Tag Archives: refusal

Our Right to Refuse Testing in ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

In ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) the following is found: “school districts must inform parents of their rights under State law or local policy to opt their children out of any assessments mandated by the Act, by the state, or by the local school district”. That provision is found in two places. The first requires each school district (local educational agency in federal parlance) to notify parents that they may request and will timely receive information about state and local opt-out policies:

Section 1111(e)(2), which reads:
‘‘(e) PARENTS RIGHT-TO-KNOW.—
‘‘(2) TESTING TRANSPARENCY.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall notify the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the parents may request, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment, where applicable.
‘‘(B) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.—Subject to subparagraph (C), each local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall make widely available through public means (including by posting in a clear and easily accessible manner on the local educational agency’s website and, where practicable, on the website of each school served by the local educational agency) for each grade served by the local educational agency, information on each assessment required by the State to comply with section 1111, other assessments required by the State, and where such information is available and feasible to report, assessments required districtwide by the local educational agency, including—
‘‘(i) the subject matter assessed;
‘‘(ii) the purpose for which the assessment is designed and used;
‘‘(iii) the source of the requirement for the assessment; and
‘‘(iv) where such information is available—
‘‘(I) the amount of time students will spend taking the assessment, and the schedule for the assessment; and
‘‘(II) the time and format for disseminating results.
‘‘(C) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY THAT DOES NOT OPERATE A WEBSITE.—In the case of a local educational agency that does not operate a website, such local educational agency shall determine how to make the information described in subparagraph (A) widely available, such as through distribution of that information to the media, through public agencies, or directly to parents.

The second is in Section 1111(b)(2)(K)m which ensures that State or local laws allowing parents to opt their children out of assessments cannot be overruled by the U.S. Department of Education. Section 1111(b)(2)(K) reads:
‘‘(2) ACADEMIC ASSESSMENTS.—
‘‘(K) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION ON PARENT RIGHTS.—
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic assessments under this paragraph.

The ESSA requirement for schools to meet the 95% Participation Rate under ESSA is found at:

Sec. 1111
‘‘(c) STATEWIDE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM.—
‘‘(4) DESCRIPTION OF SYSTEM.—
‘‘(E) ANNUAL MEASUREMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT.—
Annually measure the achievement of not less than 95 percent of all students, and 95 percent of all students in each subgroup of students, who are enrolled in public schools on the assessments described under subsection (b)(2)(v)(I).
‘‘(IV) the weight of any measure or indicator used to identify or meaningfully differentiate schools, under this part;
‘‘(V) the specific methodology used by States to meaningfully differentiate or identify schools under this part;

HOWEVER, ESSA also includes this, which means that meeting the 95% requirement is no longer a pass/fail indicator all on its own if states don’t want it to be. A state could, for example, give a weight of 0.1% to participation rate in evaluating schools and the Department cannot make them do otherwise:

Sec. 1111
‘‘(e) PROHIBITION.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or permit the Secretary—
‘‘(B) as a condition of approval of the State plan, or revisions or amendments to, the State plan, or approval of a waiver request submitted under section 8401, to—
‘‘(iii) prescribe—
‘‘(III) indicators that States use within the State accountability system under this section, including any requirement to measure student growth, or, if a State chooses to measure student growth, the specific metrics used to measure such growth under this part;
‘‘(IV) the weight of any measure or indicator used to identify or meaningfully differentiate schools, under this part;
‘‘(V) the specific methodology used by States to meaningfully differentiate or identify schools under this part;
‘‘(XI) the way in which the State factors the requirement under subsection (c)(4)(E)(i) [the 95% participation rate; see above] into the statewide accountability system under this section; or
‘‘(C) to issue new non-regulatory guidance that—
‘‘(i) in seeking to provide explanation of requirements under this section for State or local educational agencies, either in response to requests for information or in anticipation of such requests, provides a strictly limited or exhaustive list to illustrate successful implementation of provisions under this section; or
‘‘(ii) purports to be legally binding;

Goodbye “Local Control” of Education in New Hampshire

We continue to question the over-reach by the New Hampshire Dept. of Education as the Commissioner seems to believe the Superintendents work for her and not the local communities that pay their salaries.

