Data, Education, Head Start, Ohio, Preschools, Public Schools, Schools

Heads Up to all Head Start Parents in Ohio

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The Ohio Department of Education is currently rolling out an unfunded mandatory reporting and data-collecting system which advantageously has your children’s preschool teachers falling into a very expensive and cumbersome TIME SUCK! It is part of the ‘cradle to college’ movement.  It is the very beginning of digital portfolios which will follow your children (all children) all the way through their school years.

It is called the Early Learning Assessments. (ELA, not to be confused with English Language Arts which also uses that acronym!) I will try to explain it as best as I can. We preschool teachers have guides (you have likely heard the term Standards) to which our curriculum and thus our lesson planning are aligned.

The ODE is now requiring that preschool teachers collect and enter all the information for their formative assessments into a huge state data base.

Part of a teacher’s job is to assess the students; so assessing is not new. There are two types of assessments, formative and summative. So, for example, if I observe Loriquel as she is playing in the dramatic play center, and she hands an orange dress to one of her friends and says “Here, you can wear this orange dress.” I would jot that down on a paper (formative assessment) and make note that Loriquel properly identified the color of the dress. Looking over my notes, (ongoing process, and truthfully most of my notes are mental and there is not much time available to stop what I am doing and write it all down)  I might add several other colored dresses to the dramatic play center, or perhaps I would introduce several items that were different shades of orange (a scarf, a wallet, or sunglasses) and then play in the dramatic center with Loriquel, pointing out other ways to describe orange (cantaloupe, neon, burnt orange, etc.) So, I observe where Loriquel is at in her knowledge or skills and then formulate a way to take her to the next level from that knowledge or skill set. A summative assessment, on the other hand might look more like this: I call Loriquel over to the table where I have a card with various colors on it and ask her to name the various colors. I check off which ones she knows and which ones she does not know. I record that information. She was successful in naming the colors or not, and that would pretty much be the end of that. Usually a summative assessment is for someone else’s benefit, not the teacher themselves. The ODE insists the ELA is a formative assessment tool.  I disagree full heartedly. This does not benefit me as a teacher, you as a parent, or your child in any way. This rigamaroll is all for someone else’s benefit.

The ODE wants preschool teachers to basically enter all of their notes and observations for their formative assessments into very specific, boxed categories on the computer. The way we currently do formative assessments dovetails into the fluid, fast-paced, constant changes that occur in your young children’s development. The way the ODE is demanding this be done is a very jerky, stop-action method which pulls teachers away from your children and towards a computer screen. Truthfully by the time the information is entered on the computer, your child will or should well be onto the next level, so time-lapses will be horrid. I keep imagining a strobe light effect as opposed to sunlight dancing in through a window.

For now it is just those centers who receive ECE funding or funding for children with special needs (most of those being the Head Start programs). But, moving forward, ALL Ohio preschools and K-12 schools will be made to do this.

For now it is only required of those teaching 3-5 year olds, but they want it to be from birth as soon as they can get everyone trained. (Seriously, like a caregiver of a 6 week-old baby needs to be on a computer instead of holding & bonding with your sweet new one!)

For now, it is mandatory to report in 10 of 32 areas. This will actually be 24 entries in the computer now (per child) for the 10 areas, and 74 data entries (per child) eventually, when the 32 areas will be reported.

For now it is to be done twice a year, but they will eventually require this to be done for every preschooler four times a year.

My ratios for 4 year olds are 1:14. So realistically when this becomes a full-blown data feeding frenzy, I will have to collect and enter 4,144 bits of information into a computer system, all backed by evidence and observations which will each and every single one need to be scanned. How much time and mental energy do you think that all will require? Time that could far better be spent rearranging my room, pre-cutting materials, previewing next level reading choices, creating a new math manipulative activity, or just talking with or holding your young one on my lap.

The ODE’s argument is that we already do formative (ongoing assessments) so we truly will be doing nothing new! But then they hypocritically pulled us for two whole days from our classes to be trained and tested on all of this! So yes, it is new and an additive!

