Category Archives: High Stakes Testing

See Sen. Crapo in person this week to remind him why local control matters

Sen. Mike Crapo

Sen. Mike Crapo

Sen. Mike Crap will be holding Town Hall style meetings across Idaho this week.  That makes this week an excellent opportunity to let Sen. Crapo know that Idahoans continue to be opposed to the outrageous monstrosity that the Standardized testing mandate has caused under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), as well as an opportunity to stop this testing insanity by encouraging him to vote no on the upcoming NCLB renewal known as the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177).

See, as currently written, the Every Child Achieves Act keeps in place the single largest flaw of NCLB: Using a single annual standardized test score in determining which states are “succeeding” and which are “failing.”

US Secreatary of Education Arne Duncan

US Secreatary of Education Arne Duncan

Such policy has a multitude of negative implications witnessed through NCLB’s abject failure including the current policy of a connecting state compliance of annual testing to the federal money spigot administered by the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

This relationship results in a significant ability for DC to control schools through the use of awarding funds only if schools are in compliance with certain benchmarks, of which the sacred cow of annual standardized testing is the cornerstone.  Through this financial mechanism, Idaho and its districts are essentially tied to follow federal directives including the implementation of Common Core State Standards and implement the annual testing mechanism to assess these standards through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

While assessment, in itself, can certainly have positive implications, in this case the consequences of these tests have been disastrous.  No Child Left Behind requires that all students demonstrate 100% proficiency in reading and math; an outcome (while well intended) was doomed to fail from the start.

The consequence of not having 100% proficiency means that screen-shot-2012-11-14-at-5-53-25-pmstates must submit to a waiver–a waiver whose conditions are set by the Secretary of Education (Arne Duncan)– not the US legislature.  The current conditions of that waiver requires states to submit to a federal set of standards, submit to an annual examination assessing student proficiency of those standards, as well as other conditions.

This results in Idaho, and its independent districts, giving up local control; control never meant to be in the hands of the federal government, let alone a single appointed Secretary under the Executive.

downloadFor Pearson and other standardized test makers such a policy has been a windfall: As long as states have to test annually, and as long as it is a forgone conclusion that the benchmark will never be met, corporate profit shares will only continue to increase in valuation.

According to Forbes, annual testing in k-12 has become a 2.5 billion dollar industry, of pea2-02-01-151which Pearson is the foremost leader according to the most recent data available.    Keep in mind that Pearson in particular has a stellar track record in Idaho for designing both the State’s longitudinal data management system (ISEE) and Instructional Data management system  (SchoolNet) at a combined 73 million dollars which were so fraught with dysfunction that literal boatloads of money and years of mismanagement later, Pearson left Idaho with a pipsqueak announcement that it had done all for the systems that it could (translation: we screwed up) and that they would no longer be working on the system (translation: we’re taking your money and getting out of this state).

Yet, for schools, the consequences of using the standardized test scores as the single indicator have been disastrous.  This is particularly for schools working with minority and at risk populations such as low income, English language learners, migrant families, and special education students.  These students have a variety of factors completely outside the control of the school and teachers that make them especially prone to not necessarily having stellar test scores, but a failing test score carries the same result, regardless of the population of students.

Instead of creating mechanisms to encourage more resources–including excellent teachers–to work with these populations, the consequence of the annual test scores means less resources (remember Annual Yearly Progress [AYP] Jail?) for the students who need the most support, and a flock of temp-teacher TFA (Teach for America) employees to teach to the test and “improve” school scores.

Unfortunately, the re-authorization of NCLB through the Every Child Achieves Act leaves the lunacy of heavy handed standardized test score consequences in place.  Let’s make sure our federal representative, Sen. Mike Crapo, knows that this is a raw deal for not only Idahoans, but all of America’s students.

Keep in mind that Sen. Crapo has already showed some cards in his hand in opposing the status quo that essentially coerces Idaho into adopting CCSS through tying the adoption of such standards to the US Dept. of Ed’s Race to the Top money spigot.  Back in January, Crapo and federal sentators introduced legislation that would prohibit such practices.

