Friday, June 28, 2013

Ed Notes Online: URGENT: Press release on student promotions crisis

Ed Notes Online: URGENT: Press release on student promotions crisis:

URGENT: Press release on student promotions crisis

I posted the PRESS ALERT - earlier TODAY!.  Here is the full Press Release.

All are welcome to join the Change the Stakes monthly meeting tomorrow (Friday). 5:30 PM in room 4202 of the CUNY Grad Center, 5th Ave and 34th Street. Please bring photo ID to enter building. Hope to see many of you there! 

And See blogger Raginghorseblog who also posted this photo.

ChangetheStakes Bemoans the Chaos and Incompetence of Education Under Bloomberg 
Contact: Jane Maisel (917) 678-1913  Edith Baltazar (646) 326-8953 

Press Alert

NYC DOE’s Test-Obsessed Promotion Policies Leave Families in Limbo: First day of summer is NO VACATION for parents wondering if children will be promoted 

New York City – In recent weeks the Department of Education (DOE) sent letters to thousands of students, including some with passing and even excellent grades, notifying them they have not been promoted to the next grade. Shocked parents, teachers and principals have been left scrambling to keep children from being unfairly held back. 

Unlike the rest of New York State, the city bases promotion decisions for 3rd-8th graders on test scores from the annual state English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams, regardless of student performance throughout the year. Yet since 2010, when the state began administering tests in April and May instead of January and March, promotion decisions in NYC have been based on preliminary test results because final scores are not released until mid to late summer. This has meant that some students are sent to summer school and denied the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies, even though their final test scores will qualify them for promotion. 

A middle school principal, who asked to remain anonymous, expressed her distress at having to tell an 8th grader he could not participate in graduation because of his preliminary test score in math. She asked, “What happens at the end of summer if his actual score shows he passed? He can’t walk for graduation. That only happens once.” The principal and his math teacher both believe the student’s performance met the bar for promotion. 

This year’s uncertainty about student promotion was compounded by the introduction of state exams based on the “Common Core Learning Standards,” to which schools and teachers are still in the process of transitioning. The exams themselves were wholly experimental. In fact, NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott acknowledged in a February letter to parents the serious challenges inherent in using scores from the April 2013 exams to assess student performance: “This year, because the tests are new, we cannot predict how the State will determine performance levels.” Nonetheless, the DOE is sending thousands of children to summer school based solely on preliminary results from experimental exams. 

“Our 8th grade daughter has been performing well in school all year,” says one Bronx mother, “How can the fact that she did not do well on the April math exam erase a whole year of learning and academic achievement?” 
Further, public school parents in NYC and across the country are increasingly skeptical about the reliance on standardized tests to make high-stakes decisions about the performance of students and teachers. As a result, a growing “opt out” movement has meant that hundreds of students in NYC refused to take this year’s state tests. 
Students without state test scores as well as those scoring in the bottom 10 percent of preliminary state exam results are subject to an inscrutable “portfolio review” process, which is largely based on yet another test. Conversations with parents and educators throughout the city reveal that: 
  1. (1)  The process by which students are denied promotion is not at all transparent. Parents are not routinely informed that students with failing test scores or no test scores will be asked to take another test. 
  2. (2)  Most parents whose children go through the “portfolio review” process are not aware that: 
    • Their children are held to a higher standard than children promoted based on their state test scores, 
    • Alternative tests comprise the bulk of a student “portfolio,” supplemented by only a few pieces of actual student work, 
    • Despite the recommendations of a child’s teacher and principal, the district superintendent makes the final decision about promotion, 
    • There is no consistency across districts in superintendent evaluations of portfolios. (3) In some districts, students who refused to take the April exams – including many with 
      high grades – seem to have had their portfolios singled out for a higher level of scrutiny. 

      “As parents we are particularly concerned because in so many ways our children’s teachers, who are best equipped to assess them, are excluded from the process, resulting in unnecessary work and anxiety for everyone,” said Andrea Mata, a parent in District 6. 

      Although students who are denied promotion are not required to attend summer school, they are strongly encouraged to take additional tests in August to move on to the next grade. These exams, created by the city, are yet a third set of tests used for student promotion decisions in New York City that further subject children to arbitrary promotion criteria and ignore the judgments of the people best qualified to assess their academic performance – their teachers. 

      Change the Stakes calls on the NYC Department of Education to immediate disclose information on the number of 3rd-8th grade students in each district who were “recommended” for summer school, the number of portfolios submitted by principals to superintendents in support of student promotion, and the approval rate for such portfolios for each district. 

      We also join parents across the city in calling for student promotion policies that are transparent in how decisions about individual students are made, proactive in communication with parents, and consistent across districts. Given the high number of unresolved contested student retention decisions in districts across the City, the DOE should designate a central office to handle inquiries and grievances relating to student promotion this year. 

      Change the Stakes ( is a group of parents and educators working to reduce the harm caused by high stakes-testing, which we believe must be replaced by valid forms of student, teacher, and school assessment. Change the Stakes believes decisions about a child’s promotion to the next grade should be made by educators who know the child using a broad range of information and tools to assess the child’s readiness to perform at the next grade level. 

‘Badass Teachers’ Fights for Public Education and Against Ed Deform

The group is part of an ongoing revolution in education in which teachers, parents, and students are exasperated and exhausted by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top proposals and the testing they require, the Common Core State Standards, and school closings.....
Mark Naison was one of the people who got this started and it is growing fast. Below is an article followed by a BAT press release. Anyone can join as I found out when I went to join and was already a member as someone signed me up. anyone can sign you up and you can add your friends. Build it and they will come.
June 24, 2013
A group calling themselves the Badass Teacher Association (BAT) launched a campaign on Monday against America's federal education policies.

The 15,000-plus strong Internet group spent Monday making hundreds of calls to the White House switchboard to tell President Barack Obama to replace Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Instead, the teachers want a lifetime educator who better understands and empathizes with teachers and parents.

The White House call was the first action since the group started about a week ago with an initial 100 members on Facebook.

How Ed Deform in the Name of Choice Takes Away Parent Choice

From a new member on the Change the Stakes listserve. NOTE: CTS meets today at 5:30 at CUNY, 5th av and 34th st, rm 4202. (Bring ID).

I'd like to observe that a side effect of being part of a pathological system is that one begins to see small victories as progress and to forget what a healthy system would be like. 
As a citizen and a parent with many parent friends in the rest of America, I don't understand why I have fewer rights than they do when it comes to schools. 
1. They have manageably-sized school districts. We could have one school district in each borough, completely independent from the other boroughs. 
2. They vote for a school board. Talk about accountability! Instead of voters having to consider everything to do with city life, including schools, when they vote for a mayor, they have school