Welcome to the Coalition for Better Education
Dear Friends, 5 January 2016
There is a saying from the Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that states “You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). We believe we have made a solid start but, out of necessity, we at the Coalition for Better Education must pass the torch to others activists at this time.
We have decided it is time to decrease our involvement in the task of opposing the standardization of education. We will probably be unable to be totally silent, but have passed the torch to other organizations who share a kindred spirit. We had already decided not to attempt another billboard campaign and thus passed on any money collected for efforts to end one size fits all education to Uniting4Kids. You may find their mission statements, activities, upcoming events, and informational efforts on their website.
We will probably keep this website open for a while to comment on current issues. If you liked a section of our web, you might want to copy it now, however, as we aren’t sure how long we will keep the site active.
We feel we have accomplished many things during our thirteen years or so of action. These are primarily the following:
*we increased awareness that there was another side to standardized testing, including voicing concerns that had been unheard until we began our informational campaigns
*there is currently less standardized testing in most schools in Colorado
*educators once again have more flexibility in their classrooms
* there is a national anti-testing movement, with links across states
* In many states, such as the State of Washington, there are entire districts were everyone opts out of the testing.
We like to think that we were part of the groundswell that enabled these acts of resistance to occur. We would also like to thank you for your time, efforts, and financial contributions as well.
I would especially like to thank Donald Perl for his leadership, for, like Atlas, he carried most of the burden on his shoulders. The Coalition for Better Education was founded and mostly funded by Don Perl. He spent countless hours working to end this travesty in our schools.
Again, thank you for anything and everything you did to support this cause.
Laura Manuel Vice-President and webmaster, The Coalition for Better Education
Download this as a printable PDF to share at your school:
Three Steps to Refusing the PARCC Test:
• Make the decision. As a parent, it is your right to direct your child’s education.
• Submit your OPT OUT letter. See the Sample Opt Out letter below.
• During testing days, either send your child to school with alternative work, or keep them home. It’s a great time for students to pursue their own learning interests, visit museums or get caught up on some rest and relaxation.
EL ESPANOL SIGUE ABA
Most Denver Public Schools began PARCC/CMAS testing yesterday. As a reminder, it is not too late to opt your child(ren) out. You may opt them out at any point during the testing window.
Superintendent Boasberg sent an email yesterday listing five things that we, as parents, need to know about PARCC/CMAS. We think he left a few things out.
How is CMAS different from TCAP/CSAP?
· Basically, it's not. As with previous standardized tests, CMAS will more accurately predict income level than measure knowledge or ability.
· Companies who create tests, test prep materials, and the infrastructure benefit every time a new test is used. Our children’s data is the currency for their trade and profit.
· One major difference is that CMAS is completely electronic. For some children, this is no big deal. But what about children who don't have access to computers daily, or those whose parents value three-dimensional environments? For those children, these tests are likely to mistake a gap in access to technology for a gap in achievement.
· CMAS is the name for the PARCC tests about which 30 states have changed their minds; 43 states initially planned to administer PARCC, and 13 remain, including Colorado.
How much time will my students spend testing on CMAS?
· "Average" students will spend between 12 and 20 hours in CMAS tests (regardless of how long it takes them to finish the actual test). But students with special needs or who are learning English will spend even more time testing.
· DPS has many district-only assessments throughout the year, most of them aimed at predicting how students will perform on CMAS.
· Students in many DPS schools took "practice" CMAS tests last week, totaling about 7 additional hours of lost instruction time.
· Practice tests do not encompass time spent doing test preparation.
Are Denver schools ready for online testing for all students?
· They probably are. And so are all of the companies who will receive private data about your children, without your consent. They will use the information on our childrens’ "proficiencies and deficits” to create more profit for themselves.
· But what if the schools aren't ready? During the practice tests last week, technical difficulties arose, creating frustration for staff and students, as well as wasting more instructional time. If that happens during the actual tests, what will DPS do? Extend the testing window and disrupt our children's education even further?