The preliminary Smarter Balanced scores were recently released to all of the Superintendents throughout New Hampshire. However the Commissioner directed the Superintendents NOT to release this information to the local school boards or taxpayers. Once again, Commissioner Barry is treating our paid employee as if they work for her.

Some board members have reported asking their Superintendent for this information, only to be told NO, they would follow the guideline set forth by the Commissioner.

Sucking up to the Commissioner is not a bad idea because we know Dr. Livingston, Superintendent in Manchester, received a recommendation from Commissioner Barry when applying for her job. However it’s important that school boards remind their Superintendent that they still work for them.

Superintendents attend a “closed door” monthly meeting with the Commissioner where school board members have no access to public records.

We ask school board members again, who does your Superintendent work for?

We expect the Smarter Balanced scores to be released soon even though the DoE promised fast results. We’re not sure when “fast results” translated into, 6 months later.

Once the results of the Smarter Balanced scores are released, one would expect the leader of their school, the Superintendent, to offer their honest opinion on those results. In other words, what do they honestly think about the assessment? Are the scores, which are expected to be worse than the previous years under the NECAP, accurate? Is the Smarter Balanced Assessment fundamentally flawed as many have described? (See the examples below)

What we’ve uncovered is a list of “talking points” that were given to Superintendents by the NH DoE. Are our Superintendents so ill equipped that they cannot provide honest commentary on the results? Do they need the DoE to do their “thinking” for them?

Parents want honest answers for the poor scores that are about to be released. They want to know if they are accurate. They want to know if the assessment is flawed or if the school has indeed been failing our children.

We tend to believe the assessment itself is NOT a good indicator of how well your school is performing. We’ve looked at the critical views on this assessment and have NO confidence in the results. This is why we encourage parents to REFUSE this assessment for their children.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment is a data gatherer on your children. IT does not offer you information on whether your child is proficient in the core subjects. If you want that kind of information, have your child tested outside the school system using an achievement test.

Assessments are for assessing your child’s behavior, attitudes and values. An achievement TEST will measure their academic knowledge.

Ask home-schoolers what they use to test their children. Some reliable achievement tests include; The Iowa Basic Skills Test, Stanford Achievement Test, or the California Achievement Test. Look for the non-Common Core aligned achievement test.

Next ask your Superintendent for honest feedback on the Smarter Balanced Assessment and question why they would need the DoE to issue “talking points” on the results.

NH Talking Points (FINAL 8.31.15)

Why the Smarter Balanced Common Core Math Test Is Fatally Flawed

Doctor Gary Thompson (Licensed Child Psychologist) Smarter Balanced Assessment NOT Valid

NH Families for Education: Considerations for School Districts Before Administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment

PARENTS in New Hampshire, REFUSING the Common Core Assessments UPDATE

We received a copy of this letter from a parent to her school administrators. She gave us permission to post this however we felt it was best to remove the names of the parents and their child.

The purpose of posting this is to give parents guidance on how to address the school administrators on Common Core assessment REFUSALS.

We thank parents for sharing this kind of information because it helps other parents in New Hampshire.

=======================================

From:
Sent: Wednesday, September 02, 2015 10:43 AM
To: Lois Costa; Kathleen Murphy
Subject: Academic year 2015-16 *****

Dear Lois,
We are sending this email early on to be certain that SAU90 and we, ***’s parents, are all on the same page regarding all SBAC, Next Generation and any other Common Core Aligned Standardized Testing and/or non-academic questionnaires.

*** will not be participating in any of the standardized tests or questionnaires. Additionally, she will not be participating in any of the preparatory work which is designed to prepare students for the testing.

