Letter sent to Colorado State Board of Education, as well as media, senators who sponsored bill, Aurora Education Association, Aurora superintendent office and Aurora school board.
Dear Board Members,
I wrote to you last week concerning PARCC incentives that are occurring at Jewell Elementary in the Aurora Public School District. See here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/03/08/school-offers-incentives-to -get-kids-to-take-common-core-standardized-test/?utm_term=.ac09ab89615a
The incentives are still moving forward. There is a lot to be concerned about here; it's clear that HB 15-1323 (often referred to as the opt out law) is not being followed. Jewell plans to exclude "opt out" students from PARCC rewards.
However, in addition to that, Jewell plans to have negative consequences for students who do not show great effort. How is effort determined? Trying to determine effort will be very subjective, and sadly, will impact children who need the most support. Children who have behavior issues, or simply can't sit still, may be punished simply because they cannot endure these long testing sessions. As a teacher, I can assure you that these testing sessions are brutally exhausting.
I am told that the word "extracurricular" is how Aurora is getting around the law. They believe prizes and celebrations for test participation do not count as "extracurricular." Therefore, they believe there are no negative consequences for children. I am a bit floored by this attempt to twist the law. Raffles and parties which exclude children are clearly negative consequences for opt out children, regardless what one might think "extracurricular" refers to.
I looked up the definition of extracurricular and I'm pretty sure that raffles and parties do not fall within the normal routine of the school day at Jewell. For a district to attempt to skirt the law in such a manner is disgraceful.
I would really appreciate your help with this. If Aurora is allowed to do this, it sets a clear precedence for other districts. There should be no enticements for testing and children should not be punished for so-called low effort or opting out. The "opt out" portion of the law is worthless if opt out children can be punished simply because someone has decided that prizes and parties are not considered extracurricular. Finally, punishing children who have "low effort" is cruel and targets our children with the most needs. This particular section of HB 15-1323 (see page 16) must be honored, otherwise more districts will move forward with such bribery and punishment.
Thank you for your help.