Category Archives: Opt Out of Tests

There Are Some Bully Snakes When It Comes To Toxic Testing

I’m mad.

No.

I’m infuriated.

As I have grown older and wiser, and taken the advice from many peers, they have often suggested “to wait 24 hours before responding”.

Cool Down.

Sleep on it.

Chew on it.

Wait.

Breath.Bully 2

In this case, 24 hours will not change the red I see, or the shame I feel, about an adult BULLY in any school.

This principal is 100% Bull Snake.

This is uncalled for and inexcusable.

Period.

What am I so infuriated about?

Read the story first and see if your blood will boil like mine before I comment further.

Story Eight

bully 7“My daughter’s school awarded the students who completed the M-STEP (Michigan’s state test) with ice cream sundaes today. My daughter was the only one in her school who refused the test. Soooo… she sat in her class and cried while the other kids ate. She was most hurt by her principal (who explicitly let her know she could NOT have a sundae) and her teacher who coughed out, “don’t give N#% a napkin” to the little girl who passed them out.”

As of 9:30 p.m. Pacific Time, June 4th, 317 comments have been posted to this mother’s story.

Here are four selected comments to give a small taste of the outrage:

1) “What?!? These brainwashed educators are seriously in the wrong career, if tests are more important than a child’s social and emotional well being in their brain, then they need to leave the field. Blindly following those in control is a serious issue in education right now.”

2) “This is abuse!”

3) “This happened to my daughter last year in 5th grade. She was the only one in her entire GRADE who was excluded. She sat for 2 hours alone outside and watched her classmates eat hotdogs and Popsicles and drink Gatorade and play games. I cried for a week straight knowing that my actions caused my daughter to be hurt but I finally realized it wasn’t me who was to blame. It was our rotten admins who are nothing but bullies!”

4) “That’s beyond disgraceful! Every school employee involved in that debacle should be immediately fired! Good teachers and admins would NEVER do that to a child.”

Final Comments

It has been 6 hours since I first read this mother’s frustration and heartache for her daughter. 

I’m still infuriated.

My blood is still boiling.

bully 5The sad part regarding this story out of Michigan is knowing other children are suffering the same treatment.  What is it about some schools treating children with dignity who opt out of the reptilian, invalid tests… and others who have educators acting like snakes?

Bull Snakes.

Bullies!

The little girl in this story is in 3rd grade. 3rd Grade! She is 8 or 9 years old.  She sat and watched her classmates making sundaes, eating them, smiling, happy and she was made to sit and watch.

And shamed.

“You’re a bad little girl.  You didn’t take the state test.  We’ll show you.”

Hmmmm… did this school offer an ice cream party to the children who turned in all of their homework for the year?  Did this school offer an ice cream party to the children showing growth in math or reading in their classroom work?  Did this school offer an ice cream party to children who wrote a story or a top notch book report?  Did this school offer ice cream sundaes to the children who attended school all year and worked hard?

No.

Hmmmm… for what reason, then, do the children in this school get an ice cream sundae party?

For taking a test.

A Test.

The other 179 days of school don’t matter.

The test does.

This is putrid.  Each time I read the story,  I can smell the rot.

The love affair the politicians and other powers that be have with this testing obsession… are directly responsible for creating venomous environments for our children.  It is sad how some educators, trained to inspire children, are becoming snakes themselves.

Bullying Snakes.

Take Action

Bully 4

Please write the superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools, and let her know this little girl deserves better.  I have included the contact information below:

Chester F. Miller Elementary School Facebook Page

Contact this school

2020 Brockway Street

Saginaw, MI 48602

Chester F. Miller Elementary School Website

Phone: (989) 399-4850

Fax: (989) 399-4855

Saginaw Public School Website

The Superintendent of Saginaw Public Schools:

Kelley A. Peatross, Ph.D.

She says:

“Know that we are committed to being ‘all in’ for our students and we hope that you are as well.”

Ali 2

Dear Dr. Peatross,

I’m “all in” for this little girl. I hope you make this right. This little girl deserves a sundae in your office and an apology to her family. I also hope you consider next steps for how principals in your school district are allowed to treat children. This principal publically bullied this little girl in front of her teacher and her peers. As an educator, I am appalled and ashamed by this behavior.

 Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

Join: OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement

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Testing is Becoming A Den of Snakes

I received the following story from a mom of a junior attending a high school in Spokane School District.  It crossed my computer screen late last night.  My sleep was restless.  Each time I woke up, this story entered my heart and made my blood boil.

Tossing and turning.

What can little ole’ me do?

For those of you who are close to me, one thing you know is I am a snake phobic.  I have been since I was a very small child.  Kind of silly.  Yet, here I find myself writing a SBAC Snake Series.  Just seeing pictures of snakes makes my skin crawl.  I envision the Indiana Jones scene in which the snakes are slithering over and under each other in the temple.  I couldn’t watch.