How many parents/students have opted out of state assessments?
· The number of opt-outs in DPS has grown exponentially this year. We won't have final numbers until the testing window has closed, but we know that there is a HUGE increase in the number of people opting out this year.
· Denver is one of the "final frontiers" in the opt-out movement. Other Colorado school districts, and districts around the country are seeing opt-out rates as high as 80 percent. There are even districts that have refused to administer PARCC altogether.
· Just because the path isn't crowded yet, it doesn't mean it's the wrong path
What do I or my child gain from taking the new assessments?
· My child gains anxiety, stress, decreased time in her classroom, outside vendors having access to her private information, and the not-so-subtle message that she and her school are only as good as their latest scores.
· I don't need state and federally mandated tests to let me know where my child is, because I trust her trained, professional teachers to educate and assess her, and include me in the process. I trust and respect my teachers' professional opinions over standardized test results.
· Teachers do not see results from these tests until next fall. How can that possibly help the children they have in their classrooms this year?
· I don't know of any 3rd grader who anxiously awaits the chance to pour over their TCAP/CMAS/CSAP/PARCC data to see how they can "improve." Students rely on their relationships with their teachers and parents to guide them, not faceless exams.
Estimados Padres de Familia,
La mayor parte de las Escuelas Públicas de Denver comenzaron las pruebas PARCC / CMAS ayer. Como recordatorio, no es demasiado tarde para rechazárselas a su(s) hijo(s). Usted puede rechazarselas en cualquier momento durante la ventana de pruebas.
El Superintendente Boasberg envió un correo electrónico ayer con una lista de cinco cosas que nosotros, como padres, necesitamos saber sobre PARCC / CMAS. Pensamos que se faltaron algunas cosas ....
¿Cómo son diferentes de TCAP / CSAP las Pruebas CMAS?
· Básicamente, no lo son. Al igual que con las pruebas estandarizadas anteriores, CMAS predice con mayor exactitud el nivel de ingresos que el conocimiento o habilidad.
· Las empresas que crean pruebas, materiales de preparación de la prueba, y la infraestructura benefician cada vez que se utiliza una nueva prueba. Los datos de nuestros niños es la moneda para su comercio y lucro.
· Una diferencia importante es que CMAS es completamente electrónico. Para algunos niños, esto no es buena cosa. Pero ¿qué pasa con los niños que no tienen acceso a las computadoras todos los días, o aquellos cuyos padres valoran entornos tridimensionales? Para los niños, estas pruebas confucen una brecha en el acceso a la tecnología para una brecha en el rendimiento.
· CMAS es el nombre de las pruebas PARCC sobre el que 30 estados han cambiado sus mentes; 43 estados inicialmente pensaban en administrar PARCC, y 13 permanecen, incluso Colorado.
¿Cuánto tiempo estarán mis alumnos en las pruebas CMAS?
· Los estudiantes de "promedio" pasarán de 12 a 20 horas en las pruebas de la CMAS (independientemente del tiempo que tardan en terminar la prueba real). Pero los estudiantes con necesidades especiales o que están aprendiendo inglés pasarán aún más pruebas de tiempo.
· DPS administra muchas evaluaciones durante el año, apartir que las CMAS, y la mayoría de ellas funcionan como una predicción de cómo los alumnos realizarán en CMAS.
· Los estudiantes en muchas escuelas de DPS tomaron pruebas CMAS "de práctica" la semana pasada, por un total de cerca de 7 horas adicionales de tiempo de instrucción perdida.
· Las pruebas de práctica no abarcan el tiempo pasado haciendo preparación de la prueba.
¿Estan las escuelas en DPS listas para la prueba en computadoras para todos los estudiantes?
· Ellos probablemente lo son. Y también lo son todas las empresas que recibirán los datos privados acerca de sus hijos, sin su consentimiento. Utilizarán la información sobre "competencias y déficits" de nuestros niños para crear más lucro para ellos mismos.
