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!


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!”


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

Education, Ohio, Opt out, Public Schools, Schools, Test Refusal

What is Your Point Pearson?

open letter

Here is the critique of the 4th grade PARCC exam  by an anonymous teacher, as it originally appeared on Celia Oyler’s blog before she was threatened by PARCC and deleted key sections.  See also my post about my tweet that was deleted  after PARCC absurdly complained to Twitter that it infringed on their copyright!

As an act of collective disobedience to the reigning testocracy, I urge all other fellow bloggers to paste the below critique and copy it into their blogs as well.

As the teacher points out below, “we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States. ”

No high-stakes test that is used to judge students, teachers and schools should be allowed to be kept secret to escape accountability for the test-makers — especially ones as flawed as these!


The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

  1. Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

 Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

  1. In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.


Drama, Education, Ohio, Opt out, Public Schools, Schools

A Tribute to My Mother, a Teacher – Stephanie Grant Duke, by Wendy S Duke.

11 plus

My British mother bombed the 11 Plus Exam she had to take as a child. She was very ill that day, but as the test was super important, she went in but her fever took away her focus. The consequence was that she could not enter the track that led to university. Instead, she found herself assigned to secretary school. At age 16 she began working as a secretary in London, but the dream of college never died. Years later, having married her American penpal, she became a US citizen who used her secretarial skills to move from BF Goodrich to the University of Akron, where suddenly — she was able to further her education at no cost. She earned her BA and MA and became a teacher, first at Hoban High School and then on to the life of an adjunct at both Kent State and U of A. Not bad for a girl who was tested and found not good enough at age eleven.

My mother would be appalled at what is happening in US education today. She fled a society built upon rigid class distinctions. When she arrived in the US in 1950, she found a country with a flourishing public school system. Yes, there was tracking in the high schools: college prep, business, and general ed (trades), but students for the most part were learning their subjects in the same building, participating in the same student activities, attending the same football games and dances. Social mixing could and did happen. Unless of course you were of another race. I firmly believe that my mother’s strong activism in support of civil rights for people of all colors and genders stemmed in part from growing up in the numbingly rigid British class system.

Over the past two years, as eduction “reform” policies have hit Ohio teachers in the gut, I have come home from school wishing I could call up my mom to vent. What would she say if I told her that teachers in my once distinguished school now have to teach from scripts? That all the creative and highly intelligent teachers in my building are not free to select their own reading materials. That the passion for learning has been beaten down with endless testing and data collection.

My mom used to love listening to my stories about the latest amazing arts integration project, about our staff professional development road trips to the art museum or the House of Blues or to NASA in West Virginia. She was so proud of what the school represented — a place where talents could flourish along with the arts and sciences. She would, I am sure, see through the farce of “Common Core State Standards” — a common curriculum for the commoners while the billionaires’ children are steeped in the arts and humanities offered by the best private schools.

jan 14`

She would decry the abandonment of inner city students, the new racial divides brought about by de facto segregation along with the failing and closing of public schools. I can just imagine her reading about Eva Moskowitz and her brand of “success” in schooling. The relentless drill for the test and constant control of every thought and movement would make her launch into quotes from Huxley and Orwell. The dystopian future is now. And the scariest thought of all is who will be left that can remember the days when teachers taught with passion? Who will remember when students entered school to learn and grow as human beings? As it is now, education has become an assembly line of students as widgets on their way to career and college readiness from day one of pre-school.

With great love and respect, I thank my mother Stephanie Grant Duke: teacher, activist, and life-long reader and writer. Like her, I will not give in to the forces of conformity and control. We as a society will turn this thing around or else there will be no one left to think an original creative thought.


Note: Wendy S Duke has left an indelible impact in the Akron Arts, but sadly she (directly related to this insane testing environment) is leaving the teaching profession. She is, in conjunction with this early retirement, starting The Center for Applied Drama & Autism. 


Please Sir, Can I Have Some…Scratch Paper?

scratch paperI am a “people person.” Pearson, publishing/testing power-mongers, are the exact opposite. They, as an entity, are totally lacking anything resembling empathy. They have numbed their humane senses with numbers. They have dulled their public relations with the dollar signs and data. What seems to them like practical ways to protect their intellectual property translates perpetually into trying, pressure-packed situations for millions of individual’s lives.

It is intolerable interference in what are already intense testing scenes.

From stories I hear daily, it appears to me that Pearson is suffering from near paranoia (among many other things) which in turn is costing countless people so much time and money. They callously continue as kings in counting houses, completely impervious to the fact that behind every single number they tally, is a story, a journey, a struggle, a goal, a dream, a family, and ultimately A LIFE. The power to leave stories unfinished, to negatively alter so many journeys, to increase existing struggles, to hinder goals, to damper dreams, to adversely affect whole family situations, and ultimately to crush lives should never belong, on such a macro-scale, to any one empire entity.

Their crippling control factor in ordinary people’s daily lives must somehow be forceably, legally downsized. I wish I had the time, in a professional journalistic manner, to research and report the negative chain reactions that have started with a singular Pearson testing condition or result. I wish I could gather the damning data that I KNOW EXISTS. Instead I offer two singular scenarios that to me represent the millions of ridiculous realities.

The first story is from last year! When I initially read this story all I could think was how all diginity and common sense had fled Pearson testing sites. Who knew boot tops had to be a certain width in order to take a teaching certification test?

A teacher went to get state certification in New York. They scanned both sides of her hands and told her that her Ugg boots were too wide and she would need to test barefoot. She refused. They then brought out a ruler and measured the opening and decided it was acceptable afterall. She felt like she was being treated like a criminal, not a college-degreed professional just to take the certification test.


Unfortunately for adults there are no OPT OUT/TEST REFUSAL opportunities. Pearson holds all the cards. There are no other choices. It is do or die circumstances. Either jump through their hoops or fail, period the end.

This second story was just relayed last week:

Fellow Bats! (  I am as angry as I have ever been in my life! I am retaking the math portion of the elementary subtest this Friday.
I took the original test 30 days ago. The testing center provided dry erase materials and markers only. Which, of course, did not work. My timed test was interrupted several times to get a new marker which did not show up, and so on. Very stressful! I called Pearson to request scratch paper and pencil and explained why. I was denied! Pearson says it
is a testing violation. I was on the phone 2 hours with 10 minutes total being spent with a customer service rep. I feel I purchased that test (twice!) and should be provided with paper and pencil to work the math problems. I fully expect it to be shredded. I administer the PARRC and the students are provided with scrap paper! Any works of advice!?? I told Pearson I would contact my attorney. Yes or no??

There was a resounding response encouraging her to sue. So many seem to have complaints via personal encounters with pervasive Pearson and thus long to see them get a fraction of their comeuppance. But, lawsuits to Pearson are accepted as part of what just goes along with owning an oligopoly. For them it is just business as usual that people are upset or treated unfairly.  I was a lone wolf crying save your money. I even went as far as to say her dollars would be better spent attending our BATs Congress in DC this summer. Pearson does not give an iota about a mere teacher in mere Ohio having to pay a half pence in their mind for another mere test. It does not ever concern them that this aggravation rippled into her motherhood or her teaching profession with emotional and energy draining effects.

These, are just tiny examples of the stress on adults in testing sites. It is not even the tip of the iceberg, but rather like two crystals on the tippy tip of a huge iceberg. In this little burb, I have not even touched on the MILLIONS of children that are seating the PARCC tests this week. (<<OPT OUT/ REFUSE!) In this small blog area I have not discussed at all that in 2013 a half a million folks passed the GED,but  in 2014 only 51,000 passed the GED.

Pearson is daily determined to prevent cheaters so much so that they have entire teams of psychologists studying such. Compassion might dictate researching the numerous psychological ramifications of the nervousness behind test taking and humanity would look to alleviate that in order that more might meet success. But Pearson only sees profit never the actual people. In a million years they would never grasp the weight one sheet of scrap paper could hold in a person’s life.


