Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm wondering . . .

I learned in this KUOW.ORG post that WEA has voted to support families in opting out of state mandated assessments including next year's common core tests from Smarter Balanced.  We have been seeing a growing trend across the country especially in New York, but other than in Seattle last year I haven't read or seen an organized opt out campaign.  Since it was a motion voted on by members I assume it took place at their annual conference.  Could this be the start of of a statewide movement? If local units follow the recommendations in the motion it very well could be.

1. Support the rights of parents/guardians to collaborate with teachers to determine appropriate options for assessment of student proficiency if opting out of statewide standardized assessments.
2. Encourage its local affiliates to work alongside student and parent leadership groups in promoting opt-out for Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests whenever possible.

3. Inform members of current student and parent organizations’ opt-out efforts through existing communication vehicles. The link to the OSPI form for parents to opt-out of state tests shall be made available to members via email.

Given the current reality of mandated testing and how those that opt out influence district and school data, I find myself more aligned with the position that OSPI has already taken following this WEA decision.

At the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, spokesman Nathan Olson objected to the motion. "We think that all students should take the test," Olson said. "The feds mandate them for a reason."

Under the federal law known as No Child Left Behind, students who refuse a test earn a zero – and the federal government can penalize schools that underachieve on standardized tests.

"To refuse to take the test, I think it only hurts the school, the district, and ultimately the state," Olson said.

 So, I'm wondering how those representing TEA voted and their plans for the future?  I'm also wondering influence this vote may have over time on assessment in our state.


Scott Mitchell said...

This year was the first year I have not attemded WEA RA for many years ( I missed one in 10 years). As I read the synopsis from this years WEA RA, this item was a little bit of a surprise to me. I know that due to the timing of RA this year that attendance was down 35%. Many times the discussion behind these business items has a lot to do with the final outcome. I am curious how this will be implemented in Tahoma.

John said...

I was actually off the floor when this vote took place, but I can tell you that it passed unanimously. In reading the language of the motion, it really is more of an informative piece, directing WEA to let people know of their rights. It is also one to make connections with parent groups who oppose the misuse of standardized testing. If I had voted, I would have supported it.

What I think we as educators need to be doing during this tumultuous time of education reform is ask ourselves, how do the decisions we make impact kids? The argument "the federal government sees value in them" holds very little sway over my opinions, as the federal government is not teaching my kids, nor are they working with my parents. This year, I will be spending 8 days of my 180 giving standardized tests to my students, and not receiving any feedback that can impact their learning, this year. That is simply irresponsible practice. In reading your latest post about Arne Duncan threatening to pull our waiver because we are opting out of tying teacher evaluation to these tests, my frustration grows even more. As soon as we start selling out our kids and their education for funding, we have gone down a path I wish not to follow. It is wrong, and we know it.

In regards to how TEA handles this NBI, we will of course work with the district and make sure decisions that are made are done in the collaborative nature we have always cherished. I see this work happening in the bigger districts, to be honest. Should it lead to statewide action, though, I think we will need to think long and hard about what we value for our kids. I think we will need to discuss the value behind these tests and how our community feels about them.