Ted Cruz Discusses Education Policy in Iowa

IMG_0258I interviewed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has declared his presidential campaign, while he was in Iowa for the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff for Caffeinated Thoughts.  We discussed education first.

Shane: I write a lot about Common Core and you mention Common Core a lot in a number of your speeches.  You talk a lot about Common Core, however with Common Core actually being decided at the state level, what is it that the federal government can do to address the problem?

Senator Cruz: Well the federal government can stop mandating it and using Race to the Top funds to force states to adopt Common Core.  What the Obama administration is to use the coercive power of federal money to get states down this road, and they are also trying to intrude with federal oversight of substantive standards.  I think the federal government has no business whatsoever being involved in the curriculum that is taught in the schools.  We need to repeal Common Core, all together, I’m categorically opposed to it. 

I think that education should be at the state level, or even better, at the local level.  The advantage of having it at the state level is that it gives parents direct control over the education of our kids.  Education is too important to be governed by some distant bureaucrat in Washington – all of us as parents need to have direct input into what our kids are taught.

Shane: The Senate HELP Committee passed the ESEA reauthorization out, what is your position on that current bill?  Have you had a chance to read it?

Senator Cruz:  You know it is coming out of committee so I’m studying the details of that particular bill.  I believe we should be reducing, or even better, eliminating the strings and mandates that are coming out of the federal government regarding education.  We should be expanding school choice.  We should be empowering parents and children to choose the best education for their families and I am a passionate advocate of school choice.  I think school choice is the civil rights issue of the 21st century, and every child has a right to a quality education regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth or zip code.  So I’ve filed legislation, along with Senator Mike Lee, to allow the federal money that is currently going to education to follow the child, to be portable with the child so you can expand options so kids can have better education and a greater hope and future.

Shane: So like an education savings account?

Senator Cruz: Different from an education savings account, but I support that.  I support anything and everything that gives more choice to children and expands their options with education.

You can catch the entire interview here.

Arizona State Board of Education Votes to Set Up Another Rebrand

arizona-state-flagThe Arizona State Board of Education voted to approve yet another rebrand of the Common Core.  You may remember former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s executive order changing their name.  This time the same board which approved Common Core is in charge of its review.

The Arizona Capitol Times reports:

The State Board of Education has voted to create a committee to review Arizona’s Common Core standards for math and reading.

The committee will hold public hearings and oversee English and math experts who will draft the language of the new standards before the end of the 2015 school year.

The board voted 9-1 to create the 17-member committee that will include business owners, college deans, parents, teachers and Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. Douglas built her primary and general election campaigns on her opposition to the standards.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey asked the Board to review the standards and reject the parts that don’t make sense last month.

If Governor Ducey was serious about opposing Common Core like he said when he was campaigning he would ask the board to reject them outright and start over.

I’m not going to hold my breath anything meaningful will come out of this process.  If so I will be delightfully surprised.

More Students Refuse Smarter Balanced in California, Washington

Photo source: PureParents.org

Photo source: PureParents.org

I ran across a couple of local stories out west about more students refusing to take the Smarter Balanced test, and I’m not talking small numbers here.  Kids are opting-out in droves.

From California – Palo Alto Online:

About 50 percent of the junior classes at both of Palo Alto’s public high schools decided to opt out of the new Smarter Balanced Assessments this week, concerned about the two days of standardized testing scheduled the week before Advanced Placement and SAT exams.

Gunn High School junior Hayley Krolik said she first heard about the opt-out option from a classmate who posted an article on the junior class’ Facebook page: “More California parents exercise right to skip standardized test.”

Movements to opt out of the new Common Core State Standards testing, which for the first time this year will return results to school districts and students, have popped up across the country for various reasons, from protesting an emphasis on standardized testing to the new, more rigorous standards themselves, which some critics view as a top-down approach to education.

But in Palo Alto, it was about stress — unrelated to the exam itself — and timing. AP testing begins at Gunn and Palo Alto High on Monday, May 4, for juniors and seniors. Some students are also taking SAT tests this weekend.

It’s clear that kids are being over tested in California.

The same is true in Washington where the The News Tribune out of Tacoma, WA reports:

About half of the juniors at Curtis High School in University Place are refusing to take new state tests, according to the school district. But most cite test overload — upcoming Advanced Placement and SAT tests — rather than opposition to the new tests themselves that has driven protests elsewhere, according to officials.

