Spending Time on Testing Does Not Improve Academic Perfomance

The Council of the Great City Schools, launched a survey to determine how much testing is done in US public schools and how the tests are used. The survey result which was released on Saturday October 24, 2015 found that about 112 mandated tests are given to students in US big cities between prekindergarten and 12th grade.  Advanced Placement and ACT tests are not included in the survey’s count.

The survey also found that spending time on tests did not improve the academic performance of students using the National Assessment of Educational Progress, as a measuring tool.

Obama Administration Acknowledges Testing in Public Schools Has Gone Too Far!

The Obama Administration while admitting its part in encouraging the increase in testing, stated today, Saturday October 24, 2015 that tests should be limited to only 2% of instruction in the public schools. Under intense opposition from both the conservatives on the right, and parents, students, and teacher unions on the left, it urged Congress to limit testing in public schools in its reauthorization of the elementary and secondary education act according to a report by Kate Zernikeoct in New York Times.

Arne Duncan indicated that there should be a “check” annually to ensure that students are on track and to identify their areas of need. He stated that the Administration will assist states and school districts to solve the over testing in schools.

Randi Weigarten, the president of American Federation of Teachers, claiming victory on the part of teacher unions declared “Parents, students, educators, your voice matters and was heard.”

Two Principals of Chicago Public Schools Support Opting Out of PARCC

A report in Chicago Sun Times on March 4, 2015 by Lauren Fitzpatrick discusses that the principals of two highly rated elementary schools, in the Chicago Public Schools are supporting the parents of their students’ decision to opt-out of the state’s upcoming standardized test based on Common Core Standards. The test which is called Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC for short, will not be used to evaluate teachers, rate schools or decide whether students are promoted or graduate.

The principal of Nettelhorst Elementary School, Cindy Wulbert told the parents who wish to opt their children out of the test write a letter to the School’s administration requesting to opt-out.

Troy LaRaviere , the out-spoken principal of Blaine Elementary School e-mailed  his students’ parents as follows:

“I am writing to make it clear that the Blaine administration fully supports the PTA’s effort to maximize Blaine students’ instructional time. “Students whose parents opt them out will receive a full day of instruction. Teachers are developing plans that will provide enriched learning experiences for non-testing students during the testing window. I want to clearly state that whether you opt-out or not, Blaine’s administration and teachers will respect and support your wishes for your child.”

A New Jersey Second Grader Weighs in on State Tests

In Florham Park New Jersey, a Briarwood Elementary School second grader, seven-year-old Saige Price, testified about her experience with testing before the New Jersey Board of Education Valerie Strauss reported in the Washington Post on January 17, 2015.

Here is what Saige said:

Dear members of the New Jersey State Board, and fellow stakeholders:

Hi. My name is Saige Price. I go to Briarwood Elementary School in Florham Park where I attend second grade. Thank you for allowing me to speak today. I would like to talk about play in school and the need for more time for free play. Children should have more recess because it allows us to play with our friends. Instead, we spend most of our time just reading, doing math problems, taking math tests and reading tests.

Is that all that matters to grown-ups?

What about more lunch time, more time for violin, doing more creative stuff in art, dance, or musical theater, more gym time, or more time to learn what we want? What about creating our own problems?

I love my teacher but at the beginning of the year I did not want to go to school because I thought school was boring; I still do. Sometimes, when my parents try to wake me up for school, I would cry and say I am too tired or sick so that I would not have to go to school. I don’t think school lets me be myself and be creative.

I remember when I was 5 years old, I told my mom that I did not want to take iReady [a standardized diagnostic test]. Whenever I got a low score I would have to go back to the computer lab until I got a higher score. I hated it. It should be against the law. I think kindergartners should not have to take any standardized test or practice standardized test like iReady. These tests are too hard for kindergartners.

I remember being 5 and feeling mad and sad because the questions were always too hard for me.

Every time I sat at the computer after I was done with the test, I would think to myself, “I stink! I am bad at this.” No kid should feel that way about school. People should not feel, ‘I stink at this,’ at 5, 6, 7, 8  or any other age. School and all of these tests kill our love of learning.

I think school should be about play time and exploring.

Have you ever been in a kids’ lunch room at lunch time? If you go to many of these cafeterias, you will see there is hardly enough time to even eat. Many kids end up throwing their food away. Some of the teachers often ask us if we are sure we want to throw the food away but many do anyway because we want to play for the few minutes we have.

Out of all the hours we spend in school, we have the least amount of time being able to eat and play.

If you want to fix schools you should ask kids, the teacher’s helpers, and teachers.

Thank you for your time.

Mississippi Elected Officials Reject Common Core Standards

Heather Kays a research fellow of The Heartland Institute and the managing editor of School Reform News, a national monthly publication reported in the Heartlander on December 31, 2014 on the growing anti-Common Core standards movement in Mississippi. Many Mississippians and Senator Angela Hill (R-District 40, Marion, Pearl River, Walthall) are happy that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves indicated their disapproval of the Common Core K-12 math and language standards. Senator Hill who has been working on repealing the Common Core standards stated to School Reform News, “I’m encouraged by the actions and the words of the governor and lieutenant governor. I’m ready to work with the lieutenant governor to establish higher standards than Common Core and higher standards than Mississippi has ever had.”

Chicago Public School Parents Oppose New Test

The Illinois State Board of Education, ISBE, plans to administer a very unpopular 10-hour standardized test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC, next spring in the midst of strong dissent from both parents and educators. On Friday November 21, 2014, 3700 signed petitions against PARCC were delivered by a parent group to the ISBE urging for at least a year’s delay of the test. The parents asked the Board of Education to request a waiver from the US Department of Education, but ISBE intends to administer the test partially out of fear of losing funding from the federal government according to state superintendent Christopher Koch. Joining the call for a year’s delay is Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the Chicago Public Schools CEO who requested the year’s delay for the PARCC implementation because the district is not ready to administer the exam.


Colorado High School Seniors Boycott State Tests in Unexpected Show of Solidarity and Numbers

In a strong show of solidarity, thousands of Colorado high school seniors from various schools and districts refused to take the state mandated tests in science and social studies administered on Thursday November 13, 2014. The high school seniors’ stance against taking the state mandated tests bolsters the rising anti-test movement not only in Colorado where both liberals and conservatives are united against over-testing, but also across the the United States.