Tag Archives: Standardized Testing

Connecting the Dots: Bay Area Millionaires Buying School Board Elections Across the Country

3 Apr

A little while ago we wrote about how corporate money has been rolling into school board elections across the country, upturning normally low-key, local affairs and twisting them towards corporate school de-form.  Of course, the local example was how GO Public Schools funneled $185,000 towards 3 Oakland school board candidates, Rosie Torres, James Harris, and Jumoke Hinton-Hodge.  GO had received the money from 3 main sources: the California Charter School Association, Gary Rogers (seed funder of GOPS), and Arthur Rock.  Well now, Arthur Rock and some other Bay Area venture capitalist friends have been popping up in even more local elections.  Teacher blogger, Jersey Jazzman, did the dirty work to uncover the campaign finances and here is a sample of what he found:

- Colorado: According to election records, Rock, Penner, Callaghan, the Goldberg-Sandbergs, and the Fourniers gave a total of $19,830 dollars to a slate of candidates consisting of State Senators Linda Newell, Mary Hodge, and Andy Kerr; Representatives Pete Lee, Millie Hamner, Brittany Pettersen, and Dave Young; and House candidate Chuck Rodosevich, who lost his bid. While each if the candidates got different amounts all donors individually gave the same amount to each candidate.

- New York: According to election records, Callaghan, Penner, and Rock gave State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein $2,000 each; Sandberg and Goldberg each gave $1,000.

- Nevada: According to election records, Alison Serafin, who was recently elected to the Nevada State Board of Education, received the following amounts:

  • Rock, Sandberg, Thiry: $5,000 each.
  • Goldberg: $3,500.
  • Callaghan, Penner: $2,000 each.
  • The Fourniers: $1,000 each ($2,000 total).

While some of this might seem like chump change when Obama raised $1 billion for his reelection, in school board elections these amounts of contributions totally warp the democratic process.  For more info from Jersey Jazzman, please click here for his post.  As he puts it these folks have been buying elections 3,000 miles from home (New Jersey in his case).

Of course, they’re also buying elections here and with huge consequences.  GO has continued its push to bring corporate de-form policies into Oakland schools, most notably, with its recent campaign to evaluate teachers by test scoresa scientifically invalid process.  To stop this red herring of a reform and point attention to where it should be (support and training for teachers based in professional learning communities and, crucially, increased resources for schools and our communities) we will have to be doubly vigilant and mobilized to offset the undemocratic nature of our current board.   Click here for more ideas on what we can do and, as always, please share your ideas too.

Garbage Science: Teacher Evaluation by Test Scores and Some Ideas for Stopping Them in Oakland

1 Apr

Some of you might have already seen the shocking results in the New York Times today.  Apparently, all the teacher evaluations programs pushed on school districts by Obama’s Race To The Top and the corporate de-formers have found a shocking conclusion: most teachers are, in fact, “highly effective” at their jobs.

Diane Ravitch does a great job of poking holes in this “realization” and cites some of their statistics:

In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations. In Tennessee, 98 percent of teachers were judged to be “at expectations.”

In Michigan, 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.

This is serious news for Oakland.  As many of you hopefully know by now, GO Public Schools & Co. (including Youth Together, Youth Uprising, SEIU 1021, OCO, and Education Trust-West), is making a serious push to evaluate Oakland teachers by student test score data.  They are not alone.  Superintendent Smith is heading the same direction in conjunction with 8 other California school districts (in the group called California Office to Reform Education (CORE)).

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GO Public Schools’ Proposal Gets an F from OUSD Teacher

21 Mar

We post a fiery letter  from an OUSD teacher who attended GO Public Schools’ event Wednesday night.  There GO and a coalition of other organizations (including SEIU 1021, Youth Together, Youth Uprising, OCO, and Education Trust-West) proposed to evaluate, fire, and hire teachers according to student test score data.  Click here for the report.  The teacher is as angry for what it leaves out as what it proposes.  A must read on a very relevant issue for Oakland, as GO and Tony Smith appear to be making a full-court press to evaluate teachers by test scores.

Dear Great Oakland Public Schools, National Council for Teacher Quality and the Oakland Effective Teaching Coalition,
These are my thoughts about your “Teacher Quality Roadmap” and your event tonight, March 20th.
You presentation was based on an analysis of exceptional, average and weak teachers.

The only brief explanation of how you determine who is an exceptional teacher, average or weak teachers was in the number of years a student’s learning increases within a school year (based on standardized test scores I imagine although this was not explicitly stated). They said that highly effective teachers can raised student achievement by 1.5 years in a single year, average teachers can raise achievement by 1 year and weak teachers raise it by less than 1 year. As a teacher, this definition of effectiveness in teaching seems ignorant at best and quite honestly, insulting.