They are just beginning (testing it out) with the ones who are very bound up with the state by financial reliance. Thus, the preschools with the most vulnerable student and parent populous will have to answer up to the implementation of this problematic new system.

The worst part is they have spent millions upon millions upon millions of dollars on all of this and that alone is driving them all to push it all through, no matter the problems, concerns or negative feedback. How much more effective it would have been to approach preschool teachers on a large scale and directly ask them what would better their teaching abilities, and improve their classrooms for the sake of the children. I cannot imagine any teacher ever suggesting this system.

It won’t work. It will completely backfire. It is a costly farce.

The time constraints will be impossible to fulfill. A preschool teacher does NOT have time in their manic busy weeks to sit in front of a computer entering data. That is ludicrous. Administrators do not have it in their tight-as-can-be-budgets to pay floaters or substitutes to enter classrooms, to cover the time that teachers would require to enter all of this “necessary” data into the computers.

The technology gaps will reveal themselves all over the board. The few computers in most preschools are used nearly one hundred percent of the time for all the office related duties. Head Start centers in particular have a more than full-time job just trying to keep up-to-date on all of the insane amounts of red tape and required paperwork that comes with the state funding, as well as with the constantly-changing rules and regulations, and the numerous printings and reprintings of required updates for official forms.

Technician help will be stretched to the maximum limits. (No, preschools do not have their own tech support!) In our training class of sixteen teachers, one person was able to successfully set up their password as instructed ahead of time. My boss tried for two straight weeks to get three of us registered, and was beyond frustrated.  The second day, when we had to “take our test online” the computers were not letting us into the program, and the instructor said, “well it is difficult sometimes when many are trying to get on at the same time!” (16 is many?) To get to the forms we actually will be filling out online, I kid you not, we had to enter into like 5 different pages with correct names and passwords. On that day they had 2 additional tech support folks there, and it was still beyond chaotic. Can you imagine these poor centers who will be the very first ones trying to use all of this?

All of this money they are blowing. All of the many, many well-paid people the ODE has hired on their end to manufacture and maintain all of this top-down hoopla directly withdrawals from the ability to pay teachers their value and worth.  I make $9 an hour to teach your children (now, to evidently enter excessive amounts of futile data), with no benefits and no paid leave or sick days. The money they spent on all of the glossy, cardstock, full-color print 330+ pages they gave us (and which every preschool teacher will receive) made me physically feel ill when I started to think of the big-picture money they must have invested, and how differently I would have chosen to spend such grand amounts in order to benefit the wee ones we teach, and you their families.

And tell me please what they will find out from studying all of their data. I sure bet they will find out that poverty affects learning! Oh wait, we already more than know that. The research is extensive and conclusive.  I suppose their algorithms might point to the fact that children need to feel safe and nurtured in order for their brains to develop. Oh, that’s right, we already know that also! Wow, but it would be ever so wonderful if they would extrapolate from all of this data that children learn best while playing! But again, research has solidly shown that over and over ad nauseum. And on the list goes! We know, without more data points, that the fine arts feed children’s intelligent creativity. We know that field trips stimulate hands-on exploration and curiosity. We know that children’s movement on wonderful playgrounds directly affects their reading and language intake and ability.

This is not a tool; it is a talon of the vulture capitalists. It will not inform my instruction; it likely will pressure me personally to give up my profession. This will not better the classrooms for your children; it will deplete the valuable rare resources of time and energy. This is not a child-centered project despite all of its appearances; it is a drain on the ones who have made your children’s growth the very center of their professional career choices. The ODE uses you the parent by putting words in your mouth and saying that you want this program so that you can see where your child is in a glance on a spreadsheet. As a mom of five, I angrily scream bullshit.  Primary caregivers know where their children are in development and if they feel uncertain about the nitty-gritty details, they merely have to ask their teachers, not log-in to a statewide database.  How cold and impersonal.

