Welcome to the Coalition for Better Education

 

Rather than learning how to think scientifically, students are generally being told about sciences and asked to remember facts. This disturbing situation must be corrected if science education is to have any hope of taking its proper place as an essential part of the education of students everywhere.

Bruce Alberts, U.S. Biochemist, National Academy of Sciences, Past President

Opt Out of CSAP Testing

We are attempting to improve, update, and change this site. Please bear with us as we make improvements. Items on the site are accurate at this time.

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.

.I am keeping it very simple for the 2014-2015 school year. I have seen the chaos.  I have been knocked down many times. And as a result,  I have been given the opportunity to see what works and what doesn't work.  I get that we all have a role to play, so I am not knocking anyone who chooses a different route. But I'll just say this, refuse the mandates that have been imposed on our children in the form of opt out and watch those legislators wake up. Refuse all the tests - not just one - all of them. Watch the politicians listen with intent this time - watch them ask questions to find out how they might meet YOUR needs.  Refuse the mandates that those union leaders agreed to as they took corporate money - and watch them sway where the power lies - and the power lies with the masses when they opt out of these tests. The power lies in the new leadership we will bring to the forefront as we expose those who negotiate with children's lives. The power lies in our own ability to recognize what is just and good and as we refuse the pitfalls that come with ego driven - power hungry - profit mongering individuals who think of themselves first and children last - if  at all.  Work towards opt out through your union, your parent group, your neighborhood - however you can get there, educate and encourage folks to take action.
>
> Be aware that withdrawing from common core and/or common core tests does not mean that your state is withdrawing from lockstep standards and/or high stakes testing.  Common core and high stakes testing can take many new names, shapes and forms. Be ready to refuse the clones that arrive.
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> We don't have a lot of time. We have limited time - but the window is ours right now.  They need the data NOW to get the profit ball rolling at a steady pace. They will do anything necessary to save the common core in order to get the data which will create the profit and allow more data to be crunched, in order to further manage and control children, teachers, and ultimately an entire nation (I won't go into their global goals but believe me - their plan is all encompassing).They've got a taste of what could be theirs - and they are hungry - and they'll pretend to care by agreeing to all sorts of strategies to appease us - as long as the end goal remains the same for them.
>
> My focus this coming school year - with any individuals I work with - will be clearly geared towards the opt out home run. But, when we win this victory, make no mistake - and I mean this clearly directed to those who troll my site - we know exactly where we are headed and you will not stand in our way.  Opt out is just the beginning - so get ready, sit in the stands and watch - because in this game, you are a spectator - and you are in the nosebleed section.
>
> Power to all of you who will do what is just, right and kind for children in 2014-2015.
>
> Opt out and deny them their money, their power.
>
> Run fast to protect the children who are suffering  - and be ready to advocate for what they deserve when the power structure comes toppling down.
>
> This is about the children. Those of us who do not need power or ego have truth and heart on our side. And we are fierce in our strategy and our ability to protect children. . . .
>
> Posted By Jim Horn to Schools Matter at 6/25/2014 10:49:00 AM

This just in, New Business items for the NEA:

NEW BUSINESS ITEM A

Adopted As Amended 

NEA Campaign Against Toxic Testing

NEA will conduct a comprehensive campaign to end the high stakes use of standardized tests, to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests, and to implement more effective and responsible forms of assessment and accountability.

As part of this comprehensive campaign, NEA will call on:

  • The President and Congress to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, end the every year testing mandates, and repeal federal requirements that state standardized test scores be used to evaluate educators;
  • The President and Congress to lift the mandates requiring states to administer outdated tests required under the No Child Left Behind Act;
  • The U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission to create a testing ombudsman to serve as our students' and families' watchdog over the testing industry and to examine the industry players' market power in education;
  • States to lift the mandates requiring school districts to administer outdated tests, unaligned to current curriculum, stop requiring the use of such tests for any high stakes purposes, and ensure that standardized tests are never used for purposes for which they were not designed or validated;
  • State affiliates to survey teachers to determine how many formative and summative assessments are given, and report that data disaggregated to identify state-mandated assessments, district-mandated assessments, educator-designed assessments (at the school or district level) or classroom-designed assessments by a teacher for a particular class;
  • The public to support the use of grade span (i.e., once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school) standardized tests to reduce the amount of federally-mandated tests;
  • NEA to partner with Education International and its affiliates to raise awareness about the widespread misuse of standardized tests and commercialization of public education on a global scale; and
  • NEA and its affiliates will collaborate and form coalitions with the American Federation of Teachers, school board associations, administrator organizations, PTAs, PTSOs, other parent groups, business groups, such as Chambers of Commerce, and any other groups seeking to eliminate high stakes testing and its misuses.

