Another Reason To Opt Your Kid Out Of Smarter Balanced: Human Scorers

So your kid Tim takes the English part of the smarter balanced test.  Comes home, you ask him how he did.  He says okay I guess.  You pat Tim on the head and he goes back the next day to do the same thing all over again.  He doesn’t learn anything new that day because all the teachers are running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get all the computer stations set up, but the damn bandwidth in the building is too low.  They thought they would have enough, but it’s wreaking havoc on the system.  Even the principals and administrative staff are told to get off their computers.

Meanwhile, in another state, a human scorer named Rob walks into his $13.00 an hour temp job he got online.  He has some teaching experience cause he did a year with TFA.  Enough to get him the job.  He looks at your child’s essay on the Declaration of Independence.  He reads the essay and gets the rubric sheet out.  He doesn’t necessarily agree with everything in the Declaration, but he has to remain objective.  But guess what, he’s getting paid $13 an hour to look at snot-nosed kids writing about stuff he used to teach.  He’s reading and grading, reading and grading.  Starts to think about how much time off he will need from his other job to go to the Burning Man Festival.  Then he starts thinking about how much money he will need for the ten hour drive.  Is Wendy going to go with him?  They’ve had problems lately.  He’s sick of her making him pay for everything.  She has the good job.  He’s stuck grading kids stupid tests.  And after he’s done with Tim’s essay, he has to read 200 more by the end of the day.  All about that piece of paper signed in 1776.  It’s not rocket science, it’s history he says to himself.  Already frustrated, he wanders off from the rubric.  Says a “screw it” to himself.

Tim takes the Math part of Smarter Balanced a few days later.  He comes home looking like five miles of bad road.  You can tell he’s been crying.  Tells you he couldn’t finish the section and he has to wait until next week.  What if he forgets everything?  He won’t eat that night.  He feels like a failure.  This was your smartest kid.  He got As and Bs since Kindergarten.  Won’t get up the next morning.  Says he has a headache.  You tell him he has to, and after 10 minutes of arguing, you both get in the car.  You can tell he didn’t brush his teeth, but you don’t have time to go back.  Another week comes by, he comes home, tells you he finished the math.  How’d you do?  Not good Mom.  I think I failed.

Two weeks later Suzie is five weeks into grading Math essays.  She’s surprised she doesn’t have cataracts by how many times she has rolled her eyes grading these things.  Today is harder cause she was out until 3am with the girls.  The hangover isn’t so bad now.  Head still hurts a little, but she only has six hours left on her shift.  She got stuck with the lemons essay.  You have 10 lemons, each squeezes out 1.5 ounces of juice, and you need to make 16 ounces.  Do you have enough?  She gets Tim’s test.  He answered no.  You only have enough to make 15 ounces.  Suzie pulls out the rubric, and skims it over.  Out of a score of 2, this kid gets a 1.  He got it right, but his explanation was wrong.  She hates doing this, and thinks its stupid, but she needs this job. It’s been very rough for her since the school she taught at got converted into a charter school.  She thought she would make the cut when she applied to Hope Springs Eternal Academy, but they hired all those Relay and TFA grads.  She spends her days working at Home Depot in the paint section watching soccer Moms take hours to decide on what shade of tan they want for their dining room, and then she goes straight to here to grade math essays.  She’s glad she has the time and doesn’t sleep much, gives her more time to go out with her friends from the closed school so they can complain about what they lost.  She won’t tell them she has to grade the same kinds of tests that closed her school.  She looks at the next one, another kid from the same school writes yes.  He wrote a big long essay about the possibility one of the lemons could be bigger.  Even though it didn’t say this in the introduction, he gets a 2 because of his “critical thinking”. Wrong answer, good score, right answer, lower score. All day long. Suzie wants to get drunk again tonight.

You get the mail and find out Tim is below proficiency.  What the hell happened?  He was honor roll up until this year.  Then he started coming home with all that strange homework his very intelligent Dad couldn’t even get.  She heard about parents opting their kids out, but she thought Tim was so smart it wouldn’t matter.  She goes inside as Tim is on the Xbox again.  Won’t do his homework anymore.  Starting to get lippy with both her and his father.  She feels like she has lost her son.

This is what will happen all over Delaware starting next month.  Don’t be Tim’s Mom.  Opt your child out now!