University Place Superintendent Patti Banks said that, as of Monday, 52 percent of the district’s juniors had filed refusal-to-test forms, which require parental permission. One report circulating on Facebook stated that 85 percent of Curtis juniors were opting out of the tests. Banks said that number was inflated.

State testing began at the high school Monday. The new state tests are known as the SBAC, because they were developed by the multi-state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Protests over the SBAC, as well as similar tests based on the Common Core standards adopted by Washington and other states, have prompted anti-testing boycotts in other states. And last week, every junior at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School skipped SBAC testing, along with significant numbers at several other Seattle high schools.

Scott Walker: We Effectively Repealed Common Core in Wisconsin

IMG_0255On Saturday during the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kickoff in Waukee, IA I was given the opportunity to interview Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for CaffeinatedThoughts.com.  I was able to ask him about Common Core and testing in Wisconsin below is the transcript of that part of the interview.

Shane: Common Core seems to be an issue that is cropping up, at least in the primary election, and we are seeing some differences between different candidates.  Where do you stand on Common Core?

Gov. Walker: I oppose it.  I like high standards.  I think high standards are a good thing.  I have two kids who went to public schools who are in college now, and I’ve got two nieces who are in public schools.  I want high standards, but I want them set by people at the local level – by parents, by teachers, by school board members and others out there. 

Years ago, when I first ran in 2010, it wasn’t even on our radar.  I didn’t hear about it, it didn’t really come up anywhere on my radar, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago in 2013 in our state when a number of parents and concerned citizens and even teachers came to us so after that we drafted legislation to pull back from that.  It had been in the law in our state before I became governor, we actually have an independently-elected Superintendent of Public Instruction who is not in my cabinet who actually administers it, so we have to change the law to do that.

The legislature didn’t pass it, but I put in my budget language that said, that pulls back on it and says no school district has to use it, and we pulled the testing for any money for Smarter Balanced.

Shane: When you campaigned, you were campaigning on a repeal, and are now pushing, putting forth an opt-out…

Gov. Walker: Well it really is a repeal.  There is no law that mandates it.  What it does, the language we put in explicitly says school districts don’t have to, and that the language in there… there is not a law that says they have to do Common Core.  There is a law that says they have to do standards, and then there is a law.. or there is money in the budget for Smarter Balanced.  We got rid of that, so that is effectively a repeal.

Shane: What is Wisconsin going to end up with next year without Smarter Balanced if that is not funded?

Gov. Walker: Oh I think what we’ll do is have whole options of things that people can use for testing so people, so school boards, administrators can pick at the local level which option they want to use so whether it is the ACT or any number of other things out there, but they are not told by the state government exactly what they have to do and they do not have to abide by, they don’t have to be obligated to use Common Core curriculum.

Go here to watch the video or read the transcript for the entire interview.

There were additional questions I could have asked on the subject to press him further, but this was an interview, not a debate.  If the other assessments, and we are not certain of what other assessments will be offered, are aligned to Common Core what motivation will a school board have to opt-out?  That is the burning question behind opt-out legislation.  Also a recent article in The Journal-Times says his budget just reiterates current law:

…Walker’s budget doesn’t repeal the standards. Instead, the spending plan reiterates what state law already provides: that no school board is required to adopt the Common Core standards.

While the state Department of Public Instruction adopted the standards in 2010, and chose a state assessment aligned to the standards, school districts are not required to use the standards by law.

Walker also proposes in his budget to prohibit use of the Common Core-aligned state exam developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, but does not prohibit using a new test also aligned to the standards.

The budget prohibits state Superintendent Tony Evers from adopting any standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative after the budget is passed, but currently no new standards are being developed by the group.

Wisconsin grassroots activists I’ve talked to want a real repeal, not an opt-out that could still leave school districts on the hook with Common Core.  If there were legitimate assessment options that were not tied to Common Core that would be an entirely different matter that unfortunately is being left in the hands of Dr. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, who threatened to sue if the Common Core was repealed in his state.

Mississippi Governor Bryant Vetos Weak Common Core Bill

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant vetoed SB 2161 on Friday last week.  The bill passed through the Mississippi Legislature in late March.   Bryant said then that he wasn’t sure the bill would accomplish anything.  Activists from Mississippi told Truth in American Education that they believed the bill would just set up a rebrand and give politicians cover.