How dare you limit the way you understand my students’ success to their numbers on an undetermined test? How dare you assess how will I invest in, am creative with, care for, discipline, instruct, evaluate, grow with, develop respect with, inspire and nurture my students with this single figure? Without any consideration of all of the factors out of my control and out of my students control? Without any assessment of all other kinds of growth that happen in my classroom, in my conversations with parents, in the after school and before school tutoring hours? These may not show up on whether the student progressed 1 year or 1.5 years.
Teach to test Cartoon 7
When my students show up to school everyday to learn even when people are getting mugged outside at 7am in the morning, even when a middle school student got shot last week walking to school, even when family members are being deported and laid off, even when their mothers are dealing with domestic violence and they fear for the lives of their baby siblings, even when because they are undocumented this district refuses to pay them the stipends that other students get, when they have childcare to do at home, when the district just decided to cut the classes that teach their parents how to help them with homework  – they are exceptional, no matter what the number they score on your rubric.

Solidarity with Seattle Teachers and Students Refusing Pointless Standardized Tests!

8 Feb

 

Students have refused to take the MAP test in solidarity with the teachers.

Many students have refused to take the MAP test in solidarity with the teachers.

Solidarity with Seattle Teachers and Students Refusing Pointless Standardized Tests!

 

As Classroom Struggle, we would like to send our deep respect and solidarity to the teachers, parents and students resisting standardized testing in Seattle. Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle, WA have courageously boycotted the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test, teachers at three other Seattle schools (The Center School, Chief Sealth International High School, and Orca K-8 School) have joined this boycott, and eight other area schools and organizations have signed solidarity statements.

The purpose of this solidarity statement is to: 1) provide ways to gain pertinent information and updates in order for education organizations, teachers, parents and students to be informed and show their support, 2) inspire the spread of these kinds of direct actions to send a strong warning to school district administrations that useless testing consuming valuable instruction/learning time will not be tolerated, 3) to show our support for the teachers, students and parents engaged in this struggle in Seattle.

“Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress,”  Kris McBride – Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield High School.

The MAP test is administered two to three times a year to 9th graders. The test has no impact on student grades or class standing, and isn’t aligned with students’ learning expectations (state and district standards).  However, the results of the test will be used by the district to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

“We really think our teachers are making the right decision,”  Obadiah Stevens-Terry – student body president.

This struggle is also being waged by some students who are mobilizing to join the boycott by answering ‘C’ for Creativity not control on all questions of the MAP test. For more information on the boycott please visit creativitynotcontrol.wordpress.com. Creativity Not Control is a group of educators organizing to spread this boycott to schools in working class neighborhoods. They intend to pass out flyers on the boycott at two South End schools over the next two weeks.

We fully support the testing boycott at Garfield High and other Seattle schools.

In OUSD we also are forced to spend unnecessary time on standardized testing, often do not see our student’s learning accurately represented by these tests, see the funding of our schools connected to these tests and see curriculum shaped by these tests as opposed to the needs of our students.

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Seattle teachers resist standardized testing

17 Jan

As some of you might have heard, Seattle teachers at 2 high schools have refused to administer a junk science standardized test mandated by the district.  This is a brave action and a powerful action.  From all appearances this seems like a rank and file organized protest with deep roots at the school site level and strong student support.  These are the types of organization and action we should strive for here in Oakland as well.

Here we repost a great article analyzing this struggle from a teacher comrade in Seattle.  The original can be found at the blog of the Black Orchid Collective, a revolutionary organization based in Seattle: http://blackorchidcollective.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/seattle-teachers-resist-standardized-testing.

We hope this article sparks ideas for organizing we can do here as well.  As always if you have ideas please share.

Seattle teachers hold press conference declaring their refusal to implement a standardized test.

Seattle teachers hold press conference declaring their refusal to implement a standardized test.

Seattle teachers resist standardized testing

By Mamos206

 

Teachers at Seattle’s Garfield High School have recently chosen to resist administering a standardized test used for student and teacher evaluation.  Ballard High School teachers followed soon after, declaring that they also would resist the test.

This is making big waves locally and nationally. I hope that teachers, students, and parents at other schools in Seattle and across the country extend solidarity to the Garfield and Ballard teachers; you can sign a petition here to suport them.  I also hope this kind of action is replicated at other schools.  The Garfield and Ballard teachers have shown that when we are unified we don’t need to be passive and cynical; we can resist.

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