Another story came out of California, of a family who built their home over a snake den.  Unaware.  I again envision the hoard of snakes wiggling over and under each other and crawling up through the vents.  The occupants would kill one snake only to face another and another and another.  A snake exterminator didn’t work. Eventually the family vacated their brand new home after trying every avenue to eliminate the snakes.

Deep Breath. Den of Snakes 2

Mercy.

The following story made me feel like this family.

I’ve got my machete out and I’m trying to chop off the heads of all the Testing Snakes.

The SBA is like a huge King Cobra.

And there are many other snakes among us.

Story Seven

“I’m having an impossible time with my son’s High School (Spokane WA) My son is in the national honor society, an ACE Scholar, 3.8 GPA, honors and AP classes, has 18 of the 22 required credits for graduation (he’s only a junior) and he’s being told he won’t graduate next year because he hasn’t passed the Common Core standardized test (EOC) for biology (missed by 10 points). He got a C when he took AP biology. I’m so angry. What can I do?! Who do I talk or go to? I’ve been to the counselor, the vice principal, and now here. I need help. I’m going to explode with rage soon. Can anyone help me help my amazing son get this EOC test off his back?!?”

From a Mom with a conscience (emphasis mine)

Concluding Thoughts

What are we doing to our children? What messages are we sending? Can anyone honestly say this young man isn’t “college and career ready”?

Seriously.

He has four years of high school. Taken AP classes. Shown the new buzz word… “grit” and he won’t graduate because of one biology test? And he passed his AP Biology Class.

UNETHICAL.

What is this kind of stress doing to this young man? Is this test crazed data addicted system making him feel like a failure?

This is complete BS. Yep, my blood is boiling.

I wonder if they will make him take a “remedial” biology course his senior year from curricular materials written by Pearson? This wave of over testing is all about the “dang” money.

While the Chinese pay for IV Drips to keep their children awake to test prep, and the United States tries to “be more like them”, our children are pushed to have more “Grit”.

Yep.

We are fighting a den of snakes.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

This Story has A Happy Ending…

Read: A High School Junior Beheads a Snake

References:

1)  Why Teaching Kids To Have Grit Isn’t Always a Good Thing

2)  Chinese High School Pays For IV Drips For Studying Students

A Courageous High School Senior Stands Up To The SBA Snake

As I contemplate upon this story, my mind travels to Rosa Parks. This courageous woman was willing to defy the law and make a stand. Who has this kind of courage? What kind of person does it take to stand against the norm or what is accepted as “law”? Who has the ability to make a ripple in history and curb its trajectory?Ali 4

“On December 1, 1955, African-American seamstress Rosa Parks (1913-2005) was returning home from her job at a local department store on the Cleveland Avenue bus. She was seated in the front row of the “colored section.” When the white seats filled, the driver, J. Fred Blake (1912-2002), asked Parks and three others to vacate their seats. The other African-American riders complied, but Parks refused. She was arrested and fined $10, plus $4 in court fees.”Montgomery Bus Boycott

There are two key phrases above worthy to highlight:

  • The other African-American riders complied
  • Parks refused

Doesn’t this exemplify the parallels of today?

There are those who are quietly complying with the “laws”, being good boys and girls, men and women.  Quietly taking marching orders, and doing exactly what they are asked to do.

Then there are those who refuse. (Despite the complacent souls all around them).

Boycott.

Opt Out.

Declare, “Enough is Enough!”

Ali 5Rosa Parks’ small act of refusing to give up her seat, spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and is regarded as the first large scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S.  The boycott of public buses by blacks, in Montgomery, began on the day of Parks’ court hearing and lasted 381 days.

Wrapped within this story is a hidden little nugget.

Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year old Claudette Colvin (1939- ) was arrested for the same act.  The city’s black leaders were going to stage a protest, but it was found out Claudette was pregnant with a child.  Therefore, they deemed her an inappropriate symbol for the cause.

Such were the times.

However, this does not negate the fact a 15 year old had the moxie (courage) to refuse. A fifteen year old, young, black woman, stood against the “powers that be” and the “law”, in a time when African Americans were looked down upon and considered less than those in charge.

The following young woman sent me this story yesterday.  There is no doubt she possesses the same fearless spirit of Rosa and Claudette.  A young woman, with a bright future ahead, speaks out, speaks up, and takes a stand.

Complete Moxie.

Courageous.

Story Six

High School Senior Challenges The Reptilian Monster

Ali 11

Hi,  

I am a senior attending a high school in Bellingham, Washington.

I was in Algebra 2 this a.m. when my teacher started to excuse the juniors in my class to practice for the Smarter Balance Assessment. I stood up in the back of the room where my desk is and said, “You do NOT have to take the test, you can opt out.” 

My teacher, we will call her ‘Mrs. L’, said, “No, you kids need to go, and if you don’t take it, you will be suspended.” 

I then said “No, that is wrong, it is not required what so ever.”

She then excused the kids and told me to go on up to the office. I said “Fine, but I know I am right.”

