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New Jersey Parents Opting Out: Gates-funded Ed Trust Wants You to Stay In

February 26, 2015

PARCC testing in New Jersey is scheduled to begin March 2, 2015. The NJ PARCC testing “window” will not end in March, but will continue into April, May, and June, depending upon the grade level and whether the test is part of the PBA (performance-based assessment), which is given 75% of the way through a school year, or EOY (end of year), which comes 90% of the way into a school year.

For third grade, New Jersey schools must schedule 4.75 hours for the English language arts (ELA) PBA and EOY PARCC and 5 hours for the math PBA and EOY PARCC.

Just shy of 10 hours of schedules testing time for a third grader.

For fourth and fifth graders it is a full 10 hours.

For sixth through eighth graders, almost 11 hours.

Note that the PBA and EOY PARCC tests are summative assessments. The US Department of Education (USDOE) wanted much more testing from PARCC and its sister consortium, Smarter Balanced (SBAC).

Even the summative assessments alone are too much testing.

Too much.

Many New Jersey parents agree. They do not want their children (or their children’s schools) subjected to and driven by PARCC.

New Jersey parents are opting out of PARCC testing, and the pro-testing set is taking New Jersey parents seriously.

Consider test-score-driven reformer, Kati Haycock, founder and president of Education Trust.

New Jersey parents, Haycock has landed in your op/eds. According to NJSpotlight editor John Mooney, Ed Trust was not invited to write. It asked to do so.

New Jersey parents, Haycock isn’t liking your opt-out decisions.

She wants you to submit your children to those ten hours of PARCC testing. She is “in support of annual testing of every child” as the means to *close achievement gaps* for children of color. She writes that “kids who aren’t tested are kids who don’t count.”

Guess whose kids aren’t tested? Those of the affluent– like Bill Gates and his kids.

Ed Trust has the distinction of being the single most Gates-supported corporate-reform organization that I have come across for the millions Gates funnels to Ed Trust for no better reason than to keep Ed Trust’s doors open.

Between September 2004 and March 2014, the Gates Foundation has paid Education Trust $30.7 million for “general operating support.”

Untested Gates is handsomely paying test-score-driven Haycock’s rent.

Now, there is more that New Jersey parents should know about Haycock and her Ed Trust. Haycock is a longtime believer in a strong federal role over state education. Haycock’s Ed Trust was involved in writing standardized testing into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) via its 2002 reauthorization, No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

In 2013, Haycock wrote the following concerning a possible reauthorization of ESEA:

At its best, federal policy provides leverage to state and local officials to do what is right…. That kind of leverage doesn’’t require federal micromanagement, but it does require demanding — in return for billions of federal dollars….

Keep in mind that the “demand” of NCLB was the unattainable “goal” of “100 percent proficiency in reading and math by 2014,” a goal that could not only result in school “turnover” of principal and teacher firings but also provided the leverage for US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s infamous NCLB waivers. In September 2011, those NCLB waivers made their debut: yet another federally “demanding”  document, one that required states to agree to “college and career ready” standards (a euphemism for Common Core) and tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

Haycock supports Duncan’s NCLB waiver idea:

The NCLB waivers, and the teacher evaluation systems that will flow from them, mark a new phase in our nation’s journey toward providing a quality education for all students.

That noted, Haycock advised the Senate Ed Committee in 2013 to stay tough on waiver requirements. When given the opportunity, Haycock notes, states “did basically what they were asked to [do to secure a waiver], and no more.”

Of course they did. In the face of punitive, test-score-driven reform, states will seek avenues to continue to receive federal dollars while dodging the “demands” of a federal government that wants to “make” states “raise test scores or else.”

I wonder if she is also surprised that squeezing the tube hard enough can make toothpaste shoot out even if the cap is still on.

Haycock wants the federal government to force states to “close achievement gaps” on standardized tests. Thus, it is no surprise that Haycock is all in for Common Core and PARCC/SBAC. As she notes in her New Jersey op/ed:

…We have worked so hard in support of the much more rigorous Common Core State Standards, and applaud the new assessments that require our children to do more than fill in a bubble.

Haycock’s affinity for Common Core goes back to at least 2001 and the launch of the American Diploma Project (ADP), which is a “common core” predecessor of sorts for high schools. Three groups were involved in ADP: Ed Trust, Achieve (one four key organizations involved in producing Common Core, the other three being ACT, College Board, and David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners), and major Common-Core promoter, the Fordham Institute. (I discuss all of this in greater detail in my upcoming book on Common Core, but for now, readers, can glean some background from this post.)

What is particularly ironic is that for all of her test-score-driven bent, Haycock is completely forgiving of the fact that Common Core itself has never been pilot tested. She is fine with pronouncing Common Core as good.