Bryant felt the same calling the bill weak.

Bryant said Thursday that he’s “firmly committed to ending Common Core in Mississippi,” but he believes Senate Bill 2161 wouldn’t accomplish that goal.

Ok, the ball is in the Governor’s court to act, we’ll be watching to see what he does.  Activists were urging him to veto the bill so it’s encouraging to see he was responsive to that.  I’m curious what the next step may be as I was leery of vetoing the only bill on the table that could have made some positive changes.  Then again the state could have just ended up with a rebrand they are stuck with for years.  Like I said in my previous piece on this bill, activists on the ground know best about the players and the process.

190,836 Students Opt-Out of New York’s ELA Assessment

A New York-based Opt-Out advocacy group called United to Counter the Core reports that 190,836 students as of the time of this writing opted out of last week’s Common Core-aligned state ELA assessment with just under 76% of school districts accounted for.  This is an major increase from last year with 49,000 students opting out.

The math assessment which starts today with reports from a little more than 19% of school districts counted so far has seen 62,173 students opt-out.

Incredible…. Arne Duncan in the meantime is having a conniption fit.



Why I Quit My Teaching Job

David Xirau was a math teacher at Weymouth High School (MA) until late January of this year.  Below is the letter he wrote about why he quit his teaching job.  What he expresses in his letter could be expressed by teachers in most any state these days.  How many teachers are we losing to the education reform movement?  How long will it take before citizens reclaim local control of their schools and allow teachers to teach?

     To whom it may concern:

Why am I leaving? Long story short, our current school system and certain administrative practices are not letting me do my job. I cannot work in an environment where only half of my time can be devoted to the art of teaching. I retired from the military to become an educator, and I am compelled to go where I can do this more effectively. Authentic teaching is done free of the restrictive standards, unattainable objectives, and insanely burdensome administrative minutiae that are imposed upon us every day. I became a teacher to serve the kids and the community, not the greedy, idealistic inexperienced administrators, corporate interests, and politicians who are destroying our beloved profession. I find myself each day spinning wheels trying to stay ahead of their game, crunching numbers, while our students’ true education suffers.

Year after year, “they” keep piling more and more tasks onto our plates with no extra compensation and no extra time to execute the tasks properly while none of our old responsibilities are taken away. Shouldn’t this FACT raise a red flag somewhere? Apologies do not solve the problem. Silence won’t make it go away. A real teacher knows that on any given day, every minute counts. With our limited time constraints, we find ourselves cutting corners to make everything fit, making difficult choices: “Do I call the parent of a student who is failing, or do I collect evidence for my evaluation”?

At what point will we break? How much more can we realistically be expected to sustain upon our backs before the stress is reflected in our teaching? In our home life?   In our health?   When our first thought in the morning is, “Sigh…only 10 more years to retirement,” instead of, “I am going to make a difference today,” something is very wrong. Administrative apologists claim they are bearing the weight as well – a curious thing how a $100,000-plus salary can help lighten the load for some people. Please.

What is the real cost of this extra work? Who is paying the price when our minds and energy are devoted to endless testing, development of standards and objectives, rubrics, measurement, results, analysis, DDMs, improvement plans, PLCs, “Smart” goals, evidence collecting, percentages, alignments, core curriculum, cross curriculum, accommodations, modifications, incessant IEP paperwork, meetings, data, data, data, and more data? Read the list again!! Where is the pedagogy?   When do we get to teach?

It has gotten to the point where each of us, literally, needs a secretary and a data analyst just to manage all of the extra work so that we can focus on the kids and perform our traditional duties. At the rate we are going, we will soon need lawyers in our classrooms… I have never worked in a place where so many people are afraid to make a decision or speak their mind for fear of losing their job, or for fear that the school will get sued. This mindset is unhealthy and unproductive.

How does this affect my job? As a result of having to devote more time, energy, and attention to the aforementioned tasks, I have had to turn down students for after-hours tutoring; I have had to decrease my outreach to parents; my planning has suffered; my creativity is limited; and my grading, attention to details, and other essential pedagogical tasks are also taking hits. There is no time to meet with peers to discuss shared courses or to mentor new teachers. I have students with learning disabilities that need my extra time and attention, but I have very little to give. I can no longer perform as much community service as I used to. I can go on, of course….