I go up to the office and the principal, ‘Mr. K’ asked me, “What’s up? Why did you get sent up here?”

I said, “I just told the kids that they can opt out from the SBA and ‘Mrs. L’ told me to come up here.”

He said “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

I was not put in any of the offices in the main office. He just told me to sit in a chair next to the main office secretary. My counselor never came in. ‘Mr. K’ never left the office. He came back about 10-15 minutes later, looked at me and just said “Alright, go back to class (me).”

I never got written up, my parents were not called, and nothing that I know of went into my file. Even if it did, I don’t care. I stood up for what I believe in and I graduate in 40 days. This is the first time I have EVER been sent to the office. We will see how the rest of the week goes. Practice testing is for the rest of the week, and the real testing is happening for the next two weeks. I plan to speak up every day until everyone knows.  

Here is the Facebook event link that the kids from three Bellingham High schools have made. You can share this on your blog also:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1055265677834398/

Thanks so much! 

A High School Senior with a Conscience (emphasis mine)

Concluding Thoughts

I’m extremely proud of the youth from these three Bellingham High Schools. They are refusing to blindly follow a state “mandate” and are willing to use their voices and boycott what is ethically wrong. Read their stand:

Ali 1

This is the courage it will take to rid our nation of the Toxic Testing Snakes.

Ali 2

In honor of the brave, young lady who stood up in the back of her classroom, and to all the gutsy students attending a Bellingham High School, I dedicate the following:

“Robert Kennedy once said that few will have the greatness to bend history,

but each of us can work to change a small portion of events,

and in the total of all those acts,

will be written in the history of a generation.”

I personally thank each of you for being dauntless.   Your stand for what is right and true will make a difference in the future of many children… including your own you may have someday.

Respectfully Submitted,

 RAZ ON FIRE

The SBA Being Sold Like Snake Oil… Story Five… Puyallup, WA

In my previous posts in this series, it has been established the SBA (Smarter Balanced Assessment) is a black snake injecting its venom into our schools. It continues to flabbergast me each time I hear a story about who is promoting this test. A vision entered my mind of charlatans peddling snake oil. I see them around oval tables in ivory towers squeezing the SBA for all it is worth and figuring out ways to sell it to the public.

Drip. Drip.

Bottles are filled.

Robo-calls are made.Snake Oil 3

Letters are sent out from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Schools signed by Mr. Randy Dorn, espousing the “wonders” of the SBA, and “how it helps determine who is career and college ready”… “Without the scores, there is just no way to know who will be successful in college”… “The SBA is ‘THE’ answer we all have been waiting for to solve the ills of the educational system”.

The snake is squeezed.

Drip. Drip.

Threats are made. Superintendents of school districts feel the pressure of the poison. They in turn, pressure the administrators under them, and those put pressure on the principals, and they in turn drip the venom onto the teachers.

Snake Oil.

Story Five

The following story comes from a parent of a junior attending a High School in Puyallup, WA.   (It has already been determined 11th graders do not need to pass the SBA in order to receive a diploma in Story Three) Read what she shares, and determine if this is a case of a swindler selling snake oil.

Assistance, please….I have written my daughter’s high school three times to opt out my junior. No response to date. Today, she received her SBA schedule. She let the teacher know that she has been opted out and will not be taking the tests.

The teacher’s response was, “Too bad. You’re taking them anyway. It doesn’t matter what your parents say, they are state mandated.”

I need to know what I can do because I work 3 minutes away from the school and am about to go there and go ninja spider monkey crazy on them….

I’d want to go ninja spider monkey crazy on them too. As an educator, it makes me sad teachers have been pressured to enter into this sham. More teachers are rising up and pushing back, however, others march to the music of the snake charmers. They deliver the snake oil in hypnotized fear imparting the message of the money backed con artists.

The next day the parent updated the group with the following:

***Deep Breath***

I finally succeeded in opting my junior out of her SBA. Today, her English teacher told the class, while explaining the tests: “Those of you who have opted out will show a zero on the transcripts that colleges will see. This means you won’t be able to take any 101 classes, only 98 classes which are High School level. They also base these on my performance, so if you fail or opt out, I get fired.”

Grrrrrrrr.

Drip Drip.

Snake Oil.

Here are some responses from other parents to this story:

1) For the record, I had absolutely no problem at the elementary school or the Junior High my children attend in Puyallup. It was truly hassle free and one of the principals actually called me to tell me when they were practice testing ahead of time. So the high school principal is the root of the issue. You could also talk with administrator (name left anonymous) in the downtown office 1:1. She’s nice.

2) This is not acceptable and is emotional manipulation in addition to being a blatant lie.

3) It was a lie, the teacher is speaking out of fear or anger….either way the teacher is uninformed. As a parent, I feel for all our teachers who are having to deal with what their districts push on them. They are feeling it from up above. It’s coming from the top down, and it’s sad. Parents need to attend board meetings and make these things known.