That is excellent news because it reveals that Sen. Crapo understands the value of state and local control when it comes the education of students in Idaho.  Let’s make sure he knows he has our support in voting no on the Every Child Achieves Act (S 1177) until the annual testing provision is eliminated.

As I wrote back in January when Crapo announced the bill to end coercing states into adopting CCSS and annual testing:

Since No Child left Behind was enacted, we have witnessed the results of utilizing standardized tests as both carrot and stick.

A carrot through Secretary Duncan’s emphasizes of giving dollars to schools willing to embrace common core and high stakes testing. The result has been a disaster.  Using New York State as an example, that approach has resulted in only 30% of students being labeled as “proficient” (Idaho has not released any public data on score outcomes; this will be the first year it will be released after students test in spring).

Vice versa, the big stick approach of holding schools responsible for standardized test scores through withholding dollars and placing schools in Annual Yearly Progress (AYP Jail) has been equally flawed. Schools serving the hardest students, schools with a high percentage of special education, English-language learners, low socio-economic, and “at risk” students were the hardest hit by such a strategy.

In an outcome that surprised precisely zero individuals, those schools working with the hardest students had the lowest scores; an outcome that resulted in the feds withholding money from precisely the schools that desperately needed the most resources to help their students succeed.

6 Months later, now in June, that is still true more than ever.  Below is Sen. Crapo’s traveling town hall schedule.  Please attend and let him know that until the annual testing mechanism is removed, the Every Child Achieves Act is doomed to have the same failed outcome of No Child Left Behind.

Victoria Young, an incredible Idaho education advocate and author of The Crucial Voice, has some excellent talking points to ask Sen. Crapo and/or share with him during the meetings available on her website.

Please take the time to let Sen. Crapo know, in person, that we can do better for Idaho’s and all of America’s children by saying no to the annual standardized testing mechanism and start putting children over profits.

Monday, June 29: 

4:00 PM       Parma    Parma Senior Center, 410 North 8th Street

6:00 PM       Notus    Notus City Hall, 375 Notus Road

7:30 PM       Greenleaf   Greenleaf City Hall, 20523 N. Whittier Drive

Tuesday. June 30:

11:00 AM    Boise     Boise Public Library! Marion Bingham Room, Third Floor, 715 S. Capitol Boulevard

1:30 PM      Mountain Home       Mountain Home City Hall, 160 South Third East

Wednesday, July 1:

9:30 AM      Ketchum    Ketchum City Hall, 480 East Avenue North

11:30 AM     Hailey   Blaine County School District, Community Campus, Minnie Moore Room, 1050 Fox Acres Road

2:00 PM      Shoshone   Lincoln County Community Center,  Jerry Nance Hall, 201 S. Beverly

Thursday, July 2:

9:00 AM      Jerome                 Presents Spirit of Idaho Award to local veteran Lee Nunnally for his volunteer work to repair a  memorial to those who served in Operation Desert Storm.  At Jerome’s South Park,  300 E. Main

10:00 AM     Hansen    T & T Café, 195 Rock Creek Road

11:30 AM     Murtaugh   Murtaugh City Park / Wally’s Park Pavilion

2:00 PM       Burley    Burley Public Library, 1300 Miller Avenue

3:30 PM       Heyburn   Heyburn City Offices, 941 18th Street

Friday, July 3:

9:30 AM      Ucon   Ucon City Council Chambers, 3787 E. 112 North, Idaho Falls

11:30 AM     Ashton    Ashton Community Center, 925 Main Street

2:00 PM       Island Park   Island Park EMS Building, 4329 Library Road

4:30 PM       Rigby  Rigby Senior Citizens Center, 391 Community Lane

Boise Weekly features Cavener regarding charter demographic data

citizen_levicavenerI don’t know about the caricature, but the interview is pretty darn good.  It’s worth checking out.

A snippet from the Boise Weekly article:

Teaching is a passion. Teaching students with disabilities is doubly so. Levi Cavener, an instructor at Vallivue High School in Caldwell, has been a special education instructor for five years. As an undergraduate at the University of Idaho, he spent time abroad through the Camp Adventure program, exploring Europe with children whose parents were serving in the military. One child lost a parent during Cavener’s time in the program and he described others as “genuinely alone,” not hearing from parents for weeks on end. Those experiences helped ignite his passion for education.

