The Time is Now

The Assembly caved in to Cuomo’s ridiculous education reform platforms, tying teacher evaluations to flawed, poorly written tests and a growth formula that will negatively impact too many children. As teachers will now be measured by student “growth” a teacher can be negatively impacted by teaching high achieving students because if they score near the top, there is not enough room to show “growth”. Our special education students do not stand a chance.

We will continue to see a loss of art and music in our schools. Elementary education will focus on the three “R”s while parents are marketed too that students are learning 21st century skills, like how to use a scroll bar on an iPad so that they can take more tests.

Students have already been losing the skills to succeed in the science fields as science requires the ability to be wrong. Testing does not allow for making mistakes.

Data-mining will continue. NYS currently culls 200 points of data on every student every year. There will be no privacy. Getting in trouble in school will no longer be a protected local issue, it will be store at the state level with G-d knows who having access to it.

Millions upon millions of dollars will be drained from the schools to support education corporations and what ever it is that needs to be sold next. Students will only have access to corporatized canned curriculum, and how exactly does that develop critical thinking?

We need to refuse these tests. We need to call our elected officials. We need to restore local control.

There is no time left. The time is now.


Dear BOE re: Field Testing

As you know, the Board of Regents was scheduled to vote on making field testing mandatory in February.  Thanks to the efforts of parents, like myself, and school officials across the state, the Board of Regents tabled this vote and instead asked the NYS legislature for $8.4 million to publish additional versions of tests in order to increase the number of questions field tested.   The number of responses required is 2000 in order to validate a test question, and it is far more effective to have them embedded into tests so that students do not know which questions count, and which do not.
Students now know that field tests do not count for anything.   They are more likely to write nonsensical responses, particularly at the middle school and high school level.  This renders field tests useless and a waste of valuable classroom time.  I will be happy to show you tweets from students about this.  They seem to favor using song lyrics and scenes from Sponge Bob.  It also illustrates a certain level of critical thinking.
The lohud article references only 3- 8 grade testing, but the Regents memo clearly states mandating 3 -12 field testing.
As this effort did not pass, I will respectfully ask the ______ BOE to consider not participating in the Regents field tests and 3 to 8th field tests as they are clearly not mandated by NYSED at this time.
Attached is a list of schools who sent back field tests last year.

Additional information on the invalidity of standalone field testing can be found here.

Thank you,

Tales from NJ AP and PARCC

“Just when you thought your senior students were safe from PARCC….My daughter said her AP classes are doing nothing because there are juniors and seniors. The juniors have to take turns doing the PARCC so it’s a couple weeks of nothing. They have to take AP tests in a few weeks which is WAY more important since they can get college credit. I just can’t.”

“AP classes are HUGELY interrupted by PARCC. And in my district they will be interrupted again in April because the May testing window is too short. We have to PARCC before APs (most of our students take at least one AP class) in order to meet the testing window. Teachers don’t have a choice- if 70% of your class is missing because they are taking PARCC you can’t move on without them. It’s not fair to those students and it also creates a lot of extra work for students and teachers.”

“I don’t think it’s a reflection on the teacher. They’re doing what they can with the hand they were dealt. My daughter is in three AP classes and there are too many kids missing. PLUS they can’t do any other work needed on the computers because there is not enough bandwidth for anyone else other than PARCC kids to use the computers at the same time.”

“Same problem here. The PARCC in May is also overlapping with AP exams, for which the dates had been set a year ago. Also: juniors are also taking AP, not just seniors.”

Education by bureaucracy.   Schools need to push for AP classes to enhance their “report card”.  AP students in school districts in the northeast are already at a disadvantage because they start in September and many other school districts start in August.   School districts in NJ also lost up to 8 school days because of snow.  Now add on the PARCC test where students are pulled out of AP classes so that teachers are restricted on what they can present to the remaining students in the class.

So, the educational benefit of the PARCC is????

