Our city floods and from all across Houston we reach out and support people in their time of need. Our schools send buses and provide assistance to families. This is wonderful and we should all be proud of our great city.
BUT what did the students return to today? Another round of MOCK STAAR tests. Even the second graders in many schools took THIRD GRADE practice STAAR tests over material they have not yet been taught. Our children needed a safe place to learn today, a return to normalcy but what they got was more testing. If our schools operated on a community schools model, we would be teaching the whole child and our children would not be reduced to a data set. The stakes are TOO HIGH when the performance of our children on a single test drowns out reason. ENOUGH!
OPT OUT HOUSE MEETINGS: If you or a friend is thinking about opting out of the STAAR, there are upcoming house meetings this you can attend.
- Sunday, 4/24, at 5 pm near Shepherd Dr and Washington. RSVP here.
- LET US KNOW YOU ARE OPTING OUT at bit.ly/optout2016. Learn more at optouttexas.org
SAVE THE DATES: Our May meeting has been moved to May 21. We hope to see you at Resurrection Community Church at 2025 W 11th, 12:30-2pm. We will be providing support to parents who are navigating the Grade Placement Committee Process (GPC), including parents of students whose children have failed the STAAR in 5th and 8th grade.
SUPPORT OPT OUT AND CVPE: Donate to CVPE to support purchases of supplies for the OPT OUT Academy and to help CVPE raise funds for a part-time staffperson to promote quality education for children in EVERY neighborhood.
WRITE A LETTER TO THE STATE COMMISSIONERS TO BOLDLY END THE USE OF HIGH STAKES TESTING IN OUR SCHOOLS
Last year 620,000 parents opted their children out of the state tests in a powerful protest. Parents and educators are concerned about the relentless hours devoted to testing and test-prep instruction, the narrowing of curriculum (less time devoted to science, social studies, music, art, and physical education), the cost of testing, tests that are not developmentally appropriate, and tests that are not reliable being used to make high-stakes decisions about students, teachers, and schools. While meaningful assessment (low stakes diagnostic testing) is an essential component of a world class education, the high stakes nature of the STAAR tests does incredible harm to our children and our future.
- Tell State Commission It’s Time to Put High-Stakes State Testing Behind Us
- Key Lawmaker Says More State Funding Needed for Foster Care, School Finance, TRS-Care
Tell State Commission It’s Time to Put High-Stakes Testing Behind Us: The Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability is about halfway through its cycle of six meetings that will yield recommendations to the 2017 Legislature for changes in the state’s approach to testing and school accountability. It’s high time. Texas is overdue for a major overhaul of the current system, which remains heavily reliant on high-stakes testing. Texas AFT encourages you to let commissioners know they should think big and act boldly to fix this broken system. As the 15 commission members gather again in Austin on April 20 for their fourth meeting, you can send them an online letter that makes the case for major changes (and add your own embellishment if you wish):
For more than 20 years, Texas students, teachers, and schools have been compelled to focus inappropriately on standardized state tests at the expense of real teaching and learning. Instead of delivering educational achievement gains, the Texas system of high-stakes testing has led to narrowing of the curriculum, teaching to the test, and mis-measurement of educational outcomes, with destructive consequences for students and educators.
Now, as a member of the Texas Commission on Next Generation Assessments and Accountability, you have an opportunity to correct these problems and put standardized state testing back in its proper place. Please seize this opportunity to transform rather than merely tweak the Texas system of assessments and accountability as you prepare recommendations for the 2017 legislative session.
The Legislature has asked your commission to recommend “policy changes necessary to establish a student assessment and public school accountability system that meets state goals, is community based, promotes parent and community involvement, and reflects the unique needs of each community.” The U.S. Congress at the same time has opened the door wide for state and local innovation through the recent repeal of No Child Left Behind Act test-and-punish mandates.
I urge you to respond to these invitations by proposing bold alternatives to the overuse and misuse of standardized testing. Instead of preserving the system of tests that serve chiefly to sort and rank students rather than support improved instruction, the Next Generation Commission should propose to:
- Eliminate the high-stakes consequences now based inappropriately on standardized state tests, which give only a fragmentary, distorted picture at best of the complex work of teaching and learning in our classrooms. Retain standardized state tests solely to the extent still required by federal law (with no high-stakes consequences attached) as a supplement to other, better measures of achievement and student growth.
- Encourage development and use of alternative assessments that allow students to show deeper knowledge and skills by completing projects, research papers, science experiments, and other performance-based demonstrations of real mastery.
- Empower parents, educators, and local communities to develop community-based accountability, collaborating to define homegrown goals and solutions to support student achievement at their campuses. Give campuses and districts the resources required to make college and career readiness a reality rather than an empty rhetorical aspiration.
The Legislature already has taken tentative steps to reduce the weight given to standardized testing in student and school ratings, to encourage development of alternative assessments, and to put more emphasis on community engagement in support of students. It is up to you now to build on these beginnings toward systemic transformation of Texas assessments and accountability. Please do not miss this opportunity to lead a decisive turn for the better in Texas public education.
Please make plans to join us on May 21--see you there!