Seattle Education

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Testimony by a mother who knows: The SBAC, graduation, “College and Career Ready”

JON KRAUSE/NEWS ART

I am a high school math teacher and Richland School District parent. I’ve worked on the SBAC as a contractor for McGraw-Hill and on assessment committees for Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). I am a parent who understands the history of Washington state standards and assessments, and how we came to SBAC and the Common Core State Standards. There was a time that I supported the Common Core. I believe in accountability and rigor. But making a question harder is not rigor and closing the door to a child’s future is not accountability.

Our community’s future grows dark when our children can’t graduate. Without a diploma, they can’t enter the military, apply for trade jobs, and entry into community college or finding work becomes less likely. It’s easy to say “Not our kids” when we’re used to living in a community with an 80% graduation rate. But the probability of our children not graduating will increase with the SBAC. The SBAC designers have predicted an average failure rate of at least 60%. 60% of our children are going to be labeled as failing in school, at learning, and failing at their future before they even step out of high school. They will be labeled failing by a test that doesn’t actually assess what OSPI says it does.

While Pearson, Gates, and McGraw-Hill are draining billions of dollars from our public schools, they are giving us false promises that the SBAC will make our children “college and career ready”. The SBAC can’t do that. Recent studies have shown that even the SAT isn’t an accurate predictor of college readiness. High school students who have scored well on the SAT, but did poorly in high school, were more like to drop out of college than students who did well high school but struggled with testing. If the SAT can’t make these predictions, then neither can the SBAC.

The people who teach our children and live in our community do a far better job of predicting success. High school GPA, proven to be a better predictor of college success, depends on tests that teachers design and curriculum that is selected by the local school district. Not a faceless group of people and corporations whose end goal is to make money. Teacher tests aren’t secretive, they don’t cost billions of dollars, and they really do guide instruction. A local curriculum and standards reflect local community values.

The failure of the SBAC and my trust in my children’s teachers is why I chose to opt my them out-of-state testing. We didn’t vote for the Common Core. We didn’t need the SBAC to tell us that we were ready for careers or college. That’s what report cards were for. Teaching can and has occurred without national standards. It’s time to stop paying for corporate lies. It’s time to take back education for our community and our children. We reached out to state representatives, and they have chosen to ignore us in favor of the corporations. Since the state won’t hear us, we ask that you, our locally elected school board, listen. We need you to support parents who want to protect our children from the abuse of the corporations.

-Elizabeth Vann-Clark

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