Many of the things that authentic teaching should be about are being sacrificed because our focus is divided into as many new “21st Century” objectives. I think that we are getting ahead of ourselves with our mission. How can we focus on 21-st Century skills when it is clear that our students have not yet mastered 20-th Century skills? The educational model of the previous century gave us Steve Jobs, Civil Rights, and took us to the moon. Thus far, the present model has only gotten us a lower standing and less respect on the International academic achievement scale. This is the indicator, the evidence, that we are not headed in the right direction. We’re losing track of the basics, trying to get our students to run when they haven’t yet learned to walk.

The business-minded, boilerplate approach to education through standardization, measurement, and analysis, greatly curtails teachers’ most valuable gifts, decreases morale, and as a consequence, affects our students. Our student body’s most prominent quality is its diversity, yet here we are, trying to measure them all by the same yardstick. We are trying to control output when we have no control over the input. It is folly to believe that we can adequately compare results across school years when so much changes every year. What is the control group in this social experiment? Diversity and standardization are not good bedfellows – the terms are oxymoronic at best. Authentic teaching cannot be done with a script.

I guess my decision to throw in the towel boils down to an unwillingness to serve two masters at once. I can either devote my time to teaching or I can help the District produce its precious data – but I can’t do both. I am morally and ethically incapable of doing each task at only 50%. Students need to be taught, not analyzed. They are human beings, not an experiment, not parts of a machine coming off of an assembly line. My students need and deserve my full attention, something I cannot give under the current circumstances.

Tennessee House Votes to Replace Common Core

Tennessee-FlagYesterday the Tennessee House votes 97 to 0 to pass HB 1035, a bill that would replace the Common Core State Standards by the 2017-2018 school year.

Here is the bill’s summary in full:

AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill and requires the state board of education to implement a process whereby the set of standards known as the Common Core State Standards adopted in 2010 will be reviewed and replaced with new sets of standards adopted to fit the needs of Tennessee students. These college-and-career-ready standards must be adopted through an open, transparent process that allows all Tennesseans an opportunity to participate. These standards must be adopted and fully implemented in Tennessee public schools in the 2017-2018 school year.

This amendment requires the state board of education or the department of education to cancel any memorandum of understanding concerning the Common Core State Standards entered into with the national governor’s association and the council of chief state school officers.

As required by the current established process:

(1) The state board will appoint two standards review and development committees. One committee will be an English language arts standards review and development committee, and one committee will be a mathematics standards review and development committee. Each committee will be composed of two representatives from institutions of higher education located in the state and six educators who reside in the state and work in grades K-12;
(2) The state board will also appoint six advisory teams. Three advisory teams will advise and assist the English language arts standards review and development committee, and three advisory teams will advise and assist the mathematics standards review and development committee. The advisory teams will be structured by grade levels, so that one advisory team reviews standards for K-5, one for grades 6-8, and one for grades 9-12 in each subject. Each advisory team will be composed of one representative from an institution of higher education located in the state and six educators who reside in the state and work in the appropriate grade levels and subject;
(3) The public’s assistance in reviewing the current standards and suggesting changes to the current standards will be elicited through a web site that allows comment by the public, as well as by educators, on the current standards. A third-party, independent educational resource, selected by the state board, will collect all of the data and transmit all of the information gathered to the state board for dissemination to the appropriate advisory team for review and consideration;
(4) Each advisory team must review the current standards for its subject matter and grade level together with the comments and suggestions gathered from the public and educators. After an advisory team has conducted its review, the team will make recommendations for changes to the current standards to the appropriate standards review and development committee; and
(5) Each standards review and development committee will review its advisory teams’ reports and make recommendations for the new set of standards to the standards recommendation committee, created by this amendment.

The standards recommendation committee will be composed of 10 members. The governor will appoint four members, the speaker of the senate will appoint three members, and the speaker of the house will appoint three members. The standards recommendation committee will review and evaluate the recommendations of the two standards review and development committees and post the recommendations to the web site created pursuant to this amendment for the purpose of gathering additional feedback from the public. The standards recommendation committee must make the final recommendations as to the new set of standards to the state board, which will adopt sets of standards in English language arts and mathematics that fit the needs of Tennessee students in K-12.