A.J. Wagner, Ohio B.O.E. Member, Writes to the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing

testing costs thinking capAnother letter to the Senate Advisory Committee on Testing:

Dear Senator Lehner and Committee Members,

Please forgive me for pestering you with, yet, another concern relative to testing. As I was listening to Dr. Ross comment at the Board of Education meeting yesterday it occurred to me that cost should be a consideration in testing. How much bang for the buck are we getting in Ohio?

I did some very crude calculations to come up with a few figures. I’ll show my work if it fits in this comment space. If not, I may have to remove it and risk a lesser grade. First, there is the cost of PARCC at almost $30 for approximately 1.6 million students. In round figures, that’s about $50 million. Each teacher is now spending 4% to 8% of their time on testing with about 40% of that time dedicated to federally mandated exams (PARCC). There are about 108,000 teachers in Ohio and I crudely estimate, 85,000 of them teach grades 3 – 12. The average pay with benefits for a teacher in Ohio exceeds $60,000.

So, 85,000 teachers at $60,000 is a payroll of $5.1 billion. Apply that to 4% of our teachers time and you’re at $204 million plus for testing. Separate out the 40% for PARCC and you get a little over $80 million.

That’s a total of $130 million before looking at administrative costs such as administrators, extra staff to monitor and read to IEP students, IT costs, general overhead and much more. This is a guess, but we could well be looking at $150 – $200 million in dollars. Then their’s the cost in lost education time for students.

My figures must be questioned as they are very crude. I am asking you to do the math yourselves. Determine the total cost of the exams and answer the question, “What’s our bang for the buck?” There will be no more Race to the Top Dollars to help us. Where does the money come from now?

Judge A.J. Wagner, Retired
Member, Ohio Board of Education
District 3


Massive Testing: Been There, Done That – 100 Years Ago

Intelligence tests_clip_image002_0000

I am NOT an expert.  As a matter of fact, I am humbly brand new to the topic I am about to discuss. These are my singular opinions and observations – not the words of any group affiliations. I am writing from the simplest level of comparison rather than conclusion. In toggling back and forth between a hundred years ago and today, if one did not know the dates, some of it might not be able to be discerned if it is from the 20th or the 21st century.

I am unquestionably a grassroots activist fighting for PUBLIC SCHOOLS, and advocating for children and teachers. Simultaneously I am in my 26th year of homeschooling my five children. My two sons, who are still being taught at home, are 15 and 18 – a freshman and a senior. We are studying from the book Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement.This is a Resource Book by Facing Ourselves and Our History. When I say “studying” we are reading verbatim straight through the book at a pace of one section daily. It is part of our studies this year in order to better understand racism in a broad institutionalized manner, not just from current news events. For them it has been an eye-opening experience and for me it has been a jaw-dropping journey.

We are well over half finished with the book, but I know for myself I will never be finished with this subject. This book has jolted me in ways I never expected. In an uncanny, disturbing manner, while we are almost weekly holding meetings to help parents REFUSE TESTS in the Ohio Opt Out Movement, and as I am daily reading about PEARSON’s ugly oligolopy in worldwide education, the book’s quotes from one hundred years ago seem relevant today. Seriously, I have been startled by the way much of “intelligence testing” in its origins and explanations, all pompous in junk-science with a drive towards being able to (wrongly) sort and categorize the people with faulty data exclusive of important variables and by way of completely ignoring all other valid sets of research, aligns with today’s toxic testing propagation.

I truly hope I do not give the topic disservice because it is deep, and there is no way in a blog to do anything more than entice the reader to explore more on their own. It is tricky to pull these paragraphs out of the book, without expounding and building on the whole topic, or without supplying the background and context. I long for every single person to read this book cover to cover and for teachers to teach this material. Thankfully, when I scoped out the availability of related resources online, I found a researcher’s treasure trove.