It is our expectation that she will continue to be educated and treated equally by all SAU 90 employees and its representatives. While other students are participating in prep or testing around CC Aligned tests, SAU90 or we, her parents, will provide level appropriate academic work for her. At no time should her educational time be sacrificed while other students are preparing for testing. It is also our expectation that she will never be singled out so as to be subjected to rude and hurtful comments by her peers (i.e., last year in the lunchroom).

We object to any and all non-academic questionnaires, unless we, as her parents, are given the opportunity to review them beforehand. Under no circumstance do we give permission for SAU90 or its representatives to administer non-academic, psychological, religious or sexual/transgender or bullying related questionnaires. Any and all non-academic content is to be reviewed by us before it is given to our daughter. *** is aware of our guidelines and she will politely and respectfully refuse to participate if she is put in the position, which she shouldn’t ever experience. We also expect to be given the opportunity to review the sexual education/puberty material a week in advance of it being presented.

Lastly, we understand that Google Chromebooks will be used in 5th grade for a number of subjects and or projects. Under no circumstance should ***’s fingerprints, iris scan or facial recognition be used as her login, nor should non-academic information be solicited by SAU90 or any of its or the State of NH DOE’s representatives.

We look forward to another wonderful academic and social year for ***. She loves Marston School and all of her teachers and friends. As ***’s parents, we are always available for open and honest communication regarding all aspects of our daughter’s experience at Marston School.

Thank you for your time and anticipated cooperation. We ask that this information be passed along to Mrs. Dowst, as we do not have her email address yet.

Regards,

================================================
UPDATE: The parents received the following letter confirming their directives would be followed:

2015-Hampton-School-District

REFUSE the SAT/ACT/PSAT: Here’s WHY! Oh and the Smarter Balanced too!

Governor Hassan’s Dept. of Ed is proving to be a disaster. Let’s take the Smarter Balanced Assessment debacle as an example. Before the assessment was administered, the NH DoE was looking for an alternative. That’s right, they signed on to a flawed assessment from the beginning and they are now trying to get out of that train wreck.

Last year they tried to force the PACE assessments through the legislature with the help of Rep. Rick Ladd (R). PACE was another unvalidated assessment based on the dumbed down workforce skills called “competencies.” They appeared to be, go from BAD to WORSE. At least with the Smarter Balanced Assessment, parents could refuse to have their children take it. With PACE, that may have been more difficult or even impossible for parents to do.

In the end, HB323 allowed high schools to use the SAT or ACT instead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for 11th grade. The goal was to get parents to “COMPLY” and have their kids take the standardized assessment. Greedy Superintendents were fearful that funding would be cut off if more students refused to participate. This is a perfect example of funding being more important that your child’s education.

It’s still important to REFUSE to take the new SAT, PSAT or the ACT and here’s why. There are over 800 colleges that take students who have not taken the SAT. STARVE THE BEAST. The College Board is now run by David Coleman, one of the chief architects of Common Core. The SAT will be Common Core aligned in 2016 forcing your kids to submit to another Common Core assessment. The REFUSAL movement seeks to put the College Board out of business. The College Board redesigned the SAT in order to hide the devastating effects of Common Core, however you can already see that by the current SAT.

As of 2016 the new Common Core aligned SAT will make it impossible to determine if Common Core is better or worse.

Now why would that have to do that? Why would they have to hide the truth? Because the truth is not their agenda. If we refuse to support the College Board for just one year they will struggle to stay afloat.

Hiding Common Core’s Damage: New SAT wont allow comparison to prior years’ scores

by DR. SUSAN BERRY7 Sep 2015177
SAT scores this year hit the lowest level in 40 years, even though governments across the U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars on education.

However, according to a former Bush administration education advisor, when the new SAT is rolled out next year, the College Board’s changes to the college admissions test will not allow scores from the new version to be compared to those from the past.

This year’s high school students’ SAT scores fell once again, to the lowest level in 40 years. As Breitbart News reported:

A record 1.7 million graduating seniors took the SAT test last year. With a highest possible score this year of 800 on each SAT section, according to the College Board, students scored a worst since 1999 math score of 511, worst since 1972 reading score of 495, and worst writing score since the section was added in 2005.

But Ze’ev Wurman, former senior policy adviser with the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush, tells Breitbart News these disappointing results are still on the old SAT college admissions test.

“Consequently, they represent a trend that does not speak well of the frantic implementation of Common Core that has been taking place around the nation in recent years,” he says.

“Next year the College Board will roll out a major change in the SAT that will make comparisons with past results impossible, and allow Common Core proponents to argue ‘these are different and better tests, so don’t pay attention to past results,’” Wurman states. “We are lucky that this year’s SAT has not changed yet, so the decline is clearly visible and cannot be hidden or denied.”

The College Board president is David Coleman, the so-called “architect” of the Common Core standards.

Wurman reflects on a warning given in 1993 by Zalman Usiskin, one of the founders of reform math:

Let us drop this overstated rhetoric about all the old tests being bad. Those tests were used because they were quite effective in fitting a particular mathematical model of performance – a single number that has some value to predict future performance. Until it can be shown that the alternate assessment techniques do a better job of prediction, let us not knock what is there. The mathematics education community has forgotten that it is poor performance on the old tests that rallied the public behind our desire to change. We cannot pick up the banner but then say the test are no measure of performance. We cannot have it both ways.

“Unfortunately, the first thing reformers do these days is to change the test to obscure the track record,” Wurman asserts.

“Hence the new Common Core tests, hence the ‘re-adjusted’ PSAT and SAT,” he adds. “And more to come, all under the guise of ‘we need to better measure what students know.’ In reality, it is like shooting an arrow and then painting a target around it.”

Wurman has been studying a similar situation regarding the Common Core-aligned statewide tests in California for grades K-12. He and colleague Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a former U.S. assistant secretary of education, wrote in an op-ed last week at The Sacramento Bee that the California Department of Education “has been acting in a way that would have made the Soviet government proud.”

The two former members of the California State Academic Standards Commission continued:

The department has maintained a database of the results on the statewide K-12 standardized tests since their inception in 1998. This database allowed parents and reporters to easily see detailed test results from any school and grade level in the state and compare them with any other school or school district. That helped parents to evaluate the quality of their child’s school, helped set district priorities and helped evaluate trends at schools and districts over time. The easy availability of this data was an important part of public school accountability.

Yet state bureaucrats have a problem. Students across the state took the new Common Core test earlier this year, and insiders are saying that the results are dismal. So first, the bureaucrats delayed the publication of the results from mid-August (as called for in state law) to Sept. 9.

Then until an about-face last week, they blocked the public from being able to compare the last 15 years of test results with the current Common Core results, obscuring the new low level of performance.

Wurman and Evers describe the situation of California students’ test scores in history and science from several years available for comparison on the state’s website, but not so for math or English – the two areas now covered by the Common Core standards.

Fortunately, as the colleagues note, media inquiries about transparency led to the math and English test data being restored to the state’s website.

The California Department of Education’s behavior, they add, “is all too similar to that of authoritarian governments that excel in hiding information from their people.”

NH PARENTS: Maybe Your Kids Do Not NEED To Take the SAT/ACT In 11th Grade

We will be calling on parents and students to REFUSE the Smarter Balanced next spring. It makes no sense for students to participate in a psychometric assessment that doesn’t give parents a clear picture on their child’s proficiency in the core subjects.

Now that schools can use the SAT/ACT in 11th grade instead of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, should your kids participate?

We know the SAT will be Common Core aligned in 2016. BAD NEWS for all students. This is because David Coleman, chief architect of the Common Core Standards took over the helm at the College Board. Not only has he brought us bad academic standards for our schools, now he’s out to destroy the SATs too.

