FairTest: The Latest News About Test Reform and Resistance

Diane Ravitch's blog

Here is the weekly report from FaitTest on the progress of the movement to reform and resist standardized testing:

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest writes:

“What a week! A national poll concludes that a majority of parents are critical of standardized exam overkill; more minority parents, students and educators speak out against test misuse; yet another state’s computerized testing system collapses; and the opt-out movement continues to grow in breadth and depth. No wonder more state and local education policy-makers are beginning to heed the message: “Enough is enough!”

“National Most Parents Say “Too Much Emphasis on Standardized Testing,” According to New Poll

“National Race and the Standardized Testing Wars: More Minority Stakeholders Criticize Exams

National Pathways to New Accountability Through the Every Student Succeeds Act

“Arizona Buyer Beware When it Comes to Conclusions Drawn From Test Scores


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Tennessee Cancels State Tests, Blames Vendor

This might be a blessing in disguise. By failing to provide the proper materials Measurement Inc. may be setting a new standard for avoiding the test all together.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Tennessee has canceled the second half of its state tests because the vendor didn’t deliver the testing materials on time. Rather than extend the wasted time, the state commissioner pulled the plug. The whole state is opting out!

“Tennessee students may not have to take the second part of their year-end exams after all. Following multiple delays in receiving test materials, the state is cutting ties with testing vendor Measurement Inc. The company has been blamed for the bulk of glitches and delays in the first year of TNReady.

“Measurement Inc.’s performance is deeply disappointing,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said in a statement. “We will not ask districts to continue waiting on a vendor that has repeatedly failed us.”

“McQueen said the state has “exhausted every option in problem solving” to assist in getting the tests delivered.

“North Carolina-based Measurement Inc. has pinned the delays on unexpectedly having to print…

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Leonie Haimson Holds the de Blasio Administration Accountable for Reckless Spending

Diane Ravitch's blog

Leonie Haimson is the watchdog of New York City public education. She is the founder of Class Size Matters (I am a member of her six-person board), which operates on a shoestring. She is unpaid, yet she is tireless in her determination to police the awarding of contracts, as well as the administration’s attention to class size. She also is deeply involved in protecting student privacy. She and Rachel Strickland in Colorado brought down Bill Gates’ effort to data-mine American students, a project called inBloom, to which he contributed $100 million. In the face of parent criticism, inBloom folded.

Leonie reads every contract that the New York City Department approves. She did the same during the Bloomberg years, when she was also the mayor’s most persistent critic.

Here is her scathing report on the failure of the administration to perform due diligence before it awards contracts, in this case, for…

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After 15 Years of Fake “Reform,” U.S. Seniors See Slippage in Scores on NAEP

Diane Ravitch's blog

Emma Brown, writing in the Washington Post, reports the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress: High school seniors showed a slippage in their test scores in math and no improvement in reading.

Throughout the entire period of “reform” that started with No Child Left Behind, scores of high school students have been stagnant. Brown writes:

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, also show a longer-term stagnation in 12th-grade performance in U.S. public and private schools: Scores on the 2015 reading test have dropped five points since 1992, the earliest year with comparable scores, and are unchanged in math during the past decade.

The NAEP report says:

In comparison to the first year of the current trendline, 2005, the average mathematics score in 2015 did not significantly differ. In comparison to the initial reading assessment year, 1992, the 2015 average reading score was…

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Rubik Cube, School Reform, and Summit Charter Schools (Part 2)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

In part 1, I made the point that while solving a Rubik’s Cube is complicated, designing and implementing a school reform is complex. In that post, I offered nine different yet interacting moving parts that I believe has to go into any reform aimed at improving high schools for preparing youth to complete college. They are:

*Recruit and train teachers who have the subject matter knowledge and skills to work with youth before, during, and after the school day.

*Recruit and train school site leaders who have the expertise and skills to lead a school and be a pillow and sandpaper simultaneously with teachers, students, and parents.

*Students takes a college prep curriculum, aligned with district standards, that enables them to enter any higher education institution in the state.

*Students have access to non-academic subjects that cultivate the mind, heart, and sensibilities.

*Equip all students with the knowledge…

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Backhoe in Kansas Disrupts State Testing in Alaska


You read it right.