· Pero, ¿y si las escuelas no están listos? Durante las pruebas de la práctica de la semana pasada, se presentaron dificultades técnicas, creando frustración para el personal y los estudiantes, así como la pérdida de tiempo más instructivo. Si eso ocurre durante las pruebas reales, que hará DPS? Amplíe la ventana de pruebas y perturban aún más la educación de nuestros hijos?
¿Cuántos padres / estudiantes han optado por salir de las evaluaciones estatales?
· El número de rechazos en DPS ha crecido de manera exponencial este año. No vamos a tener números finales hasta que la ventana de la prueba se ha cerrado, pero sabemos que hay un aumento enorme en el número de personas que las rechazan este año.
· Denver es una de las "fronteras finales" en el movimiento de opt-out. Otros distritos escolares de Colorado, y los distritos de todo el país están viendo tasas de opt-out de hasta 80%. Incluso hay distritos que se han negado completamente a administrar PARCC.
· El hecho de que el camino no está lleno de gente no quiere decir que es el camino equivocado.
¿Qué gano, o que gana mi niño, tomando las nuevas evaluaciones?
· Mi niño gana la ansiedad, el estrés, la disminución del tiempo en su salón de clases, los proveedores externos que tienen acceso a su información privada, y el mensaje no tan sutil que ella y su escuela son sólo tan buenas como sus calificaciones.
· No necesito pruebas estatales y federales obligatorios para saber como va mi hija, porque confío en sus maestros capacitados y profesionales para educarla y evaluarla, y confio que me incluyen en el proceso. Confío y respeto sus opiniones profesionales mas que los resultados de las pruebas estandarizadas.
· Los maestros no ven los resultados de estas pruebas hasta el próximo otoño. ¿Qué sirve para ayudar a los niños que tienen en sus aulas este año?
· No conozco ningún niño del tercer grado que espera ansiosamente la oportunidad de verter sobre sus datos TCAP / CMAS / CSAP / PARCC para ver cómo pueden "mejorar." Los estudiantes dependen de sus relaciones con sus profesores y padres para guiarlos, no exámenes sin rostro.
Madre de Montessori
OPT OUT Guide - http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out-2/colorado/
PARCC FACT SHEET (The Colorado Department of Education): http://www.angelaengel.com/faq/
Sample Opt Out Letter
We are respectfully notifying _______(your child’s school) that __________(your child’s name) will not be participating in PARCC or CMAS testing. (She/He) has alternative work and is prepared to complete (his/her) studies in the library.
We fully trust ______ (student’s name) teachers and their assessment of our childs' educational progress and needs.
We support a meaningful education, one filled with passion, inquiry, research, discourse, higher-level thinking - all wonderful and essential elements of learning cultivated by the excellent teachers in _______(school district) - and those very conditions that High-stakes testing jeopardizes. When it comes to accountability, parents are the first line of defense and it is our job to advocate for our children, a quality education, and worthwhile assessments.
PS - Please make this part of our child’s permanent file.
10 Reasons for Parents to OPT OUT of PARCC
Your child is not a guinea pig – PARCC tests are not proven reliable valid measures.
You value experiential collaborative learning – Standardized tests reinforce the lowest levels of thinking and learning.
You want more money for your child’s classroom and more time for instruction – Government mandated testing has created a 1.7 billion testing market and a monopoly for Pearson with zero return for taxpayers and zero benefits for students. By the time your child graduates from high-school they will have spent the equivalent of one full school year taking standardized tests.
You trust teachers – standardized tests are graded by temporary workers and have a long record of failures that incorrectly label students and create barriers to future opportunities.
You agree students should not be labeled at early stages in development – standardized tests are not developmentally appropriate, especially for young children. Students’ progress at different rates and have unique talents and abilities that fall outside of shaded bubble measurement tools.
You believe in an equitable education system – socioeconomic status has the highest correlation to test scores. Tying indicators of school or teacher quality to test scores incorrectly labels high-poverty schools as failing and unfairly rewards high-income schools reinforcing an unequal and increasingly divided education system.
