Really, Mr. Katz….

Familiarize myself with the Common Core?

Well, Steven Katz finally offered this response to my letter.

Dear Ms. Boudet:

Thank you for writing and sharing with me a parent perspective regarding the administration of the New York State Testing Program’s Common Core assessments in English language arts and mathematics in Grades 3-8.

State testing is an important part of instruction in education programs. It provides an evaluation of student mastery of content and skills in various courses of study and helps shape future instruction.

With the exception of certain areas in which parental consent is required, such as Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations for students with disabilities and certain federally-funded surveys and analyses specified under the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (see 20 U.S.C. 1232h), there is no provision in statute or regulation allowing parents to opt their children out of State tests.

Each child’s school will decide how best to provide a sound educational environment for each child while the State tests are being administered. Schools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered.

As someone with a keen interest and concern for children’s education, I hope you will take the time to learn more about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), on which the new State tests are based. The CCSS offer rigorous and researched-based learning benchmarks that help teachers guide students in their grade-by-grade progression toward college and careers readiness. To gain a better understanding of these standards that have been adopted by 45 states including New York please see the Common Core Toolkit for Parents and Families. (http://engageny.org/parent-and-family-resources) The Toolkit provides a collection of materials and resources that will help parents and families understand the Common Core itself and New York State Common Core implementation.

Again, thank you for writing and sharing with me a parent perspective on student participation in the new State assessments.

Sincerely,

Steven Katz

I can’t wait to write him back with my research-based reasons why the Common Core State Standards are a giant sell-out of public education. I can’t wait to tell him again that I don’t care what provisions there are or are not.  I can’t wait to tell him all about the “importance” of his state tests.  And I can’t wait to say once more that MY CHILDREN WILL NEVER EVER TAKE THESE TESTS, and there really isn’t a damn thing he can do about it.

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24 thoughts on “Really, Mr. Katz….

    • It’s the designation of “public” that makes all the difference. Maybe to you “public” means “free” or “general”, to me it means “community.” In life there are many choices you can make; you can choose to go to private school, you can choose to eat McDonald’s or even chose to go bowling every Tuesday night. But the community you live in, that’s different. It can’t be purchased or sold. It is something you help shape and build. If you don’t like McDonald’s, you don’t eat there. If you don’t like bowling you don’t go bowling. If you don’t like something that is happening in your community, you try to change it.

      Or do you believe that education is merely a commodity? Maybe the private sector is more up your ally…

      • Sounds like it’s up your ally… The defensive stance you’re taking against a simple suggestion is an indicator that this more than likely won’t be a productive conversation.

  1. When corporations and politicians are making decisions about education that are not in the best interests of children, parents have a right and an obligation to stand up and speak out. They should not have to pay for private school or home school their children because our educational system is being hijacked by profiteers. As a career educator, I am amazed that any teacher would suggest otherwise!

  2. Chris Cerrone, I am with you. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Imagine if Margaret Mead hadn’t been so wise. Then, we’d have a society of people pulling out of the public education system that their children have every right to obtain. LAT, what about the children who don’t have an educated, caring parent to fight for what’s right for them. Do we just leave them to be tested to despair?

  3. I’m wondering what grade level “Language Arts Teacher” actually teaches. As a third grade teacher, I have seen more stress and anxiety out of 8 and 9 year olds than EVER before in my 20+ year career. Maybe LAT should watch the video of the third grade teacher describing how one of her poor students vomited all over his ELA test last year- NOT because he was ill, but because of the STRESS and ANXIETY he felt leading up to the test.

  4. We believe the following of forced, high stakes testing:
    •Is not scientifically-based and fails to follow the U.S. Government’s own data on learning
    •Fosters test driven education that is not meeting the individual/intellectual needs of students
    •Presents a racial and economic bias that is beneficial to white middle/upper class students and detrimental to second language students, impoverished students, and students of color
    •Violates the United States Constitution’s ESEA Fiscal Fairness Act
    •Supports complicity of corporate interests rather than democracy based on public concerns
    •Fosters coercion over cooperation with regards to federal funding for public education
    •Promotes a culture of lying, cheating, and exploitation within the school community
    •Has used the achievement gap to foster a “de facto” segregation that has resulted in separate and unequal education for minorities

  5. The fact is that the standardized tests that NY’s students are taking do not help “inform teachers” of anything! The tests are not transparent – without an item analysis, test scores are meaningless. Why do the tests have to be so secret? How is a teacher supposed to use any test information for actual instructional planning if he/she cannot see the questions missed, the wrong answers given, and the correct answers given? Don’t know about LAT, but I learned that as an Undergrad!
    Think about the SAT and ACT tests – all you get as the test taker is a SCORE – no information about which kinds of questions you missed. So, you cram and study and pay more $$ to take it again, not really knowing what you needed to study! It’s a colossal waste of time and money!

