Testing Abuse

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

EPATA Newsletter August '07

EPATA Newsletter

Hello, all! I hope your summer vacation has been restful. I am sending this email out to let you know that I appreciate all of your involvement in this group. It is your passion for children that lights the fire of our profession. I don't know if you read it, but the op-ed piece by Maria Salinas in today's Fresno Bee struck a chord with me. I sent her an email below and I encourage you all to do the same according to the REALITY of your work with ELL students.

We have been gathering at churches and/or stores to spread our message and it has been fruitful. However, we still need more venues (schools? church communities?) and volunteers to simply sit and talk to parents while handing out information. I messed up the URL for the NCLB packet by Elizabeth Yaeger. You can print this out directly, make copies, and pass them out:

Please email me if you can help.

We will probably have a meeting near the end of August, although I will email you on that. NCLB reauthorization is being HIGHLY debated right now, although the national media won't touch it. George Miller wants "multiple measures", but I don't think he truly knows what that means. Margaret Spellings and the Business Roundtable supported Ed in '08 (a 60 million dollar campaign to "improve" schools) still want the testing measures and want to use them to judge YOUR performance in the classroom. We need to say that this is wrong. Go to Fairtest.org to get the latest on legislation. Your representatives are on break right now. Go see them. Have confidence in what you need to say about the law. It IS having an effect.

(Don't forget to read my letter and send one to her)

Joseph Lucido
Educator Roundtable----->

Dear Ms. Salinas,

Thank you for writing your op-ed piece on education and the desires of the Hispanic community. While there are many good points to it, I am deeply concerned with your implied support of the "Ed in 08" campaign. This 60 million dollar campaign, financed primarily by billionaires Eli Broad and Bill Gates, has the intention of suggesting that schools be graded only by using test scores alone. It states that teachers will be paid according to their "ability" in the classroom. Their focus is not on learning improvement, but test score improvement, and these two items are FAR from being the same. This campaign is truly designed to fool the public into believing that test scores are what tell the truth about what students know and are able to do. To judge any professional or student by one measure alone shows a lack of knowledge about student learning
processes. These two "philanthropists" have one goal in mind: to push for an end to public education and to privatize it, sending billions of tax payer dollars to for-profit school systems who claim to do a "better job" but have no oversight or general proof of their effectiveness. Just look at the Reading First and student loan scandals. Many people, ESPECIALLY the poor and ethnic communities, were hit hard by these schemes that claimed to help financially or educationally, but have turned out to be poison to those on the receiving end of the stick. Reading First schools, have either declined or flatlined according to Stephen Krashen, an international expert on English Language Learners.

The Council of La Raza has been very foolish of its support for this campaign and NCLB. While the law itself claims to focus on the wellfare of poor and minority children, it does just the opposite. These children come from usually very poor areas that are forced to use scripted curriculum and have all but abolished enriching science, art, music, and social studies all in the name of drilling for tests. Within the school year, these kids are tested over and over and over to see where they would land on the state tests. Very little authentic learning is going on in many of these places because of the forces of
the law. Many students and many great teachers are absolutely burned out on the non-creative, smothering curriculum. La Raza, while well intentioned, appears to support ANYTHING that says it will focus on the Hispanic community without recognizing the disastrous consequences.

Truly, we need to re-research the NCLB law and make it an effective piece of legislation that works for all. A recent study out of the University of Chicago has shown that the students in the lowest percentiles have made horrifying drops
in their academic results as a consequence of this law's drill focus. There are many ways to decide how a child has mastered a standard, and these need to be looked at and incorporated into the law. Nebraska has done an excellent job of
this and should be a model for you to look at.

