Class of 2004) to undermine the ethos in care in schools, to bust teacher unions and teacher professionalism, and to put public schools in the hands of Theory X corporate managers with social agendas circa 1950.
"They know how to cut costs," said Fenwick English, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Education, who has labeled Broad the top enemy of public education leadership in the U.S. "But what they don't know is teaching and learning."A couple of other subjects they don't know? Child development and psychometrics. Nor do they care. If they did, they would not be subjecting K-2 children, in particular, to these tests that cannot have any validity simply because of the huge variation in cognitive development of these young ones. This is Psychology 101, but they don't teach that, either, at the Broad boot camp for corporate wannabes. I hope they had at least a short course in getting lawyered up for an angry parents' lawsuit, for one is surely brewing in Charlotte. Power to the parents!:
Skeptical parents and adamant administrators are squaring off over a surge of new testing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, as teachers watch warily and brace for hours of new work.
Next week CMS will launch trial versions of 52 new tests, including an exam for kids as young as kindergarteners who must be tested one-on-one. The tests will be used to evaluate teachers, as the budget shrinks and officials prepare to lay off faculty.
Superintendent Peter Gorman acknowledged Wednesday that the tests put a burden on teachers and volunteers, especially in elementary schools. But he said they ensure that kids get the best possible instruction: "We can see who's a great teacher, who's a good teacher and who's a teacher that needs improvement."
Growing numbers of parents say the tests will waste class time and undermine learning.
"It's very upsetting. At a time when they are cutting teachers right and left, they find funding for this and it's taking away time in the classrooms," said Amy Wlodyka, who has kids at Crestdale Middle and Providence Spring Elementary.
An online petition from CMS parents protesting the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers had 472 signatures as of Wednesday.
Most teachers have avoided the public fray, though a group from East Meck High is rallying opposition. That group will hold a second meeting next week. Some protesting parents say their children's teachers are rooting for them.
Gorman took his case for extra testing to his employees this week, when he emailed a five-minute video on testing and effective teaching. He'll hold a "webinar" on teacher effectiveness for faculty and parent leaders next week.
The debate over testing rages across the country. North Carolina is scaling back on its exams, and a popular documentary, "Race To Nowhere," encourages parents to resist excessive tests.
On the other hand, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning, who oversees a lengthy court battle over the state's quality of education, has weighed in for more testing. And Gorman noted that the federal government is preparing new national exams.
North Carolina begins testing reading and math in third grade. CMS is paying $1.9 million to design year-end reading, math, science and social studies tests for K-8 and exams for the end of all high school classes.
In kindergarten through second grade, teachers or other adults will spend an hour testing each child on four subjects. The adult reads questions while the student answers verbally or completes a simple task such as circling answers.
All testing is to be monitored by another adult so teachers don't cheat on tests that rate their effectiveness.
For a standard class of 22 students, that's up to 44 hours of adult time spent on testing.
"It's crazy at a time like this," said Mary McCray, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators.
Gorman said it's considered "best practice" for teachers to test their own students, because young children respond best to someone they know. But he said assistants, administrators and other faculty could also do testing.
However, his 2011 budget plan calls for eliminating assistants in grades one and two
Katie Catron, a former teacher and member of the Cotswold PTA board, said she learned of the new tests last week, when the school issued a call for volunteers to cover classrooms for four days while teachers give a trial version of the new exams
She wrote Gorman and the school board, saying she won't let her kids participate.
"You are overburdening a system that is at a breaking point," she wrote. "I give full support to the staff at my children's school. This is one area that I must stand up for my children and other CMS students to say enough testing is enough. Find another way to evaluate your staff."
Gorman and Chris Cobitz, who oversees the new program, say they've gotten several requests for kids to be pulled out of the testing. But CMS won't allow that, they said.
Catron says that's not CMS' decision to make: "If I have to take my kids out of school next week, I will do it."
School board member Tim Morgan, who represents the southern suburbs, was peppered about the tests at a Providence Spring meeting last week and during a District 6 meeting with parents and state officials over the weekend.
Marion Idol, who attended the weekend session, says CMS "tried to kind of slip this in under the radar." The Providence High parent says good teachers can design better exams than district officials. . . .