You understand the meaning of accountability – An informed and engaged citizenry is designed to hold political representatives and government institutions accountable, not the other way around.
You recognize that parents have the right to direct their child’s education – Opting out is a means to leverage power and assert that a student’s learning should be for their own purposes.
You are committed to protecting your child’s privacy – student data is sold and shared without your knowledge or consent. Massive amounts of data and metadata are collected by these online tests; this data is currently not protected by privacy laws. Data will follow your child and be shared with third parties through federal, State and corporate agencies. The collection and unregulated distribution of the data has the potential to interfere in your child’s future opportunities for college, military and career.
You have had enough of testing and tracking – Instead of punishments and sanctions you support curriculum and assessment choices and real opportunities for students, teachers and families.
Thanks for supporting us and enabling us to pay for this ad.
CEA shall join in coalition with other organizations demanding the withdrawal of Colorado from the PARCC assessment and will place a three year moratorium on high stakes standardized tests." Many of you who have long opposed standardized testing have emailed me asking how you can support the CEA's new business item.
Free Our Teachers Value Our Students Facebook Another option for those who may not be able to participate in the Legacy March but want to be proactive would be to "like" the Free Our Teachers Value Our Students Facebook page. Getting the word out about the negative effects of standardized testing is crucial. We need the public on our side to bring pressure to bear on the State Board of Education, the Colorado Department of Education, and our Legislators to fund our schools and stop the testing madness. Teachers across Colorado are posting their stories about the impacts of over testing on their students on this Facebook page. You can help get the word out by "liking" this page, posting your own stories, and spreading the word to your friends on Facebook.
TESTING RESISTANCE & REFORM SPRING (A sister Website)
Testing Resistance & Reform Spring (TRRS) unites activists engaged in grassroots boycotts, rallies, opt-out organizing, town hall forums, petition drives and legislative campaigns.
We have a new, action-oriented website that provides resources you can use: http://www.resistthetest.org. It includes a mapping tool that makes it easy for parents, students, teachers and community organizers to post and find local actions anywhere in the United States. We invite you to use this website to build your campaign and connect with likeminded people across the nation. We can post your event to the event map if you prefer, or help you do so. (Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(TRRS) seeks to ensure that assessment contributes to all students having access to a high-quality education. The alliance unites grassroots campaigns around three fundamental goals:
· Stop high-stakes use of standardized tests.
· Reduce the number of standardized exams.
· Replace multiple-choice tests with performance-based assessments.
(Our full statement of purpose is on our website.)
Please circulate this information. If your organization is not yet a Partner group with TRRS, please become one. And be sure to post your testing-related events to the national map.
Sponsored by FairTest, United Opt Out, Parents Across America, Save Our Schools and Network for Public Education. Join us as a partner organization! (See the list of partners along with fact sheets and other useful material on our website.)
THE COALITION FOR BETTER EDUCATION
The Coalition for Better Education was started by a group of aspiring educators from the University of Northern Colorado, and has expanded to include teachers, parents and students across the state. Our goal is to expand awareness of the costs and limitations of the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP now known as TCAP) and "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB), and to empower parents and teachers.
Parent refusals have increased every year since high-stakes testing began.
Some people are worried that their refusal will hurt the school in the form of negative scoring. Here are the legalities of that.
To whom it may concern:
This is written notification that ____will not be taking the CSAP/TCAP this year (or any other year for that matter).
C.R.S. 22-1-123-(5) (a) states that students cannot be tested or evaluated without written consent. I do not give my consent for to take the CSAP/TCAP.
Furthermore, if other students in ____’s classroom are provided with snacks then _____gets them too. If other kids in___’s class are rewarded with ‘whatever’ (including but not limited to extra recess) for taking the test then ____gets it too otherwise it’s known as coercion or, if ___is excluded, discrimination.
