One parent’s dilemma: Why I’m not opting out yet

I want, more than anything, to opt out. I want to tell the State of Ohio, Obama, Arne Duncan, and PARCC to suck it, you may not use my son as a guinea pig. You may not break his spirit and love of learning. But….

I do not want to jeopardize my son’s teacher, principal, school, or district. I do not want to punish the very people who work tirelessly on a daily basis to give him a safe, well-rounded education despite the extra demands placed on them.

Who do I believe? One side urging parents to Opt Out is the Ohioans Against Common Core. They are promoting HB 7, Ohio’s “Safe Harbor for Students.” This Bill allows parents a legal option to opt out of PARCC testing, which, on the surface, sounds amazing. But…

They are telling parents that teachers and districts are protected through Safe Harbor from the negative assessments teachers would incur. They claim the ODE is using scare tactics and lying to parents about the negative impact on teachers if parents opt out. But…

They have their own agenda. “Against Common Core” screams Tea Party, anti-big government, anti-Obama, anti-Common core. Yes, they want to protect our kids from testing, but are promoting their own agenda at the same time. This group wants to “restore local control” but I wonder where they stand on charters and privatization? I wonder if they are manipulating parents for their own gain much like the Federal Government as it pertains to education reform. I specifically asked this group if Safe Harbor protected teachers and never got a response. Remember, many corporate ed reformers want to blame teachers and public education to promote the privatization of education. I can’t support an organization that wants to “take back education” but gives no thought to the negative impact their actions have on the people working in education.

The ODE, on the other hand, has its own agenda too. It has issued a fact sheet listing all of the negative consequences to opting out. Opt out groups say these are scare tactics. Maybe they are, but does that mean the ramifications are untrue? ODE has to follow the law and has their own, state-mandated agenda to promote, involving education funding from the government.

So, to make my own decision for my child, I spoke to my local district. I’ve been in contact with several teachers, including my son’s third grade teacher, our school’s principal, Centerville’s Director of Curriculum, and Superintendent Tom Henderson. The bottom line here is that opting out right now would negatively impact my son’s school, his teacher, and our district. I’m not willing to do that. I believe too much in these people in the cross-fire. And while I still ultimately believe we need to find a way to reduce testing, I don’t think opting out is the way to do it unless teachers are protected from the ramifications.

Then how do I protect my son from the stress of testing? I don’t make a huge deal about it, I tell him not to worry about it, I do the best I can as his parent to shield him from the stress of this stupid testing because I am his parent and that is my job. The less importance I give the test, the less he’ll believe it’s important. I know his teachers are doing the best they can to do the same because I’ve spoken to them. And I continue to try to impact my government (anyone else vote against Kasich?) My goal this weekend is to begin a massive letter writing campaign to our state school board and our state legislators and to pass on the information to anyone else that wants to do the same. I’m going to use my voice, just not to opt out while it harms teachers. But…..

I want to know what you’re deciding and why. Please use your voice. Join in the conversation. Make your own decisions. Do SOMEthing to let legislators know you’re paying attention.

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Opting Out of State Tests

At CURE, we are against high-stakes testing attached to Common Core. When starting to unravel all of the information regarding what is happening in public education, it’s important to understand there are many different political sides rallying for common interests but for different reasons. Some groups want the CCSS gone entirely, removing the federal government from the equation. Some want CCSS gone for specific curriculum reasons. Others may be against the standards, but for privatization.  So when we share information from varying groups, like Ohioans Against the Common Core, we want to make sure to state that we don’t necessarily support all of a group’s ideas. Our goal is to help parents make aware enough to make their own decision.

That being said, the Ohio Assessments start next week, including the first round of Third Grade Guarantee testing. At some point, Centerville parents, Ohio parents, local parents, are going to have to take a stand regarding what’s happening on the federal level. Is opting out of the test the most effective way to make a stand?

We at CURE we are very hesitant to do anything that undermines our local school district and teachers. What are the repercussions of opting out ? How will it affect my child, our teachers, and our district? It’s something to start thinking about. What will you decide?

 

http://ohioansagainstcommoncore.com/what-you-can-do-today-to-stop-common-core/

2013-2014 Ohio State Report Cards

See how your district did.

 

http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/data/news/2013-14-state-report-card-area-districts/?ecmp=daytondaily_social_facebook_2014_sfp

FairTest: Update on Resistance to High-Stakes Testing

A wealth of information on the resistance to testing.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The 2013-2014 school year may be winding down but Testing Resistance & Reform Spring actions activity continues to accelerate. Remember that back issues of these weekly news summaries are archived at http://fairtest.org/news

Local Delaware School Board Pursues Opt-Out Policy
http://www.doverpost.com/article/20140522/NEWS/140529891/10082/NEWS

Florida Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers Question Standardized Testing Plan
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/pasco-kindergarten-first-grade-teachers-question-testing-plans/2180712
Graduation Test Trips Up Most Florida English Language Learners
http://staugustine.com/news/florida-news/2014-05-26/fcat-reading-test-can-spoil-graduations-english-language-learners#.U4MpuLGiUng

Teaching and Learning Corrupted by Georgia End of Course Tests
http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/may/24/what-good-teaching-student-helps-teacher-realize-a/