Prior to the next adoption of academic standards in the subjects of science and social studies, the state board of education must establish a process whereby the board will receive recommendations from a standards recommendation committee appointed in the same manner as the standards recommendation committee created above. The standards recommendation committee will make the final recommendations as to the revision and replacement of the current sets of standards in these subject areas to the state board, which will adopt sets of standards in science and social studies that fit the needs of Tennessee students in K-12. Each LEA will be responsible for developing and implementing the instructional programs under the state standards adopted by the state board that best fit its students’ educational needs, that achieve levels of proficiency or advanced mastery, and that vigorously promote individual teacher creativity and autonomy.

AMENDMENT #2 refers to “postsecondary-and-workforce ready standards” instead of “college-and-career ready standards”.

AMENDMENT #3 adds a preamble and requires that all appointments to the standards recommendation committee be subject to confirmation by the senate and the house. The appointments to the standards recommendation committee will be effective until adversely acted upon by the senate and the house.

“This legislation is a template for all states to begin a much needed journey of separation from federally generated standards and an invitation to embrace each states’ own constitutionally delegated authority to serve its citizens at its own will,” said HB1035 chief sponsor Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg). “As our founders and God surely intended.”

“I set out on a mission to do everything in my power to repeal Common Core in State of Tennessee this year,” said HB1035 chief co-sponsor Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). “In addition to repealing Common Core, this bill puts even more control back in the hands of families, local schools and the State of Tennessee, which is exactly where it belongs.”

“Both Democrats and Republicans in my district are strongly against Common Core,” said co-sponsor Rep. Bryan Terry (R-Murfreesboro).” I am proud to have had the opportunity to amend this legislation in order to ensure that the was indeed to completely rescind Common Core from the State of Tennessee. Tennessee families, teachers and legislators will now be able to create their own standards, and for that I am thankful.”

While I won’t say bills like these are not a positive step in the right direction considering the alternative I do have concerns that perhaps the Tennessee Senate can address.

It’s hard not to be skeptical of replacement bills of late because as we have just seen rebranding.  This bill is interesting however because it has three layers – advisory teams, standards review and development committee, and then the standards recommendation committee.  The standards recommendation committee appointments are subject for confirmation.  Interestingly enough that is the committee that is appointed by the Governor (4 members), Speaker of the Senate (3 members) and Speaker of the House (3 members).  The standards review and development teams and advisory teams are appointed by the State Board of Education.  The State Board of Education then has final say on adopting the new standards.

The biggest problem I have with this bill is that the State Board of Education has final say on the standards that are adopted.  The Legislature cedes it’s oversight of the process.  Having a recommendation committee that functions separately from the development committee isn’t a bad idea.  I also don’t like that there is not public forums for public feedback.  They need something beyond taking comments online.  All comments should be made public prior to the adoption of any standards.  All meetings should be recorded.  EVERYTHING involving this process should be open and transparent and then ultimately the Legislature not the State Board of Education should have the final say in the matter.

Smarter Balanced Roll Out Has Been a Disaster

Smarter Balanced has been plagued with technical glitches that have led to Montana telling its schools that the assessment was voluntary for it’s local schools.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week:

A series of technological difficulties prompted Montana officials on Wednesday to declare that statewide Common Core-aligned tests will be voluntary this year—the latest blow to the rollout of such tests across the country.

“We were listening to the field [of school leaders], and the field is very frustrated with the glitches happening,” said Denise Juneau,superintendent of the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

While she said she isn’t against testing in general, she added that she found this year’s snafus to be disruptive to learning. “We really want to make sure the business of schools gets done,” she said.

With about 145,000 students in its elementary and secondary systems, Montana had planned this spring to test about 77,000 students in grades three through eight, as well as in 11th grade, with exams from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Montana uses Measured Progress as the testing vendor.  North Dakota and Nevada also use this company and they have experienced problems as well.

Fox News reported yesterday a week out they are still experiencing problems:

Nevada resumed full testing after its first notable success with Friday’s limited testing, but system-generated error messages appeared Monday.

Clark County School District said it suspended testing after the system crashed at 9:30 a.m.

All three states have announced plans for school districts that say they can’t finish the test.

The U.S. Department of Education maintains there are no exceptions to the mandate to test 95 percent of all students, which is linked to funding.

The Nevada Department of Public Instruction said that no schools will be punished if they don’t finish the test.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga says schools experiencing errors can make two more attempts to take the test again before the end of the school year.

