As Testing Frenzy Grows, So Does Opt-Out Movement

Is the pendulum finally swinging away from the crazy emphasis on testing for the sake of testing? Perhaps so.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Here is the latest summary of testing news from FAIRTEST:

Across the U.S., students are returning to classrooms where even more time will be devoted to standardized exam preparation and administration. Over the summer, some districts developed hundreds of new tests to comply with mandates from federal and state politicians who are still not listening to their constituents

(http://www.naplesnews.com/news/education/collier-must-create-more-than-700-exams-by-fall).

Not surprisingly, the escalating testing frenzy is additional motivation for the nation’s growing assessment reform movement.

Colorado Opt-Out Movement Grows
http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/08/15/more-colorado-students-opt-out-of-tests-but-no-sign-of-groundswell/#.U_IigRaumNx

Large Florida County School Board Votes to Research Opting Out of Standardized Testing

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/education/2014/08/12/lee-county-school-board-to-meet/13947251/

Florida District Test Opt-Out Options Legally Unclear

http://www.news-press.com/story/news/education/2014/08/13/lee-school-board-opt-legality-unclear/14036977/

More Lessons From Atlanta, Georgia Cheating Scandal

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/walt_gardners_reality_check/2014/08/atlanta_cheating_scandal_lessons.html

Indiana Superintendent Criticizes Politically Motivated School Grading System

http://www.courierpress.com/news/education/making-the-grade/ritz-expresses-displeasure-with-af-school-grades-in-meeting-with-retired-teachers_70429957

Michigan School’s Grade Plunges Due to Administrative Error

http://www.voicenews.com/articles/2014/08/16/news/doc53ee49bac2ffc331949794.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Michigan School Ratings Largely Measure Race and Income, Not Academic Performance

http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/20413

New Jersey Test-and-Punish Policies Drive Out Good Teachers

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/08/17/commentary-changes-hurt-teachers-students/14189823/

Bad…

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To Amanda Ripley: A Second TIME Article on Rhee is Long Overdue

I wish we weren’t so fixated on Michelle Rhee, but it is important that the problems she caused and the chaos she created not be forgotten or glossed over given that she has done so much damage and yet has managed to get so much support–unwarranted as it may have been–from very powerful and very high profile people including Oprah Winfrey who should have known better given her professed love for teachers. Michelle Rhee has become the face for all that is wrong with education “reform.” She represents the money that has been used to elect anti-education candidates under the guise of being a “Democrat.” She has provided cover for hedge fund moguls as they invest in charter schools that are taking support away from the public schools that our communities should have access to. She has muddied up the entire debate about teacher evaluation and teacher accountability and student achievement with bogus arguments that offer no evidence to support them, yet she has had a love affair with the mainstream media that is hard for me to understand. What is the attraction? How has she done it? Now, as she passes the proverbial baton to Campbell Brown and her crowd, where does that leave us? I can only pray that while Mercedes Schneider and Diane Ravitch and others continue to beat the drumbeat that someone will finally hear the message. Like the guy behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, Michelle Rhee is a poser. The main reason to keep her in the limelight is so that she can be toppled from her pedestal and the media–and the public–and the politicians who have supported her and promoted her bad policies–finally understand the harm that has been done and we begin to try work our way out of the mess that she has created.

The Double Standard in America that Must Come to an End

This week has been a painful one for me personally and certainly for our country collectively. We are having to come to grips as an American society with the fact that there are in fact two Americas. One for white Americans and one for black and brown Americans. The double standard for how young black men are treated by law enforcement and how young white men are treated could not have been demonstrated any more clearly. I know in my heart that if Michael Brown had been a white kid, he would have started college last week. Instead, Michael Brown, young black male from Ferguson, Missouri, is being laid to rest, shot in the middle of the street and left there for hours while the police started bungling the case and have continue to bungle it ever since. In my opinion, every police “official” in Ferguson from the Chief on down needs to be fired. They have no business being in the law enforcement business given that they continue to display poor judgment and a lack of character themselves. Their obfuscation and their mishandling of the details of the case has been stunning. I am certainly no legal expert, but I am smart enough to know when I am witnessing incompetence on an epic scale, and that is exactly what we have been witnessing this week.

The pictures of what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri brings it home in a way that can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug that we have a double standard with regard to how laws are enforced. The efforts of those who fought and died in the Civil Rights movement made a difference in the 60’s, and some progress was certainly made. But since then, we have settled into a false sense of complacency thinking that the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was done when it had really only begun.

The double standard in this country–the way the legal system and the education system and just about any other “system” that is run by predominantly privileged white men and women must be faced at last. It must be addressed. And it must be eradicated starting now.

Ferguson, Missouri is just the epicenter of the trouble at this point in time. The needless murder of Michael Brown in broad daylight in a city street has been, I hope, the tipping point that will convince our leaders that the time for pretending that race isn’t an issue in our country is over.

I write this with hope that Michael Brown’s death will have an impact on us while it flashes in my mind that I had also been convinced in December of 2013 that the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut would surely lead us to reconsider our gun laws.

That pivotal moment got away from us and the gun lobbyists won. I pray that this pivotal moment won’t get away from us. I fear for the future of our country if it does.

The NEA should have listened. It’s too late.

I really resisted this posting when I first saw the title. I don’t want to think that it is too late. Yet a part of me fears that the author of this piece is right about a lot of things, and if his thesis is right and he offers solid evidence (well, perhaps his evidence is more anecdotal than really “solid”) it still bears considering if his conclusion is valid. I repeat…I do not want to think that it is…but it has made me think. What about you?

The Failure of Test and Test and Test Some More

Diane Ravitch's blog

This teacher expresses frustration with the policymakers’ obsession with testing, thinking of it as a form of instruction and a measure of instruction, and as a measure of teacher quality and school quality. In New York, for example, State Commissiomer Zjohn King recently a bounced that he would release more questions and more results earlier. But he steadfastly refuses to tell teachers how students answered specific questions, so they will learn nothing from the tests about their students’ needs.

This teacher wrote:

“I personally am not opposed to standardized assessments that inform our instruction, but the high-stakes testing of today does not do that. Getting results after the school year has ended doesn’t allow a teacher to change anything. Retaining a child to repeat the same instruction and curriculum he/she supposedly failed the previous year doesn’t help either. The “cut scores” on these tests are designed to fail almost half…

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