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Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s scare tactics re: Opting Out of the Common Core SBAC

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Dorn Speaks Out on Consequences of Test RefusalsNotated

The following is a press release that State Superintendent Randy Dorn sent on Friday, April 24th in response to the number of opt out that are occurring around the state of Washington and the resistance to the related Common Core Standards.

One thing to keep in mind while reading his press release is that Randy Dorn has close ties to Gates money, see Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why.

Dorn’s press release is in italics. My thoughts are not. I think you’ll be able to tell the difference:

OLYMPIA — April 24, 2015 — I’ve said many times that statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, receive a quality education. If too many families refuse to have their children participate in the state tests, there are consequences.

No one seemed to have a problem with the HSPE or the WASL which was the test required to graduate in the state of Washington in previous years. Hmmm, what could be different about this test?

• Academic consequences: State tests are not the only measure of student learning, but by testing all students in grades 3-8 and high school with standardized tests, we are able to see where learning gaps exit and know where to target funds for additional help.

This one is a no-brainer. You provide additional funding to schools in low income areas.

If some families refuse to have students tested, the results become less reliable. It’s difficult to know who is actually struggling and needs that additional help because accurate comparisons can’t be made.

Another no-brainer, ask the teacher.

• Monetary consequences: If our state does not reach a 95% participation rate on the state tests, the U.S. Department of Education could place Washington on “high-risk status” and withhold administrative funds — or even program funds — that support:

The US Department of Education (USDOE) has already placed our state at risk of losing funding based on the No Child Left Behind edict that 100% of our students should meet “proficiency” by 2014. That didn’t happen so we are already at risk of losing Title 1 funds. Thing is, this has occurred in other states also and so far, there has been no action taken by the USDOE.

Also the USDOE is walking a very fine line here. According to the US Constitution, the government is not to determine a national curriculum or assessment (test) so for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to make such threats borders on an act that is unconstitutional.

And lastly, it was Dorn who determined that Washington State should use the Common Core Standards with the concomitant SBAC tests, not parents, students or teachers in our state. We the people of Washington State had no idea what the Common Core Standards were when the state legislators approved them, and neither did our legislators because the (national) standards had not been completed when the legislators approved them for our state. It was all based on promises by Randy Dorn and his Gates backed group Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) so the responsibility of any financial consequences falls directly in his lap, not ours. It was the OSPI that lied to the legislature about how the Common Core (National) Standards were aligned with the then current standards under the Hanover study. It was State Superintendent Randy Dorn who is responsible for making the commitments with consequences, not the parents, teachers or students of Washington State. For more on Randy Dorn and his affiliation with Bill Gates, see State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s “interpretation” of the Common Core SBAC testing and opting out: Truthiness in Education and Have you received a robo-call from Ready Washington about the wonders of Common Core Standards and the SBAC? If so, this is why.

Since parents were not included in the decision making process regarding statewide assessments, opting out is one way the people have of expressing their will. Pay attention Mr. Dorn

○ Title I, parts A and C (affecting highest-poverty schools, limited English proficient children, migratory children, children with disabilities, Indian children, neglected or delinquent children, young children in need of reading assistance, and K–12 students in need of additional assistance in reading, mathematics, science and in meeting graduation requirements);
○ Title II (affecting teacher and principal training and recruiting);
○ Title III (affecting language instruction for limited English proficient and immigrant students);
○ Title VI, Part B (affecting programs for students in rural schools);
○ School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (affecting schools with the greatest need and strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement of students in their lowest-performing schools);
○ Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (affecting services to children with disabilities for early intervention, special education, and related services).

This was the same threat given to parents in New York last year but nothing happened, no Federal money was withheld. This year, the opt outs have doubled.

It’s also important to note that 11th graders who refuse to test will miss out on the opportunity to avoid more testing in the future: Nearly 200 colleges and universities in six states have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores to place students into credit-bearing courses, once they’ve been accepted.

This is already happening in our state without a standardized test required. A student can take college courses while still enrolled in high school based on a teacher’s reference.