Cost Implications

This NBI can be accomplished at an additional cost of $160,326. 

NEW BUSINESS ITEM B

Adopted

Redefining Public School Accountability

NEA will convene a broad representative group of NEA leaders from the national, state and local level to develop plans for a full system of public school accountability and support, which will:

  • Build on the significant work done to date by NEA to identify the indicators of a quality public education, and the measures of whether or not those criteria have been met;
  • Engage stakeholders across the education community in the necessary deliberations to establish real accountability and support systems for our public schools;
  • Examine what steps NEA can take to build further on the components of excellence in teacher evaluation and accountability identified in NEA's Policy Statement on Teacher Evaluation and Accountability as well as the Commission on Educational Equity and Excellence
  • Engage stakeholders in the civil rights community and respond to the growing inequality in opportunities and resources for students across our nation; and
  • Report to the NEA Board by its February 2015 meeting with a recommendation as to the steps NEA should take to move forward in all of these areas in order to establish a real public school accountability and support system for all our public schools.

Cost Implications

This NBI can be accomplished at an additional cost of $44,770.

 

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 trrs@fairtest.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.

SCHOOL ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE RATINGS

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. James McIntosh, Director of Student Assessment

http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2009A/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/E45E06A4FE98EA6587257551006471C8?Open&file=163_enr.pdf

THE DEPARTMENT, BY POLICY, MAY DETERMINE WHETHER THE SCORES OF ONE OR
MORE GROUPS OF STUDENTS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE TO BE USED IN
MEASURING THE LEVELS OF ATTAINMENT ON THE PERFORMANCE
INDICATORS, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 22-11-103(23).ANY POLICY ADOPTED
PURSUANT TO THIS SUBPARAGRAPH (I.5) SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH
THE REQUIREMENTS OF FEDERAL STATUTES AND REGULATIONS  (p. 101)

3) IN ADDITION TO ANY INFORMATION SPECIFIED BY RULE OF THE
STATE BOARD, EACH SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORT SHALL INCLUDE THE
FOLLOWING INFORMATION CONCERNING THE OPERATIONS AND
ENVIRONMENT OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE REPORT:
(a) THE NAME OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, THE TYPE OF SCHOOL,PROGRAM PROVIDED AT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL, AND THE SCHOOL YEAR FOR WHICH THE INFORMATION IN THE PERFORMANCE REPORT IS PROVIDED.THE PERFORMANCE REPORT SHALL ALSO INCLUDE THE PUBLIC SCHOOL'S STREET ADDRESS, TELEPHONE NUMBER, AND EMAIL ADDRESS,
AND, IF ONE EXISTS, THE WEB SITE ADDRESS OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL.
(b) INFORMATION CONCERNING THE PERCENTAGES OF STUDENTS
WHO ARE NOT TESTED OR WHOSE SCORES ARE NOT INCLUDED IN
DETERMINING ATTAINMENT OF THE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS; (p.77)

THE DEPARTMENT MAY ADJUST THE CALCULATIONS SPECIFIED IN
THIS SECTION AS NECESSARY TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT STUDENTS FOR WHOM
NO SCORE IS RECORDED ON THE STATEWIDE ASSESSMENTS; THE
STANDARDIZED, CURRICULUM-BASED, ACHIEVEMENT, COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMINATION; OR THE POSTSECONDARY AND WORKFORCE READINESS
ASSESSMENTS. (p.25)

 

A SAMPLE OPT OUT LETTER

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…. 


Please know that I have expressed my concerns to my elected representatives as well.
In closing, please know that another parent afforded me the opportunity to read the District’s Administrative memo to principals which referred to “Talking Points” when dealing with opt-out parents.  I was very disappointed but not surprised that District Administrators have issued a script for principals.  I will not be coming in for a meeting regarding this issue and I will not be signing any additional papers relating to this matter.  As far as I am concerned, No simply means No.


Best regards,

 



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.
stopschoolstojails@advancementproject.org

January 22, 2010

Open letter to our website visitors from the leadership at the Coalition for Better Education, Inc.

Dear Colleagues:

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.

Sincerely,

Don Perl
Laura Manuel
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.

www.thecbe.org

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.