The Washington Post recently published a piece by Superintendent Thomas Scarice, who leads a school district much like the leafy Connecticut suburban town that I grew up in. In fact, I grew up in the town right next door, but I couldn’t disagree more with the superintendent’s piece. Here’s why.
The Connecticut SBAC scores will be released by the State Department of Education any day now. The scores will be low. You will be told that the low scores are because the SBAC tests are rigorous and our students don’t measure up. Don’t believe it. … It is our job as citizens and parents to tell students the truth about SBAC. It is our job as educators to keep teaching and assessing students in real and honest ways. Otherwise, we adults are the failures.
“Statistical calculations based on warped figures lead to confusion, frustration and wrong decisions.” These wise words from W. Edwards Deming are most timely as the educational community awaits the next batch of big data to be delivered, the results of the latest test promising to revolutionize schooling, the SBAC. A hollow promise, based on warped figures, that will certainly deliver hollow results. What will the SBAC data mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. Numbers in isolation, lacking story and context.
I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is, as a public school employee and practicing school psychologist, to have federal legislation written that continues to allow our students to be assessed by an unproven and invalid standardized test process and also enables the charter school industry to take funds allocated for public school students and divert them to their own private business interests.
Generalizations like “efficiency,” “accountability,” and “reliability” have been used time and again to describe the benefits of standardized tests. SBAC is no different. However, before Connecticut lawmakers authorize SBAC testing in Connecticut, they should understand what those terms mean for the parents, teachers, and, most significantly, students who will, day in, day out, live with the realities these terms eschew.
Gov. Dannel Malloy, Interim Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell and all superintendents of schools should cease their obstruction of the rights of parents to decide whether to allow their children to sit for the SBAC test.
Teachers and educational leaders should be asking a long list of important questions before moving forward with a flawed and potentially destructive educational practice that fails to inform instruction of our students and takes away from true learning.
Tens of thousands of parents in other states are standing up for their children by refusing the tests and more Connecticut parents are realizing they can refuse the state’s standardized tests, too. Be one of those parents.
This post is not specially written to address Common Core itself, but rather to remind all parents concerned about the data and privacy issues and content of standardized testing, that they have the right to opt their kids out of the SBAC testing –regardless of what they are told by their child’s school.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test is part a profit-motivated scheme to undermine public education and advance unregulated for-profit schools. The state should not make it so difficult for parents to opt out of this testing program.