 

 

Event: Dr. Peg Luksik Talks Common Core and SBAC in Boise 01/27

Dr. Peg Luksik

Dr. Peg Luksik

Idahoans For Local Education is hosting a lecture from Dr. Peg Luksik in Boise on 01/27.  It will be held at Capital Building in downtown Boise in room WW02 from 6:30-8:30pm.

A brief Bio on Dr. Luksik from Idahoans for Local Education:

About Dr. Peg Luksik – Dr. Peg Luksik is a Pennsylvania teacher with over 35 years of experience in both special education and elementary education. She has taught at every level from pre-school to college in regular classrooms, resource centers, self-contained special education classes, and in alternative educational settings. She has trained teachers in curriculum and classroom management,written and evaluated curricula, authored several books on education issues, and hosted a nationally syndicated television program dealing with education in America. She founded a program to assist low-income single mothers complete their educations which was recognized by President Reagan and named as a National Point of Light by President George Bush. Peg served as an advisor to President Reagan’s Commission on the Family and worked for the U.S. Department of Education, where her task was to review and evaluate education reform initiatives. Most importantly, Peg and Jim, her husband of 35 years, have raised 6 wonderful children and are now proud grandparents.

Continue reading

Writing on the Wall: The End of Common Core and High Stakes Standardized Assessments?

Sen. Mike Crapo

Sen. Mike Crapo

Recently, a coalition of senators in DC, including Idaho Sen. Crapo, sponsored legislation that would, in effect, render Arne Duncan’s tenure as Secretary as the U.S. Dept. Of Education null and void.

That’s because the bill proposed in the upper chamber would prohibit the federal government from tying federal dollars to a mandated set of standards or require Standardized Achievement Tests.

The Local Leadership in Education Act, as the legislation is officially titled, boldly declares its intention as:

To prohibit the Federal Government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing States to adopt the Common Core State Standards or any other specific academic standards, instructional content, curricula, assessments, or programs of instruction.

Continue reading

Levi Cavener Featured on Podcast Hosted by The Great Education Struggle

wpid-img_41539946199072.jpegThis Saturday the host of The Great Education Struggle blog and podcast , Isaac Moffet, was gracious enough to open up his studio for an interview on how Common Core is impacting special education students.

It was a pleasure to take part in describing the impacts I see of Common Core and related policy in my own classroom.

Also of note, Travis Manning, a candidate for District 10A in Idaho’s legislature and Director for the Common Sense Democracy Foundation of Idaho, was kind enough to join us to share impacts he sees of Common Core in the general education classroom, particularly for special education students who have been mainstreamed into his environment.

The interview covered lots of juicy topics including common core, the SBAC, tiered certification, and the influence of politics in Idaho’s educational system.

Please check it out!

Idea: Let’s Test Sophomores on Junior Content! That Makes Sense.

I know it’s been a busy week for most of the state’s teachers.  Like me, you likely were caught up to speed on the changes that will be implemented in the school due to passage of laws in last year’s legislative session.

However, my ears certainly pricked up when an administrator announced to our staff that, unlike last year, all sophomores will be given the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) this year instead of the Juniors.
Continue reading

Value Added Model (VAM) and Proposed Tiered Licensure: Are SpEd Students and Their Teachers Valued?

“For movement to a Professional Certificate and
maintenance of a Professional Certificate: At least three
assessments must be used in demonstration of a
teacher’s student achievement. Of those three, the Idaho
Reading Indicator [IRI] and the Statewide standards
achievement test must be included as applicable. Student
Learning Objectives, including pre and post assessment
for student learning must be included for non-tested (SBA
IRI) subjects. Other measures shall be chosen at the
district level, selected from the attached list. The majority
of student achievement evaluation shall be based on
student growth” (58).

That’s what the proposed rule change requires for an educator to move from a residency certificate to a professional certificate, or for an educator to maintain a professional certificate and not be stripped of that certification and be placed on a quasi-probationary contingent certificate.

Continue reading