Tag Archives: teaching to the test

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All in the PARCC Family: On presentations and transparency

Dear Readers,

We received this from a district parent who attended the PARCC Family Presentation at the George Inness Annex of MHS on 11/13/2014:

Gail Clarke, who led the PARCC Family Presentation, mentioned that the PARCC has been field-tested around the state and that the results were excellent.  What she didn’t mention was that the results of these field tests were not released to the public – so we’ll just have to take her word that they were a success.  The same way that we’ll have to take her word that, as she stated, teachers “won’t be teaching to the test” or filling up valuable class time with test prep (which, as we’re learning, is simply not true).

One of the slides in her presentation listed info about how the PARCC results will be used.  Two of the ways in which they’ll be used were especially interesting:

  • To assist teachers in supporting students
  • To inform parents and students on progress towards “on track” college and career readiness

The first point makes no sense, since as Clarke stated, scores from the March and May tests won’t be shared with students/parents until September or October.  How then can teachers “assist” and “support” their former students, who will be learning all new material in their next grade level?  Also, it’s tough for teachers to “assist” and “support” students when they don’t have their students’ specific test results to refer to, since from what we’re learning, specific question-by-question PARCC results won’t be made available to teachers.

The second point is so vague and general, it’s laughable – and so perverse, it’s sickening.  Which colleges in particular are being referenced, and which careers?  And are we to believe we should be using the PARCC results to measure whether children in elementary and middle school – and even the first and second years of high school – are on a path that, unless corrected, will lead to lifelong failure and humiliation if their scores aren’t high enough?

To top off the non-transparent farce that was this presentation, questions needed to be pre-submitted by attendees.  Those that were selected for answering were chosen based on whether they were critical of the PARCC, Central Office, the Board of Ed, or the NJDOE (or as Clarke said, “political”).  If they were, they weren’t answered.

All in all, the presentation achieved Clarke’s goal of perpetrating the dishonesty of the NJDOE as well as silencing honest discussion from concerned parents about the PARCC.

P.S.  Speaking of dishonesty and non-transparency, Clarke said that the PARCC would be downloaded when administered to students in order to avoid problems with online interruptions or connectivity difficulties.  I learned from teachers that Clarke told them that the test would be administered live on the Internet.  And Central Office wonders why they have a credibility problem.


For another parent’s thoughts on yet another PARCC Family Presentation, head on over to Sarah Tepper Blaine’s blog parentingthecore, or click here for her post.

This statement made by a teacher at the 11/17/2014 meeting and posted via Montclair Education Matters, offers an additional perspective.

An excerpt:

Finally, concerning the PAARC standardized exams and the Core Curriculum Standards, I would like to quote Dr. Chris Tienken, Assoc. Prof. at Seton Hall University and co-author of ‘The School Reform Landscape: Fraud, Myth and Lies,’ who spoke recently at a Montclair Cares for Schools forum and said: “All these standardized reforms… rest on pillars of sand.” He further added that ‘one-size-fits-all curriculum standards’ seeks to homogenize education. “Local school boards have been reduced to state adopted polices.” And he added, “Testing is not learning. Test preparation is not teaching.”

The video of Dr. Chris Tienken’s remarks was posted on Montclair Cares About Schools’ Facebook page.


JLhappy

As we get ready for holidays,
we’re thankful: to you (for reading and sharing).
Thankful for brave parents and teachers who send us stories (keep ‘em coming).
Thankful to every one who speaks up and works for democracy and justice here and everywhere.

Warmest wishes,

All of us at Montclair Voices

 

What we lose to testing and test prep

Dear Readers,

We received this from a district parent:

My husband and I chose Montclair for the school system. We have been happy with the magnet system and my child has thrived in the rich arts programs offered in the schools attended. Our happiness has faded over the last school year. The amount of testing and time preparing for tests is out of control. Now we face PARCC. This district has claimed that PARCC is not a curriculum and they won’t be teaching to the test. I can hardly believe this is the truth when my child comes home and says they are using chrome books in Social Studies class. Two full classes were used this week for PARCC practice and the teacher has mentioned that hopefully they’ll be doing this once a week.

My husband and I are getting very concerned as to how much this high stakes testing is taking away from actual learning. The amount of time preparing for a test, and then the amount of time taking the test, which will be given twice a year now. We realize that these aren’t just concerns for Montclair, but it is affecting education everywhere.

Yet, we have heard of school districts that are pushing back on this type of testing. Not Montclair!

When we reached out to the Montclair BOE, their answer was that its a state mandate. People also address similar concerns regarding these tests at BOE meetings, only to get blank stares back. I have to say, we’re seriously reconsidering where we want to live to get the best education for our child. We desperately need new leadership who will fight for what is right for our child and all of the children of Montclair. I haven’t seen any signs of that yet.


 

AlfieKtime

Parents—ask yourselves this excellent question from Alfie Kohn:

“What was taken away from my children’s education in order to make them better at taking standardized tests?”

Do you see less hands on, experiential learning? What about field trips? Is there less time for art, music or gym? Fiction? 

What kind of homework are you seeing come home in your child’s backpack? Is it primarily multiple choice worksheets? 

Consider asking your children’s teachers, principals, the Superintendent, and the BOE members: What learning time is being lost due to test prep, especially for the PARCC? How much time are students spending on PARCC test prep in class and/or at home? 

For more on the PARCC, come to our Take the PARCC event happening on Sunday, November 9 from 3-5 pm. 

takeparccrevised

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Thank you!

Montclair Voices