4) My 6th grade son’s English/Social Studies teacher told her class if they didn’t do well on the test, she’d be fired. It’s INSANE!

Grrrrrrrr.

What eats snakes?

Mongoose devour them.

However, I feel more like this Tasmanian Devil.  Watch 30 second video clip (here).

Tasmanian devils have been known to eat a reptile or two.

Concluding Thoughts

Those of us who desire to go “ninja spider monkey crazy” are people who have done a lot of research. We have charlatan radar and refuse to buy the bottle of snake oil. The definition is as follows:

Snake oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is their self a fraud, quack, charlatan, or the like.

The SBA is one of those PRODUCTS.

It IS questionable and it DOES have an unverifiable quality.

And… of course… NO benefits.

Thus, essentially, the SBA is a $nake being milked and $old just like Snake Oil.

And, then, there’s this…

“Standardized test passing rates are based on arbitrary and political decisions about how many students decision-makers want to fail. SBAC admits it cannot validate whether its tests measure college readiness until it has data on how current test takers do in college. In fact, SBAC declares that the achievement levels “do not equate directly to expectations for `on-grade’ performance” and test scores should only be used with multiple other sources of information about schools and students.” –A System that Labels Children as Failures, by Wendy Lecker (See References)

This is what turns me into the Tasmanian Devil… The SBAC admits it cannot validate whether its tests measure college readiness until it has data on how current test takers do in college???!!!

Huh?

Sheesh!

Um. Clearing the throat.

Snake Oil 2Why, oh why, are those who are supposed to be the leaders in our state, allowing this charade to continue? If the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium itself admits they cannot validate the test as a predictor to success in college, why, then, are the citizens of Washington State receiving robo-calls paid for by ReadyWA.org (funded by Gates Money) or letters from Superintendent Randy Dorn (CCSSO funded by Gates Money)?

Snake Oil Salesman.

Why is the SBA being promoted by Gates funded organizations? Why is the educational leader of our state, Superintendent Dorn promoting the SBA?

$$$$$$$$$$$ssssssssssssssSnake…. Oil….. $$$$$$$$$$$ssssssss

More and more studies are emerging to expose the faultiness of the SBA. There are several links in the reference section exposing the greasy and VERY expensive bottle of lard for what it is.

Don’t buy it.

Opt Out.

Refuse.

My blood is boiling… is yours?

Speak Up. Speak Out.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

  1. A system that labels children as failures, by Wendy Lecker, was first published in the Stanford Advocate on Friday, December 19, 2014.
  2. Jonathan Pelto posted Lecker’s article on his blog entitled, “Wait What?”
  3. The Smarter Balanced Common Core Mathematics Tests are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used
  4. Full Report: The Smarter Balanced Common Core Mathematics Tests are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used.  (Last Updated 4/29/2015)
  5. Common Core SBAC Test Shows No Validity or Reliability
  6. Common Core Testing Disaster, FLASHREPORT
  7. SBAC Test Shows No Validity or Reliability, Missouri Education Watchdog
  8. The Common Core SBAC: Separating fact from fiction, the top ten FAQ’s and answers about opting out

Turn the Spotlight on The Viper… Story Four… Guest Peggy Robertson… Aurora, CO

About a year ago, I came across Peg with a Pen. Her blog fascinated me… and exposed me… to so much information I hadn’t been aware of before. Have you ever had one of those moments when you were handed a nugget of knowledge, and with it, there could be no going back? Peggy Robertson’s words instantly traveled off the page and made their way into my heart. The truth has a way of doing that to a person. The realization I had been handed a set of lies was startling. As educators, we often embrace ideologies without question.

I began to question.

And I found Peg with a Pen.

I hope you will spend some time getting to know her too. She is one of those gifts, meant to grace our earth, and reveal truth to the innocent and unknowing. More of us need to spend time unraveling the tangled web, research with eyes wide open, and understand what is happening to our children, teachers, and schools… The maze is complex, yet the interconnection between all the major players slithers from dot to dot, and leads to the same dark cave every time. There are powerful people in high places making decisions with the purpose of making large profits off of our children.

How are they doing this?

Write a set of standards, don’t involve educators, offer large sums of money to educational organizations to gain support, write expensive tests designed to fail 70% of children, track every student from womb to work, and develop products to sell to schools to use to help children pass the test.

What if you found out it was the same people involved in each of these steps?

Would that give you pause?

I sure hope so.

So, if you haven’t had the honor, let me introduce you to Peggy Robertson, administrator and founder of United Opt-Out. She is an instructional coach in an elementary school, like myself, and resides in Colorado. Her perspective, from inside the walls of a poverty school, will enlighten anyone who is ready to lift their head out of the sand, and learn the truth.

Just within the past few days, I was honored by Peggy accepting my friend request on Facebook.  The first post I read, written by her, reached out to me and shook me from within.

Why?

Because the story she shared is nearly identical to my own.