As a reminder to our previous meeting regarding CSAP/TCAP and my many reasons for opting my children out of such standardized testing, please know that my occupation is that of an investigator. That said, I have thoroughly researched the issue. One of the things I keep hearing from many uninformed/misinformed people is that____’s CSAP/TCAP score of a zero (for opting out) would negatively affect her class/the school/district – not so. Please see the following:
“There is no federal law prohibiting a parent from opting their child out of CSAP testing.” --Jo O’Brien, Colorado Dept. of Education
“Students who do not test, including those who do so due to parental refusal, are counted as non-participants when determining participation rates for state and federal accountability purposes.” –Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education
“For calculating performance, non-participant data are not counted as zeroes – they are excluded from the calculation... So the calculations are performed on the basis solely of students that took the test and had valid scores on it.” –Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education
“School academic performance ratings (SAR) will no longer be assigned for Colorado schools. The Education Accountability Act of 2009 (SB 09-163) repealed previous SAR law. Negative weights for Unsatisfactory and No Score percentages are not in effect anymore.” --Angela Engel, Family Leadership Training Institute Facilitator, Policy Advisor, past Denver school teacher and administrator
Parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).
As for my reasons to opt my children from CSAP, see the following:
CSAP COSTS COLORADO $50,000,000 PLUS ANNUALLY. $50 million plus is what it costs to prepare, administer and grade CSAP. Why not invest that money in our kids, teachers and schools?
COLLEGES COULD CARE LESS ABOUT CSAP SCORES. Transcripts, ACT and SAT scores count.
Since the implementation of NCLB and CSAP, graduation rates (especially for minorities) have not increased, instead they have declined.
Since the implementation of NCLB and CSAP, more resources have placed into money, time for: preparation, implementation, and updating for CSAP. Yet, the ratio students per teacher are increasing; not to mention cuts to classes such as art, P.E., and music, or diminished time in which students can eat their lunch….
IMPORTANT LEGAL ISSUE:
Parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education, so why not in our Colorado state statutes? The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).
Numerous organizations, including the CBE, view the expanding
School--to-Prison Pipeline as an outgrowth of various factors over the past
decade, including aspects of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (the
current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA).
We expect to have many endorsers from the civil rights,
education, and juvenile justice communities, and we hope that you will join
us in showing our collective support for federal education policies that
better address the causes and consequences of the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
January 22, 2010
Open letter to our website visitors from the leadership at the Coalition for Better Education, Inc.
Yes, you may have heard that the testing regimen of the Colorado Student Assessment Program is on its way toward being history. Even Governor Ritter in his final State of the State address made mention of the end of CSAP testing. Now, at first blush, this seems like a good thing. But once we begin to look deeper, we see that the federal and state bureaucracies will forward the same destructive policies of standardizing our children through even more testing. No doubt the biggest motivation for the end of CSAP is the rush to conform to the requirements of the program known as “Race to the Top” promoted by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. One of those requirements will tie teacher evaluations to performance on test scores. Let us note, too, that no mention whatsoever is made in the promotion of “Race to the Top” of the critical importance of educating the whole child, of dignifying the autonomy of our children and their professionals in the classroom, and of an educational philosophy that promotes co-operation, compassion, and citizenship.
We all know the direct correlation between test scores and socio-economic status. We all know that children of poverty come to school with a host of health and social issues that interfere with learning. And we all know that test scores tell us only what we already know, do nothing but marginalize our children, and line the pockets of Corporate America. The culture that values these very flawed tests does a great disservice to our children, the teaching profession, public education, and any and all hopes for a functioning democracy. We therefore will continue our mission to raise awareness of the harms of high stakes standardized testing, in whatever form they may take, and urge parents to speak out on behalf of their children and indeed, on behalf of a community that sees public education and truly well educated citizens as indispensable for a functioning society, one that values the wellbeing of its constituents.
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.
We encourage you to explore our site. Please see the bottom of the Support Us page for a letter to the NCTE on how they have betrayed educational standards. We have also included a letter from Angel Engel on the legalities of Opting Out. On the CSAP issues page we have added commentary from two teachers on the impact of CSAP on student learning. That page also describes our fundamental problems with this form of testing.