Without a Hitch

So, today I walked into school at about 9:45. They notified me that I was late and that I couldn’t take the test with everyone else because of it, and then just said to head on down to the library. That’s all that happened-either there was a lesson learned from the huge fuss last year, being late is just a risk-free way to get out of them, or there is secret plan here I don’t know about.

Tomorrow, I have a dentist appointment in the morning, so I don’t even have to try to be late; on Wednesday, though, I don’t know what time the make-ups are, so I’ll just do the same thing but prepare to refuse the test in case I don’t miss them.

Well, things are going well, though I will admit that I prefer refusal; being late is getting out of them, but refusing to take them shows that I have reason.

Testing Comes Back Around

So…no news on the lunch petition. If something happens, I will let you know. But for now…end of year testing has come back. The big differences: 1. We’ve done this before now, and we have more research at our backs. And 2. MSLs are now being called ‘Final Exams’. It looks like they’re not part of your grade, but I can’t be certain; I’ve definitely heard it both ways. A lot. And as for the EOGs, they’re EOGs, but for seventh to eighth grade, my math EOG scores (opt-out-ers at my school have really low ‘1’s, if you would recall my school’s wonderful policy) will also dictate which math class you are in the next year.

I’ve heard that if you miss some of the testing days, including the make-up EOG day, then they can’t test you after that. And if they can in fact, then I’ll fall back on refusal to test (like last year). Can’t be sure how it’ll go, but it should be easier than last year.

Oh, and here’s the testing schedule for next week (at least, for my grade in my school): Monday-Math EOG. Tuesday-Language Arts EOG. Wednesday-EOG makeups. Thursday-Science Final Exam. And Friday-Social Studies Final Exam. Yeah, that’s right, testing all week.

Alright then…unless something happens between then and now, the earliest I’ll be able to write about how it went down is after school on Monday.

Everything according to plan, write to you then! Have a wonderful (and hopefully not stressful) weekend.

Zoe’s EOG Scores!…the results are in

Sorry to be so brief in this posting.  Like many of our readers I am a full time worker and a parent.  Days are long and I am typing this out at 12:15 AM.  I wanted to type out the whole story about the end result of Zoe refusing to take the EOG’s last year and how it affected things….but the following letter I just wrote should fill in most of the details.

I wrote the following letter to Tammy Howard, NCDPI’s Director of Accountability Services today….

Good morning Ms. Tammy Howard,

My daughter, Zoe Morris, opted out of the EOG’s for the 2013 school year at McDougle Middle School in Orange County.  To my knowledge she was the only student to actually do so in her district.
I had notified Nelson, the county testing coordinator months prior to this.  I did so to make sure that there would be no issues regarding what our rights were.  In the end, my daughter…who is a straight A student, was booted off of campus and we were told we were breaking the law.  I do not need to recount this all really…we both know how it played out.  The short version is that Zoe never took the test.
So I was quite surprised to discover the letter that came home regarding the NC Ready Student Report for School Year ending 2013.  According to this report Zoe took the test and scored a “1” for Reading and Mathematics.  Zoe is currently a straight A student who has been invited to take the SAT towards involvement in the Duke Talent Identification Program.
What I want to know from you is how your policy of running an untaken test as if it was taken supports what schools are about…education.   As you know, a score of “1” indicates a “limited command” in the subject areas of Math and Reading.
The ironic part of this though illustrates exactly why we are against how Common Core testing is being applied to students.  These tests cannot measure how well a student learns.  They will  never measure how well a teacher teaches her students.  Even if a student took the test and scored a 2 or a 3…it is no more indicative of their value than this falsified “1” is for my daughter.
I am not the typical hothead, nor a fanatic.  I just am a parent who is supporting his daughter in her repulsion for the Common Core, from top to bottom.  And yes, I do share her feelings.  I do not see a lot of good solutions here at the present moment, not for fans of the CCSS nor for the opponents.  It is all quite a mess at the moment and the tenure situation isn’t helping much either.
I do what I can though.  And what I can do is support my daughter in refusing to participate in agendas that she is ethically against.
I can also try to get straight answers out of adults who are meant to be held to a higher standard, especially when they are meant to be responsible as role models for students.  My daughter read this NC Ready report right along with me and realized the same thing I did.  This test result is completely false and only shows how testing is flawed when a student who did not take the test, still was graded as if they did.
My questions are as follows:
  • who made the decision to run the test as if it was taken…is this policy?
  • is there no testing provision yet made to illustrate “refused to take test”?
  • who in our state is the person who literally made the law that says every child must be tested?
  • now that my daughter was given a “1”, in error, how will this mistake be repaired on her record?
  • she is not taking the test again this year…what will happen then?  Will it be given a “1” again?
Thank you,
Charlie and Zoe
The Blue Hat Movement

Videos From L.A.

Here are two videos from L.A.

My favorite part of the fists one is the end of number 45, at about 7:30:00.

06-18-13RegularBd – Jun 18th, 2013.

