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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Protect Your Children And Stop the Orgy of Tabulation: Opt Out!

Great resource guide below--do have a look and get involved.  This movement can bring an end the madness of high stakes standardized testing.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
MEASURING SUCCESS
Opting Out:  Families and Advocates Against Standardized Testing
Education Perspectives for the Central Valley
Pursuant to California Education Code 60615, parents have the right to opt their children out of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Assessment.
And now for the burning question:
What about “Accountability”?  Isn’t standardized testing meant to hold teachers and schools accountable and to track progress?
These are the sound bites that drive political debates, the phrases that fall from the mouths of celebrated education reformers and the terms that fit nicely into newspaper headlines alongside data charts. But do these tests really tell us how students are progressing? And if so, why are so many parents hopping off the bandwagon, sparing their children the added stress, burden and hoping to make a difference in the eyes of the administration
The most compelling argument is that highly regarded education research describes that there are many other variables that affect standardized test scores; that while the STAR assessment may give some indication as to student progress, study after study continues to tell us that an isolated test score should not be used to measure progress and should not drive instruction.
However education debate has been hi-jacked by the corporate world. Experts working in the field of education research and psychology have been “Left Behind”. The over-simplistic use of annual standardized assessments has invited publishing companies and other corporate reformers to produce assembly-line, mandated curriculum that makes it quite easy to create the appearance that young people are progressing at desired rates. Authentic education research, psychology, and best practice have fallen into a research hospice; everyone on the frontlines operating in survival mode.
Many parents are standing up and saying enough is enough. They want to know that their children are viewed holistically. They want projects, essays, demonstrations, oral presentations, creative representations of conceptual knowledge that their children do all year to count for something. They do not want their children (or their children’s teachers) to be evaluated on a multiple choice test that takes place (per subject) a few hours per year. They object to the labeling of their children with this isolated number, the narrowing of the curriculum and the unsubstantiated cost to the state.
Probably the most interesting debate is based on the federal government’s own assessment describing that children learning under the current mandates of No Child Left Behind, (NCLB) and the subsequent testing mandates outlined in President Obama’s Race to the Top (RTT) are doing no better in comparison groups than children using other assessments. Moreover, the California Teaching Standards for Assessment reads
 “…teachers collect information about student performance from a variety of sources. Teachers involve all students in assessing their own learning…”
for reasons based on solid research.
How is it that the federal government continues to be allowed to encourage teachers to defy their own professional and ethical standards? It is this kind of accountability that parents are seeking.
In California, schools need to report 95% participation for the scores to count.  If  only 6% of families opted out of testing at their school site, a real dialogue would begin at the appropriate level. To our knowledge, as of this writing, there is only one school in California doing just that (see link below to “August to June”). Note that this K-6 school has not lost federal funding as is typically feared and continues to report a long waiting list full of hopeful students – and teachers.
 The following list describes organizations working toward related goals:
California Organizations Supporting Parents Choosing to Opt Out:

THE 6% CLUB   A Project of Our Own Education Perspectives for the Central Valley, Inc.,  supporting parents choosing to opt students out of standardized testing collectively in order to utilize the 95% participation requirement as a tool to begin a real dialogue that includes all stakeholders. Fresno, CA.

Facebook Page for The 6% Club:

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-6-Club/220189684672511

YouTube Describing The 6% Club:

 This YouTube was created by teacher-turned documentarian, Brenda Cregor and used to describe The 6% Club. It features esteemed author of “Catching Up Or Leading the Way”,  Dr. Yong Zhao Yong.  Zhao is currently Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE). He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ26p7IKAgI


DENY THEM THE DATA,    An idea put forth by Rog Lucido, author of Educational Genocide: A Plague on Our Children and Coordinator of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse, (EPATA),  Fresno, CA.
Website:  http://www.testingabuse.blogspot.com/2005_02_01_archive.html

AUGUST TO JUNE, a project of retired teacher, Amy Valens, of the Lagunitas School District in Marin County, CA. and documentarian, Tom Valens. This site provides resources and film about the only school in California where the majority of parents OPT OUT of standardized testing. Lagunitas, CA.
Website:  http://augusttojune.com/
Members of this site are parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. We use this site to collaborate, exchange ideas, support one another, share information and initiate collective local and national actions to end the reign of fear and terror promoted by the high stakes testing agenda.

National Organizations Supporting Parents Choosing to Opt Out:

Parents & Kids Against Standardized Testing
Created to inform parents, kids, and other interested community members about the overreliance on standardized testing to make high stakes decisions in education.

Facebook page for Parents and kids Against Standardized Testing:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Parents-Kids-Against-Standardized-Testing/117479641627357
Fairtest.org

FairTest works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.
Website:  http://www.fairtest.org/
Facebook for Fairtest.org

https://www.facebook.com/FairTest

OPT OUT of State Tests: Parent/Student Support against Standardized Testing

Sharing information on state by state rules and experiences related to opting out of standardized tests. This is an open community for any parent, student, or educator interested in finding or sharing opt out information, irrespective of personal decisions regarding political party, religion, or choice of public or non public education. Please note, that much of the information herein is specific to school children. If you homeschool, please be aware of the rules and laws in your state and we hope you will share here. There is information on the Homeschooling page that you also may find helpful. 

