My testimony focused on solutions, not just criticisms, as some of the corporate reformers have painted the Opt Out Movement as the party of "no', In reality we have solutions that can actually provide a well-rounded educational opportunity for all children.
(*Please note that my testimony was given several weeks before the Federal ESEA bills have been close to final approval in Congress. )
Advisory on Assessment to NYS Common Core Task Force
I. Alternatives to current NYS Assessment System:
A. Portfolios to assess student learning, teacher effectiveness, and school quality.
- Community input, evaluation, and review of student work to determine if students are getting an education that fits the needs of their community.
- Local district professional and community review of educator portfolios to determine effectiveness and on-going professional growth.
- Community stakeholder review of educational goals of local districts using several local measures determined by community wants and needs.
B. New York Consortium High Schools- show that alternatives to standardized testing exist and can achieve positive outcomes for students.
C. Portfolios sound costly and time consuming.
- This process can be done cheaper than current state assessment and APPR systems.
- More reliable and detailed results then current systems that label students, educators and schools with a number.
- Provides community voice and input- which are lacking in current systems.
- Allows for flexibility to meet diverse needs of districts throughout NYS.
D. Decouple educator evaluations from testing to fullest extent possible under Federal law. (*this Federal mandate looks to change under the ESSA)
- New 3012-d law places test scores on a range of 50-100% for a teacher’s evaluation.
- Places too much emphasis on test scores over creativity and critical thinking.
- Value Added Modeling growth scores are not a reliable measure of educator effectiveness and should not be used for employment decisions.
- Advocate removal of typing educator evaluation to test scores at all levels of government.
E. Replace punishment for struggling schools with supports such as community school and whole child models.
F. Ensure that each local district addresses a well-rounded educational experience with local input.
- Many schools under current test/punish model have narrowed elementary level curriculum to tested subjects of ELA/math.
- History, science and arts are neglected.
- Physical Education, recess and free play have been reduced or eliminated in an era where childhood obesity is a serious public health crisis.
II. Construction & design of any state-wide assessments that would be required by Federal or State law.
A. Created by current NYS educators.
B. Questions, answers, passages written at grade-level reading levels.
C. Time on testing appropriate for age level.
D. Advocate for grade-span testing or sampling with Federal Gov’t.
- Sampling can be similar to NEAP testing and accomplish goal of assuring that all children have an appropriate educational opportunities.
E. IEP/504 students receive all modifications and supports.
F. Diagnostic design that truly assesses student strengths and weaknesses.
G. Any required assessments are scored by each student’s classroom/subject teacher(s).
H. Completely transparent as NYS did prior to Pearson contract- entire test released within a few weeks of completion of testing window.
III. Online Assessments – allow local choice for any required testing.
- Is online testing the primary reason Smart Schools Bond Act was proposed?
- Need to purchase and constantly update technology will go far beyond bond act dollars and will stress budgets in an era of education cuts.
B. “Digital divide” for areas were many families do not have computers or access to high-speed internet.
1. Will online testing create a further educational gap between haves and have-nots?
C. Will computer instruction and typing become the next test prep? It is already occurring in many districts.
D. Many logistical issues for school-wide online testing.
1. Cannot test all students at same time.
a. Computer labs, portable computers, and library media centers will become testing locations instead of learning and research hubs for weeks, denying educational opportunities for classrooms not being tested.
2. Reliability of technology.
a. Computers need constant updates and compatibility checks - expensive and time consuming.
b. Reliability of internet connection and speed.
3. Student learning styles.
a. Not all students comfortable using a computer to type or read information.
b. Typing and editing via an online test form is challenging for some students.