Story Four

Peg’s Post,

“So this is what it looks like in elementary schools in Aurora, CO today. CMAS (Colorado’s state test) for fifth grade.   DRA2 testing for everyone and PALS testing plus DRA2 for our READ act kiddos (remember our children with the greatest need get tested the most). TS Gold and god knows what else for kindergarten. All due by May 8th.

I spend my days walking around with my computer testing kids with PALS and/or helping teachers figure out how the hell to keep the ENRICH goals/data up to date online.

Meanwhile teachers are all completing their teacher evaluations which are 31 pagers long I believe, and require filling in so many bubbles – I think I counted 270 – plus leaving comments and adding evidence (which I refuse to do because it’s BS). After you click on all these bubbles, etc. etc., you are supposed to go in and type comments about how you are meeting your goals – of which none of us have a clue what our goals are anymore by the time we’ve filled the damn thing out. All of this online, of course, a data mining extravaganza. Just a side note: did you know a military evaluation for employees is only 2 to 3 pages long?

Back to the reality in my school…

I am truly the data manager and data collector.

If anyone expects this to stop anytime soon, all parents must refuse all these corporate tests. I want to quit, but I can’t imagine leaving the children alone in there with no one on watch to expose it… and… we need more teachers to expose it.   Next year, we must have more teachers on board, educating and speaking the truth to these parents in urban areas.

The revolution is truly just beginning. It tipped this year, but now we’ve got to flood the airwaves, the neighborhoods, and drown out the messaging, the testing, and the arrogance of politicians and business folks who continue to spout untruths to save a test and punishing system which harms children, while keeping the light focused on the wrong folks. We must turn this light on the POLITICIANS who continue to attempt to keep a system in place, which denies reality of social policies, and MUST change if we ever hope to end child poverty and truly create equitable and democratic schools.”

Concluding Thoughts

She is right.

Does any of her short story resonate with you?

Anything she writes sound familiar?

Is your school saturated with tests?

Mine is.

WaKids for Kindergarten, DRA, ELA Curriculum Tests, Math Topic Tests, Math Mid Module Tests, Math End of Module Tests, Math Exit Tickets, ELA SBA Practice Tests, Math SBA Practice Tests, ELA Practice Performance Tasks, Math Practice Performance Tasks, Amplify Interim Assessments, Amplify Quick Checks, (next year add Amplify Benchmark Assessments), and the SBA Snake itself. For 5th graders add the MSP Science Test and the state Social Studies Test.

Next year, schools will have to implement State Superintendent Dorn’s technology standards in Washington State starting at kindergarten.   All tested of course. It seems all the school’s computers will be used for… is testing. I’m interested in how we are supposed to teach keyboarding and technology standards, let alone use the computers for quality instruction and research, when they are consistently unavailable because they’re ransacked by curricular, district, and state tests?

When does this end?

Listen to Peg.

It is time to drown the serpent and OPT OUT.

We need more parents and educators to speak up and speak out.

Our children need us to expose the Viper.

It’s time.

My blood is boiling… is yours?

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

1.  Peg With a Pen

2.  United Opt Out

3.  Opt Out Washington

A High School View of the Reptilian SBA… Story Three… Spokane, WA

Finally, the Spokesman Review prints a story about The SBA Test. It has already been established in my first two stories, story (one) and (two), how the venomous reptile has entered our schools. The harmful practices bleed into high schools.  This article fully discloses the stupidity of the constant testing of our children and steers the reader to the invalidity of the reasons being given to…

test

Test

TEst

TESt

TEST.

Jill Barville, correspondent,  wrote eloquently of her own reasons for opting her 11th grader out of The SBA. Her article appeared in the Spokesman Review on Friday, April 24, 2015.

In order to expose how this looks at the upper grades, I will highlight some of Jill’s statements capturing the essence of her article. If you are interested in the full article, click (here).

Story Three

SBAC 3A

“Normally, I’m a compliant complainer. I’ll follow the rules, however asinine, while rolling my eyes and making sarcastic jokes in the back of the room.

This month is different. I’m joining some rebels with a cause. Sort of. I’m opting my 11th-grader out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test.

As a Running Start student at Eastern Washington University he’d miss four days of college classes in order to take a test that’s supposedly designed to “accurately measure student progress toward college and career readiness,” as stated in a letter from our school district.

We already know he’s ready for college-level work. He’s in college classes.

As an aside, I’d like to thank his teachers for preparing him so well, despite how many hours they had to skip teaching because they were stuck administering tests.

Our decision to opt out was a no-brainer. That’s the kind of decision that’s so obvious you could make it even if you’re a scarecrow without a brain.”

This is interesting when considering State Superintendent, Randy Dorn, just sent a blanket letter out to high school students and parents expressing how important these tests are and how much they are a predictor of college readiness.

Bunk.

Jill went on to write,

“We’d also opt him out if he were still taking high school classes, where instruction is canceled for four days for juniors taking the test. Haven’t they been tested enough?

