Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Note to PARCC-Bashers: Annual Testing Won't "Resegregate Schools"

In New Jersey, where education reform disputes seem especially shrill, the focus has been all-things-PARCC. Readers know where I stand: common standards and annual aligned assessments are imperative if this country is going to achieve some semblance of educational equity. I’m hardly alone in this view, but I confess to some jealousy towards the extremely loud and well-coordinated messaging from those who decry PARCC tests as some infringement of their personal freedom or a conspiracy among privateers and union-bashers. The anti-reform Jersey consortium isn’t that big, but it’s really well-organized. We all know the names: Bob Braun, Mark Weber, Marie Cornfield, Julia Sass Rubin, Stephen Danley, Bruce Baker.  (Sorry if I’ve missed a couple.)  Just about all of them are connected, in one way or another, to NJEA and Save Our Schools-NJ.

A new name on the block, at least to me, is Sarah Blaine, who blogs at parentingthecore. She’s articulate, smart, and outspoken and, while I disagree with her on almost every issue, I admire her work. But this week Ms. Blaine published a really bizarre post that’s worth unpacking because (I can’t decide) it’s either laughable or dangerous.

In “Testing and the Re-Segregation of Public Ed,” Ms. Blaine writes that one of her primary objections to “annual testing and high-stakes uses of annual results” is that “aggregate test scores are used — be it by real estate agents or home buyers — as proxies for socio-economic status, with the effect of further re-segregating our communities.”

In this construct, either schools weren't segregated before annual standardized tests began decades ago, a claim that conflicts with factual state history. Or the advent of standardized testing turned integrated schools into segregated ones, which isn't true either. Or, PARCC, the focus of her post, will worsen segregation and turn high-performing schools into schools “like my childhood in Short Hills” and convert lower-performing schools into highly-segregated districts like Newark or Camden. (For non-New Jerseyans, the median family income in Short Hills is $224,524 and the average house costs $1.5 million. Wikipedia says the African-American population there is  0.01%.)

So let's be clear. New Jersey public school students, even in Short Hills, have taken annual standardized tests for decades. Real estate agents and home buyers have used test scores to gauge school performance for decades. New Jersey is, pre-PARCC, one of the most segregated states in America,  and that has far more to do with our fragmented school infrastructure (590 school districts, more per mile than any other state in the country) and a lack of affordable housing than with annual standardized tests.

PARCC won't "resegregate schools." We're already there and it won't get worse. But annual standardized testing aligned with higher-level common standards will reveal to families and teachers and schools meaningful measures of proficiency. That's honest and transparent, a message that surely all of us, across the spectrum of education politics and policy,  can support with full-throated vigor.


6 comments:

bob jones said...
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bob jones said...
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bob jones said...

s this seriously your perspective?
Some clarification for Ms. Waters:
1- tests have not always been around.
2- there were only 3 tests per academic career (once in 4th, 8th and 11th grades)until 2006=an average of 5 test sessions a year= 15 testing sessions.

3-In 2006 testing expanded to grades 3-8 and one time in High school for an average of 5 sessions a year=35 testing sessions.

4-In 2015, the state added 9th and 10th grade to testing. Testing also increased to 9 testing sessions a year=81 sessions of testing.
*Note:test sessions do not include science/bio testing.

While Ms. Waters may think the removal of 81 sessions of learning is beneficial to those who struggle and will even the playing field, most professionals would disagree.

But then again, Ms. Waters and her movement fancy anyone who attended any school at any time to be a professional educational pundit.

Frankie Adao said...

Ms. Waters just wants attention. She was probably that one kid growing up if you said the sky is blue
...she would say was Black. She seriously thinks parents and community think testing of any kind is bad? NO Ms. Waters we are just against major corporations using "TESTING" to make $ off of our kids. We are against classroom learning being pushed aside for months and test prep taking over their day to day learning. There should be a basic unit of measuring achievement. Of course but when your child sits in class for about 9 months test prepping and half the stuff they prepped for isn't on the test. There are system errors, not enough technology for students, parents have no clue where the scores are and how they are being used. Since parents were not included and parental input for whats best for our children has been disregarded, parents absolutely should be able to Opt out of something that does not fall in line with family core values. Which are the only "Core Values" that are significant. There is no "MOVEMENT" Ms. Waters. These are our children. The threats of funding cuts are absolute lies. So let the parent decide whats best and let the numbers fall where they may and speak for themselves. Ms. Waters has a vendetta list. Will she be adding the names of thousands of parents across the country to her next vendetta list? Ms. Waters should speak to the thousands of students who are atbthe end of this and listen to the horrific experiences they are having in school because of this test! How college ready does that make them?

Frankie Adao said...

Ms. Waters just wants attention. She was probably that one kid growing up if you said the sky is blue
...she would say was Black. She seriously thinks parents and community think testing of any kind is bad? NO Ms. Waters we are just against major corporations using "TESTING" to make $ off of our kids. We are against classroom learning being pushed aside for months and test prep taking over their day to day learning. There should be a basic unit of measuring achievement. Of course but when your child sits in class for about 9 months test prepping and half the stuff they prepped for isn't on the test. There are system errors, not enough technology for students, parents have no clue where the scores are and how they are being used. Since parents were not included and parental input for whats best for our children has been disregarded, parents absolutely should be able to Opt out of something that does not fall in line with family core values. Which are the only "Core Values" that are significant. There is no "MOVEMENT" Ms. Waters. These are our children. The threats of funding cuts are absolute lies. So let the parent decide whats best and let the numbers fall where they may and speak for themselves. Ms. Waters has a vendetta list. Will she be adding the names of thousands of parents across the country to her next vendetta list? Ms. Waters should speak to the thousands of students who are atbthe end of this and listen to the horrific experiences they are having in school because of this test! How college ready does that make them?

Pat said...

Sarah Blaine is right on target. Love her. You? Not so much. Go ahead and call me a tool of the NJEA or hysterical or uninformed. Like I care.