Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Which test takes the most time?

My 3rd grader will not be a part of this madness. Opt Out.

Thank you to "Lace to the Top".

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Opt Out letter

Here is a copy (with names removed) of our 2013 Opt Out letter.  We were successful in boycotting all local testing (SLO, RTI-AIMSweb) last year using a similar letter.  Our district denied our right to "opt out" of the state assessments in the spring, but we used the "refusal" process to justify the boycott.

(School Admin)

Dear _________________,

Last school year our family “opted out” or withdrew our children _________________ from all mandated assessments imposed on children by state and federal regulations. We truly appreciate the cooperation and professionalism of the _________________ staff in helping our family boycott harmful education policies.

Our decision to opt out in no way reflected on the teachers, administration, or school board. This was not an easy decision for us, but we feel that we had no other choice. We simply see these tests as harmful, expensive, and a waste of time and valuable resources. The explosion of high-stakes tests, student data collection and teacher evaluation systems are draining scarce financial resources from our schools.

This year we will continue our effort to eliminate unnecessary and harmful assessments in our public schools. Our children will not participate in any assessments other than those solely for the use of the individual classroom teacher. We refuse to allow any data to be used for purposes other than the individual teacher’s own formative or cumulative assessment. Any assessment whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction will not be presented to our children.

To be clear, our children will not participate in the following:

• Any state assessment. Our children will “refuse” according to NYSED's regulations covered under the “999” testing code.

• Pre-assessments connected to “Student-Learning Objectives” in all subjects, including art, music, and Physical Education.

• Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies.

• Any progress-monitoring or RTI assessments such as AIMSweb, STAR, or DIBELS

• Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for our children’s teachers or their school.

We will be encouraging other parents to stand up against the testing fad and, more importantly, the corporate and government takeover of our schools. We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe that our children’s education should be trusted in the hands of those who are most experienced and who personally know the needs and individual requirements of each child. Teachers already know how to determine those needs and requirements without mandated standardized testing. Ironically we hear the phrase “college and career ready” bantered about quite often, but the current testing madness will not prepare our children for their lives after graduation.

___________ should have a unified policy in place to address children who will be opting out of assessments. Our schools should also send a letter to all homes informing parents of the dates of all mandated testing. Very few parents are aware of the amount of required testing that our children face on a regular basis. Our schools have the obligation to inform the families of our community about all aspects of our children’s education.

Thank you for your time.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Opt out / refusal guide updated.

Thank you to Sara W. for her great efforts on this document.

Click here if you cannot view on your device or browser.

This file can be viewed by clicking the arrows above. There is a full screen option. This file can also be downloaded as a powerpoint or PDF file.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Test reports: send 'em back

From the folks at New York State Allies for Public Education:

Did your child take the New York State Assessments?  Are you disturbed by the results?

You can make a powerful statement by sending the test results back to Education Commissioner John King with the statement “INVALID TEST SCORES ENCLOSED” written on the envelope.  This campaign is taking place across New York State.

You will receive your child’s test score in the mail sometime between late August and early October.  On the front of the envelope be sure to write “INVALID TEST SCORES ENCLOSED”.  Send it to:

Dr. John B. King, Jr
Education Commissioner 
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234

Be sure to send you test score Certified Return Receipt so that someone has to sign for it at NYSED.

In addition, you should also send the scores back to your NYS Board of Regents member.  Most of the members have their home address listed here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/members/

If your child refused to take the tests you can send back a copy of your school district’s scores as a way to protest.  Your district's scores can be found here.


My letter to Regent Bennett:

Opting Out is not just in the spring anymore.

The spring 3-8 state assessments get a great deal of attention, but there are other mandated tests that could be used to evaluate teachers.  These additional tests cause our children to lose more instruction time and impact all grade levels- preK-12.  Families need to say enough is enough and boycott any tests that are used in the evaluation of teachers. 

Student Learning Objective
"A Student Learning Objective is an academic goal for a teacher’s students that is set at the start of a course" according to NYSED's EngageNY website.

Depending on grade level and scheduled special area subjects, your child may take an SLO pre-test very early in the school year.  Teachers that do not have a state assessment (3-8 or Regents) may have to give an SLO test early in the school year or semester.  The SLO process has been confusing for schools and each district may chose different methods to implement SLOs.

Rating teachers without a state assessment tied to their course/grade level may be accomplished using these methods to get the mandated state 20% of their evaluation:

1.  *SLO pre-test. Given very early in the school year or semester(for half-year secondary courses)

2.  Teacher uses "historical data".  Educators may use past state assessment scores, final exam numbers, or previous grades to determine an academic goal for the year. This method does allow for less testing of your child.

3. School-wide use of ELA scores. Some teacher APPR evaluation agreements will use the ELA State Assessment scores as the 20% for teachers without state assessments tied to their course.  This does reduce amount of testing for our children.

Which method(s) does your child's school use?  Contact teachers and principals to find out. Most districts have their APPR teacher evaluation agreements posted on their websites, but the documents are lengthy and complex. 

Other types of standardized testing.                                        

There are other standardized tests that your children may take that your child's teacher is forced to administer.  These could be used for teacher evaluation or progress monitoring. These mandated assessments take away more instruction and add to the amount of time lost to testing.

Last year I submitted this letter for my elementary children which was honored by our school. My children did not take any tests that we used for evaluation of their teachers except one that slipped by our watch.

Later in the year the school told us that our oldest child could not "opt out" of the state assessments, but we used the "refusal" process to successfully justify our boycott.

If you plan to opt out your child from all mandated testing I would suggest a blanket statement such as "any assessment used to evaluate a teacher". Parents are the key to ending the over-testing of our children.  If we take action: boycotts, letters to editor, speaking at PTA meetings, and contacting our elected leaders we can save our children's education.

*If your child's teacher(s) will be use a SLO test for evaluation is it important to boycott the pre-test.  For students at upper levels, especially high and middle school, the post-exam could be used as a final exam so boycotting the end of year assessment will be more difficult.  If we refuse the pre-test, a student who takes the post-test will not be part of evaluating their teacher.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Some reactions to today's NYSED state assessment score release.

From Carol Burris, Long Island Principal:

What big drop in new standardized test scores really means

From Voorheesville Superintendent Dr. Teresa Thayer Snyder: (Added 8/8)

Commentary on Math & ELA Results


From Diane Ravitch: (with a shout out to opting out!)

Who Is Destroying Public Education in New York State?

More from Ms. Ravitch: (added 8/8)

Who should parents and the public hold accountable for the collapse of test scores? ....state education officials

From Ms. Ravitch's blog:   (added 8/8)

Those Phony, Misleading Test Scores: A NY Principal Reacts

From Class Size Matters:

Five Reasons not to trust the new scores.


From an education advocate: An important message to students, educators, and parents.

From Principal Peter DeWitt: (added 8/8)

Don't Worry About Your Test Scores: Proud to be ineffective.

Recalling the disaster that was this spring's ELA exam:

New York ELA day 2 disaster #FAIL #Pearson #NYSED