I can hardly count the number of tests he’s taken over the years, like the reading proficiency tests in elementary school that made him think he was stupid when he just wasn’t developmentally ready to read. That took years to overcome. Then there was the controversial WASL, followed by the MSP, HSPE and end-of-year exams.

To top off all that testing, juniors with college aspirations are steeped in additional standardized tests thanks to the PSAT, SAT and ACT. He’s taken two out of three so far this year. So why do we need another new test in 11th grade?”

Ye$, Mr. $uperintendent Dorn, why do we need another new te$t?  Could it be to fill the pocket$ of the te$ting companie$?  Between the Robo-call made a few week$ ago, and now the blanket email from $uperintendent Dorn, I wonder what the next deceptive $trategy will be to encourage people to drink the cider-aid pre$$ed from the poisonous apples?

Jill did her digging.  Like me, if anyone spends just an itsy bitsy amount of time, the absurdity surfaces.

This is what Jill’s quarrying found,

“I turned to smarterbalanced.org for answers. Maybe I was missing something. I hoped to find a compelling reason that this test is an effective use of educational time and money.

According to the site, the SBAC is designed to “gauge which students leave high school with the English and mathematics knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level, transferable, credit-bearing work.”

In short, are students ready to take college classes that count toward graduation?

This sounds a lot like the SAT and ACT, which the College Board website states, “are designed to measure students’ skills and help colleges evaluate how ready students are for college-level work.”

But don’t start celebrating, students. The SBAC isn’t replacing the SAT or ACT. You’ll still want to take those tests unless you know your university of choice isn’t one of the thousands that require one of them.

The SBAC marketing material concedes it won’t replace the SAT but asserts it’s different, that the SAT is for admissions and the SBAC isn’t. Huh.”

As an educator, I find her following statements the most endearing.  She uncovers the cry of my heart, as I witness the sacrifice of time for authentic learning experiences being replaced with test prep and testing.

At Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, the computers are tied up for 64 days due to the testing.  There are 180 days in a school year. One third, 33% of the year, this school’s schedule revolves around the constant testing.

“While I agree some periodic standardized testing is necessary and important, I’m concerned with how much time my children have spent in school taking tests when they could have been doing science experiments, reading literature, discussing politics, making music or art, and learning new math skills.

Testing is only one part of the picture.

Our public schools are staffed with educators who have demonstrated their qualifications and expertise through college degrees, teacher certification, and ongoing clock hours and education. Most of them have also earned highly qualified status. Their expert assessment of student achievement and progress should not be minimized.”

Alfie Kohn 2

In my twenty-five years of being an educator, I have seen the continual erosion of how I am treated as a highly, qualified professional.   More and more canned curricular materials are being force fed to teachers, espousing their silver bullets (which they never are), with strict guidelines to follow the lock step programs. The problem with this philosophy is we are teaching children, not robots.  Innovative and creative teaching creates innovative and creative children.

I agree with Jill’s final thoughts,

“I’ve been a compliant complainer about testing for years. But the discussion this opened in our family makes me think I’ll soon be a full-fledged rebel, pushing back against excessive standardized testing because enough is enough.

My son said, “Mom, it’s not going to change until my generation has kids. We know what it’s like to take so many tests and we won’t want that for our kids.”

I don’t want it for mine, either.”

Jill Barville writes twice a month about families, life and everything else. She can be reached at jbarville@msn.com.

A Correspondent with a conscience. (emphasis mine)

Concluding Thoughts

This certainly isn’t what I want for my young son.

There is way too much testing starting way too young. The over testing is stealing hours and days of instructional time. More testing is not the answer. Quality and actively engaged instruction is the key.

My son is only eight and we are facing this toxic testing craze. We can’t wait for the next generation to fix it. Parents and educators need to stand up for our children now!

This testing IS harmful to children. Period.

What message are we sending them?

  • A test score is the end all be all?
  • A test score at 8 years old shows whether a child is on track for college?
  • A high score on a test means they have a bright future and a low score dooms them to failure?

Bunk.

Snakewash.

It is time to starve this scaly beast and OPT OUT.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

References:

1. If you are at all interested in following the money in this SBA slithering mess, you may find it interesting to look at how much money has flowed to Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), and what interest Randy Dorn may have in saving face by allowing the poisonous snake into our state.

Dora Taylor (Seattle Education), exposes this in:

“State Superintendent Randy Dorn’s “interpretation” of the Common Core SBAC testing and opting out: Truthiness in education”

The Venomous SBA Strikes Again… Story Two… Pasco, WA

Let’s just get real.  Right from the get go.

Let’s call a snake a snake.

The SBA is a snake.

It coils itself around classrooms and injects its poison into the hearts, minds, and spirits of everyone it touches.

Story Two

This next story came to me from a parent of a 3rd grader living in Pasco, WA.  As you read this story consider the time element and impact this test has on classroom instruction time.