What can you do as a parent? Look at potential colleges your child will be applying too. IF they do not require the SAT/ACT, then there may be NO need for them to take it. In other words, REFUSING the SAT in 11th grade could be a real option next year.

In this article by NPR, they ask: Is This The Beginning Of The End For the SAT and ACT?
Many schools currently do not require SAT scores so why subject your children to the SAT/Common Core test if it’s not needed?

Excerpt:
Last year, NPR was given exclusive access to a study that found that a student’s high school academic record, regardless of what school she attended, is a far better predictor of college success than the SAT or ACT.

This first-ever study was conducted by William Hiss, the former dean of admissions at Bates College in Maine. Bates has been test-optional since 1984. Hiss studied 33 test-optional schools — big and small, private and public — then compared “non-submitters” to students who had submitted SAT scores.

He found virtually no difference in college grades or graduation rates. Students who did not submit their scores did just as well as those who did.

Oregon’s Governor Does What Gov. Hassan Refuses To Do: Stand UP For Parental Rights

We told you that California currently has a law on the books that recognizes a parent’s right to opt their children out of the flawed and damaging standardized tests. We also told you that California has lost no federal money in spite of the nauseating threats by Federal and State officials. And lastly we told you that Governor Hassan caved in to the business interests and vetoed HB603 which would recognize parental rights when it comes to excluding your children from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Good News! Oregon Governor Signs Opt-Out Bill into Law

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/06/23/good-news-oregon-governor-signs-opt-out-bill-into-law/?fb_ref=Default&fb_source=message

Despite pressure from the big spenders at Stand for Children and other titans of corporate reform, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the legislation allowing parents to opt out of state tests.

Federal officials had warned that the bill, which also reduces the consequences for schools where many students skip tests, could lead the federal government to withhold millions in federal education funding.

House Bill 2655, which was strongly backed by the Oregon Education Association, prioritizes the rights of parents to exempt their children from that one aspect of public schooling over the desire of school accountability proponents to get complete reading and math test results for all students each year.

But Brown said she wants Oregon educators to make the case to parents that taking part in state tests is valuable so that they will opt for their children to keep taking the exams.

The new law means that, beginning next spring, schools will have to notify every family at least 30 days before state testing begins about what the tests will cover, how long they will take and when results will be delivered. Those notices will also tell parents they can exempt their child from the tests for any reason.

Friends in Oregon: Forget the governor’s misgivings! Opt out is the best tool you have to protect your children from the current national mania for standardized testing. Opting out will curb the overuse and misuse of standardized testing. Former Texas state commissioner of education Robert Scott memorably said in 2012 that the educational industrial complex was out of control and that testing was “the heart of the vampire”

He also said:

The assessment and accountability regime has become not only a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex. And the reason that you’re seeing this move toward the “common core” is there’s a big business sentiment out there that if you’re going to spend $600-$700 billion a year in public education, why shouldn’t be one big Boeing, or Lockheed-Grumman contract where one company can get it all and provide all these services to schools across the country.

I mean, that’s really what you’re looking at. We’re operating like a business.

When School Administrators Bully Children…

Mom says third-grade daughter banned from school party for Common Core opt-out <—read full story here.

We heard from parents around New Hampshire that their children were being excluded from rewards and parties when they refused to let their children take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

We would advise doing the following:
1) Document everything. Ask for clarification from the administrators on what they have planned.
2) If they are excluding children, take this information to a public school board meeting and notify your elected board members.
3) Invite the media to attend that school board meeting and have your written testimony available to give to the reporters.
4) Ask the local board members to implement a policy on bullying by school administrators.
a) Ask for a safe area for your children while testing is going on
b) Ask for quality education materials/assignments for children not taking the test
c) Include all children in activities or rewards for testing
5) Follow up with letters to the editor in your local paper on what happened and how the local board handled your request.
6) Above all else, ALL parents need to support a good policy and discourage this type of behavior by school administrators whether they allow their children to take the test or not.