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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Opportunity to Let MA DESE How You Feel about Common Core Testing Plan

Instructions below for getting on the agenda.
  • November 18, 2013, 5-7 p.m. - Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden (Meeting Notice Posted: 11/13/13, 9:05 A.M.)
  • November 19, 2013, 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden (Meeting Notice Posted: 11/13/13, 9:05 A.M.)

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education welcomes public comment on matters within its purview. Accordingly, the Board makes available a maximum 30-minute period at its regular meetings for persons in the audience to address the Board for no longer than 3 minutes. Written material of any length may be submitted. Preference will be given to persons who seek to address the Board on specific agenda items for the upcoming Board meeting. Agendas for upcoming Board meetings are generally posted 5 days prior to the meeting at www.doe.mass.edu/boe/docs/. Persons wishing to speak are strongly encouraged to submit their request before the day of the meeting; contact information is provided below. Preference will be given to those who submit requests by 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday preceding the regular Tuesday meeting. If time permits, the chairman will allow members of the public who have not contacted the Department in advance to speak in the public comment period; those individuals must sign in prior to the start of the meeting. The chairman may limit the number of speakers due to time constraints and may increase or reduce the time allocated per speaker. While there is no requirement to submit written testimony, a speaker who elects to do so should submit 15 copies of the testimony prior to or at the meeting for distribution to Board members. Requests to address the Board, written testimony, and other inquiries may be transmitted by mail, e-mail, fax, or telephone to: Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, Phone: 781-338-3102, Fax: 781-338-3770, E-mail: boe@doe.mass.edu.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an affirmative action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Inquiries regarding the Department's compliance with Title IX and other civil rights laws may be directed to the Human Resources Director, 75 Pleasant St., Malden, MA 02148, phone: 781-338-6105.

From my own 3 minutes of comments a while back on the eve of Massachusetts teacher evaluation scheme based on test scores:

Public Testimony on Massachusetts Teacher Evaluation Proposal
Jim Horn, Schools Matter
April 27, 2011
For the teachers who are growing our future today and can't be here, I speak against this latest plan by the Business Roundtable to further cripple our public schools, to more profoundly objectify our children, to pull apart the teacher-child relationship built on caring and trust.
This new corporate reform represents a well-funded form of bullying at the highest levels, not by elected officials or their appointees, but by unelected oligarchs whose hostile ideology threatens a takeover of public institutions in order to control steerage of an economy whose jobs they have shipped abroad, where children who can’t read or write work for slave wages to make the goods that Americans once made.
Corporate meddling in schools is nothing new. At the turn of the 20th Century, efficiency zealots insisted that schools operate as efficiently as the Henry Ford’s new production lines. Bolstered by the new psychometrics, and inspired by eugenics, those scientific managers kicked off the first orgy of tabulation in American schools, replete with scandalous IQ and achievement tests used to drive class wedges into the heart of the common school.
It took an economic depression and a world war to end that testing crusade, but it didn’t take long for a similar sorting machine to replace it, and another one after that with a new corporate label—accountability. So for the past 30 years we’ve devoted enormous energies to more sorting the poor by testing, that deform children, debase our ethics, and blow up our public schools, thus leaving urban poor kids more intensely segregated in corporate welfare charter schools built on a chain gang pedagogy that accepts no excuses, not even hunger or homelessness.
Even so, public school teachers of the Commonwealth persist in their noble work of teaching children, and teaching them well despite the unending attacks in the media.
In January, in fact, Governor Patrick announced that our 4th graders tied for first, and 8th graders tied for second on the most recent NAEP tests, having led the nation since 2005. On the 2007 TIMSS international math and science test, our 4th graders ranked second worldwide and 8th graders tied for first. If it weren’t for the bottom quintile of poor kids, in fact, most states’ schools would be ranked among the top countries in the world.
So what is the crisis to be averted this time by making test scores even more high stakes? Beneath the threadbare corporate veil of concern for achievement, we find here a transparent attack on teachers, on academic freedom, job security and autonomy, and on the teacher-student bond as teaching and learning give way even more to testing production. To achieve these goals is essential, however, if children and teachers are to be molded to fit a global economy with fewer local options and more dead end jobs.
One teacher recently interviewed spoke facetiously or cynically (it is hard to tell the difference these days) of how students may soon enter her classroom labeled as “pay cut” or “bonus.” This is harsh, but the reality is that a model that explicitly ties children’s scores to monetary worth creates such an atmosphere. Even effective and empathic teachers will be aware of how individual students may influence their own family’s economic security. Tying teacher pay or job security to test scores will not make teachers more accountable for student achievement, but it will have a deadly impact on the now tenuous relationship at the heart of student learning and growth.
This whole business of using value-added testing to evaluate teachers requires much more research before it can ever be done responsibly. I urge you to heed the National Research Council findings instead of parroting papers by the New Teacher Project or Education Trust or NCTQ, whose funders control both sides of the aisle of that same corporate jet fueled by tax credits. 
Don’t turn children into Pay Cut Sally or Bonus Billy based on their socioeconomic status before they ever sit down at a desk. This is bad policy that threatens to finish off the profession and to turn teaching toward a low-level child management occupation of last resort.
When the disgusted Spanish philosopher Unamuno confronted the fascist General Milan Astray in 1936, he said:
You will win because you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right in the struggle. I consider it futile to exhort you to think of Spain.
I do not think it futile to exhort you to help preserve the teacher-child relationship in Massachusetts. We are not yet a corporate dictatorship. In the meantime, the teachers, parents, and other active citizens of the Commonwealth are not persuaded. Reason and Right are lacking. We shall continue to stand for Reason and Right and to resist all else.

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