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[Xmca-l] Re: Opt-out movement



Thanks for sending this, Annalisa.  Here are the two latest articles by Juan Gonzalez in the NY Daily News. The April 16 article got onto the front page. I apologize in advance for sending a long post.

Pete Farruggio, PhD
Associate Professor, Bilingual Education
University of Texas Pan American

It's not multiple choice, it's a resounding no as fed-up parents revolt against New York's standardized exams in historic fashion

Juan Gonzalez

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS		Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The entire structure of high-stakes testing in New York crumbled Tuesday, as tens of thousands of fed-up public school parents rebelled against Albany's fixation with standardized tests and refused to allow their children to take the annual English Language Arts state exam.
This "opt-out" revolt has been quietly building for years, but it reached historic levels this time. More than half the pupils at several Long Island and upstate school districts joined in - at some schools in New York City boycott percentages neared 40%.
At the Patchogue-Medford School District in Suffolk County, 65% of 3,400 students in grades three to eight abstained from the test, District Superintendent Michael Hynes told the Daily News.
"There was a very strong parent contingent that spoke loudly today," Hynes said.
At West Seneca District near Buffalo, nearly 70% of some 2,976 students refused testing. Likewise, at tiny Southold School District on Long Island's North Fork, 60% of the 400 students opted out; so did 60% of Rockville Centre's 1,600 pupils. And in the Westchester town of Ossining, nearly 20% of 2,100 students boycotted.
"It's clear that parents and staff are concerned about the number of standard assessments and how they're used," Ossining school chief Ray Sanchez said.
Here in the city, a Department of Education spokeswoman claimed the number of opt-outs won't be known for weeks. But there's little doubt the boycott totals in city schools will dwarf last year's numbers, when fewer than 2,000 pupils abstained.
At Central Park East 1, a K-to-5 school in East Harlem, 59 of 76 children refused the test, according to Toni Smith-Thompson, co-president of the Parents Association and a leader of the boycott.
"We're very concerned about the impact a new testing proposal will have on our teachers," Smith-Thompson said. She was referring to Gov. Cuomo getting the Legislature to approve a new evaluation system that will base 50% of a teacher's performance on student test scores.
At Public School 29 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, some 20% refused. And at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 36% boycotted, local parent leaders said.
"Every year, all these hours of testing, it's too much," said Michelle Kupper, parent of a third-grader at PS 29.
"We disagree with how the test scores are being used to sort and to punish," Kupper said.
In Westchester, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino refused to allow two of his children to take the test.
 "Today, Sheila and I join over 100,000 parents across New York in opting our children out of the Common Core tests," Astorino said in a statement, a reference to the new tougher curriculum adopted by New York and other states, on which the test is based.
"Common Core needs to be replaced with better standards developed with input from teachers and parents and vetted and tested in a fully transparent process," Astorino said.
The governor's office declined to comment for now, and state ed officials wouldn't say how big the boycott had been.
Conservatives like Astorino have formed an unusual alliance with liberal education advocates who claim the test, developed by Pearson PLC, does nothing to help assess students.
"They're secret, you can't even discuss the contents of the test with anyone," said William Cala, superintendent of Fairport Central School District outside Rochester, where 67% of students boycotted the test Tuesday.
"Any good assessment is one where you get immediate feedback, but we don't even get the results for months after they take the test," Cala said, and even then, teachers and students are never told what questions the students got wrong.
So how will Gov. Cuomo's new evaluation system work with so many students refusing to be tested?
The governor's office declined to comment for now, and state ed officials wouldn't say how big the boycott had been.
But this was not provoked by any politician or the teachers unions, as some want you to believe.
Tens of thousands of parents got tired of being ignored by the people in Albany. So one fine day in April, they simply said, "no more."
Gonzalez: Surge of the opt-out movement against English Language Arts exam is act of mass civil disobedience
Juan Gonzalez		NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, April 16, 2015, 11:36 PM

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/gonzalez-opt-out-movement-mass-act-civil-disobedience-article-1.2188586
Tens of thousands of parents rebelled this week against years of standardized testing from the politicians in Albany. They joined the national opt-out movement by refusing to allow their children to take the annual state-mandated English Language Arts exam.
Remember the number 999.
It's the computer code that keeps track of what will go down as a historic grass-roots movement in public education in New York State.
Tens of thousands of parents rebelled this week against years of standardized testing from the politicians in Albany. They joined the national opt-out movement by refusing to allow their children to take the annual state-mandated English Language Arts exam.
The movement has grown so rapidly in recent years that the state instructed teachers beforehand to bubble in "999" as the final score for any child refusing the exam - the code for opt out.
Still, officials in both the state and city departments of education claim they don't know yet how many of the 1.1 million pupils scheduled for testing in grades 3 to 8 joined the boycott.
Protest organizers said Thursday that at least 155,000 pupils did - with only half of school districts tallied so far.
At some Long Island and upstate school districts, abstention levels reached 80%.
Whatever the final number, it was a startling act of mass civil disobedience, given that each parent had to write a letter to the local school demanding an opt out for their child.
It's even more impressive because top education officials publicly warned school districts they risk losing federal funds if nonparticipation surpasses 5%.
"To react to parents who are speaking out by threatening to defund our schools is outrageous," said Megan Diver, the mother of twin girls who refused their third-grade test at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Whatever the final number, it was a startling act of mass civil disobedience, given that each parent had to write a letter to the local school demanding an opt out for their child.
To Diver and other parents, the politicians like Gov. Cuomo have ignored more than a year of huge town hall meetings across the state where parents voiced frustration with the constant testing and the new Common Core curriculum the state now uses.
Back in 2009, the old state tests showed 77% of students statewide were proficient in English. The next year, the pass level was raised and the proficiency percentage dropped to 57%. A few years later, Albany introduced Common Core and the level plummeted even more - to 31% statewide.
Same children. Same teachers. Different test.
The politicians created a test that says all schools are failing, not just the ones in the big cities, then declare a crisis, so they can close more neighborhood schools, launch more charter schools, and target more teachers for firing.
Meanwhile, the private company that fashioned this new test, Pearson, insists on total secrecy over its content.
This week, test instructions even warned teachers not to "read, review, or duplicate the contents of secure test material before, during, or after test administration."
What kind of testing company forbids a teacher from reading the test he or she administers?
Little wonder so many parents decided the only way to be heard was joining the opt-out movement. Next Tuesday begins round two - the state math tests.
jgonzalez@nydailynews.com
Comments
Susan Ohanian

Thank you, Juan Gonzalez, for speaking truth to power: "The politicians created a test that says all schools are failing." Common Core is a political exercise, destroying the education of our children.

Jane Myers

  Schools will not lose funding.  Title 1 funds may be moved, not lost.  This means schools may be told to use Title 1 funds for tutoring instead of other things.  And this would only happen after 3 yrs of opting out.  School leaders, NYSED and politicians are LYING.  Schools will not lose funds.



-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces+pfarruggio=utpa.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+pfarruggio=utpa.edu@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
Sent: Friday, April 17, 2015 2:01 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Opt-out movement

MORE ON OPTING OUT at Democracy Now:
http://www.democracynow.org/2015/4/17/test_mutiny_tens_of_thousands_of

FYI

Kind regards,

Annalisa