The Parents Letter

I have a 3rd grader that I have opted out/refused SBAC.  His class took the ELA part April 14th and 16th.  The math portion is scheduled for May 5 and 7. I kept my child home with the plan being, I would take him into school as soon as testing was over, around lunchtime. 

Tuesday, I called and spoke with the teacher at noon and she had two still testing, but they were being moved to another room to finish. She said I could go ahead and bring my child in for the remainder of their day. 

Thursday, I called her at 12:17.  She said no one was finished yet.  She also had no idea how much longer they were going to be.  She said she had a student in tears. She began to cry as she was telling me this. She is a 24 year veteran third grade teacher.  Together, we decided it would be best to keep my child home for the remainder of the day.  My son and I went in after school to take his wonderful teacher a gift to cheer her up.  I spoke with her and another teacher regarding their day.

Here is a bit more detail regarding Thursday, the second day of testing for these children. School begins at 9:00, she had a “lesson” to teach prior to them starting the test. This “lesson” gives the students the context for what they will be facing in the ELA Performance Task. By 9:30, the class was logging on and beginning their test.  They all were still working on the test at lunch time. The students have lunch at 11:55.  They were given a short lunch break.  They had been given bathroom breaks. The kids began again after lunch.  School is out at 3:40.  There were students still testing at 3:35.  Those students did not finish. 

These children are 8 and 9 years old. 

They did not go to recess because there is the chance that these children would discuss the test with other children who had already finished. (Because when you are 8 or 9, cheating on a test is the only thing on your mind.) 

The other teacher had two students finish the test in 35 minutes.  Another class had about 25 finish by lunch.  There are five 3rd grade classes at this school.  There are about 28-29 students in each class, so approximately 145 students are in 3rd grade. 

Out of the 5 classes, one teacher is retiring, one is not coming back after the birth of her second child, and a third is trying to decide if she will retire this year.  All due to the testing and teaching to the test.  They want to teach.  They don’t want to teach their kids how to test.

Currently, this week the children are MAP testing. This is ANOTHER test required of the children by the district and involves a day of testing ELA, and another to test Math, also on the computer. Add the Math portions of the SBA coming in May and this equals 3 weeks in a row of testing for 3rd grade.

I only know of one other child in 3rd grade that was opted out/refused in this school.  There will be more in the higher grades (4th & 5th) because word is getting out parents can opt their children out.

Teachers will talk in private, they hate the testing.  They hate what they “have” to teach.  I have a relative that teaches 3rd grade in the next city over and she said “Thank You!” when I told her I was not allowing my three kids to take the SBAC. I personally am very involved with my younger kid’s school and the district.  I have talked to so many people within this district, teachers, administrators, parents, PAE.  The staff are walking the fine line they have to. 

I don’t have to. 

I can and will speak up for all these kids. 

I have to! 

Our kids, our country, they depend on me and others like me to speak up.  Our children are NOT getting the education a country like the United States should provide.  We are not a leader in education.  We are not making these children ready for college or life by teaching them to the test.

Sincerely,

A Parent of a 3rd grader with a conscience (emphasis mine) 

Concluding Thoughts

Ask yourself if you really believe the above four components only take a 3rd grader 8 hours.

Dare the truth be exposed?  Some (many?) District Offices, Departments of Ed, and others are saying, “This testing only takes 8 hours.”

Another bold faced lie.

Deceptive.

These children often take two days on the ELA performance task, and there are still 3 other test days, some of these sucking up more than one day, depending on the class and the students.

Do the powers that be think they are getting valid and reliable results from these young minds? How many adults sit from 9 – 2:55 in front of a computer with only a 30 minute lunch break…  facing question after question requiring high levels of reasoning.

REALLY?

Educated adults are for this?

Educated adults in charge, casting their votes, want to continue to pour billions of dollars into testing?

For what?

This is horrific and wrong and awful and unethical and putrid and poisonous to the core.

It is time to starve this scaly monster and OPT OUT.

The venomous testing snake is here.

Unless, of course, we slay the reptile.

My blood is boiling… is yours?

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

The SBAC Seeps with Poison… Story One… Spokane, WA

It’s only the first few weeks of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and already stories of its poisonous venom are striking into our children’s lives. This is only the beginning. More of these stories will be cascading in, as the toxic testing continues.

Poison Apple 8The testing puts our children in developmentally inappropriate conditions as they are made to peck at their keyboards. The performance tasks require paragraphs. This test is discriminatory in more than a handful of ways, and it is definitely not a tool to measure how well our children are doing in school.

The stories of threats to those opting out are seeping into the walls of Washington State Schools, including to the children themselves, who are being told at school without their parent present… “if they don’t take the test they will have to repeat the grade, not be allowed to go to the next grade, or go to summer school.” This is rotten to the poisonous core.

Deceptive.

A bold face lie.

This story is the first in a series as I know there will be many, many more.  It comes right out of my home school district, Spokane Public Schools. I have opted to protect the names of the principal, teacher, and the school this occurred, to maintain their confidentiality. The saddest part is all the people involved are wonderful educators who I admire and respect. They too are victims in this toxic web.