The money is as good as incinerated. Money strangely does seem to come and go (and it never does trickle-down). But it is the time factors that are irreplaceable.

There are no do-overs. Your children are only young once. My time to teach them is precious and cannot be deliberately stolen away in such an irresponsible way.

I encourage you strongly to be “in the know” and I warn you, because it is tied in with so much money and politics, that it is already a monstous, full-blown machine already very much set into motion.

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools, Uncategorized

SB39 Proponent Testimony – Brianne Kramer

Statement to the Senate Education Committee in favor of Senate Bill 39

Chair Lehner, Vice Chair Huffman, Ranking Member Sykes, and members of the Senate Education Committee:

I am sharing this written testimony in favor of Senate Bill 39 because I believe more accountability is needed for e-schools in Ohio. I have been in education for the past 14 years as a high school teacher, part-time college faculty, and now as an Assistant Professor at Southern Utah University. From November 2013 to November 2014, I worked as a high school advisor for Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA hereafter). In addition to my various teaching and educational experiences, much of my doctoral level research has focused on Ohio’s charter and virtual/e-schools.

Upon accepting the position at OHVA, I did not hold any concrete opinions about virtual schools and their operation. I believed at the time that virtual schools could be excellent opportunities for students who were unable to attend their local public schools for various reasons. After working in the school for a year, my opinions drastically changed. As an advisor, my position required me to manage a caseload of students in order to track attendance, check grades, and keep open lines of communication with the family. Advisors were required to check student attendance logs weekly to make sure families were logging in the required hours per week. If there was a discrepancy and hours were missing, I contacted the family to alert them of the missing hours and, if the student had not completed those hours in the system, discuss a plan to make up hours and complete work that was missing. If the hours did not get entered, once the student was missing 25 hours of attendance, I initiated the truancy process by filling out a report and sending it to the truancy officer and others who oversaw the truancy process. Once the student was missing 105 hours, as the advisor, I would request the student be withdrawn for truancy. Again, once initiating this process, the truancy officer and other individuals processed it.

Shortly before leaving the school in November 2014, there were 487 K-12th grade students who had not yet logged attendance hours, and only 89 of those students were currently in the truancy reporting system after 11 weeks of school. There were also 1,826 students who were missing 25 or more hours of attendance, and of those students, only 594 had begun the truancy process, amounting to 19% of OHVA students who were eligible for the truancy process. These numbers also assume that proper truancy reporting was followed and that families did not alter attendance hours to avoid truancy charges. During my year working in the school, I found both of these things to be true at various times.

Despite changes to their reporting process or to the attendance policy that may have been made at OHVA and similar schools recently, I believe e-schools should be required to provide education to each of their students that totals the state-imposed 920 hours. All of Ohio’s public school students who attend a traditional public school are required to be in classrooms with their teachers for 920 hours each year, so e-school students should be held to the same standard. For this to occur in a way that can be measured, all 920 hours should be spent in the online classroom platform, which is not currently happening. OHVA’s 2016-2017 Parent Handbook states:

“Most K-5 Learning Coaches and students spend 50% of their day online and the rest of their time working off line in workbooks, printed lessons, or other related activities. Middle school students and Learning Coaches may spend between 60% and 70% of their time on their computers, while high school students will spend between 75% and 85% online. Attendance documentation of online and offline work is required by OHVA parents. Submission of student work samples is required to demonstrate consistent engagement, and will vary by grade” (p. 3).

Traditional public schools cannot provide 460 hours of instruction for grades K-5, 644 hours of instruction in middle schools, and 782 hours of instruction at the high school level and make up the remaining hours with homework. Virtual schools, who academically perform at a much lower level than the majority of public schools in Ohio, should not be allowed to loosely interpret the current attendance policies.

