that funding is restored primarily to the local level, the state will continue to have too much power over local school districts. Tell legislators that we ARE a local control state, and we ought to start behaving like one by restoring REAL authority and funding mechanisms to the local districts.

THIS BILL MUST FAIL. PLEASE SHARE THIS ARTICLE WIDELY. THERE’S NOT MUCH TIME TO GET THE WORD OUT. THANK YOU!!!

own-it

Congratulations. You Own It.

An Open Letter to Wisconsin State Elected Officials on the Full and Imminent Implementation of Common Core State Standards

April 23, 2014

At the beginning of April, the Wisconsin State Legislature concluded its 2014 floor sessions. Yet, Common Core State Standards (CCSS)—the single most prominent issue of the last year in Wisconsin politics—remains unaddressed. As leadership has announced that the legislature will now take a nine-month hiatus, CCSS is unlikely to see any serious opposition at the state level until at least January of 2015.

With CCSS presently retaining status as official state standards, and Smarter Balanced assessments scheduled to roll out this fall for the 2014-2015 school year, the legislature’s failure to act means that total implementation of CCSS is now imminent in Wisconsin. Smarter Balanced assessments are the enforcement mechanism that will be used to ensure compliance with CCSS and aligned curricula.

Because Smarter Balanced assessments have not been in place in Wisconsin up to now, our state has not yet experienced the full reality of CCSS. This fact has allowed several individuals in key positions on both sides of the aisle to tout the standards’ alleged benefits in a manner that few in Wisconsin currently have the experience or the courage to refute. The haze created by this well funded and heavily marketed campaign of misinformation has resulted in confusion, inaction, and even active pro-CCSS entrenchment on the part of many state legislators, district and school administrators, the business community, and even some parents and teachers. Meanwhile, the informed parents, teachers, and taxpayers who have explored CCSS beyond the superficial talking points have been championed only by a small but dedicated coterie of legislators. Those legislators who did understand and make an effort to jettison or undercut CCSS found themselves effectively sidelined by those with greater influence and higher positions of authority.

Well done, then, to Wisconsin’s state-level CCSS advocates. You’ve won this round. You successfully convinced many that rejection of CCSS was just an issue of the “fringe” Tea Party. Despite the wishes of constituents, you ensured that a true CCSS kill-bill never saw the light of day. You ensured that other legislation that might help to undermine CCSS was watered down, marginalized, or killed outright. CCSS will proceed on schedule. Kudos to you.

But be careful about celebrating this victory.

Everything is about to change.

With the deployment of the Smarter Balanced assessments, the rosy CCSS talking points upon which you have relied are about to be exposed for what they are. CCSS is going to cause pain in this state. And in the blame game that ensues, those who have facilitated CCSS either actively or by their inaction will quickly become vulnerable.

Congratulations. You own it.

What exactly do you now own?

