For the news and views you might have missed
A decade into the school accountability movement, pockets of resistance to standardized testing are sprouting up around the country, with parents and students opting out of the high-stakes tests used to evaluate schools and teachers.
From Seattle, where 600 high school students refused to take a standardized test in January, to Texas, where 86 percent of school districts say the tests are “strangling our public schools,” anti-testing groups argue that bubble exams have proliferated beyond reason, delivering more angst than benefits.
“Over the last couple of years, they’ve turned this one test into the all and everything,” said Cindy Hamilton, a 50-year-old mother of three in Florida who founded Opt Out Orlando in response to the annual Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which starts again Monday. Her group is one of dozens of new organizations opposed to such testing.
The opt-out movement is nascent but growing, propelled by parents, students and some educators using social media to swap tips on ways to spurn the tests. They argue that the exams cause stress for young children, narrow classroom curricula, and, in the worst scenarios, have led to cheating because of the stakes involved — teacher compensation and job security.
To read this article in full, go to the the Washington Post.
From students in Chicago:
Chicago Student’s Boycott
PSAE Second Day
Wednesday, April 24TH 2013
SPREAD THE WORD!
Tell your friends about boycotting the 2nd day of PSAE!
Load up the buses or stay home. Send a message. Stop School Closings !!
Find out more, contact us at:
And the video:
And an article on the student boycott:
A group of Chicago high school students plans to boycott part of next week’s state exam, because they’re upset with how their results are being used.
They said it’s unfair to judge whether their schools are good or not based on one test. (Chicago Public Schools uses a complicated formula to judge performance, but more than half of the possible points are based on parts of the PSAE)
Two student-led groups, Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, called on their classmates to walk out of the second day of testing for the Prairie State Achievement Exam, or PSAE, Wednesday. Students take the ACT during the first day and many don’t want to jeopardize their chances at college.
Isaac Velasquez, a junior at Curie High School and part of the group: Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools, said he’s sick of test prep.
“Throughout the year, most of my teachers insisted on preparing us with EXPLORE quizzes as the administration believed it is efficient to prep us for the ‘big day,’” he said. “As a student, I found myself baffled, as I felt I had to make a decision between keeping up with current events and debates and doing well in school.”
And from the Facebook page OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement:
Heads up Colorado – student walkout May 10th.
Where there is a lot of money involved, as there is with the testing industry, there will be bribes and scams. I have learned that there is no such thing as a free lunch even though some “education officials” would say otherwise.
New York State’s attorney general is investigating whether the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of one of the nation’s largest educational publishers, acted improperly to influence state education officials by paying for overseas trips and other perks.
The office of the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, issued subpoenas this week to the foundation and to Pearson Education seeking documents and information related to their activities with state education officials, including at least four education conferences — in London, Helsinki, Singapore and Rio de Janeiro — since 2008, according to people familiar with the investigation.
At issue is whether the activities of the tax-exempt Pearson Foundation, which is prohibited by state law from engaging in undisclosed lobbying, were used to benefit Pearson Education, a for-profit company, according to these people. Pearson sells standardized tests, packaged curriculums and Prentice Hall textbooks.
Specifically, the attorney general’s investigation is looking at whether foundation employees improperly sought to influence state officials or procurement processes to obtain lucrative state contracts, and whether the employees failed to disclose lobbying activities in annual filings with the attorney general’s office. The inquiry follows two columns about the conferences by Michael Winerip in The New York Times this fall.
If there is evidence that the foundation engaged in substantial lobbying and failed to disclose it, it could face fines and lose its tax-exempt status under state and federal laws. No subpoenas were issued to state education officials, the people with knowledge of the matter said.
In a statement Wednesday, a Pearson Education spokeswoman said, “As a matter of policy, Pearson does not comment on government inquiries or potential legal proceedings.” A spokesman said the foundation “does not currently have a comment” about the inquiry, and added, “nor is it our practice to offer comment on legal proceedings or government inquiries.”
In New York, Pearson Education most recently won a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state tests, and it maintains a $1 million contract for testing services with the State Education Department, according to state records. The last contract was awarded after David M. Steiner, then the state education commissioner, attended a conference in London in June 2010 that was organized by the Council of Chief State School Officers and underwritten by the Pearson Foundation.
To read this article in full, go to the New York Times.
And from Diane Ravitch’s Blog:
John White, Louisiana State Superintendent, announced that he was recalling all confidential student data from inBloom, the massive data warehouse funded by the Gates Foundation with $100 million.
Is this for real? Time will tell.
Parents in the state loudly protested the release of their children’s identifying information to the data warehouse, which was developed by Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify. Murdoch’s News Corporation is under investigation in England for hacking into people’s cell phones and computers. The most egregious case, which he settled for an undisclosed amount, involved hacking into the cell phone of a dead girl, in hopes of getting information about her killer.
To read this post in full, go to Diane Ravitch’s Blog.
The last word I will give to Suli Breaks:
I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate