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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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools

Gunlock Talk

Mr. Gunlock,

According to your opinion piece in the Dayton Daily News on March 22, 2017, you are still locked into the mindset that Ohio students are failing. And, that we, the truly committed and concerned, are not willing to set ‘high enough bars’.

You callously, and continuously, combat the majority voices of primary stakeholders (literally thousands of students, parents, educators, principals, counselors, and superintendents) who are, and have been, against this entire high-stakes testing mess in Ohio.

For the record, I believe that high school credit hours should stand as the requirements for high school diplomas.

In vain, while you sat on the Ohio State Board of Education, we who are currently in the education field or who are raising children who currently attend public schools, have sought to bring you data and research proving the ills and harms of this obsessive testing culture. We carried first-hand experiences and observations to you through countless emails, editorials, phone calls, blogs, webinars, meetings, protests, civil disobedience and committee hearings only to be met time and time again with your haughty disregard and disrespect. We were defeated before we began to speak for you already had it set in your mind that we the teachers and parents do not desire success for those we have based our whole careers and lives around.

So, I thought, in this instance, to speak in your language of boxes and numbers, since you seem to relish those more than real-life stories. I am frankly very tired of this “we are failing” talk. It is false narrative for a slew of reasons.

For the sake of this weary argument about cut scores, and what scores Ohio students have to have to represent what in your eyes is success or not, I offer some numbers for you. These are comparative side-by-side sets of data from the first, last, and only year (2014-15) that Ohio took PARCC tests. I believe PARCC scores are the cut-scores to which you were referring in your last ditch chance to redeem your stance. (Or, perhaps they were the AIR cut scores that had to be modified post factum?) At any rate with either sets of data I am certain I would be able to make my point.

If one reads through this entire 67-paged pdf of data charts, one would quickly see as I did, that in comparison to the other states who took PARCC tests in the 2014-15 school year, Ohio in fact did great!

gunlock

For my response here to you, Mr. Gunlock, I have taken the combined numbers of the 4th and 5th levels (Accelerated and Advanced) and pieced together from 3 pages of the pdf, the averages of the other states right next to Ohio’s averages.

All the red percentages indicate that the other states’ combined averages were below the numbers Ohio produced. The two blue percentages show where Ohio’s numbers were slightly below the combined averages. (Grade 5 and Grade 8 by .9% and .1% respectively.)

One who enjoys tooling around with all of these numbers, I suppose could come up with a bunch of comparison bites. But ultimately these numbers show what they show — scores of tests — period the end.

They do not inform instruction. They do not inspire students. They do not build community support. They confuse and complicate communication about real causes to achievement gaps. They cost too much time and energy. They squander far too many resources and public monies.

A high school diploma IS symbolic. It represents 11,700 hours a student spent with passionate professionals and peers. It represents 702,000 minutes of memories a child stored up. It is a holistic accomplishment mark at nearly a fifth of a century of a person’s life. It should not be reduced to data digits.

A professor once taught me that all data is skewed in the same manner that all maps reveal some distortion. Perspective matters. One cannot accurately assess the education field from afar. I think some tremendous insight and enlightenment could be effective if people had education expert ‘fitbits’ on their wrist. Instead of counting steps, it would count teaching encounters with children. One could only offer input into education policies if they had such and said number of direct teaching interactions with Ohio’s youth and little learners.

Mr. Gunlock, you and C. Todd Jones have relieved yourselves of service on the State Board of Education. I hope, as my graduating class of 2031 might sing to you, that you both are able to “Let It Go!”

Sincerely,

Kelly A. Braun,
Mom of a 2018 graduate, (my youngest of five),
PreK Lead Teacher,
Badass Teachers Association Admin,
& Ohio BATs Admin

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

#DumpDeVos

A proud public school parent writes a sample letter to HELP Committee Senators urging their “No” vote in the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her fantastic letter is below for use as-is or modified as needed.

Dear Senator {insert name},

On January 11, 2017 you begin the immensely important task of determining the fitness of our president-elect’s choice for Secretary of Education. Your conclusion will ultimately decide the direction of our education system for at least the next 4 years. Undoubtedly, this is a decision neither you nor your colleagues take lightly.

“Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as hard duty. Never regard study as duty but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.”
― Albert Einstein

Teachers understand the impact they have on shaping the lives of young people. Every day they work tirelessly to provide each child an opportunity to discover their full potential and to go forth as engaged and productive citizens. Teachers know their legacy is embedded in the multitude of ways their students influence our society for generations. As such, we must demand the individual serving as the principal adviser to the President on all federal policies, programs and activities related to education in the United States understand this intrinsically. Betsy DeVos is not that individual.

Betsy DeVos has spent her career and considerable fortune undermining public education. Leading the charge to voucherize and privatize education should not be accomplishments touted on the resume of the individual charged with shaping policies and programs for our public education system. Educators, parents and other public education stakeholders recognize our current education model can and should be improved to better serve the needs of all students. We need to change our reliance on high-stakes testing, increase funding not continue to funnel funds out of our public schools and continuously empower our teachers to address the socio-economic and emotional obstacles their students face. Betsy DeVos’ effect on Michigan’s school system should serve as all the evidence one needs to determine her vision for education is dangerous for the youth of our nation.

Betsy DeVos regularly lobbied to block legislation that would require for profit institutions to be transparent in their use of public funds or even share student achievement. Public schools must consistently demonstrate fiscal responsibility to the communities they serve and budgets are a matter of public record. Public schools accept every student regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or mental ability. Charter schools and parochial schools do not operate under the same inclusivity requirements.