Governor’s Advisory Council For Exceptional Citizens January Minutes, DOE Report To GACEC

The Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens hit the ball running in their first 2015 meeting.  I posted the Exceptional Children Resources Group’s presentation to the GACEC a couple weeks ago, which went over the State Performance Plan/Annual Report for special education compliance monitoring in Fiscal Year 2013.  But there was a lot of discussion at this meeting on items such as Senate Bill 229, the Elementary Secondary Education Act waivers, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, Standards-Based IEPs (without even saying the words) and even the Alternate Route to Teacher Licensure and Certification Program.  Read the minutes and the DOE report to the GACEC below!

 

Hear A Father Opt His Child Out of Smarter Balanced At Christina Board Meeting

I am very proud of this father.  He has taken a courageous step.  I’m not sure how many others have already done this, but it needs to be done.  I posted an article last week with all the February board meetings. While this isn’t the only way to opt your child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, it certainly makes a large impact.

To hear a parent bravely opt his child out, go to the below link.  It begins at the 33:05 time stamp.

http://www.ChristinaK12.org/apps/video/watch.jsp?v=55224

If you want to know more about Christina and the Priority Schools, this audio recording goes into a lot more detail about the rationale behind their decisions Tuesday night.  Jackie Kook gave an excellent public comment about choosing between two evils.  Senator Bryan Townsend gave the longest public comment ever, and it is a must hear!

 

The Future of Special Education in Delaware Charter Schools

Education Week just posted an article written by Arianna Prothero in regards to special education services in New Orleans charter schools.  Post-Katrina, the Recovery Schools District essentially took over the public school district and converted all of the schools to charters.  This process was very controversial at the time, and echoes to the present day.  While Delaware has some of these implementations in place already, more needs to be done.

In 2010, parents filed a lawsuit against the charter school district in regards to special education and discrimination.  A settlement was reached in December.

“The settlement puts in place an independent monitor to make sure New Orleans schools are following the law. Among the terms: schools will be randomly audited, the state will create a plan to ensure all children with disabilities are identified and charters must lay out special education services in their renewal applications.

[Judge Jay] Zainey called the plan ‘very fair, very well-thought-out,’ and praised both sides for working in good faith to help children, saying the work ‘makes me proud to be a lawyer.’ “

To read more about this settlement, please go to: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2015/02/a_new_orleans_federal_judge.html

Two Unique Views on the March to Proficiency, Just Opt Out Now!

Last night I saw two very unique opinions about proficiency.  The first came from the blog Minding My Matters and the other came from a commenter named Publius on Kilroy’s Delaware.  Both offered very strong reasons why the obsession with proficiency in Delaware has it’s pros and cons.

From Minding My Matters, this was written here: https://mindingjax2816.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/a-free-bird/

We will never achieve 100% of anything. NEVER. The very concept of perfection is patently ridiculous. There are exceptions to every rule, right? It is ludicrous to expect that 100% of students will graduate from high school with passing scores on any given standardized assessment and go on to college where they will successfully complete a full degree in the expected time frame and find a job and live the American dream with little pink houses for you and me. And in any case, whose dream is that? Even parents get the dreams of their children wrong. What makes any individual competent to say every child should go from Point A to Point B, and should any given child deviate from that course (say, to take the road less traveled), well, that child is failing? And not only is that child failing, but that child should be told he is failing, and that his school is failing and his beloved teacher is failing as a result of his failure.

And from Kilroy’s Delaware, on this comment thread, https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/christina-school-district-should-give-de-doe-the-three-priority-school-let-markell-choke-on-them/#comment-62772 Publius wrote this:

 “proficiency” is what society is built on. And has been, for a millenium. Imagine a society where everyone is incompetent, do you really want that? I don’t.

The DOE is striving to drive change. State-promoted bootstrapping. The Opt-Outers are resisitng this (and all) change with blind bare-knucke balderdash. Kowalko kwackery.

You are a good front man for the deniers. Your defense of the indefensible is noted. But the inexorable march toward improvement, proficiency, and high performance is a steam roller you should not stand in front of, Stanley.

Publius

Both of these made me really think last night.  What is this march to proficiency and where does it end?  Does it ever end?  I responded to both, late in the evening after a very long day.  I tailored my comments to both with very strong emotions.  One was with compassion and caring, the other with a no holds barred defense of my position.  The latter is not safe for work!  You can read both in the links above.  Both were talking about the same concept but from different walks of life.  One is an educator and union rep, the other a very strong charter school supporter with influence on the conversation.  While blog honor demands I don’t reveal who Publius is, I will say I do know, which lends a unique slant on my comments to him.