Favorite part of this next one: about 5:34:20, Steven Zimmer talks passionately about class sizes and such.

http://lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

However, those are only very small parts of both videos; all of both are still absolutely worth watching!

A Note From Tami Pyfer

Recently, we received this comment from Tami Pyfer on our blog:

“This video was eye-opening – most states have mechanisms for alternative testing for students with disabilities and I’m wondering why NC does not.

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards. Standards do not equal assessments. Standards do not equal curriculum. Standards are simply minimum expectations for what a student will learn at each grade level. Some students may achieve more, and some students – especially those with disabilities – may learn less. Effective educational programs will accommodate for both ends of the spectrum. A state may have one adopted set of standards/expectations for all of the schools in the state, but in many (most?) states, the curriculum is left up to the individual schools. In our state, we’ve had minimum standards for decades. Setting the standards and developing the state assessments are the responsibility of the State Board of Education, while the curriculum is developed/designed/adopted by local school districts and charter schools. We also have a completely separate assessment system for students with disabilities like the child in this video.

Lumping the Common Core State Standards in with the inappropriate assessment practices tied with No Child Left Behind and highlighted in this video, doesn’t make sense, although it’s a common tactic being used by people who don’t understand how different states are/are not implementing the Common Core standards. Unfortunately, waiving the anti-Common Core flag is simply a distraction to the (worthy) battle you are waging for the appropriate use, and not misuse of assessment in our schools.”

We did not approve the comment on the blog, and the next day, we received an email from her asking why the comment was not showing up.  I did not approve her message to appear on our blog because something felt funny to me.

When Tami wrote to us again, Zoe and I did a bit of research on Tami Pyfer, and we found a BLOG with an email correspondence between her and someone concerned about the Common Core being applied in the state of Utah.  Here is the link where you can read more about Tami.

Below is the email correspondence, with Tami’s writing in bold italics and Anissa’s just in italics:

Dear Governor & Board,

It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core  so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?

Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.

Thanks!

Anissa Wardell

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Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.

Tami Pyfer

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Tami,

If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.

While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.

Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.

Thank you,

Anissa

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I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.

Tami Pyfer

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Tami,

Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.

It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.

Anissa

 

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So, reader, there are many things we could say.  The main and only thing we want to say is that when Tami first wrote to us she did not say who she actually was, and we had a feeling that the comment’s author was someone involved with enforcing Common Core.  Her omission of this fact is why we did not want to approve her comment.  But with the proper context for her comment now clear, we are fine sharing it here.  Zoe and I debated a lot about how to present this or if we should at all.  This is the result.  Definitely food for thought…

Update and Video: NC Mother of Autistic Child Fights EOG’s

It’s late.  About 2 AM now.  The email from Michelle I did not see until after my kids were asleep.  My kids are night owls.  They may make great grades in school, but you would never know it from the late hours they keep.  So at about 12:30 when the house was finally quiet I was checking email before turning in and there was one from Michelle.  We have been in touch before, via phone.  She was seeking support to get the word out about her situation.  Her situation was something I wrote about previously HERE.  I shook the trees and was really sure that she would be “allowed” to Opt Out, after all, she is only about 10 miles away…surely the school system could not be that different over there.  My reasoning was that since Zoe and I called the state’s bluff here in Orange County, that once Michelle told the school she was not having her son tested that the same thing would happen..they would back down.

What is particularly onerous about her situation is that the school, School Board and Superintendent are going so far out of their way to force her Autistic son to take this test.  No offense meant, but Michelle has guaranteed me that her son cannot pass any version of a state EOG.  They are essentially forcing her son to take a test that he will fail.  This is in light of the fact that his school year has been filled with success.  Michelle went to some lengths to describe to me how many victories there have been for her son this year.  She describes many of them in the video.  I am sharing this video for two reasons.  Michelle personally asked me to do what I could to expose what is happening.  Secondly, this situation truly calls into the light and exaggerates just how misguided testing has become under NCLB and CCS.  Standardized Testing hurts teachers. It reduces the hard work and efforts of your child’s teacher into an assessment designed by people who will NEVER meet either your child or their teacher.  All the amazing things that happened in that classroom…like they have for Michelle’s son, deserve credit.  But with a standardized test, there is none.  The way the Common Core is set up, all that good stuff gets thrown under the school bus.  Testing is all that seems to count.  This is a slap in the face of how hard teachers work.

In fact, under CCS, standardized tests that are scored low, actually count against teachers.  Under Standard 6, teachers are being tested and given a grade based upon how their student’s performed.  Hasn’t this gone far enough already folks?  When you have a school Superintendent arguing with a parent that their autistic child is federally required to take a test that is going to make the teacher look bad and will make the student look like a failure…this is not educational.  All that anyone learns by being silent on this issue is how easily we tend to just go on with our lives, without saying a word about things that we know are not right.  Now is a great time to do something different.  It doesn’t matter what state you live in.  Watch the video.  Do something.  If you really want to support public education and the profession of teaching, overturn federally mandated testing and encourage the end of the Common Core Standards.