No test is perfect. But the Smarter Balanced tests, with their emphasis on real-world skills, are better than any standardized test our state has administered before. If students don’t test, it’s more difficult to identify what skills they lack and how best to help them.

Real world skills like a third grader using a mouse?

Again, teachers are the best barometer on how a student is doing in class.

Also, where is the proof that backs Dorn’s statement that the SBAC is the best thing since sliced bread? There’s not even proof the Smarter Balanced Assessments are valid and reliable.

The decision to refuse testing doesn’t just affect the individual student. It affects students across the state. If you don’t like the federal law, don’t refuse to have your child take the tests; call your U.S. representative and senators and tell them to change the law.

Actually, it was our state legislators who approved the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the related SBAC test. For the US Congress to mandate a country wide curriculum or assessment would be illegal.

But rest easy Mr. Dorn, there is a proposal now in Olympia that will eliminate the Common Core Standards in our state.

And as is stated in the response to Dorn’s nastygram over at Stop Common Core in Washington State:

“SPI Dorn should comply with federal law and the Constitution of the United States.  More than comply, he should be held accountable for not complying.  Why is he allowing the federal government to make decisions about education in our state when the Constitution and the 10th Amendment clearly makes it the responsibility of the state and the people, not the federal government?  The Race to the Top Assessment Grant awarded to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium required the development of a valid and reliable assessment.  No proof or evidence of SBAC’s validity and reliability exists.  NCLB requires the state to administer valid and reliable assessments.  By using the SBAC, WA is not in compliance with federal law.  Why is Superintendent Randy Dorn having the state administer an assessment that does not meet the requirement of federal law?  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal interstate compact under the Compact Clause of the U. S. Constitution.  Why did SPI Dorn commit and allow the state to participate in an illegal interstate compact using taxpayer dollars?”

Honestly, Mr. Dorn, don’t you think when so many parents and students around the country demand to opt out of a test that something is very wrong?

We look forward to your reply.

Submitted by Dora Taylor

Post Script:

Dorn’s office has made an official request of the USDOE to waive the use of SBAC for AYP for the 2014-15 school year.

If this waiver is granted, then all the threats of withholding Title 1 funding become null and void, and the opt-outs risk nothing.

The fact that Dorn is asking for this waiver demonstrates that he knows the SBAC will be an invalid or an inequitable measure of schools and students and yet he is sending out this press release.

There appears to be a bit of doublespeak coming from OSPI.

And, even the Gates Foundation– the biggest underwriter and promoter of the Common Core (National) Standards– recognized the problems with Common Core tests for accountability measures and in June, 2014, in a letter from Vicki Phillips, Gates called for a 2 year moratorium on their use for these purposes see http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/gates-foundation-urges-delay-in-using-tests-for-teacher-evaluation/2014/06/10/d037c7fa-f0e1-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html.

7 comments on “Washington State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s scare tactics re: Opting Out of the Common Core SBAC

  1. Bonnie Yenney
    January 14, 2016

    As an educator, I was very upset with your action during the State of the State. We teach our students to be respectful and what all educators saw was you, dealing with the educational issues, in an immature manner.
    You owe the Governor and all educators an apology .

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  4. Title I school teacher
    April 26, 2015

    We spend more on testing in Washington than we get from Title I. If we cancelled the SBA and used the money to fund Title I schools, we could tell Duncan to take a hike.
    Also-instead of Title I funds being used to help high poverty schools reach similar funding levels of higher income schools, too often state and local “leaders” withhold funds because Title I schools get “all that money”. If you don’t believe me, visit a Title I school and compare it to schools that are in richer neighborhoods. IT will be obvious that the levels of funding are worlds apart. It is a sad fact that this money has rarely reached those for whom the original law was written.

  5. Kevin Ohlandt
    April 26, 2015

    This guy sounds exactly like Delaware’s Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, with one exception. Murphy would never say “call your representative” to have the law changed. Cause we did, and there is legislation which would codify a parent’s right to opt out of the state assessment. The Secretary said the state could stand to lose $90 million in Federal funding if too many students opt out. He even provided a nice letter from the US DOE which I debunked in five minutes. Keep opting out Washington students!

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