Senate Bill 39 would close this gap and provide greater accountability for virtual schools. If passed, the bill requires the Ohio Department of Education to be notified of truancy and attendance figures. This greater accountability places pressure on the virtual schools and their sponsors to maintain correct attendance records and uphold state policy. These proposed requirements only serve to benefit the students and families in virtual schools. Students who are not attending class are not learning to their full potential, and schools are required to make sure students are in attendance daily. Traditional public schools take attendance every morning, and in high schools, each class period. When students attend their classes, the teachers work to keep them engaged throughout the lesson through constant interaction and face-to-face engagement that cannot be replicated in an online classroom despite any technology that may be used. A 2015 study by the Stanford Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found virtual school students lost 72 days of learning, on average, in reading, and lost 180 days of learning in math. Low attendance could contribute to this loss of learning.

Virtual schools also need to have greater transparency in order for the general public to better understand the structures of such schools and their operation. Virtual school board meetings should be live-streamed after appropriate notice has been provided statewide in the cities the virtual school students and their families reside. Parents and the general public have a right to be able to attend (in person or virtually) each board meeting, just as if they were attending a board meeting in their local traditional public school district. Virtual school advertisements, which have been paid for using taxpayer money funneled from local school districts, should contain the most recent state report card grades. Taxpayers deserve to understand what their money is being used for. In a traditional district, taxpayers have a better understanding of what their taxes are being used for as they see building improvements happen, hear about new teachers being hired, or see the new textbooks and curriculum coming home in their child’s backpack each day. Finally, the state report cards for each virtual school in the state should contain an area that indicates the school’s mobility rate. While mobility rates are not an issue solely for virtual schools, the mobility rates remain higher for virtual schools than many of the traditional public school districts.

My final point refers to the funding component of SB 39. For the past 17 years, since the inception of ECOT in 2000, virtual schools have siphoned money from local school districts. While supporters of virtual schools may claim that only state funds are transferred from traditional public school districts to the virtual schools as the money “follows the student,” many Ohio school districts are subsidizing virtual schools with a portion of local taxpayer money. In my hometown of Napoleon, the per-pupil funding amount is $4,205; however, the per-pupil funding amount for ECOT and OHVA is slightly above $7000. Where does that remaining $2,795 come from? According to The Ohio Charter School Accountability Project, out of the $237,539 transferred to charter schools (3 of 4 being virtual schools), $99,562 was through local taxpayer subsidy. Napoleon Area City taxpayers have been subsidizing virtual schools who have consistently demonstrated lower academic achievement and graduation rates than their local district.

I urge you to pass Senate Bill 39 to better serve the students and families who seek out this type of education. All students in the state of Ohio are entitled to a quality education. I believe it is our duty to ensure the proper policies are in place to ensure this for all children. It is also important that taxpayers understand the structure, operation, and funding of virtual schools in the state of Ohio.

Chair Lehner and members of the committee– thank you again for the opportunity to provide written testimony in favor of Senate Bill 39.

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

The Lie/The Reply

mandy's blog

Remember when I worked very hard to get people to a Town Hall with Dennis Kucinich so he could talk about how charter schools receive unfair funding? The meeting was basically taken over by charter school proponents, most notably, those from the Constellation Schools. They all came in expecting the meeting to be about us trying to close all charter schools. That was not true, but it is what they were told. While I do not know for sure if parents of kids in the Elyria Constellation Schools were given a letter like the one that was given to parents in Parma,

I know for sure that there were many parents at our meeting and they were mad. The letter that was sent to the Parma parents was sent to them by Richard Lukich who helped found the schools and is president of the board of directors. This man, aside from being rude to me personally and blocking people from the info I had on a table while he stood at the door like he owned the place, sat in that meeting and said over and over again that charter schools have to adhere to the same accountability and transparency standards as public schools. He also said that everyone there was free to ask him anything that they want and he will tell us.

So I took him up on his offer. A few weeks later I sent him a public records request asking for a long list of information including salaries of staff (including his and the rest of the board), how much they send to their management company, how much money they spend on operational costs, and a few other things. This letter was mailed to him May 11th.