  • You own the unhealthy and as yet unimagined degree of pressure that will shortly be placed on Wisconsin children to perform on an unending stream of standardized assessments with little validity.  http://bit.ly/tests-hurt
  • You own the fact that even students previously considered high achievers are likely to fail the Smarter Balanced assessments in droves, providing a false measure of both performance and underperformance. http://bit.ly/unending-tests
  • You own the inaccurate labeling of “underperforming schools” and the subsequent school closings that CCSS and the Smarter Balanced assessments have, in part, been engineered to ensure.  http://bit.ly/underperforming
  • You own the injudicious use of student performance on Smarter Balanced assessments to judge wrongly and misleadingly the quality of teachers.  http://bit.ly/teacher-quality
  • You own the shredding of the art of teaching—the reduction of teachers to proctors in their own classrooms—by means of extensive embedded pedagogy within CCSS that doesn’t just demand compliance from teachers concerning what to teach but also how to teach it. http://bit.ly/kills-creativity, http://bit.ly/demoralize-teachers
  • You own the convoluted and bizarre teaching methods embedded within CCSS pedagogy and the ways in which they will cripple many students’ ability to understand and learn.  http://bit.ly/cripple-students, http://bit.ly/not-teaching
  • You own the distress of parents as they realize they can no longer assist their children with homework because not even as competent adults can they understand the methods by which their children are now being taught.  http://bit.ly/parents-dont-understand
  • You own the rejection of individualism that is part and parcel of the CCSS mandate to teach the same and yield the same, regardless of the unique character, learning styles, circumstances, and aspirations of each child. http://bit.ly/different-styles
  • You own the vast frustration with learning that CCSS is guaranteed to yield as well as the utter disinterest in learning that will spring from it.  http://bit.ly/ccss-frustration, http://bit.ly/ccss-dropout
  • You own the widget-factory schools that CCSS will create.  http://bit.ly/ccss-widget
  • You own the fact that the for-profit charter schools intended to replace “failing” public schools will likewise be CCSS-based widget factories, enriching no one but the people who collect the tuition.  http://bit.ly/ccss-for-profit
  • You own the fact that, under CCSS, students who want to reach farther will only be prepared for a two-year non-selective college, not a four-year university.  http://bit.ly/non-selective
  • You own the coming anger of local taxpayers who will soon realize that you have essentially pushed them into an unfunded mandate—CCSS infrastructure and training costs that will likely exceed the expectations and budgets of most school districts.  http://bit.ly/ccss-high-cost
  • You own the additional taxpayer anger that will result when they discover that all of the spending you helped to push them into was for an initiative doomed to failure from the outset.  http://bit.ly/ccss-doomed
  • You own the invasion of student and family privacy that CCSS furthers through its data gathering, data storage, and data mining components.  http://bit.ly/ccss-privacy
  • You own this initiative’s disregard of the U.S. Constitution, which gives the federal government no authority over education, as well as the its disregard of at least three federal laws forbidding the federal government from involvement in school standards and curriculum.  http://bit.ly/ccss-unconstitutional
  • You own the undercutting of Wisconsin children’s ability to determine their own unbounded future. http://bit.ly/biz-demands
  • And much, much more…

And the saddest part about this long and troubling list of items you’ve just owned?

It was all avoidable.

Apparently, it is not enough for Wisconsin to learn from the experiences of others. Instead, we must have the full experience—sacrificing the education and mental wellbeing of children, breaking the trust of parents, demoralizing teachers, and picking the pockets of taxpayers.

Even a modicum of honest research should have revealed to you precisely what we and many others have found—that despite the billions spent on marketing spin, CCSS is nothing new. It’s merely a doubling-down on every failed education reform of the past thirty years; truly the lipstick-clad pig.

Just a glance to the east would have revealed that full implementation of CCSS has already been a complete train wreck in states like New York and Kentucky, causing massive public outcry from parents, teachers, and taxpayers alike. Conservatives and progressives are fighting CCSS hand-in-hand in those states and elsewhere, as they increasingly will be here. Are you aware that they’re taking names and working to remove people from office in New York and elsewhere over this “education” fiasco?  Do you think that same thing won’t happen in Wisconsin?  Do you think it hasn’t already begun?

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Common Core State Standards are all yours now.