Kansas Investigates Test Score Validity After Computer Administration Problems
http://cjonline.com/news/2014-05-21/officials-check-whether-2014-state-testing-data-valid

“Test Score Gate” in Louisiana
http://crazycrawfish.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/test-score-gate-for-john-white-failure-was-not-an-option/

One-Shot Tests Fail Maine Students
https://bangordailynews.com/2014/05/25/opinion/not-all-evaluations-are-created-equal-how-maine-is-failing-its-students/

Massachusetts School Rankings Beget Fuzzy Math
http://www.telegram.com/article/20140523/COLUMN44/305239900

Minnesota Parents Resist Test Misuse and Overuse
http://www.southernminn.com/faribault_daily_news/opinion/guest_columns/article_fef745da-c29f-5b79-b9ed-64825397147a.html

Missouri Uses Flawed Test Data to Punish Poor, Minority Students
http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/missouri-uses-flawed-data-to-penalize-poor-minority-students/article_fd33baf3-1871-5209-8697-8aa902fb94e7.html

Local New Jersey School Board Joins National Testing Protest
http://essexnewsdaily.com/news/bloomfield/boe-joins-national-protest-against-standardized-tests

Some New Mexico Teachers Burn Their Test-Based Evaluations
http://krqe.com/2014/05/26/taos-teachers-burn-their-evaluations/

Many New York State School Districts Boycott Pearson Field Tests
http://dianeravitch.net/2014/05/21/many-new-york-districts-are-boycotting-pearson-field-tests/

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B is for Basics

We are a group of Centerville City School parents whose MAIN GOAL is to START A CONVERSATION. To start many conversations. We are not experts and we are in the process of information gathering. We want to SHARE information and get Centerville parents involved in the conversation.

Some things we’re talking about:

1. High-stakes testing and assessment are hurting education.

The problem is also BI-PARTISAN. The current streak of high-stakes testing began under George W. Bush and his policy, No Child Left Behind (NCLB.) It began the high-powered focus on test scores instead of a more comprehensive look at the whole child with a variety of diagnostic tools. NCLB began assessing teachers based on how their students performed on test scores. Through NCLB, schools were forced to begin teaching to the test or risk losing funding. Bad test scores=lower school grade=teachers losing jobs, districts losing funding, etc.

Barack Obama’s and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s policy, Race to the Top, made the stakes even higher. Same wolf, different clothing. Under the current administration, children have more tests to take, and if teachers don’t show at least 30% growth rate for the year, their jobs are at stake. Principal’s jobs are at stake. Schools can be closed. That’s a 30% growth rate ON THE TESTS. On one week’s worth of testing that your child may or may not do well on because: they’re tired, they’re sick, they’re 7, or 8, or 9, they’re nervous, they’re hungry, they’re distracted, or a myriad of other reasons.

These type of stakes placed on student performance make the environment ripe for failure. And then what happens? Cue the Superhero Charter School.

2. Privatization widens the gap.

Once a district proves they are struggling, the “market” of education becomes a free-for-all. Charter schools begin to open, promising student achievement and great test scores, which they can provide. What you may not know, however, is that Charter schools can attain great test scores because they can CHOOSE who to let in and who to keep. If your child doesn’t test well, they can be kicked out and sent back to public school. Which leaves our public schools filled with children that don’t test well, children with learning disabilities, children in economically disadvantaged homes whose parents don’t realize or care that choice in education is available to them. Instead of continuing to close the achievement gap between minorities and class the gap widens, leaving the public school system with less Government funding, fewer teachers, and a place for the “have-nots.”

3. Schools as business.

Once privatization begins, anyone wanting to make a quick buck can get in on education. Charter schools can be opened by anyone with enough money to do so. Teachers get fast tracked through their education which leads to a lower quality teaching staff. What you’re left with is an education community focused less on teaching children, and more on making money, and competing for funding, turning our kids into automatons of test-taking.

With Race to the Top, states already had to compete for government funding. Those states that implemented the Common Core Standards received extra funding. The CC testing will require computers and software to take the tests. Sensing a theme? Race to see who can make the new software fast enough. To the top, indeed.

4. The Common Core

This is a great idea that is floundering in its implementation. It’s a novel idea to have all states on the same chapter so kids aren’t missing out on valued pieces of curriculum. It’s a great idea to require certain educational standards that children should meet. However, the Common Core is like trying to fit the step-sisters’ feet into Cinderella’s shoes. One size does not fit all.

Common Core is currently being field-tested on our kids. That’s correct, it was not tested before it was adopted, nor was it written by educators. However, it’s adoption earned districts’ much needed resource money, and it’s assessment implementation will require software and computers.

5. Parents in the dark

Local districts and staff are bound by the state and federal mandates being handed down that suggest they need to teach harder and better to make kids “pass” tests. Their jobs are at risk, their hands are tied. As parents, ours are not. We owe it to our kids and to their great teachers to understand the facts behind Education Reform and it’s opponents.

It’s time to organize as a community and start paying attention. All opinions are welcomed here.

 

OAA’s

This week, Centerville City Schools’ students are taking the Ohio Achievement Assessments. http://ohio3-8.success-ode-state-oh-us.info/ We’re interested in how your child is responding to this week of testing.