Please do not let the brevity of this blog be the end of your exploration into these matters. Please also, if you pass the link on, do not let that be the end of the discussion but rather the rippling beginning of necessary conversations. I feel this all is important enough to warrant hundreds upon thousands, well truthfully, I would like to see millions digging into this. There are horrible dangers and ramifications to all of this current-day data-collecting and rigid competitive comparisons of whole people groups (THINK PISA) that are looming. There are inhumane terrors that skulk in the shadows of assessing people on a grand scale and then assigning people their “place in the world” via numbers, and bogus sets of numbers, at that.

100 years ago (from ch. 5 intro):

Eugenicists believed that French “intelligence tests”, designed to examine school entrance readiness and thus offer extra help to those who needed it, were the perfect tool to separate the “fit” from the “unfit”. They touted the tests as being able to “not only improve education but also end poverty, prevent crime, and wipe out disease…” But instead, these tests grossly “limited possibilities” for individuals and groups. Science or data was skewed “to justify social inequalities, deny opportunities, and legitimize discrimination.” In an intolerable manner, these tests and their results were used to create an onslaught of punitive, life-altering consequences, which kept children from schools, adults from college or certain jobs, and blocked entrance into our country for immigrants. Actually the extent of the damage from the misuse of the results from these tests had folks unnecessarily institutionalized, prevented  from marriage, and cruelly sterilized, and yes, this was in America. Tons of ‘uncivil’ laws were formed as a result of these tests. But by far and wide the most abhorrent misuse of these early tests was to build a huge agrument of the superiority of the white race over others deemed, damned and doomed by a set of drudged up data.

Today (From a Washington Post Article):

Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, waves his banner of the power of tests to help the neediest schools, yet the punitive side to those falling short of meeting the marked requirements of the tests are unacceptably harming individuals, and whole people groups. Detrimental life-altering consequences to students, teachers, schools, and districts, have washed over any of the supposed intentions.

“No Child Left Behind dramatically expanded the federal role in education. For the first time, states were required to annually test students and make public test scores for different groups — including racial minorities, the disabled, English-language learners and the poor. States were required to make progress toward academic goals for those groups or face penalties.” Conversely RttT test sets are nearly completely void of accomodations for any challenged learner groups. IEPs are being ignored. ESL students test in English only. Unfunded mandates shred the gap between the have’s and have nots.
“The waiver strategy and Race to the Top exacerbated the test fixation that was put in place with No Child Left Behind, allowing sanctions and consequences to eclipse all else,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “From his words today, it seems the secretary may want to justify and enshrine that status quo, and that’s worrisome.”

100 years ago (from reading 7 of ch. 5):

“…Ellwood Cubberly, a professor if education at Stanford and an eugenicist, wrote in 1916:
Our schools are factories in which the raw products are to be shaped and fashioned into products…The specifications for manufacturing come from the demands of 20th century civilization, and it is the business of the school to build its pupils according to the specifications laid down. This demands good tools, specialized machinery, and continuous measurement of production,”

What comes to your mind when you read that quote? I immediately pictured this popular meme:common-Core-1

“Specifications laid down”  = Standardized: Common Core??
“good tools” =  Chromebooks at $200 a pop that will be outdated in two years??
“specialized machinery” = robotic, scripted, low pay-grade transient teachers (TFA)??
“continuous measurement of production” = 27 hours a year of seating tests per student??

A little less than 100 years ago (reading 3 ch.5):

Tests and their sets of scoring and data collection permeated every social institution, and most pervasively the schools. With the tests came their own sets of labeling language. The intelligence tests designed to sort the “fit” from the “unfit”, became tests to spot “feeble-mindedness” created by Alfred Binet, which in turn were translated by Henry Goddard, who added his own labeling system. “He labeled those who earned 25 points or lower “idiots,” those who scored between 25 and 55 “imbeciles,” and those between 55-75 “morons.””


Teachers recieve labels, based on students’ scores on the tests. These numbers are tatooed on their permanent professional records. This is known as Value Added Measures or Models.
25% growth/VAM:
Highly Effective  22-25
Effective  10-21
Developing  3-9
Ineffective  0-2

100 years ago (reading 3 ch. 5):

The very creator of the original tests, Binet, stated in a powerful, but totally ignored warning:
“Some recent thinkers seem to have given their moral support to these deplorable verdicts by affirming that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity that cannot be increased, We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism: we must try to demonstrate that it is founded upon nothing.”


