With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Friday, April 17, 2015

'A startling act of mass civil disobedience' -- Tens of thousands opt out

He'd rather be learning: Derek Rudley, 10, a student in Ossining Union Free School District, stayed home and read Tuesday. Mom had him opt out of New York state standardized tests. (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News)
999 is the magic number. No, I'm not referring to crazy Republican pizza guy, Herman Cain's campaign slogan in 2012. I mean 999 the computer code signifying a student who has opted out of N.Y. state testing. If Tuesday's protests are any indication, the 9-key on district computers will soon be worn out.

According to Juan Gonzalez in the Daily News:
The entire structure of high-stakes testing in New York crumbled Tuesday, as tens of thousands of fed-up public school parents rebelled against Albany’s fixation with standardized tests and refused to allow their children to take the annual English Language Arts state exam.
Still, officials in both the state and city departments of education claim they don’t know yet how many of the 1.1 million pupils scheduled for testing in grades 3 to 8 joined the boycott. Protest organizers said Thursday that at least 155,000 pupils did — with only half of school districts tallied so far. At some Long Island and upstate school districts, abstention levels reached 80%.

Gonzalez called it, "a startling act of mass civil disobedience, given that each parent had to write a letter to the local school demanding an opt out for their child".

Among the many reasons behind parent and teacher anger are the inappropriate use of test scores in teacher evaluation and the time taken away from teaching/learning to administer the latest tests. Then there's the lack of validity and reliability in the whole testing process. For example, back in 2009, the old state tests showed 77% of students statewide were proficient in English. The next year, the pass level was raised and the proficiency percentage dropped to 57%. A few years later, Albany introduced Common Core and the level plummeted even more — to 31% statewide.

Same teachers, same students, same schools. But the reformers' conclusion -- the kids are getting dumber and teachers have gotten worse. No wonder parents are pissed.

Tisch is blaming it all on the unions. From editorial in the Journal News:
Already, defenders of "reform" have produced an excuse for the test-refusal movement: teachers unions are behind it. Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents and chief architect of New York's foundering education program, said on MSNBC Tuesday evening that more kids would be taking the tests if the tests did not affect teacher evaluations. "Our kids got caught in a labor dispute," she said.
There's obviously something wrong with Tisch's hearing. She needs to go and so does Common Core, PARCC and Pearson along with her.


  1. "But the reformers' conclusion -- the kids are getting dumber and teachers have gotten worse."

    I don't think that's quite what the rephormsters are saying. I think they're saying that the tests are finally accurate because they're showing the proper failure rates. It's not that the kids are getting dumber - it's that they've been dumb all along and we've been lying to them.

    This comes from the fact that only about 30% of Americans graduate college, which must mean that the other 70% weren't "college ready" (forget about that "and career" part - the careers they're talking about are the ones that require college degrees). The rephormsters like to think (or pretend they think) that if everyone could just graduate from college, the world would be a beautiful place and we'd all be making middle class salaries. The fact that 70% of kids don't make it obviously means those kids are "failing". And why are those kids failing? Well because their teachers aren't teaching them, of course. Which is why we know it's wrong when only 2% of teachers are deemed ineffective. If 70% of kids are failing, well then obviously 70% of teachers must be, right? So now that the tests are finally showing us how dumb our kids really are, the next obvious step is to show how awful our teachers really are.

  2. In my opinion, the accuracy of testing falls apart at global scores. I wish someone can explain to me how China supposedly does such a great job educating their children, with 75% of their children testing in the top 40% compared to 28% of American children BUT our top 35 universities have higher global scores than China's top university.

    It doesn't make sense that we do such a lousy job educating our children when we have their full attention but somehow we manage to do a better job educating them during the greatest whoring, binging and doping period of their lives.

    Either we are not doing such a hot shot job in college or we are performing better in k-12 than the testing indicates. My grandchildren could read in pre-school, but I don't recall reading until the 1st grade. Our children are not dumber. IT IS THE TEST!


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.