I just received a response from their lawyers this afternoon. In what should be a surprise to no one, they denied my request for information. The letter stated that the schools are not a public entity so they do not have to give me any of the information that I requested. They also stated that since there is no list of the salaries of those I requested, they do not have to give me those or create a list for me. And even if such a list did exist, they are under no obligation to give it to me even if Constellation was a public office.

I know what the treasurer of the Elyria City Schools (where my son attends school) makes but I have no idea what the treasurer of the Constellation School that is three blocks from my house makes. He was also at this meeting and was talking about how the Constellation Schools have nothing to hide.

So now I am just flummoxed. If the Constellation Schools, and Richard Lukich in particular, are such an open book, then why did he pass my letter off to his lawyers who subsequently denied my request? I am sure all of the people that followed him to that meeting would love to know the truth about what he said too. I know I would not be too happy if I found out that the schools I sent my son to were trying to hide something from the public.

Here is the reply:

let 1let 2

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools, seniors

Head’s Up! Action Alert! #OhioGradCrisis

laser pic

Apples have been set on the students’ heads, and the ‘archers’ are yelling “Be still—our accuracy is arbitrarily set!”  What could possibly go wrong?

Ohio BATs recently chose very intentionally to laser–focus lobbying efforts towards securing a safe harbor for the graduating class of 2018. Our efforts set two Senators into motion to write language into the budget bill demanding a one-time-exception for those with a specific set of high stakes being attached to the receiving of high school diplomas, since the PARCC testing was a one-year-failed-experiment.  Our demands were quickly voted out. A set of extra criteria, developed for those striving to ‘walk with their class’ were inserted instead.  Amazingly, those extra graduation requirements remained in the budget bill. They somehow missed the sword swipes of Governor Kasich’s veto powers.

Ohio BATs will NOT be celebrating the fact that they remained. We are tired of crying out for the freshest of bread loaves for the children and receiving some kind of paltry moldy crumb sprinklings. There is this wrong notion circulating that you can only ask for what you think you might possibly be given, and even then you should be prepared to be haggled down to even a lesser amount.  The power remains with those abusing the power. The oppressed keep their heads bowed and eyes on the ground, acquiescing by profusely thanking those in charge for the tiny appeasements. Those “reforming education” and being motivated by dark monies are artists at keeping with their profit-seeking agendas, and then appearing or acting as though they care for the peasantry by occasionally letting the people think they are getting what they want. This groveling game is growing tiresome and is unbecoming of the what these primary stakeholders more than deserve.

WE, Ohio BATs and others, are not done yet! WE are going to demand a study be done on how this list of extra things the hopeful and stressed out seniors can try and do, will actually impact the kids that still don’t have the points! The study will include data from the spring tests too, (like they did last time). Head’s up! Stop settling!

Time is NOT on our side. The next State Board meeting is Tuesday, July 11th. Please email each of the Board members and voice your concerns that the graduation requirement list for 2018 does not go far enough to help ALL of those families who will now not know until nearly the last few weeks of school, if their students will graduate or not. This is not a game. This is not time for politicking or partisanship. These children were wronged and the wrong needs righted.

Matt Jablonski’s email: http://testingwindow.blogspot.com/2017/07/graduation-problem-it-ain-over-it-over.html

BOARD MEMBERS:

Linda Haycock                    Linda.Haycock@education.ohio.gov                  (419) 979-6438

Kathleen A. McGervey  Kathleen.McGervey@education.ohio.gov               (440) 669-0780

Charlotte McGuire          Charlotte.McGuire@education.ohio.gov                 no ph. #

Pat Bruns                             Pat.Bruns@education.ohio.gov                               (513) 310-8953

Lisa Woods                        Lisa.Woods@education.ohio.gov                             (330) 410-6733

Antoinette Miranda        Antoinette.Miranda@education.ohio.gov                (614) 565-7926

Sarah Fowler                     Sarah.Fowler@education.ohio.gov                          (440) 563-8535

Nancy P. Hollister (VP)   Nancy.Hollister@education.ohio.gov                         (740) 373-6523