Sincerely,

Eric Shimpach
Wisconsin State Coordinator
Young Americans for Liberty
Morgan Gianola
Young Americans for Liberty – Carthage College
Kenosha, WI
Dustin Hwang
Young Americans for Liberty – Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
Madelyn Winter
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Green Bay
Green Bay, WI
Savannah Bartel
Young Americans for Liberty – University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI
Charles Hunt
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI
Matt Haase
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Stout
Menomonie, WI
John Linné
Young Americans for Liberty – UW Superior
Superior, WI
Michael Cummins
Dane County Campaign for Liberty
Madison, WI
Alan Scholl
Executive Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Duke Pesta
Academic Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Mary Black
Student Development Director
FreedomProject Education
Appleton, WI
Tina Hollenbeck
The Educational Freedom Coalition
Green Bay, WI
Kristi Lacroix
Parent
Kenosha, WI
Tracie Happel
Teacher & Parent
Onalaska, WI
Dan Curran
Eagle Forum of Wisconsin
Dodgeville, WI
Sandi Ruggles
Eagle Forum of Southeast Wisconsin
Menomonee Falls, WI
Jane Carpenter
Suburban Republican Women’s Club
Milwaukee, WI
Charles Brey
United in Freedom
Beaver Dam, WI
Joana Briggs
Greendale Tea Party
Greendale, WI
Kip Ertel
We The People
Sheboygan, WI
Michael Hintze
Tea Party Patriots
Wisconsin
Earl Hoffman
Clark County Tea Party
Greenwood, WI
Jackie Johnson
Concerned Citizens of Dane County
Madison, WI
Sidney Johnson
Central Wisconsin Tea Party
Marshfield, WI
James Leist
Manitowoc County TEA Movement
Manitowoc, WI
Andrea Lombard
Sauk County Tea Party
Baraboo, WI
Darin Danelski
Lake Country Area Defenders of Liberty
Oconomowoc, WI
Karl Koenigs
Wisconsin TEA Party Committee on State Sovereignty
Peshtigo, WI
Steve Welcenbach
Separately for each: Conservative Insurgency & Menomonee Falls Taxpayer Association
Menomonee Falls, WI
Ed Willing
FoundersIntent.Org
Caledonia, WI
Jennifer London
SpotOfTea.Org
Pete Platt
Columbia County Freedom Coalition
Portage, WI
Ronald Zahn
Northeast Wisconsin Patriots
DePere, WI
Richard Parins
Member of The Brown County Taxpayers Association
Green Bay, WI
James Murphy
Green Bay TEA Party
Green Bay, WI
Greg Luce
The La Crosse Tea Party
La Crosse, WI
Georgia Janisch
Rock County Voter Education Forum
Janesville, WI
David Stertz
Fox Valley Conservative Forum
Appleton, WI
Kim Simac
Northwoods Patriots
Eagle River, WI
Joanne Terry
Ozaukee Patriots
Mequon, WI
Marv Munyon
Rock River Patriots
Fort Atkinson, WI
Kirsten Lombard
The Wisconsin 9/12 Project
Madison, WI
Edward Perkins
Fox Valley Initiative
Appleton, WI
Jeffrey Horn
Prairie Patriots
Sun Prairie, WI

 

 

 

Introducing David Coleman, Lead Architect of CCSS

David Coleman, is the “lead architect” of Common Core State Standards.  Coleman also founded the non-profit Student Achievement Partners and developed the site AchieveTheCore to “guide” publishers in ways to shift their materials to meet the new standards. Coleman also took on the position as the head of the College Board, which runs the SAT college entrance tests. So we have the same person spearheading up standards, curriculum, and test. With an $18 Million grant from GE Foundation, Coleman is well-funded and ready to transform our educational system to create workers for a global economy.

Learn who David Coleman is and you’ll understand a lot about the Common Core.

Coleman said in 2011, “[A]s you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Pardon the language. These words guide the Common Core which places a greater emphasis on “informational texts” for utilitarian purposes rather than fiction or writing personal narratives for that matter.

In his words, “It is rare in a working environment that someone says, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday but before that I need a compelling account of your childhood.

The Atlantic profiled Coleman in 2012,

“ David Coleman’s ideas are not just another wonkish trend. They have been adopted by almost every state, and over the next few years, they will substantively change what goes on in many American classrooms. Soon, as Coleman steps into his new position as the head of the College Board, they may also affect who applies to college and how applicants are evaluated. David Coleman’s ideas, for better or worse, are transforming American education as we know it.

With little debate, the “Gates-led”  Common Core Standards have been adopted by over 45 states. Coleman was right there writing those standards.  (Did you know the standards are copyrighted by a private group, the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of of State School Officers)

New assessments (See Smarter Balanced and PARCC) are currently being written to the standards and scheduled to be implemented in 2014/15 school year.  Coleman is right there making sure the tests match the standard.  He said,

“If you put something on an assessment in my view you are ethically obligated to take responsibility that kids will practice it 100 times.”

Next up, is the national Curriculum written to the standards so that children can “practice it 100 times” before they take the test.  (Look to Pearson for that.)

What is tested is what is taught.  What is taught, is what is thought.  Why parents and publishers are blindly giving up so much to one man’s philosophy of education is mind boggling. Just mind boggling.

Education policy expert, Diana Ravitch has spoken against the Common Core and asks the question that should be on the mind of every parent in America, “Is there not something unseemly about placing the fate and the future of American education in the hands of one man?”

Unwritten Tests Present Major Common Core Obstacle

Education leaders are beginning to publicly worry that two coalitions attempting to determine mandatory tests for some 40 million U.S. students by 2014 can’t pull their massive enterprise together by deadline or at all.

This threatens the entire Common Core project, which in 2014 will tie national tests to grade-by-grade education requirements 45 states adopted in math and English in 2010. Two networks, called SMARTER Balanced (SBAC) and Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), are creating separate tests.