Haycock also readily considers PARCC and SBAC as “the answer” to the problem of too many tests. The solution is simple, offers Haycock: Just allow PARCC and SBAC to replace all other “low quality assessments.” As she writes to New Jersey:

We get why parents and teachers are sometimes frustrated by the number of tests that schools are giving. Over the years, many school districts piled on lots of extra tests — many of them not so good –for a variety of purposes. The answer to that problem, though, is not to throw out the best tests we have ever had — the new Common Core Tests like PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) and Smarter Balanced — but to demand that school districts stop requiring excessive numbers of other, lower-quality assessments.

More of that “demanding.”

Some observations: First of all, NCLB is never on the hook with Haycock. Therefore, it is no surprise that she slides right past the role of NCLB as a catalyst for mushrooming standardized testing in the American classroom.  Second, she assumes that the hours of PARCC (and SBAC) testing are in and of themselves not “excessive.” (Keep in mind that the ten hours of PARCC in New Jersey classrooms this spring is a lot less than USDOE wanted.)

Finally, Haycock appears to have great faith in the testing companies that will produce these “best tests that we have ever had”– without considering testing company history.

Pearson is a fine case in point. In May 2014, Pearson was awarded a four-year contract to produce PARCC assessments. However, Pearson has an established history of testing mishaps, including producing incorrect test items and misgrading tests. Such errors have resulted in blocking students from both graduation and special program eligibility.

One might say that Pearson’s recklessness creates “gaps” of its own.

In 2000, a Minnesota judge declared that Pearson had “years of quality control problems” and a “culture emphasizing profitability and cost-cutting.”

In its February 2014 earnings call, Pearson executives made it clear that they are planning to profit from the Common Core in the United States. However, it seems that PARCC is not yielding the profits that Pearson had expected.

Surely all of these parents “opting out” is not good for Pearson/PARCC business.

Opting out will also interfere with the measuring of a standardized-test-recorded “achievement gap.” This could certainly present a challenge for someone whose professional career has been centered for decades on standardized test results.

Haycock writes to New Jersey, “…To toss these assessments aside just when they promise, finally, to give parents and teachers honest information on how well their children are prepared for college and careers, seems just crazy.”

No. All of this high-stakes testing resource drain seems crazy.

Ten hours of testing for an eight-year old seems crazy.

Naively portraying Pearson, with its history for testing blunders, as automatically offering “honest information” is crazy.

Assuming that elementary- and middle-school-aged children need to be assessed annually for “college and career readiness” is crazy.

Blowing billions of education dollars annually on standardized testing is crazy.

New Jersey parents want out.

Image result for exit

_______________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

 

 

 

 

8 Comments
  1. Laura chapman permalink

    Today the headline in the Cincinnati Enquirer was ” Pushback Grows on Student Testing.

    Two reporters covered the story, sort of.

    One reporter focussed on the scrambled thinking of state legislators and Ohio Department of Education (ODE) officials on the financial implications to districts of opting out. If fewer than than 95% of a district’s students take the tests, there could be federal restrictions on how money is used.

    Confusion reigns because state lawmakers had granted a safe harbor on teacher evaluations based on test scores, a policy at odds with the Feds. ODE officials are scrambling to make sense of the implications of opt outs for teacher evaluation.

    Meanwhile the pace of opt outs has really increased since about February 12 and last count yesterday. In about two weeks, the increase went from 30 students to 169 in one district. In another 244 students were out, 166 of them from one school (more than 25%) of the students. Ohio has the grade 3 reading gaurantee, so some parents are not opting out of that test , but everything else.

    ODE and the State Superindendent of Public Instruction prepared a report for the Govenor and state legislature on current testing times by grade level, and which of these these are required by federal officials, state law, and state law with local interpretation.

    The reporters interviewed some Superintendents who are getting vocal about excessive testing. But the newspaper did not really look at the time allocations per year, and average time for test prep reported by teachers. That information is available from ODE.

    That time For testing is 19.8 hours on average, with 15 more hours on average for test prep–about 35 hours on average. But the averages are not the whole story.

    On average students Kindergarten students are tested for 11.3 hours, add 15 hours on average for test prep so you have tests consuming 26 + hours.

    Grade 1 students are tested for 11.6 hours, add the 15 hours on average for test prep and you have nearly 27 hours in tests.

    The grades hit hardest with testing times are 3 and 10 each at about 28 hours, add 15 hours on average test prep and the total is about 43 hours.

    The ” windows” reserved for testing are not reported but these raise havoc in the schedules of every school, shoveling teachers in “untested” subjects into the role of test proctors.

    The forthcoming PARCC tests are also given so late in the year that the results are worthless as guides for improving instruction. The third grade tests are really tests of computer skills, mousing around and trying to scroll to the text that that is relevant to a question.

