"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Good Advice from FairTest

From FairTest:

For the past several months, Congressional committees have been quietly working to reauthorize federal requirements that mandate massive over-testing and the misuse of tests for major decisions about schools. As you know, the so-called "No Child Left Behind" law, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) resulted in dumbed-down curriculum with schools becoming test prep programs but little progress in improving student learning or narrowing achievement gaps. 
Your elected Senators and Representative must hear your voice NOW if we are to stop plans to make federal law worse and win positive benefits for our nation's children and their schools.
Congress will be in recess during most of August and the first half of September. Many members will be in their districts running for re-election and meeting with constituents.  This is a critical time for supporters of assessment reform to visit with their Representatives and Senators.
The easiest way to do this is go to the website of your Representative or Senator, find the location(s) of their local offices, and call to set up an appointment. Push hard to meet with the elected official, not just staff. 
- To find the name of your Rep., go to: http://www.votesmart.org.  Enter your ZIP + 4 Code to get the most accurate information. 
It is best to go as a small group, with each person prepared to focus on one or two points. Your delegation could include local educators, parents, civil rights leaders and community activists. Bring selected materials to hand out. FairTest recommends that you focus on the recommendations of the Forum on Educational Accountability. Prepare ahead of time to discuss the following points: 
1. Provide for states to develop a three part assessment and evaluation systemcomprised of local and classroom-based assessments; limited large-scale, state-wide testing (e.g., once each elementary, middle, secondary); and a statewide school quality review.
2. Reject proposed requirements to evaluate teachers based on their student's standardized test scores. 
 3. Support approaches to improving schools that are backed by research and evidence; reject "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) and Duncan's "turnaround" proposals.
-see also FEA's report Redefining Accountability.
4. Fully fund ESEA Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B (IDEA); reject the use of Duncans' proposed competitive grants.  
-see also FEA's Empowering Schools and Improving Learning
These recommendations and more have been made by the Forum on Educational Accountability and/or FairTest.  
Also, please let FairTest know when you have set up a meeting and what resulted from it, by emailing monty@fairtest.org
Monty Neill                                              Bob Schaeffer
Interim Executive Director                          Public Education Director
PS: FairTest needs your financial support to keep up its work to overhaul federal law. Please make a donation by clicking HERE or sending a check to FairTest, 15 Court Square, Boston, MA 02108. 

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