Below you will find a press release from selected civil rights groups AGAINST the NCLB test and punish policies that Ed in '08 (with its many Business Rountable partners) supports. Please notice (to name some) the involment of the Civil Rights Project, League of United Latin American Citizens, NAACP, National Association for Bilingual Education, and the National Coalition
of ESEA Title I Parents. La Raza is the only Hispanic rights group to support Ed in '08 as of now. Why is this? You might want to discover what their motives really are by following the money of that campaign as it unfolds. Our group was created to protect the innocent from the terrible damage of standardized testing. All students deserve the right to learn in a healthy atmosphere. Please email me for anymore questions.

Joseph Lucido
Fifth Grade Science Lead
Educators and Parents Against Test Abuse Co-founder
Educator Roundtable

Forum on Educational Accountability
for immediate release Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nearly two dozen major civil rights and disability advocacy groups today
called on Congress to include “multiple forms of assessment” and
“multiple measures or indicators of student progress” in legislation
currently being drafted to overhaul the controversial “No Child Left
Behind” (NCLB) federal education law. In a letter delivered to members
of the Senate and House education committees, the groups wrote, “If
education is to improve in the United States, schools must be assessed
in ways that produce high-quality learning and that create incentives to
keep students in school.”
Signers of the letter included the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), League of United Latin American
Citizens (LULAC), Learning Disabilities Association of America, National
Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE), ASPIRA Association, NAACP
Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Alliance for Bilingual
Education, National Urban Alliance, Council for Exceptional Children
(CEC), Civil Rights Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Education
Fund, National Indian School Board Association and ACORN.
The groups’ letter continued, “A number of studies have found that an
exclusive emphasis on (primarily multiple-choice) standardized test
scores has narrowed the curriculum. An unintended consequence has been
to create incentives for schools to boost scores by keeping or pushing
low-scoring students out of school. Push-out incentives and the narrowed
curriculum are especially severe for special needs students, English
language learners, and students without strong family supports.”
Among the arguments made for including multiple measures:
* attention will be given to a comprehensive academic program and a more
complete array of learning outcomes;
* higher-order thinking and performance skills can be assessed;
* checks and balances will be added to ensure that emphasizing one
measure does not come at the expense of other important educational
goals; and
* schools will be encouraged to attend to the progress of students at
every point of the achievement spectrum, not just those near a test
cut-point labeled “proficient.”
The letter concluded, “A multiple measures approach that incorporates a
well-balanced set of indicators would support a shift toward holding
states and localities accountable for making the systemic changes that
improve student achievement. This is a necessary foundation for genuine
The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA), a group formed to advance
the proposals made in the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB (now
signed by 138 national education, civil rights, religious, disability,
parent, civic and labor organizations), praised the letter and cited a
recent National Press Club speech by House Education Chairman George
Miller as indicators of the wide support for making multiple measures of
achievement an important part of any federal education law.
“Clearly, there is an emerging consensus that judging our schools
largely on the basis of simple-minded reading and math tests undermines
educational quality and equity," said FEA Chair, Dr. Monty Neill.
Two of the Joint Statement's principles explicitly support the use of
multiple measures:
* “Provide a comprehensive picture of students' and schools' performance
by moving from an overwhelming reliance on standardized tests to using
multiple indicators of student achievement in addition to these tests.”
* “Help states develop assessment systems that include district and
school-based measures in order to provide better, more timely
information about student learning.”

The full list of organizations that have signed the letter: ACORN,
Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund,
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, ASPIRA Association, Civil Rights
Project, Council for Exceptional Children, Japanese American Citizens
League, Justice Matters, League of United Latin American Citizens
(LULAC), Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Alliance
of Black School Educators (NABSE), National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), NAACP Legal Defense & Educational
Fund, Inc., National Association for Asian Pacific American Education,
National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), National
Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and
Vietnamese Americans (NAFEA), National Coalition of ESEA Title I
Parents, National Council on Educating Black Children, National
Federation of Filipino American Associations, National Indian Education
Association, National Indian School Board Association, National Pacific
Islander Educator Network (NPIEN), National Urban Alliance for Effective
Education (NUA).