Reallocating public funds to private for profit institutions and parochial schools under the guise of increased competition is at best foolish. Time and again charter schools fail, forcing parents who have utilized vouchers to find alternate schools for their children. The charter that just failed previously forced their neighborhood school to close leaving working parents with little or no options for their children. Often the people this affects most are those living in economically disadvantaged areas and people of color. We have already seen the re-segregation of schools in urban areas as vouchers and school choice facilitate white flight.

If we are sincere in our desire to propel our educational system forward, it is imperative we appoint a true champion of education. This individual must have spent their career in the service of educating our youth. This individual must have intimate knowledge of what it is like actually be an educator. This person must not be Betsy Devos. I have extreme optimism that as a member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee you will conclude Betsy DeVos is not fit to lead our educational system forward. I sincerely appreciate your NO vote on Betsy DeVos.

Kindest regards,

Jessica Bosak

Registered Voter

Constituent of Senators Brown and Portman, Ohio 15th Congressional District

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Education, Schools

Ohio BATs w/Seattle

Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with Seattle Educators in proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool. Ohio BATs recognizes that systemic racial inequality within our schools has resulted from decades of neglect for our public education system. As educators and those who support educators, we affirm the Seattle Educators’ call for our collective awareness to this issue. We thank you for your tireless devotion to our students and the education they deserve. We thank you for your strong stand in support of our students of color. All of our children deserve champions like you. #WeSeeYouSeattleEducators
Join the Thunderclap and read about related actions here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/48664-blacklivesmatteratschool

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Education, Elections, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

Rep. Andy Brenner—you have been called out!

are-you-up-for-the-challenge

via Janet Breneman
·
************************
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
************************
I CHALLENGE MY OPPONENT REP. ANDREW BRENNER TO A DEBATE!

Columbus- October 3, 2016

Democratic candidate Janet Breneman, candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives 67th District, challenges incumbent Andy Brenner to a debate.

Janet Breneman, a progressive education and health advocate, challenging the seat of State Representative Andrew Brenner, says it’s time for citizens to break the stranglehold, which Brenner has held on voters.

“For too long voters have accepted the empty rhetoric of Andy Brenner- a lackluster mouthpiece of local conservatives- and now we are holding him accountable.”

Brenner further had the audacity to text me stating “I’m in a Republican District where the index is over 65%, why are you running against me?’

A recent position statement by media outlet Cleveland.Com notes the state wide concern regards the performance and costs of charter schools-and specifically lambastes Andy Brenner for referring to public education as “socialism”, a statement for which Brenner later apologized.

“It’s the teachers of this country, and public schools which provide the backbone for education in our great country”, adds Janet Breneman. “I challenge him to a debate on the topic, and I want the public to see whether he can rise to that challenge, or cower.

Further, I hereby now ask Andrew Brenner to return the campaign donations he accepted from ECOT founder, William Lager.

Ohio taxpayers are spending $108 million for only approximately 8,000 ECOT students to attend- which is significantly less than what ECOT said was their attendance figures, according to the Ohio Dept. of Education.

Janet Breneman may be reached at: BrenemanForOhio@gmail.com or by phone
419-410-0017

debate

 

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

Dare to Discuss the Data?

data-secuirty

A little bit of information.
The inequality of education in Ohio.
A superintendent from SE Ohio compiled this.

An analysis using Ohio Department of Education Report Card, Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Valuation Rankings, and the Ohio Department of Education Typology finds the following:

Not one district with MORE than 18% poverty received an “A” on Indicators Met.

524 districts have more than 18% poverty.

83% of schools have more than 18% poverty.

Only two districts received an “A” on Performance Index Score.

One has 0% poverty and the other has 9% poverty.

One is ranked in the top 16% while the other is in the top 10% for property value.

None of the 100 poorest schools, by property valuation, received above a “D” or an “F” in Indicators Met.

No Rural High Poverty Districts received anything higher than a “D” on Indicators Met.

3% of Rural Districts received an “A” or “B” in Indicators Met.

No Small Town High Poverty Districts received anything higher than a “D” on indicators Met.

4% of Small Town Districts received a “B” on Indicators Met, there were no “A.”

All but one “A” for Indicators Met was received by a Suburban District.

There are No High Poverty or Medium Poverty Districts with the Suburban District typology.

All but one Urban District received an “F” on Indicators Met. One received a “D.

Also, click here: to view a PowerPoint for graphic illustrations demonstrating the same.

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

Expressing Gratitude for Judge French’s Ruling Regarding ECOT

thank-you-2012-680x300

Ohio BATs, affiliated with Badass Teachers Association
October 4, 2016

The Honorable Jenifer French
Judge, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas
Common Pleas Courthouse, Courtroom 6A
345 South High Street, 6th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dear Judge French:

We are writing to you today with our sincere gratitude on behalf of the students we serve in our learning environments every day. The ECOT decision handed down by you will have a rippling effect on the virtual school industry in Ohio.

For the past nearly twenty years, our state has operated all of its 614 school districts under an unconstitutional funding system. Further compounding this problem is the funding of charter schools, including virtual schools like ECOT. This is the crux of the real problem with our public schools. Many of our public schools are underfunded, especially the schools serving students who are living in poverty. Quite frankly, public schools serving students who live in poverty require more resources to ensure all students are successful (yet they continue to have those resources stripped). We do not define success by using test scores.
ECOT receives higher per pupil funding than most all public schools and they continue to fail our students . . . most often our most vulnerable students. We wonder what our public schools would look like if each of our students received the same amount without restrictions. We are quite confident we can do a much better job than ECOT. We already know we do a better job with less money.
Those of us who advocate on behalf of our students everyday oftentimes feel we are not heard and we feel helpless – not a good feeling! Then a decision from a judge reinforces our
determination to ensure our students are provided with everything necessary to be successful.

Again, thank you!

Ohio BAT Administrators

 

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