Stephanie Dodd                Stephanie.Dodd@education.ohio.gov                       (740) 629-1333

Nick Owens                       Nick.Owens@education.ohio.gov                              (513) 706-2634

Meryl Johnson                 Meryl.Johnson@education.ohio.gov                         (216) 561-1396

AT-LARGE MEMBERS: 

Tess Elshoff (Pres)           ElshoffTess@education.ohio.gov                               (419) 753-2583

Cathye Flory                       Cathye.Flory@education.ohio.gov                            (740) 603-6365

Joseph L. Farmer              Joe.Farmer@education.ohio.gov                                (740) 862- 8649

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings   Rebecca.Vazquez-Skillings@education.ohio.gov

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings   (614) 256- 9317

Martha Manchester       Martha.Manchester@education.ohio.gov                (419) 303-2672

Eric Poklar                           Eric.Poklar@education.ohio.gov                              (614) 519-5526

Kara Morgan                      Kara.Morgan@education.ohio.gov                           (202) 297-4555

Laura Kohler                       Laura.Kohler@education.ohio.gov                          (614) 425-0183

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio

Why I Cannot Support More Graduation “Pathways”

We met with a handful of Ohio Senators last week. Since it matters for this discussion’s sake, 6 of the 8 we talked with are Republicans. Not one of them disagreed that we need a solution for our Class of 2018. Not one of them defended the nightmare they have created for our now seniors. But, when it came down to it, they did not support the logical and humane solution for our kids with their votes.

We’ve discussed ad-nauseum the impending graduation crisis for Ohio’s now seniors. In Wednesday’s vote, state senators had an opportunity to provide relief to our students through “safe harbor.” The amendment offered would allow students in the Class of 2018 to use course grades for the seven content areas in lieu of standardized state tests to earn points toward the required minimum of 18. This amendment was tabled on a party line vote of 24-9.

Instead, the amendment which remains in the Senate’s version of the budget bill would require students to jump through even more hoops to meet graduation requirements. After changing tests in three of the last four years and changing the cut scores for passage with a new vendor, after 12 years of learning and hard work in their classes, after taking seven end of course state tests (and retakes for any with scores of 2 or 1, plus their required remediation), these seniors could now be faced with two additional hoops to jump through in order to earn their diploma.

While I am glad these new, unnecessary hoops remove the burden of scoring 18 points through the seven standardized tests, I am irate that students will still be required to retake any state tests for which they scored a 2 or 1. Though they need not earn a passing score, they must serve the testing gods. This is the definition of state-sanctioned educational malpractice.

Some claim the new pathways somehow “soften” the state’s graduation requirements. To them, I’d offer the following, albeit imperfect, analogy:

If each of the four years of high school are the leg of a relay and the team is your diploma, here’s a look into that race. In the first leg, your time is measured by PARCC, so results take over a year to determine and be reported to you. Meanwhile, you’re trucking along in the second leg, and it is announced that your time will be measured by AIR. You also have to stop intermittently along this stretch because you need to go back and recomplete the first leg of the race, this time measured by AIR. As you enter the third leg, you learn you have to go back to leg 2 for a new AIR measurement with a higher cut score while also needing to make up time you’ve lost in the overall race. Somewhere along the third leg, you learn that you still haven’t met the required AIR time from the first leg and must go back again to the start. Now it’s time for the final leg. Hopefully, you’ve made it back to this point by now to continue on your race. You are almost there! Wait, what’s that? This leg contains a maze of obstacles, from which you must choose two to complete successfully. Each obstacle will take most, if not all of your final leg to complete. Oh, and all those restarts, they don’t matter now, but you still have to go back to leg 2, though that time won’t count in the end. See, wasn’t that so easy?

I wish I could think of an analogy that actually fits this scenario our kids are in, but I cannot. Because it is utterly ridiculous. Instead of admitting their mistakes in the regulations of the relay, the majority party seems to want to continue this charade. Meanwhile, our students pay the ultimate price when the race is stacked against them.

