Thursday, January 29, 2015

PARCC Imitation Test Should be Scuttled

John White in a LDOE memo issued on January 15 suggested that everything was fine and that the Louisiana PARCC imitation tests will go on as planned this Spring. But all is not fine. Please click here to read Mercedes Schneider's excellent post.

Breaking News! 

Read about the executive order just issued by Governor Jindal. The Governor is on the right track, but there is an easier way to avoid penalties on parents and schools when students opt out of the Faux PARCC. Just have BESE wave the penalties! According to White, state tests do not affect a student's promotion at all anymore.

The test planned for this Spring which will take countless hours away from real schooling is going to be nothing short of a boondoggle. Here are just a few of the problems.

These tests are too long, too complex, and too poorly constructed to have any real meaning. Who ever heard of having little third graders take 10 or more hours of testing that has no purpose other than to rate their schools and to set up a baseline for rating their teachers next year? Now we hear that parents are choosing to exclude their child from taking the test, but that will give their child's school a zero for his part in computing the school performance score. How valid would it be to rate schools on how many students are pulled out of the test? Read recent new reports here,  here, and here  to see how various parents across the state are considering pulling their children out of the Spring testing.

Louisiana is no longer a part of the PARCC consortium so the test will have no validity for comparing Louisiana with other states. We already know how Louisiana compares to other states in academic performance because the NAEP test does that better than any other test and it is only given to a sampling of students. It takes only 90 minutes for the student sampling and does not require all the test prep and pre-testing now being inflicted on our students. So why do we need the Faux PARCC?

There are huge flaws in using student testing to produce Value Added Model scores for rating teachers, and the current use of VAM in Louisiana is under fire by teachers, administrators and national statistics experts. It looks like that reason for the 2015 Spring testing insanity is also falling apart.

Could we just scuttle this mess and let our teachers go back to real teaching and students having a chance to enjoy their learning if only just for this one year?

One of the true heroes of public education, Dr. Lottie Beebe, is calling on BESE to make a decision on penalties to schools where parents opt children out of the Spring testing. At least that part of the boondoggle could easily be fixed if the mandated zeros are removed or if school letter grades are dropped for this year.

Here is Dr Beebe's Facebook post:
"Waiting on a response from Chas Roemer, BESE President, to find out if six members of BESE are agreeable to a special meeting to discuss the consequences of opting out. (Rumor has it that John White (in a telephone conference tomorrow) will tell superintendents to make the call--whether opting out will have punitive consequences for students. Simply put, districts will make the decision. How fair is this process? There should be a set policy for all districts. BESE should take responsibility and not put this decision on superintendents.) Either way, this matter is too critical to take lightly. I strongly believe a moratorium on the assignment of letter grades is the responsible approach. I wish superintendent and board members will join BESE members (Carolyn Hill, Mary Harris, Jane Smith, and me) to call for a special meeting of BESE to discuss this matter."