The teacher sent this letter to the union president, Jenny Rose, of Spokane Education Association. This teacher made the request it be sent onto me, as well as the WEA President Kim Mead, and all legislators. I was asked to publish it on this blog.

The Letter:

Hi Jenny,

I recently sent you a copy of a letter that my principal wrote to the parents of my students regarding an SBAC testing screw up.  My third graders had to retake the SBAC ELA (non-performance) assessment because the state issued the wrong test to my students last month.

Once we discovered the mix up, my principal did his best to fight the state testing administrators to accept responsibility for the error they created.  But, we were told that my students had to retake the assessment.

So, we started the make-up process this past week.  Due to a tight building testing schedule, my students had to take the SBAC Performance Task Assessment AND re-take the SBAC ELA Assessment (non-performance).

Needless to say, this past school week was extremely stressful for my students. Monday through Wednesday was wall to wall testing. There was no teaching happening those three days.  By late Wednesday, my principal and I realized we needed to let students finish the ELA Nonperformance assessment (retake) in order to meet a state imposed deadline. So, Thursday morning, nearly half my class spent more time testing.  Again, no formal teaching due to kids on computers testing. Yesterday (Friday) was the first full day of the week I was able to teach any of my time bound curriculum.

Jenny, I am providing you this detailed narrative so that you can add this example to future SBAC talking points with our members, the media and our state legislature. I just finished reading a letter to the editor (Seattle Times) written by Kim Mead. In that letter she indicated that other third grade classrooms, one in Richland and the other in Mukilteo, experienced the same testing fiasco that I am currently trying to correct.

In conclusion, I am disgusted by what has happened to my 8 and 9 year old students.  As their teacher, I’m feeling defeated and helpless. Starting Monday morning, I have about 11 students who still need to wrap up the ELA Performance Task Assessment. And, another day will be spent testing and not learning.

Sincerely,

A 3rd grade Teacher with a conscience (emphasis mine)

Concluding Thoughts

This is a tragedy and a disgrace to our current educational system.

  • How can the results possibly be valid and reliable for these students?
  • How can the legislators even think about using this test to measure the value of a teacher?
  • Who can justify the money being spent on this test (billions) denying our public schools low class size and decent compensation for those serving our future?

It is time to starve this monster and OPT OUT.

The venomous testing monster is here.

Unless, of course, we slay the beast.

My blood is boiling… is yours?

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

When Tests Fail: Opt Out

This principal has a heart for kids…  I could not have said this better myself.

Power concedes ....

No-parcc-testing-zone

On March 2nd, members of my school’s PTA sent letters home to parents encouraging them to opt their children out of the PARCC Test. Their effort was covered in an article by Lauren FitzPatrick in the Chicago Sun-Times. Many parents asked my position on the matter.  As a result, I released the following letter to our parent community.

============================

I am writing to make it clear that the Blaine administration fully supports the PTA’s effort to maximize Blaine students’ instructional time. As a result we will respect and honor all parent requests to opt-out their students from the PARCC. 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…

View original post 905 more words

Short Form Opt Out Letter to My Son’s Principal

February 8th, 2015

Dear Mr. D,

I would like to begin this letter by commending H Elementary for the education my son has been offered to this date. He has had a wonderful experience with both of his teachers. Their ability to communicate with me about my son’s progress has been consistent, clear, and based on classroom evidence. This classroom based evidence is the most critical component in showing me the strengths of my child as well as the areas to focus upon for future improvement.

I have concerns with the SBAC test and I do not believe it will measure what my son really knows and understands. Many of the questions on the SBAC I believe are developmentally inappropriate. I personally took the practice test and it was an eye opener.

I am writing this letter to opt my son out of the following tests:

  1. Although my son is in 2nd grade, I wanted to establish my legal right to opt him out of the SBAC test in his 3rd through 6th grade elementary career.  (If it still exists).
  2. If H is considering giving the end of the year 2nd grade Interim Amplify Test, or any portion of the Amplify Test, I am utilizing my parental right to opt him out of all Amplify Testing. I am a proponent of classroom based assessments and classroom based evidence of his learning.  Computerized assessments at young ages do not typically show what a child truly knows and understands.  I trust his teacher completely to share his academic growth.
  3. I believe my son missed the WaKids assessment as he was not full day Kindergarten.  For this, I am very thankful. I will be opting him out of all like assessments that involve survey questions regarding his emotional health, his feelings, his thoughts on bullying, sex, drugs or the like.   As a parent, it is my responsibility to educate my son on these matters.   I do not want him to participate in these surveys.

My son is a bright, intelligent, curious boy.   What I value most in education for his age group happens within the walls of his classroom.   His teacher is the expert and knows him extremely well.  I honor her expertise above any mandate, policy, flawed curricular materials, and especially a standardized test.

I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this letter of concern and my decision to opt my son out of testing.

With the Utmost Respect,

Parents