All of us however, have done a stellar job of creating the People's Movement - the Opt Out Movement. Hold how that makes you feel - and remember it. Remember the power you have, the relationships you have built, and keep that feeling strong and those relationships strong - as you will need it.
But back to the new mainstream "testing" campaign.......
In HuffPost's Open Letter to America's parents and teachers Obama states: First, our kids should only take tests that are worth taking -- tests that are high quality, aimed at good instruction, and make sure everyone is on track. Second, tests shouldn't occupy too much classroom time, or crowd out teaching and learning. And third, tests should be just one source of information. We should use classroom work, surveys, and other factors to give us an all-around look at how our students and schools are doing.
It's interesting to see the choice of language being used in the Testing Action Plan as well as in his Open Letter. Much of the language alludes clearly to a shift to quick and snappy online daily testing as I mentioned in my post here earlier this week. The language is really about redirecting the conversation to usher in a new and better form of cash crop testing - testing that will be renamed I am sure - but for now it's best known as competency based testing, mastery testing, or proficiency testing. The idea being that children test daily and/or do homework online daily, moving seamlessly from one lesson to another - all orchestrated online by a computer program that gathers massive data (and surveys - data goldmine - which Obama was sure not to leave out) and requires minimal teacher support, minimal teacher training and allows for very large class size. And ultimately, it doesn't require the child to even be at a school. In the Testing Action Plan and the peer review letter (more on this below) I was unable to find the words "career ready" - we wouldn't want folks to know that the Common Core standards still exist under a variety of names across the country, allowing for frenzied data tagging to manage and control your child, our schools and ultimately our country. The language is shifting to a nicer, kinder, happier world of testing. Beware.
As Obama discusses the report by The Council of the Great City Schools he states: The report shows how much opportunity there is to eliminate redundant and uncoordinated tests -- and free up more classroom time for teaching and learning.
As the U.S. Dept. of Ed. ushers in their Testing Action Plan and plugs mainstream media to make sure the masses and Opt Out , the People's Movement - believe we have been heard - they almost simultaneously launch the previously suspended federal peer review process for state testing.
State education officials received a letter from the U.S. Dept. of Ed. on Sept. 25, 2015 which shares a quick overview of the peer review process. They state that the "peers" reviewing each state's assessment system will NOT be U.S. Ed. Dept. folks - but rather, experts in the field. It will be fascinating to see the teams of "experts" in each state that join in to decide if a state's assessment system passes the federal ESEA requirements. There are three windows for states to submit their information for peer review - January, March and May. There is a new focus on participation data (see EdWeek) and it appears that they have a six month timeline to get all their info. in - however, if your state has the same test as another state - you can work together to compile all your info. in order to get it done asap - sweet deal, right (incentive to save PARCC and/or SBAC consortium)?
EdWeek states, "Importantly, states that are participating in one of the two consortia—or are using another test that's common to a significant number of states, can work on their peer-review submissions together. That could give states that are using tests from either the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers or the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium an easier road, especially given the relatively tight timeline for peer review, said Scott Marion, the associate director of the Center for Assessment."
Six months. Six months to rush through your peer review of your state system. Under that kind of pressure, what might states do and what assistance might they take, to just get it done within the pressure cooker time frame?
Well no worries. Assistance standing by.
The Testing Action Plan as well as the letter regarding peer review to state school officials both share how the CCSSO will be available to help with resources. The peer review letter states: In addition, I know that the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has developed a plan to provide technical assistance to support you in preparing for peer review and will be providing that information to you shortly. The Testing Action Plan states: The Department will also share tools already available to do this work, including The Council of Chief State School Officers’ (CCSSO) Comprehensive Statewide Assessment Systems: A Framework for the Role of the State Education Agency in Improving Quality and Reducing Burden and Achieve’s Student Assessment Inventory for School Districts.
Damn these folks are nice.
Morna McDermott sums it clearly here on her UOO post: Remember CCSSO? They are the ones who crafted the Common Core State Standards. The standards were developed to create a “standardized” system that allows third-party companies to develop systems for outsourcing education. Now with a set of “national” standards as benchmarks, instruction can be metered out by online edu-tech companies who provide new “competency” based instruction and assessment. No teacher required.
To find out more about the Peer Review process check it out here and here and here. On page 32 they discuss policy and procedure for sharing student level data with assessment consortias and vendors - well, because the bottom line is this - our children's data is making folks buckets and buckets of money and creating a societal structure that allows them to control and manage our children in order to make MORE MONEY. This was never about the kids.
Between the elections, the Testing Action Plan, the Peer Review process for state assessment systems and the potential ESEA reauthorization, all working simultaneously to support the dismantling of our public schools, everyone should expect an absolute flood of new more "creative, less redundant" testing and bonanza data sharing - coming to your district soon - all laced with language that is kinder, softer, and literally reaches out and tries to hold your hand.
And this process is quietly being guided by the federal government/corporations, CCSSO, and supposedly expert peer review teams which we can be certain will include our reformy friends from various foundations and god knows where else. Of course, there will be federal funds to assist the states in getting rid of those pesky, awkward, repetitive tests that plague our schools. These new daily tests will not take much time because they will actually be embedded within the instruction and often - children won't even know it's happening. When online curriculum is testing and testing is online curriculum all tied to student grades and eventually digital badging there will be no way to gauge the amount of testing that even exists. It's all one and the same.
Regarding Obama and the whole conversation around limiting testing - there won't be less testing. The federal testing remains and now the feds will help the states implement the final blow - the testing that cannot be clearly seen or truly understood - like a stealth bomber - moving slowing and without sound through our public schools - and yes, engaging us - their enemy - as they blend in and take us out data point by data point until our public schools have vanished. The states will finally seal the deal in taking full ownership and full leadership in destroying their own public schools. A few years from now folks will look around at the destruction, the charter schools with 150 kids in a classroom being facilitated by a person with no teaching experience and/or REAL teaching degree - folks will wonder - how did this disaster occur? How did we not see it happening?
It's happening now.
Folks will say....but I thought they were with us ??
No. They were never with us. Never. The privileged and the powerful will not stand with The People. It would defeat their entire purpose in being - to maintain and preserve and INCREASE their power and privilege.
Revolution continues to be the only answer. If the test and punish system remains in any shape or form - then the structure remains for them to move silently forward with a new paradigm shift that will appear - at first - almost invisible to the public. Any sort of weak stance on our part that accepts any part of their plan allows them to move more quickly. The current federal dept. of ed. mainstream media testing campaign - which is occurring just in the nick of time - to support the peer reviewed state testing system process, is their latest attempt to cause us to hope and be appeased.
Educate. Revolt. And remember. Remember what you know about public schools and the true possibility of a paradigm shift that includes fully-resourced public schools with democratic classrooms for ALL children and social policies which support our families and our communities. Remember that it is possible. Remember. Because right now, they are doing everything they can to make us forget. Solidarity.