Hey, Kids: Take the PARCC Test, Qualify for an iPad Mini (??)
Louisiana parents are choosing to opt their children out of whatever it is that state superintendent John White has concocted and is labeling the “PARCC” test.
Louisiana is not a legitimate PARCC participant. Official PARCC vendor, Pearson, has no contract directly with the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) for the 2015 PARCC testing that is supposed to occur in March and May 2015.
2015 PARCC scores cannot directly affect student promotion decisions because the scores will not even be available until fall 2015, after the 2015-16 school year begins.
It seems that the primary function of 2015 Louisiana “PARCC” is to grade schools. The secondary use is to form a baseline to use to grade teachers via value-added modeling (VAM).
The fact that 2015 Louisiana “PARCC” will directly affect schools and not individual students has created an atmosphere in which some Louisiana school administrators are trying to coerce students in grades 3 through 8 into taking the ten-plus hours of PARCC testing.
Consider the notice below, sent to staff at DeQuincy Elementary School in DeQuincy, Louisiana (Calcasieu Parish Schools)(not parents, as I first thought), and, according to a commenter of this post, it was an email “received after many teachers had already left for the weekend”:
The message behind the DeQuincy post above is that opting out/refusing to test “is ruining” the opportunity for the entire school to have a 30-minute recess following testing.
Then, there are the “free dress” passes and iPad drawing for students who submit to ten-plus hours of testing for the purpose of saving the school from potential, state-levied punishment.
Kids can’t opt out. It’s bad for the school.
If these incentives are not meant to combat the opt-out, then the principal could have offered the rewards to all students just because they are valued as people.
Instead, testing has been made into a contest in which test takers are valued above non-test takers.
The message above was posted on Facebook on February 28, 2015.
Apparently the pushback on social media provided “incentive” enough for DeQuincy administration to change some of the rules of the “we value the test-taking students more” contest.
On March 1, 2015, the following “clarification” tweet appeared on the DeQuincy Twitter page:
#Clarification..when we are 100% complete with testing and make-ups, all students in all classes receive 30 minute recess!
The use of the term “clarification” is an attempt for DeQuincy admin to save face and not call this tweet what it is– an about-face on the “recess reward for classes with 100 percent of ‘PARCC’ participation.”
Still, “free dress” and iPad mini drawing is reserved for the test takers.
The message: Test takers are worth more.
DeQuincy Elementary is not alone in the iPad “incentive” for students who take Louisiana “PARCC.” Consider the following memo sent to parents of children at Cypress Cove Elementary in Sulphur, Louisiana (also in Calcasieu Parish):
The principal states she has used the iPad incentive to reward test takers in the past at another school.
I do not agree with offering students incentives to complete state tests. That noted, offering prizes to test takers is particularly problematic in 2014-15 given the controversy surrounding Louisiana “PARCC” and the palpable negative sentiment among parents regarding the unprecedented amount of testing time required of “PARCC.”
These enticements to draw students into testing are further complicated by Calcasieu School District’s intentionally making parental opt out difficult.
Student test scores are needed for school letter grades.
Therefore, students must test.
Consider this January 29, 2015, communication from Calcasieu superintendent Karl Bruchhaus regarding the implications for opting out on Calcasieu school letter grades (click on images to magnify):
Thus, the tension between parents refusing the ridiculous amount of testing via “PARCC” (notice Bruchhaus can cite no details of a contract between Pearson and LDOE for this “PARCC”) and the administrative push to meet the requirement of test scores for grading the school.
Interestingly, the 2015 Louisiana “PARCC” scores will be available in fall 2015– right around the time for the next Louisiana election for governor– October 24, 2015.
As it happens, the future of Louisiana’s grading of schools is now hazy. As noted in the March 1, 2015, Acadiana Advocate:
The future of letter grades for public schools is unclear less than five years after the Louisiana Legislature ordered them to begin.The annual marks, which have sparked bitter arguments, were already partly on hold for the past two years, and Louisiana’s top school board will be asked next week to extend that another year.
Two of four contenders for governor — Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican Scott Angelle — said last week that the grade law was a mistake or should be shelved for an overhaul.
Louisiana will also be having another state board of ed (BESE) election, and we will have had the 2015 legislative session, one in which the assessment-driven honeymoon is over for many legislators.
This is not 2010-11.
The public will not be blindsided by any test-score-based “reforms” in 2015.
That is why many parents– both in Louisiana and nationwide– are Refusing the Test.