Saturday, February 7, 2015

An Experienced Teacher on the Louisiana PARCC




Erin Pizzaro is a public school parent and a 15 year teacher in Caddo Parish. This letter to the editor was reprinted from the Shreveport times.


This spring, Louisiana public school third- through eighth-grade students will take the PARCC test March 16-20 and May 4-8.
The PARCC test is designed to assess whether or not students in different states are on track for college and careers. On Jan. 15, the Louisiana Department of Education’s website said, “Louisiana will administer the PARCC paper-based assessments for grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and math in spring 2015. These are the same tests as those taken in PARCC-participating districts and states across the country and will include the same questions field-tested by 50,000 Louisiana students in spring 2014.”
However, it is important for parents to know that Louisiana has no contract with Pearson, the vendor of the PARCC test. We have a contract with Data Recognition Corporation instead, who according to the Louisiana Department of Education has a licensing agreement with PARCC. Louisiana is not listed on the Pearson site as a state taking the PARCC test. So how are we taking the same test as the other 10 states listed on Pearson’s site? Teachers, students, and parents throughout the state are completely baffled. What test are we taking?
In early December, the governor’s attorney charged BESE with the task of getting answers from Superintendent John White regarding the testing contract with DRC and the LDOE’s espousal that the state will take the PARCC test, the test created by Pearson. This information was likely discussed at BESE’s January meeting in executive committee, but that information is kept between committee members. Teachers, students, and parents still have no idea about what the upcoming test will be because BESE has not disclosed any information.
Dec. 16, 2014, Caddo Parish School Board voted to send a resolution to the governor, legislature, state superintendent, and BESE to have an “immediate moratorium on participating in PARCC testing by Louisiana students.” The majority of BESE didn’t even consider discussing it. A faithful four members still stood up for what’s right. Caddo is not the first parish to resolve this either. Iberia, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, St. Helena, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Washington, and St. Mary parishes have all submitted resolutions for a moratorium on PARCC testing this spring.
In schools, teachers are working themselves to the bone to prepare students for this “mystery” test. Teachers are also told to teach certain things, and then weeks later are told to teach the opposite, all at the expense of our children. Students and teachers are very stressed about this unknown test. Last year, 70 percent of New York State failed a PARCC-like test. Why would any of us think Louisiana would fare better?
Public records requests for information regarding the PARCC test have been submitted to the Department of Education, but the department has ignored and stymied them. Transparency is not a word in the Department of Education’s vocabulary. The department is deriding education on the backs of our students and duping us all.
Many teachers and principals are outraged daily because no one can get straight answers about this test. Teachers and schools will be evaluated based on the results of this test. Parents are outraged that their children will take a test (1) that is a real unknown and (2) that 70 percent of New York state failed.
If parents choose to opt their children out of taking the test, right now their children’s school will receive a zero for that student toward their school performance score, another wallop that the Department of Education added this year. Because of this punitive decision, parents are likely reluctant to opt their children out of this test simply because of their school’s performance score.
Feb. 3 Caddo Parish School Board submitted another resolution to BESE for a special meeting to decide to either (1) call for a moratorium on PARCC throughout the state or (2) eliminate the zero assigned to schools by students who opt out of the test.
So what can we as Louisiana citizens do?
Call the governor’s office and ask him to make this right. Write to legislators to tell them we are outraged. Demand a special session of the Legislature. Write to BESE, and tell them we are indignant about their lack of action. Write to Superintendent White and tell him we are appalled at his secretive actions.
There’s a great expression that says, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Fellow Louisiana state citizens: I certainly hope you are paying attention. Our children’s future depends on all of us.
This letter to the editor was reprinted from the Shreveport Times. Ms Pizarro is a public school parent and a classroom teacher in her 15th year in the Caddo  Parish public school system.
Erin Pizarro lives in Shreveport.

Debbie Meaux, president of LAE also speaks out on the PARCC issue. See this letter.

Four BESE Members Respond

There are four members of BESE that listen to and respect the professional educators of this state. They are Dr Lottie Beebe, Carolyn Hill, Jane Smith and Mary Harris.
See this letter in the Monroe News Star World by these champions of public education on BESE.

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