The schools can also request a paper version. No schools will be punished if the test isn’t completed.

If you think the problems are just linked to Measured Progress, think again, three other states have experienced problems as well.  Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri all have experienced technical glitches according to Smarter Balanced officials, the Wall Street Journal reports.

To say this has been disruptive to classroom instruction is putting it mildly.

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, a roll out with computer adaptive tests this big is pretty unprecedented.  Hopefully states like Iowa who are still considering what assessment they will use will see this disaster.  I’m not going to hold my breath though as anything resembling common sense appears to be lacking when educrats are concerned.

The Real Problems Federal Assessment Programs Imposed Upon Education

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Once again the value of effective teaching assessments is being undercut by the problems typically created by an overbearing federal involvement defining teacher accountability.

Teachers, parents, and children want the benefits gained from quality assessment tools but they are running from tests that are being imposed upon the educational system today because they are typically unfair.

Relics like Marc Tucker who represent years of advocacy for federal control of our educational system have set the foundation for this debacle by continually supporting morphed versions of failed federal educational policies. The Tucker/federal solution is to eliminate or to transform testing materials rather than address federal overreach, the real problem facing the educational system. Tucker’s approach would remove accountability of federal policies.

The goal of using assessments to improve the educational system are reversed when the tests are too long, when the questions are too political or are irrelevant for determining mastery of a subject matter, or when testing standards are unfair. Federally created privacy issues are turning a supportive public against state and federally funded educational systems.

Tucker misses the point that each new federal program and each step away from local control of schools has historically resulted in a decline in academic progress. Citizens are furious and want federal overreach to stop. Tucker and other experts who earn their living through funding provided to support federal educational policies ignore the solutions for academic decline in America.

In an Educational Leadership article: “NEEDED: An Updated Accountability Model,” Tucker uses the growing number of teachers leaving the profession to justify eliminating accountability test. He explains that the decline in applicants to schools of education is in large part because testing fails to make education better.

As a teacher, I can assure Mr. Tucker that teachers are not leaving the profession out of fear of being held accountable. They are leaving because the federally defined accountability tools are unfair and destructive. This truth is often lost in the debate.

Teachers are leaving the profession because it is unreasonable to expect teachers to assure that every child functions at grade level when the classroom is comprised of students with many medically diagnosed disabilities which impact the speed of learning and with students whose IQs range from the 80s to well above 120.  Students with an IQ of 80 who work very hard may not make a full year of academic growth. Students with higher IQs should be expected to make more than a full year of academic growth.

No student with an IQ of 80 who has made eight months of academic growth should be considered a failure. To make that level of growth, both the student and the teacher had to work very and should feel successful. Current testing methods would define this teacher and student as failures. Federally aligned testing is not created to accomplish reasonable goals.

If the accountability expectations were individualized by student ability, the success of students and teachers would be more accurately defined. This should be the purpose of an assessment tool. When teachers feel that their efforts and successes can be fairly recognized, they will be more willing to stay in the profession and to apply to schools of education.

Teachers understand that research by Betts & Costrell in 2001 and Odden in 1995 indicates that well-structured testing tools provide students with sufficient information needed for them to set personal academic goals. Teachers are provided essential facts about the current level of understanding an individual student has about the subject being taught.  Teachers must have this level of information to know what needs a student has.

Parents need assessment results so they can accurately monitor their child’s academic progress, understand what their child needs, communicate those needs with the child’s teacher, motivate their child, and direct their home studies.

Quality testing tools are often essential to successful educational experiences for students. Federal involvement and the political and self-serving agendas of many educational experts has so thoroughly confused the debate that many teachers, parents, and students fear quality testing will be lost for many generations.

Data privacy is another issue acerbated by federally aligned testing.  Federal and state privacy laws are inadequate and cannot protect a child’s right to privacy. Their testing data will be shared with federal agencies and other educational entities. The federal government is trying to accumulate massive amounts of information on each citizen to be used for political and economic reasons. Parents and students do not want anyone to have access to early academic records. Students must have chances to make mistakes without fearing life-long consequences.

The real accountability issue is not the value of quality assessment tools. The real issue is that, once again, the federal government is interfering in local control of schools and imposing another federal program which will do more harm than good. Our children and the American educational system will suffer again. Parents can stop this federal overreach by taking back their schools at the local level.