“It’s easy to say Common Core is revolutionary, but implementing it is a completely different story,” said Andy Smarick, a former U.S. Education Department official who is now a partner at consulting nonprofit Bellwether Education Partners. “High-ranking state officials are … betting the farm on PARCC and Smarter Balanced, hoping it’s going to be rigorous and delivered on time. If they have any reason to question any of that, they’re going to have great incentive to pull the reins and say, ‘I’m not going to ask my governor for millions for common assessments’ or ‘We’re not going to depend on someone else’s decision on cut scores.’”

Some big questions include: where the testing groups will get money once federal grants run out six months before the tests appear in classrooms in 2015; whether testmakers and states can handle the technical problems of creating and administering ambitious, online tests; and whether states will tolerate higher passing score requirements.

SBAC’s 25 member states educate 19 million U.S. K-12 students, and PARCC’s 22 member states educate 25 million (a few states are members of both).

Queasy Feeling About Testmakers
A January survey of “education insiders” from consulting firm Whiteboard Advisors found concern growing about SBAC and PARCC. Fifty-five percent thought PARCC was on the right track, while 27 percent thought the same of SBAC.

“Both continue to operate with such opacity it is hard to know where things stand,” the survey quoted from one responder.

“PARCC is focused on providing a higher quality product,” another respondent said.

The insiders include current and former state and federal education department officials, state school chiefs, governors, congressional staff, and education organization and think tank leaders.

“Both consortia are struggling mightily with getting the work done on time and with quality,” another said.

Technical Difficulties
Many school districts do not have the computers, bandwidth, and IT staff to administer Common Core tests, which will be entirely online by 2016-2017. These items are costly, and states are facing growing costs, particularly in healthcare and pensions.

Testmakers are also attempting to pull several testing advances together, which ambition may exceed possibility. This includes attempting to have artificial intelligence score open-ended test answers and create “adaptive” tests that throw up harder questions after correct answers and easier questions after incorrect answers, according to Tony Alpert, SBAC’s chief operating officer.

Even writing the software for such tests is incredibly complex, said David DeSchryver, Whiteboard’s vice president of education policy. It must work on a wide variety of computing devices, operating systems, and internet browsers, and operate simply for non-techies like most teachers and principals.

“If you’re taking an assessment for certain kids at the school [what if] you’re going to shut down wireless access in the cafeteria?” he said. “How do you manage this in a way you don’t have failure? We just don’t know. This hasn’t been tested in reality.”

The massive undertaking has a very small margin for failure, he and Smarick said, because state and school leaders will quickly abandon a glitchy, frustrating system.

Lifting ‘Cut Scores’
A major complaint against previous state standards and tests was that the federal government required states to have all students testing “proficient” by 2014 under the now-defunct 2001 No Child Left Behind law. In response, states set low “cut scores,” or passing grades. The Common Core consortia have promised to set higher standards, but that’s politically tricky because fewer children will pass the new tests, Smarick said.

Elected officials will feel heat from parents and teachers when many more students fail, but lowering standards for that reason essentially means lying to the public about U.S. schools’ quality, Thomas B. Fordham President Chester Finn Jr. wrote recently. States with big differences in average student achievement will likely tussle over setting one pass rate.

Show Me the Money
The federal government jumpstarted SBAC and PARCC with 2010 grants, but that money runs out by fall 2014. This means strapped states must soon pitch money at a new, complicated testing program likely to make their schools look bad, Smarick noted.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “It’s big, it’s expensive, it’s technically challenging. If you get that right, then states are going to continue. If states get concerned about this, we’ll quickly realize the governors, state chiefs, legislators, and board members in power in 2014 are not the same ones who signed on to Common Core.”

The vastness of the project, and its likelihood of changing nearly everything about U.S. education, means a small accumulation of problems can derail it, Smarick said: “Under the best of circumstances it’s going to cause heartburn.”

Learn More
“The Complicated Economics of Testing in the Era of Common Core Standards,” Andy Smarick, January 23, 2013: http://educationnext.org/the-complicated-economics-of-testing-in-the-era-of-common-core-standards/.

“Cutting to the Chase,” Chester Finn Jr. January 24, 2013: http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-weekly/2013/january-24/cutting-to-the-chase.html.

By Joy Pullmann (jpullmann@heartland.org) is a research fellow of The Heartland Institute.  Reposted from this article with permission of the author.

SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Math and Writing Specs Flawed

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Wisconsin’s state assessment will be based on the CCSS. Wisconsin is a governing state within the multi-state consortium called the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SMARTER). Through SMARTER, a common state summative assessment will be created and will replace the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam.  Wisconsin is also interested in adopting a college entrance exam as part of a balanced assessment system.

In September 2010, as part of the Race to the Top program, the U.S. Department of Education awarded a total of $330 million to two consortia of states to develop assessments for the Common Core State Standards.  This assessment program:

  • Has the stated goals of:
    • Developing new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core Standards
    • Testing students annually from third grade through high school
    • Providing “ongoing feedback to teachers during the course of the school year” as well as measure annual student growth.
  • Provided federal grants to:
    • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) for $170 million
      • PARCC consists of the District of Columbia plus 25 states that include AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, ND, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC and TN
      • According to the Department of Education, PARCC will “replace the one end-of-year high stakes accountability test with a series of assessments throughout the year that will be averaged into one score for accountability purposes” (emphasis added)
    • SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) for $160 million
      • SBAC consists of 31 states that include AL, CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, UT, VT, WA, WI, and WV
      • SBAC will test students using computer adaptive technology that will ask students tailored questions based on their previous answers.
      • SBAC “will continue to use one test at the end of the year for accountability purposes,” but will also create a series of interim tests used to inform students, parents, and teachers about whether students are on track.
  • Included twelve states that participated in both consortia:  AL, CO, DE, GA, KY, ND, NH, NJ, OH, OK, PA, and SC
  • Did not have any participation from six states (Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming) plus American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands participated in neither consortium
  • Is scheduled for implementation by the 2014-15 school year.
  • Will, as noted above, include annual multiple administration of standardized tests to students that, as the Department of Education notes, “could replace already existing tests, such as interim assessments that are in common use in many classrooms today” (emphasis added)

Source:
U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan Announces Winners of Competition to Improve Student Assessments
http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-secretary-education-duncan-announces-winners-competition-improve-student-asse

Assessment Consortium Math Content Specifications

On August 29, 2011 the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium released a draft of their math content specifications.  The four major claims, or stated end ggoals, of the SBAC assessment are:

• #1: Students can explain and apply mathematical concepts and carry out mathematical procedures with precision and fluency.
• #2: Students can frame and solve a range of complex problems in pure and applied mathematics.
• #3: Students can clearly and precisely construct viable arguments to support their own reasoning and to critique the reasoning of others.
• #4: Students can analyze complex, real-world scenarios and can use mathematical models to interpret and solve problems.

The links to download the specifications draft and its appendix are below.

Content Specifications with Content Mapping for the Summative assessment of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
REVIEW DRAFT
Available for Consortium and Stakeholder Review and Feedback
August 29, 2011
Developed with input from content experts and SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium Staff, Work Group Members, and  Technical Advisory Committee
Project Facilitator:  Linda Darling-Hammond   Stanford University   Palo Alto, CA
Principal Authors
Hugh Burkhardt, Shell Centre, University of Nottingham
Alan Schoenfeld, University of California, Berkeley

APPENDIX C
Provided Conjunction with Content Specifications with Content Mapping for the Summative assessment of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

 

Feedback and Commentary on the SBAC Math Specifications

Guest Post: SBAC Math Specifications Don’t Add Up
W. Stephen Wilson  September 19, 2011   The Thomas B. Fordham Institute Flypaper
Excerpts:

The conceptualization of mathematical understanding on which SBAC will base its assessments is deeply flawed.

Mathematical Practices, or what was usually called “process” standards in most states, do little more than describe how someone pretty good at mathematics seems to approach mathematics problems.  As stand alone standards, they are neither teachable nor testable. Mathematics is about solving problems, and anyone who can solve a complex multi-step problem using mathematics automatically demonstrates their skill with the Mathematical Practices, (whether they can communicate well or not).  It appears that the assessments will focus on communication skills and Mathematical Practices over content knowledge.

However, communication assessments do not appear to fare much better:

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the released items relates to how the CCSS writing standards are assessed. Two of the most significant shifts in the CCSS ELA standards are their focus on writing to texts and on shifting from narrative to persuasive and analytic writing through the grades. Unfortunately, neither of these shifts is well represented in the sample items.