    • The school is supposed to be taking benchmark assessments throughout the year that provides that data for teachers. For example, one in August as a baseline assessment, one in December to measure growth, and one in March to measure growth. All of the previously mentioned can be used as a predictor. That being said, I see what you mean because the data isn’t broken down for us when they take the final test via AIMS. I wish I could show you all the data that I’ve used to pinpoint some problematic areas, but with privacy issues I can’t. It honestly does help to see where I need to pick up the pace with one standard to the next. If a teacher doesn’t value standards that are put forth, I’m not really sure what to tell you.

      I digress, we use Galileo Assessment Technology to provide item analysis as well as create development profile reports to see what concepts/standards/objectives the students are struggling with. Depending on how the teacher uses the data, you can literally pinpoint what each and every student is struggling with. It helps drive instruction. Of course, teacher’s assessments/classwork/homework need to be taken into account as well. At first, it felt like I was teaching towards the test in some aspects. That being said, once I started breaking the data down and seeing how it matches up with the standards I’m supposed to be aligning my curriculum with, it made more sense.

      All of that being said, I see people’s point about testing, and it being too much at times. However, what should take it’s place? How do we measure progress of the teacher and student? Do we hope they are learning things that we are teaching them? Do we hope the teacher is doing their job? I always let my students know to try their best on any test, but it isn’t the end of the world. I let them know their teacher was horrible at taking tests, and my strong point was writing papers. I make sure to take into account that their grades are not solely based on their test taking abilities. 25% Essays, 25% Participation, 25% Homework, and 25% Quizzes/Tests. As for standardized tests, it is what it is for the time being.

      • Gee… I’ve only been an educator for 17 years myself, and I can’t say that “standardized” tests have ever told me much of anything other than that a kid does well or does poorly on a test. Teachers don’t even get to see their students tests anymore, so how would you know what standards each particular student is getting anyway? I believe in spending time doing authentic assessment with my students face to face and giving them immediate feedback. That’s my idea of best practice. And for the record, my guess from your prior post was that you’ve been in the classroom less than five years. FYI… If we keep adding “standardized” tests, you most likely won’t have a job in ten years because there won’t be any public schools.

      • Thank you for your comments. I invite you to check out my classroom blog to see what goes on in my classroom @ http://www.LaBlog101.wordpress.com

        Standardized testing is only one part of what happens, and the rest is the curriculum I’ve come up with based on state standards. I’m sorry you don’t get to see what is on your benchmark assessments prior to the state test. Perhaps that’s something you and your 17 years of experience should take up with your admin. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  6. It (standardized testing) may be “what it is” for the time being, but what if “what it is” is WRONG?
    Our district uses STAR Assessments for benchmark and progress monitoring, so I do know what you’re talking about. My experience with STAR is that it does, in fact, list out skills that my students need to work on – however, I still don’t get to see the question and more importantly which incorrect answer was given. So, let’s say I get back “data” that says student A struggles with addition to 20. If I don’t know what the question was, and what incorrect answer was given – it still doesn’t help me much. So, if the question was 13+7=? and a student chose 6 as the answer, I know something much different about the student than if they chose, let’s say 22. One wrong answer shows me that the child is subtracting instead of adding, the other shows me that the child may have an issue with counting on. Those are two entirely different types of reteaching that I may need to do.
    So, in fact, it IS my observation, my classwork, my homework, my testing that drives my instruction!
    As for evaluating ME – well, a properly trained administrator or any other evaluator should be able to look at my planning, my students’ achievement on my classwork and tests, have conversations with me about my lesson planning and goals, observe me and make a quality evaluation of my teaching. What’s wrong right now is that I am not only evaluated on all that (as I should be annually) but also on student performance on a standardized test that you have pointed out is not the strong suit of every student in my room. That means that the students are, in fact, WORKING FOR THE STATE!

    • I see your points, trust me I do. I’m sorry your data software doesn’t allow you to go into depth. Ours does, and our admin has given us training as well as input as to what questions are being focused on. That being said, data is about 35% to 40% of our evaluation. All I those things mentioned that drive your instruction are very key, and it varies from grade level to grade level.

      All that being said, I can gather where this is going from the other feedback in this post, so this is where I say farewell and the best of luck to you…

  7. Would you be surprised to hear that LAT is not really a teacher? A little more digging and I think I can make a connection that probably wouldn’t surprise anyone here.

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