As one student tweeted yesterday….parcc

The Opposite Sides of the Refusal Issue


Now, compare these tweets from the people who make a living pushing testing like, well, like it means anything, with the comments in this report on testing from the School Administrators Association of New York State (with a shout out to Schools of Thought NY)

Just a couple of highlights:

Hunter-Tannersville SD – By the third day several 3rd graders shut-down emotionally and were unable to finish the exam. Students are being given mixed messages – teachers tell students to do their best, parents tell students not to worry because the test doesn’t count for anything. Therefore, some students who did not opt out left portions of the test blank because they did not have an urgency to complete it. Special education students were distraught, and blamed teachers for making them take the test. Some students, although given double-time based on their IESs, were overwhelmed with the amount of material to read and write.

Clarkstown SD, Congers Elementary School – Some students cried, pulled out hair, had to leave testing setting to bathroom to calm down or walk in the hall.

• Clarkstown SD, New City Elementary School – The readability of the grade 3 assessment was more challenging than that of the grade 4 assessment. For students with disabilities, some started the tests and then stopped and refused to continue, some finished in 8 minutes, some filled-in the same answer for the bubble sheet. The assessments did not draw on the use of the NYS modules for teaching, students could not have been prepared for this test even by following the modules.

Victor SD, Victor Primary School – Days 1 and 2, the students were focused and strategic, a number of students were not able to complete the test and some finished in a rush. The anticipated completion times included in engageNY are unrealistic. Day 3, texts were extremely challenging. Students cried, asked repeatedly about what questions are asking – top readers had no idea as to what was being asked. Very capable students became fatigued and discontinued putting forth their best effort. One child pulled all his eyelashes out.

So, who do you listen to?  The people who make a living by pushing useless education reforms that only benefit the companies that profit from them? Or do you listen to the educators who are clearly saying there is something wrong here?

I had to update this.  served   At least the other side should be better informed about all the facets of this fight.  Below is where her buddy talks about cherry picking being a value add for the charter school model.  That is right, she is mocking us while defending the testing that is the sole criteria by which the cherry picking charter schools prove their value.

Statement on Grad Requirements at the NolanForum

My name is Christine Zirkelbach and I am the founder of NY Stop Grad HST which is a member organization of NYSAPE. On the train ride down I had time to research why students drop out of school. The various research that I looked at had one common thread – students drop out because they feel school has nothing left to give them. They may work, party, take the GED and start college early, party or do nothing.

I am here to talk about the special education students with average IQs but have learning disabilities or learning differences that make them poor test takers. These are students that want to stay in school, who want to prove that their disability will not stand in the way of their earning a high school diploma or having a successful life. Unfortunately, the Board of Regents and NYSED against them. As of the 9th grade class of 2011, special education students no longer have the RCT or Regents Competency Tests as a safety net for a local diploma. They are expected to take 5 Regents and pass with a 55, but if they get up to a 65 on the ELA or Math Regents they can borrow up to 10 points to bring a grade of 45 or higher on a Science, Global History or US History Regents, but if they fail the Global History or US History Regents they can replace that with a Regents Pathway which is 4 major tracks with a total of 13 different options of study in which they can be tested.

Meanwhile, they can go for a CDOS (Career Development & Occupational Studies) which requires 2 units of study for a total of 216 hours including a minimum of 54 hours work. The CDOS is not a diploma. In fact, NYSED issues a memo in August 2014 making it clear that the word “Diploma” not appear on a CDOS. The CDOS, which is only available to SPED students, clearly violated FERPA.

These students, who will not be able to make it through the 5 Regents, will be dropouts. These students who only earn a CDOS will be dropouts. Local diploma earners, who used the RCT option where 3-5% of graduates for 2014 across all demographics, urban,suburban and rural, white, black and Hispanic.

It took NYS four years to increase the graduation rates 4%. We will lose this in one year because of poor policy decisions. NYSED and the Board of Regents are leaving children behind.