Save $$ by Opting Out of STAAR/EOC

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Texas, like the entire United States is allowing for-profit corporations, such as Pearson Publishing, to control not only what is being taught, but when it is taught. In Texas schools, the  entire school year is focused on preparing for the STAAR/EOC tests.

Pearson is paid to prepare a bank of questions that are used on the STAAR/EOC tests.

Pearson is paid to print the STAAR/EOC tests.

Pearson is paid to grade the STAAR/EOC tests.

Pearson is paid to determine the grading scale used to evaluate passing and failing scores for students.

Since the scores on the STAAR/EOC tests have been so low, more money is needed to design a new test.

If enough parents opt their children out of the STAAR/EOC tests there will be no need for a new test.

Contact your state representative and senator and let them know that the STAAR/EOC tests are given in March and April long before the school year ends. Texas students are assessed over TEKS that they have not been taught. This is so students can be retested before school is out and once more in summer school if necessary.

The Texas State tests, STAAR/EOC, have nothing to do with benefiting your children.

Click here to find out who represents you.

What is the point of the STAAR/EOC tests?

Tests should benefit students. Nothing about the STAAR/EOC tests benefit students.After the tests are scored, teachers are not allowed to review the test with students and reteach content that was not understood. So what is the benefit of the STAAR/EOC tests?

Following are a teacher’s comment about the state test in Maine. I have included this because Texas teachers are experiencing comparable problems. Note that Texas wants more funds to develop  new STAAR/EOC tests.  If parents opt out of the STAAR/EOC their will be no need for new tests.

 

 “Teacher: Disturbing Things I’ve Learned About Our New Common Core Tests”

By Valerie Strauss

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/03/24/teacher-the-disturbing-things-ive-learned-about-our-new-common-core-tests/

 

Emily Talmage is an elementary school teacher in Lewiston, Maine who did some research on the new Common Core tests that her students are taking this spring. In Maine, students are taking the Maine Educational Assessments in math and English Language Arts, developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of the two multi-state consortia given a total of some $360 million in federal funds to develop new exams that align with the Core standards. In this post, Talmage reports on what she found.

 

By Emily Talmage

As a teacher of 20 vibrant, curious, and, yes, often challenging fourth graders at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine, I constantly search for ways to improve my students’ learning experiences and to understand what will best help them succeed.  So, like many teachers around the state, as I began hearing about the new Smarter Balanced Tests (or MEA) that we are required to give our students this spring, I wanted to know how it would help me with the daily task of getting twenty learners to grow their hearts and minds in meaningful ways.

Here is a brief summary of what I have discovered.

First, no matter what my students and I do, statistics have already shown that my students will more than likely fall below proficient on this test.  In the field test given a year ago, 91 percent of English Language Learners and nearly 80 percent of low-income students did not meet proficient.  My class is comprised of 40 percent English language learners and nearly 100 percent are low-income.  Because new state legislation (required by the federal government if we are to keep valuable sources of funding) has already passed that will link my students results to my professional evaluation, this does not bode well for me or for my colleagues.  School “grades” are suspended for one year because we do not yet have baseline data for these tests, but it does not take a statistician to predict that schools like mine, with high levels of poverty and English language learners, will not look particularly good to the public once results are released in 2016.

Second, “assessment experts” (which seem to be primarily business consultants) within major, for-profit corporations like McGraw-Hill, AIR, and ETS were at the forefront of developing these tests. Throughout the process, some teachers were asked for “input” (I was not one of them and I don’t know any teachers who were), but I have found it impossible to discern in what way this input was actually applied.  Instead, a number of math and literacy experts have said publicly that many test items are far above grade level and are developmentally inappropriate.  It is unclear why their advice was not heeded. Meanwhile, billionaires like Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch have espoused the incredible potential these tests have to grow the education market. I am certain that they would pleased to know that in Lewiston, we have already clamored to purchase Common Core-aligned products designed by the same companies that have built these tests.

Third, many teachers in states giving the Smarter Balanced Test were encouraged to hear that unlike its well-known counterpart, the PARCC, our particular version of the Common Core Assessment would be “adaptive,” meaning that it would adjust to student’s ability level as they progressed through the test.  Some teachers, including myself, find that adaptive tests can be somewhat more useful than those that simply label students according to their level of proficiency, as they have the potential to gauge students’ academic growth with greater specificity, while protecting students from spending a great deal of time on problems for which they are not yet prepared.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Smarter Balanced, this seems to have been a false selling point.  According to a report self-commissioned by Smarter Balanced, only after most of the test has been completed will some studentspossibly be directed to items that are somewhat above or below grade level.  This is in not what most of us would consider adaptive, and is in no way encouraging, especially given that “grade level” seems to mean something very different to the writers of these tests than it does to those who actually work with children.

Finally, I will not be able to see the test as my students take it.  I will not be allowed to look at their scrap paper. I will not even be able to talk with my colleagues about the test – before, during, or after.  These are all provisions outlined in a lengthy security agreement that all teachers were required to sign prior to administering the test.

So, how will a test that by its design is likely to show that my school, my students and I are all failing, that was developed by “assessment experts” rather than teachers, that will no doubt funnel a tremendous amount of taxpayer money to wealthy corporate shareholders and away from our classrooms, and that I won’t be able to see or discuss with my colleagues (let alone my students!) help me in my mission to improve the quality of education I offer my students each day?

It will not.  To the contrary, for at least 10 hours (likely more, as I am required to provide unlimited time for my students to complete the test, and I have heard from sixth-grade teachers that their students have spent so long on them that their laptops have died on them mid-test), it will prevent me from offering my students the valuable instruction and learning experiences they deserve. For a handful of students, it may even take us a few steps backward, as it takes work to regain some children’s confidence and sense of control of their own learning once they have taken disempowering tests like these.

A number of parents in our community and around the state have been fortunate enough to have the awareness and access to information about what is taking place in their children’s schools to opt their children out of this test. Unfortunately, whether due to fear or lack of accurate information, our own district decided to withhold information about parent’s right to opt their children out, and so the majority of my students will tough it out because they must.

As soon as it’s over, however, you can be sure that we’ll get right back to doing the real, gritty, exhausting, and inspiring work that happens in public schools each day.

 

 

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