#FixItOrOwnIt #OhioGradCrisis

Brittany Alexander

Ohio BAT and Educator

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools

Safe Harbor for 2018

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Chairman Hite, Vice Chair Sykes, and members of the Senate Finance – Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today. My name is Brittany Alexander and I am a public school educator of (almost) 20 years. I am an education activist, serving in leadership roles in both National and Ohio BATs (Badass Teachers Association). I strongly urge that the subcommittee include language offering a “safe harbor” from standardized testing requirements to specific students in the Class of 2018 to Substitute HB 49.

To my knowledge, there is not state-level data on where students land in relation to earning a minimum of 18 points in the End of Course (EOC) exam pathway, explaining the variance in reports of the number of students whose graduation will be negatively affected. The recommendations sent forth from the State of Ohio Board of Education are commendable in that they reduce the role of standardized testing in graduation requirements. However, even with these recommendations in place, there will still be some number of students who land between being able to meet 2 out of the 6 recommendations and earning 18 points on EOC exams. Those students who are between these two options, and have met all other graduation requirements, will still be in the same situation they are in now: an untenable one.

The Class of 2018 is not only the first to be held to the pathway graduation requirements, but they are also the only people in Ohio to be accountable (i.e. without “safe harbor”) for PARCC assessments they took during their freshman year. In an effort to “make up” points needed for graduation, students with a score of 1 or 2 on any PARCC assessment have to retake their EOC exams with American Institutes of Research (AIR) assessments. Educators know that these retakes have a high cost of lost instructional time.

The “safe harbor” for which I am advocating is a short-term solution intended to help specific students in the Class of 2018. However, it is important to note that Ohio is one of only 14 states that currently require exit exams for high school graduation. In the long-term, I advocate that we rid Ohio’s students of EOC exams tied to graduation requirements. To foster and develop the skills students need beyond their K-12 years, we have to switch our focus away from high-stakes standardized tests.

I ask you to consider my testimony and provide “safe harbor” from EOC tests to students who will land in between the recommendations from the State Board and the requirements of the EOC exam pathway. Their very future is in your hands. Thank you again for your time and consideration.

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

Testing Season in Ohio, AGAIN!

testing season

Today isn’t “Good Morning” to me. I’m angry. I awoke non-refreshed after yet another night of broken sleep because of state testing. This is all really getting to me. I’m sick of dreams about kids crying, computers shutting down, trying to hurry to cover more information in class, etc…

Maybe it’s because there is one week left before my fifth-graders will start sitting for 90-minute sessions (which will affect weeks of our school routine) taking state reading tests that I feel with ever fiber of my being are so developmentally inappropriate I could prove it in a court of law.

I’ve spent the past few weeks working late in my classroom. Some nights, I come rolling into my driveway after 7 p.m. I tell myself EVERY YEAR that I will no longer care about this or get sucked into the testing madness. Yet, I take to heart the care of the children on my watch. Because I want to soften and buffer the test-prep for ten-year olds, I keep working after hours to come up with themes of learning and “surprises” to help keep them jumping through state hoops. I try to make the testing game fun, even though everyone loses in the end.

Don’t even tell me schools shouldn’t be doing test prep. Have ‘ya seen the computer program students must master for testing? It’s NEW to them. Actually, it’s the newest of new to them. This is the freaking third state ever-changing test our little elementary children have had to take in the past few years.

They’ve been the victims of:
Ohio NON-Achievement Assessments
then
PARCCC is CCRAP Assessments
and now
“AIR”HEADs MADE THESE TESTS Assessments

Our poor guinea pigs.

Unless you’re a classroom teacher, you can’t fully understand. Even administrators who care so much and have test scores attached to their evaluations, miss parts of the ins and outs of what state testing is doing in mass to individual children on a day to day basis. You have to work like a dog to make preparing for this test fun and engaging. It’s exhausting. (A word of thankfulness: Our superintendent is speaking out at the state level, too. I know from experience he will always put children first.)