    ODE wants to cut testing time by changing a preschool test battery, eliminating one grade 3 reading test early in the year, cutting all tests connected with SLOs and letting districts figure out how to get teachers of untested subjects rated by a “distributed” or collective school score in other subjects–a tactic that is cynically represented as if fair to students and teachers.

    The report on Ohio tests did not mention the cost of the contracts with PARCC for tests in English and math, or for social studies and science with tests from the American Institues for Research.

    The reporters also did not mention that excessive testing is the result of federal and state policies that require a version of VAM, so-called value added metrics, totally discredited for rating individual teachers an unethical practice, but still on the books with the weighting of these scores at 50% of a teacher’ evaluation.

    I intend to thank the reporters and give them a rating of “needs improvement” on a very important and “breaking” story not sufficiently covered in Ohio and many other states.

  2. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    For third grade, New Jersey schools must schedule 4.75 hours for the English language arts (ELA) PBA and EOY PARCC and 5 hours for the math PBA and EOY PARCC. Just shy of 10 hours of schedules testing time for a third grader. For fourth and fifth graders it is a full 10 hours. For sixth through eighth graders, almost 11 hours.
    Ed Trust has the distinction of being the single most Gates-supported corporate-reform organization that I have come across for the millions Gates funnels to Ed Trust for no better reason than to keep Ed Trust’s doors open.
    Between September 2004 and March 2014, the Gates Foundation has paid Education Trust $30.7 million for “general operating support.”
    In its February 2014 earnings call, Pearson executives made it clear that they are planning to profit from the Common Core in the United States.
    Blowing billions of education dollars annually on standardized testing is crazy.

  3. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    Here are the current times for tests by grade level in Ohio. Surveys from principals and teachers show at least 15 hours for test prep, so I have added that to the minimum times on the books now.

    Ohio’s Superintendent of Public Instruction insists that the percentage of times spent on tests is low, based on the typical school year for various grades, He thinks tha,t on average, test times should not exceed 2% of the school year and totally discounts test prep in the calculation.

    A majority of Ohio’s Tests are the result of current federal requirements for reports for funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as NCLB, with some revisions added under Race to the Top that called for teacher evaluations based on test scores of students. The state legislature has added test to that agenda, producing a long list of required tests from the state. OHIO is a PARCC state….so far.

    GR. Tests Prep Hrs Hrs yr %
    K 11.3 + 15 = 26.3 1,061 .025
    1 11.6 + 15 = 26.6 1,087 .024
    2 13.6 + 15 = 28.6 1,087 .026
    3 28.0 + 15 = 43.6 1,088 .040
    4 24.0 + 15 = 39.0 1,088 .036
    5 22.6 + 15 = 37.7 1,092 .035
    6 22.3 + 15 = 37.3 1,103 .034
    7 21.1 + 15 = 36.1 1,109 .033
    8 23.0 + 15 = 38.0 1,110 .034
    9 20.4 + 15 = 35.4 1,115 .031
    10 28.4 + 15 = 43.4 1,115 .039
    11 18.9 + 15 = 33.9 1,114 .030
    12 12.2 + 15 = 27.2 1,102 .025

  4. My arithmetic is a little different than that of Ohio’s superintendent. My friends in English and math give at least one monthly quiz related to Smarter Balanced (which includes the 5-7 practice and pretests SBAC sells and requires one class period each for moving to the lab and administering at a computer), in addition to the 7-11 hour final test (depending upon grade level and pace). That means math class loses at least 8 quizzes + half of the final = 13 hours or 7% of class time. The same for English. So each class loses at least 13 days of instruction, putting students behind instead of ahead!!!

    That does not include the time needed to discuss SBAC practice and pretest results with the students, in addition to drilling for the test. Is this similar for the PARCC?

    Honestly, when will administrators and policy makers employ the same math they expect students to master?!

  5. Linda permalink

    The 2013 Fordham IRS filing page titled “Grants and Other Assistance to Governments and Organizations in the U.S.” lists $45,000 – Center for American Progress.

    Large donors to the organization include the Walton and Gates Foundations and Walmart.

  6. How worthy of print, airtime and/or position of supposed intellectual authority are any of the reformers and pro-testing crowd if all they can come up with is tests/data? It is the easiest solution for them, and a market-driven and controlled (profitable) one. The “opt-out” (I prefer REFUSE) is driven by the many many many who realize that PR, lies, and the data liars use are not what struggling students need, and not what public education is for. It is Wall St think for banks we were told are too big to fail (after they already had). We do need accountability, but not for our heroes. We need to hold our well funded political leaders, the true leaders (funding sources) and their well paid defensive lines held accountable. https://dmaxmj.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/a-lobbyist-for-students/

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Children in Néw Jersey Will Have 10-11 Hours of Testing | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Ed News, Friday, February 27, 2015 Edition | tigersteach

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