Website:  http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com/

Facbook page for OPT OUT of State Tests: Parent/Student Support Against Standardized Testing:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/194140840653580/ 

Time out for Testing
Time Out From Testing is a statewide (New York) coalition of parent, educator, business, community, and civil rights organizations in New York State committed to a "time-out" from excessive and high stakes exams. We call for a comprehensive review of the Regents exams and state-initiated standardized tests and the impact they have had on our children, our schools, and our communities.
http://timeoutfromtesting.org/
United Opt Out
Members of this site are parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. We use this site to collaborate, exchange ideas, support one another, share information and initiate collective local and national actions to end the reign of fear and terror promoted by the high stakes testing agenda
http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out
Facebook Page for United Opt Out:   https://www.facebook.com/pages/United-Opt-Out-National/265810576790447

Not Waiting for Superman, Milwaukee, Wi. 
 Initiated by “Rethinking  Schools” to talk back to the film
and support efforts by teachers, students, and parents
to improve and preserve public education.

Website:  http://www.notwaitingforsuperman.org
Author/Education Historian Diane Ratvich 
Prominent figure in national reform efforts and advocating for a strong, highly respected education profession; a rich curriculum in the arts and sciences, available in every school for every child; assessments that gauge what students know and can do, instead of mindless test prepping for bubble tests. And a government that is prepared to change the economic and social conditions that interfere with children’s readiness to learn.

Website:   http://www.dianeravitch.com/
Save Our Schools

Organizing national action events and symposium that provide a unifying focus and gathering for all those who are in support of public school education.
Website:  http://www.saveourschoolsmarch.org/
Informative and Entertaining Video Clips Describing Problems with Standardized Tests
From the film What’s it all about Alfie?
Alfie Kohn has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken critic of education's fixation on grades [and] test scores." His criticisms of competition and rewards have helped to shape the thinking of educators -- as well as parents and managers -- across the country and abroad. Kohn has been featured on hundreds of TV and radio programs, including the "Today" show and two appearances on "Oprah"; he has been profiled in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, while his work has been described and debated in many other leading publications.  He is the author of "Motivation from the Inside Out: Rethinking Rewards, Assessment, and Learning" and "Beyond Bribes and Threats: Realistic Alternatives to Controlling Students' Behavior." The latter corresponds to his book BEYOND DISCIPLINE: From Compliance to Community (ASCD, 1996), which he describes as "a modest attempt to overthrow the entire field of classroom management."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8RUocLh6Yk&feature=share

Teacher-turned documentarian, Brenda Cregor presented several film clips at an Education Policy Conflicts Conference at California State University, Fresno spring, 2011. The following brief films are part of her larger work “LIKE A SCAPEGOAT ON A PENDULUM” and feature conversations with professors, teachers, parents and researchers.
Comparing the American education system with that of Finland:
America's students are often compared to Finland's students because of Finland’s success according to international test scores. This brief film describes why this is an unrealistic comparison due to social and political differences.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtxRHM_rWVI
Educators on Assessment
In this clip, Cregor interviews professors of education, speaking out about the challenges in using standardized tests to measure students and teachers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZGE1y5jT8
For this interview, Brenda traveled to Sacramento to interview former State Superintendent of Public Schools in California, Jack O'Connell
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_dPt0uQNgc
Friends on the East Coast
I Am More
High stakes testing has forced teachers to teach to the test, schools to close, and children to miss out on the joy and excitement of a real, well-rounded education. This film is a beautiful description of what is needed.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXKW8Za0hYw
Not On the Test
The video for the song, "Not on the Test," that Tom Chapin wrote with John Forster. The two wrote the song to express their disappointment in the lack of arts education in public schools. www.notonthetest.com
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dAujuqCo7s&feature=related
The Bartleby Project
This is a call to all American students to write on your State Exams this school year: "I PREFER NOT TO TAKE YOUR TEST" No arguments. No violence. Just write that statement.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWqdScvrKCo

The Legal Realm
ACLU Complaint: Colorado Springs Parent Launches Campaign for Parent Rights to Guide Children’s Education

Nina Bishop is asking parents across the country to join her in seeking redress from schools that bully children when parents opt them out of oppressive state testing. Drawing on her own experience of the difficulties encountered when opting children out of the CSAP, a Colorado state test instituted in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation, Bishop seeks protection under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U. S. Constitution.

"I want parents to tell their stories," says Bishop, whose own children were denied school services and even not allowed to re-enroll in a charter school. She points to other children denied access to school on testing days, participation on sports teams, and in other school clubs and events. In some cases children have been denied grade advancement, have been threatened with expulsion.

"In my own case, my son was made so nervous by testing, and the horrible push to meet benchmarks caused by time usurped by testing, that he had to be put on Xanax; he was 10. I moved my son to a charter school, thinking they would better acknowledge student needs," says Bishop. "Instead, when I refused to allow my son to be tested, they denied him enrollment the next year."

Bishop would like to hear from parents whose children have been bullied by schools because of the state testing issue. "What I need from parents is their story in a letter sent through the US Postal Service."

Bishop advises: Try to be brief and factual, as free from emotion as possible. Stick to the topic of parents having the right to choose to allow state testing or not to allow state testing--in the best interest of their children.

The basis of a complaint filed with the ACLU will be parents' right to guide their children's education as "unwritten liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment and supported by the US Supreme Court.

Bishop plans to present these letters to the ACLU. She hopes to show a broad spectrum of concern. Every parent voice is important.

Please include the following information:

• Name of school/district where infraction occurred

• Copies of supporting docs, e.g. threatening letters

• Permission/request to include the parent in the joint complaint to ACLU

• Signature

Note: Parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the "fundamental right" to "direct the upbringing and education of their children."

Furthermore, the Court declared that "the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations." (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere "with the power of parents to control the education of their own."(Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).

In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children's education, the Court has stated,
"It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder." (Prince v.Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158)  
Send your information to:
Nina Bishop
3065 Windward Way
Colorado Springs, CO 80917

Questions: 719-233-1508- Mountain Standard Time Zone

1 comment:

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