Sadly, parents definitely don’t fully understand the assessments that are going on in classrooms because the state specifically withholds information from them. Parents aren’t allowed to see the tests, or even the surveys the students are taking at the end of the tests. Parents aren’t even allowed to know what data is being collected.

Most districts candy coat information to parents (to deter them from refusing the testing for their children, no doubt) going so far as to say that these tests give us valid information.

It’s a lie.

There is nothing valid about this testing. There is not one released test question or graded tests we’ve been “allowed” to see. There is not one way we have of knowing which question a score is attached to in any way, shape, or form.

The phantom scores don’t even come until AFTER a child has moved on to a new grade or in my students’ cases, the middle school.

The people who should be screaming from the rooftops are the teachers because they are in the room on test day to see how inappropriate the testing is and yet, the state has effectively attached their evaluations to these same test results.

In short, a child’s test score equals half of a teacher’s AND a principal’s job evaluation score.

Legislators have removed the Safe Harbor for this bogus system, so guess what?

This year’s student scores will count for a teacher’s 2017-2018 evaluation cycle.

This makes the Ridicu-List.

(To be honest, the Ohio Teaching Evaluation System (OTES) is the least of my concerns. I’m on my way OUT of education and thus far, have been given the state’s top label rating, so my stress isn’t on behalf of me, it’s on behalf of kids.)

High-stakes standardized testing is an education tumor that appears in kindergarten, metastasizes in third grade, and has started to spread by fifth. In middle school, children are so sick of testing they’re becoming lethargic. By high school, some students are goners. Literally. #dropout

Two-thirds of my students came in reading below level this year. Why is that when they had an incredible fourth-grade reading teacher and they passed the Ohio Third-Grade Reading Guarantee?

Because:

Education testing tumors are stealing classroom learning time from children. You can’t keep stealing children’s learning time year after year for dozens of hours of state testing and expect children to learn more, not less.

Education testing tumors are stunting natural reading growth. We don’t read in real life the way we test. We don’t, as adults, do the new “A/B” questions or the “hot text” questions after we read the newspaper. We are unnaturally pushing 8-year olds to be able to type multi-paragraph essays on Chromebooks “on-demand” without even one comma out of place. TOO MUCH TOO SOON!

Education testing tumors are zapping children’s love of literature. Most schools have even gotten rid of their librarians or cut their hours or traded them in for computer programs.(I detest this the most.)

FYI, Ohio elementary schools give one test after another to third-graders, watering them down as they go, until a child can finally pass one test, any test, to fulfill state guidelines. Of course, this means that third-graders are enduring a true theft of critical learning time that can never be regained.

How many hours have my fifth-graders (who were once those same third-graders) already had butt-in-the-seat classroom hours taking high-pressurized, high-anxiety standardized tests prior to this year in which I have to make them do it all again?

Dozens.

My kids will take more hours of testing this spring than they have even had art, music, or physical education classes this entire fifth-grade year.

These kids are 10 years old for God’s sake.

At least some kids are getting spared from the madness. Private school kids and homeschooled kids don’t have to hit the 100 Hours Club of Public School Testing.

Good on ’em. All parents should fight for the same rights and freedom for learning for their children as well.

Actually, parents should be RISING in MASS to stop this insanity. After all, these are their kids and it’s up to them to protect them.

I would NEVER, EVER allow the state to treat my OWN children this way. Heck, I’m the bigmouth who is speaking out about the way the state is treating other people’s children!

There is so much more to say and I’d love to spew about the specifics (like the state’s 10-point writing rubric children are scored on or the compare/contrast three essays insanity), but I need to get ahold of myself, have a cup of coffee, and try to stop thinking about what is in store for these poor kids the week after next.

Testing Season Sucks. Any legislator who is fighting for this (the same legislator who didn’t even have to take a test for his/her OWN job) should have to sit and take these tests, too.

Oh, that’s right. He’s not even allowed to see the same tests he’s mandating.

Nice.

Have a great day.

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