Students and schools are being forever labeled, based on test scores as FAILING OR NOT FAILING.
Schools are being closed from findings based “on nothing!” Highly qualified, experienced, passionate teachers are leaving the profession via this ruthless smear campaign in dangerously high droves. Others, many others, are reacting by fighting back. They are demonstrating protest through the third check system in the United States, as lawsuits are now springing up everywhere.

I could easily fill another 17 blogs with this same amount of direct comparison of testing-related quotes, either in the form of the one’s selling their “snake oil” or in the truths presented but evaded. At the turn-of-the-century much research refute and many warnings were offered in sound scientific manner but those pushing “their agendas” marched on and saturated the higher learning institutes, all public k-12 schools, churches, and numerous other large groups with so much literature and “data sets”, that people by the majority masses were duped into believing their validity. The ripple effects of all of this are still sadly seen today. We are still cleaning up the toxic mess the eugenicists and racists of that era made, 100 years later.

Why, oh why has all of this hypertesting mode even been allowed to get as far as it has gotten?? How, oh how will we be able to stop ‘it’ all dead in its path. How long will it take us to clean up all of the macro-scale mess being made??

In Ohio, just yesterday, an emergency education bill came into play that would seek to completely halt all PARCC testing for the remainder of this school year. (Round 2 of PARCC tests start in two weeks.) In the last few months SAFE HARBOR BILLS have had to come into play to protect students and districts from Ohio’s other education ‘distortion’ bills. (I am still trying to wrap my mind around bills needed to protect us from bills.) Parents’ protective sensors are kicked into high gear as they are firsthand seeing the TIME these tests steal and the STRESS they induce. But no one can see around the future bend of these tests. If a listing of who is “career and college ready” is being collected,  it only makes sense that a list will also exist of who is NOT “career and college ready.”

We must discuss the pride and greed that had some so worried after our international rankings in certain subjects. Those pushing reform have never once been shy in saying it is so we can be globally “competitive.”  We also need to own that there is a very real potential for all of this macro-scale competiveness to go horribly wrong.

We are only seeing the tip of the iceberg of what disgusting social dangers all of this can hold. A teacher last night could not emphasize her words enough, that it is NOT JUST PARCC (or SBAC) but this massive testing mentality that must go. I concur!


Out-of-Control Control

Intl control goalA great thread developed in Ohio BATs…I will try to piece it together here.

BEN GIBSON initiated it all with:

While digging a little deeper I came across the OECD and PISA. Suddenly words like “robust” and “rigor” began to stand out. The PISA is a multinational exam given every 3 years to some 15 year olds to determine how we rank globally in education. And guess who developed it? Yep……Pearson. I am now thoroughly disgusted that our government has not only bypassed our local and state control but now they are basing all of our NATIONAL education reform off an international test (PISA) that was created by the OECD and Pearson. Is this $hit made up???? Since when did America care about a single foreign group’s opinion of our educational standards? So Pearson develops the PISA test which suddenly drops our global ranking substantially and then provides products ($$$) to “fix” us. We need to listen to the guy on the H&R Block ads…..”It’s time to get your billions back America.” If we truly are broken, then lets fix it ourselves. I prefer my children’s education home grown please!!! Here is an open letter that is globally supported by some of our worlds greatest education researchers and leaders in response to OECD and PISA.

Someone was quick to offer this appropos quote:


Someone else asked: This letter was written in 2014…has there been any response from Schleicher? OECD? PISA?

Gibson answered: Here’s their response

Aghast, another participant exclaimed: Pearson wrote Pisa???!!!! OMG. They are going to own the world. They already own Ohio. 😦

Right on top of his research, Ben cited three sources:

1. Ravitch reference    2.PISA Tests    3. Common Core video (3 min.)

Yet another posted this: Speaking of owning the world…Read this carefully> 
“What we need now is a different kind of education to prepare people for work”