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

Friday, September 04, 2015

Guest Post: Jose Lara's Open Letter to Parents on Common Core Testing Results

“We can get the same information from low-pressure testing of small samples of students every few years, each student taking only a part of the test, and extrapolating the results to larger groups.  This will save taxpayers’ money, reduce testing anxiety, and give teachers more time to teach. When you go to the doctor, they don’t take all your blood. They only take a sample.” — Professor Stephen Krashen

The Honorable José Lara is a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Vice President of the El Rancho Unified School District. He is the Coordinator for ethnicstudiesnow.com and recipient the National Education Association's 2015 Social Justice Activist Award.

The Honorable Jose Lara is a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Vice President of the El Rancho Unified School District. He is the Coordinator for ethnicstudiesnow.com and recipient the National Education Association's 2015 Social Justice Activist Award.

Open Letter to Parents on Common Core Testing Results

Dear Parents,

Soon California will release the results of your child’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC tests. These tests are also known and the new Common Core test that California and states across the country implemented last year.

Please know that as you receive the results of your child's SBAC scores our child’s results may show up as failures. This does not mean that your child is not intelligent, that your child's teacher is doing a poor job or that the school your child is attending is failing.  However, it does mean that the SBAC test is achieving expected results. You see, the SBAC test is a failure by design.

The testing company, who was hired to design the SBAC tests,with no input from educators, has purposely designed it to produce a high failure rate. This is so those same testing companies can now sell your child's school the "new" curriculum, test prep materials, intervention programs, textbooks, apps, technologies, etc.to bring up test scores. Not only that, they also hope to fool enough people that they start demanding "better" schools (mind you the problem is the test not the school). Corporate Charter Schools can then come in and takeover. All the while the fat cat CEO's of these corporations make a killing off of our tax dollars.

This moves hundreds of millions of dollars from the public to the private sector where the focus is not in educating our children, but instead making a profit. After all, that is purpose of the business model.

So I write you to take heed of the your child’s results. The results are not a true measure of anything except that the test is working, as it was designed to produce failure. Do not be fooled. 

I write to you as a parent of two public school children and as a teacher to warn you of what is coming and to tell you that, no your child is not a failure and yes your child is more that just a test score. A test does not teach students anything, but teachers and schools do.

Lastly, if you are as upset as I am of this planned failure and the enormous about of money that is being wasted on this tests, then join me in opting out of school testing. There is a growing national movement to stop to over testing of our children and you actually have the right to opt out to have your child in a meaningful educational experience instead of testing. It is time to join this quite revolution against wrongful and over-testing of  our children. 

You can find more information about on the website here at www.unitedoptout.com


Jose Lara


  1. Open Letter To Parents And Caregivers

    This year 4th graders testing have been expanded beyond the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and local benchmark assessment. I was okay with SBAC and classroom assessment. Now schools want to over the testing of our students. This is over the top. Yes, we need accountability but taking the students away from instructional times for an extra 20 days to be tested is unacceptable. The only choice our students in inner city schools might have are to Opt out of the testing process.

    In theory, you can have assessments that provide parents with information about how their children are progressing, without a system that punishes schools (or students). Additionally, in theory, you could also provide parents with information on the types of learning opportunities students receive, and whether these opportunities are the same as what students in the most privileged schools receive.

    There are some Pros on why parents should OPT Out: As we know, 4th grades scores are used to track our children to the prison pipeline. Maybe this is another ways to add more of students into prison pipeline. The State Of California allows parents to Opt out of testing. As an Advocate for 30 years I have always wanted parents to have choices and options for their children’s education. The only problem is that parents in the inner cities, are not told about these choices, or informed about laws and policies that empower with those choices. An informed parent with knowledge, is a parent powerful parent; a parent that is prepared in the advocacy for their child.

    There are some Cons: Why should your child should be tested and compared against the academic growth of other student’s success or failure? Parents only have report cards, that not always accurate, in order to measure true achievement. The grading system from one teacher to another could vary due to grading on the curve system. This is a decision that all parents cannot afford not to ignore. The future of our children is in our hands. We must learn how to navigate the PreK-12 school structure, and gain knowledge on Policies and laws may have a negative impact on our children.

    We must become advocates for our children to ensure our children enjoy a healthy and inspiring education journey. Many of our elected officials never walk in urban parents and student shoes; they assume what is needed for students of color and our schools. We must never give our children over to a system that still holds low expectations for our students. What ever happened to our students retaining forty years learning for a lifetime, instead our students are getting a 40 days learning soon forgotten after the test. It is shameful that my generation has received a better education than our children. The saddest issue is that more money is spent today on education for a mediocre outcome. Our students graduate with low GPA’s of 1.53. We must stop lying to our young people that all is well in education. It time to stand up parents or we will have let down a whole generation of young people.

    Mary Johnson, President

  2. Thank you, Jose!!!