Alaska state testing was killed by a Kansas backhoe.

Alaska contracts with the University of Kansas’ Center for Educational Testing (CETE) for its state exams– but it looks like this will be the last year for that contract.

Alaska’s interim education commissioner, Susan McCauley, said that the state had already decided in February to shop for another vendor for its state tests.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, a worker operating a backhoe at University of Kansas cut a principal fiber optic cable connected to the CETE testing server– a cable that happened to be critical in delivering state testing for Alaska.

CETE serves Kansas as well as the testing of students with cognitive disabilities in 14 other states. CETE’s server was up for Wednesday, March 30, then giving trouble again on Thursday, March 31, and Friday, April 01.

On April 01, 2016, CETE tweeted

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The persistence of #edreform despite evidence of failure


NAEP results are yet again indicating that strict reforms, as current high school seniors have experienced a near-lifetime of initiatives that count as education “reform,” from NCLB to RTTT, have failed.

Mountains of evidence are collecting, but education reform programs, like scripted curricula in all subjects, persist for two reasons, in my estimation.

One, educational change is slow. Systems are clumsy. The winds may be shifting in favor of less reformist perspectives, the dropping of “no excuses” and entirely test-based accountability, for instance, but it could take years for the weight of reform to be lifted. Legions of new principals and administrators and leaders have been indoctrinated. They simply can’t imagine alternatives. And when confronted with very complicated problems, everything looks like a nail.

Two, there is this very persistent and stubborn belief that reformist programs, like highly scripted programs, can work, and will work, even when they don’t or…

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Bill Phillis: The Federal Government is the Enemy of Public Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

Bill Phillis is a retired administrator who champions the cause of public schools in Ohio. He founded the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy. Having served as a deputy commissioner of the state education department, he closely tracks the state budget. He frequently writes about the charter industry and its unscrupulous raid on public monies. If you care about public schools in Ohio, you should add your name to his mailing list and consider a contribution.

Today he writes:

“Federal government adds $333 million to $3 billion already spent to expand the failed charter industry

“Congress and the U.S. Department of Education made a devilish wrong turn in public K-12 education policy with the enactment of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Departing from its historical role of supplemental support for the public common schools, the federal government, in some respects, turned against what Horace Mann declared the…

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Peter Greene on NPE’s Proposal for Teacher Evaluation: Teachers Talk Back

Diane Ravitch's blog

Peter Greene attended the Network for Public Education’s third annual conference in Raleigh, where NPE introduced a new framework for teacher evaluation.

In this post, he describes an approach to teacher evaluation based on what teachers (teachers!) believe will work best in identifying teachers’ strengths and needs.

Here are the recommendations, in Peter’s words. Take his advice and read the report:

The report makes six recommendations.

1) Stop using student test scores for teacher evaluation. Absolutely.

2) Top-down collaboration is an oxymoron. Don’t tie mandated and micromanaged teacher collaboration to evaluation.

3) The observation process should focus on reflection and dialogue as tools for improvement. One of my favorite lines in the report– The result should be a narrative, not a number.

4) Less paperwork. This is not just a teacher problem. My administrators essentially have to stop doing all their other work for several weeks out of the…

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NPR: Would More Money “Fix” America’s Schools?

The following was published in 2011 by The Equity Center in Texas. It was written at the time when the State of Texas was unnecessarily cutting 5.4 Billion dollars from education funding. The cuts resulted in the current lawsuit before the Texas Supreme Court.


Diane Ravitch's blog

NPR ran an excellent story about the perennial debate: Can More Money Fix America’s Schools?

The show interviews those who say that money doesn’t make a difference; what matters is how money is spent, not how much is spent.

It also interviews those who say that low-income districts are inadequately funded because of property taxes.

It begins like this:

This winter, Jameria Miller would often run to her high school Spanish class, though not to get a good seat.

She wanted a good blanket.

“The cold is definitely a distraction,” Jameria says of her classroom’s uninsulated, metal walls.

Her teacher provided the blankets. First come, first served. Such is life in the William Penn School District in an inner-ring suburb of Philadelphia.

The hardest part for Jameria, though, isn’t the cold. It’s knowing that other schools aren’t like this.

Before her family moved closer to the city, where they could…

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