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Hey, Kids: Take the PARCC Test, Qualify for an iPad Mini (??)

March 1, 2015

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.

refuse the 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:

..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):

cypress cove

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):

calcasieu pressure to test acalcasieu pressure to test

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.

i refuse

#OptOutLouisiana

_______________________________________________

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.

15 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on stopcommoncorenys and commented:
    More on this. Thanks to all who stepped up.

  2. Marci Smith permalink

    Incorrect information in your post. The information you have from DeQuincy Elementary was NOT a notice sent home to parents. It was an email received ONLY by the school staff. This email was received after many teachers had already left for the weekend. I’m sure administration would have been approached on Monday by other staff members and a better solution or understanding would have been reached, but a staff member shared it with an outside individual, who in turn, posted it to Facebook. If this would have been handled professionally out of respect for authority, it would have saved our school and staff all of the bashing it has received! Everyone is entitled their right to an issue, but it is very sad how ugly and harsh people have become in their stand on an issue!

    • I corrected my post. However, the fact that this correspondence was not released to parents does not improve the situation. Testing is upon us, so I’m thinking discussions about a “better solution” are rather unrealistic.

    • Marci – As I have traveled the state the last few weeks speaking to parents, teachers, school board members and a couple of superintendents, I have heard reports from both teachers and parents that honestly embarrass me as a teacher and supporter of public schools. I would like to give the benefit of the doubt because of the circumstances in which John White and BESE have placed them over the last few years, but particularly this last school year. However, they are supposed to be professionals who have the best interests of the STUDENTS in mind and should be respectful of the fact that parents should be their partners, not their enemy.

      I have documented evidence that some superintendents are refusing to allow parents to opt out. Others have refused to accept the parent letters of refusal and demanded that parents not only sign their own document but that they come in to sign and to meet with administration. At least one superintendent, EBR, has told parents not to bring their children to school during testing. Very bad advice in light of the state truancy law. Others have told parents that if they bring their children to school “they will be tested.” Really?

      The letters have included intimidating statements that include the zero policy that is the responsibility of BESE, not parents, and false statements about other negative effects of parents opting out. Administration should be directing this bullying toward BESE and John White, not parents. Parents have made a conscious effort to make schools aware of their intent far in advance of the testing when they could have just not shown up or could have told the school their plan the day before. As you know, that would have really created chaos.

      On top of it all is the misinterpretation or misrepresentation of the PARCC rules for test accommodations. Teachers in some districts have been told to call parents and have them sign off on their IEPs. Didn’t anyone stop and think that PARCC has no authority over IDEA?????I am hearing this problem from other PARCC states also. What a mess.

      BESE will have an opportunity this Thursday to quell the concerns of all by simply acknowledging that they have no legal grounds for assigning zeroes to SPS when they have no control over parents’ legal right to opt out. It’s that simple. I would hope that every superintendent in the state will show up Thursday to have this discussion. JW has placed a moratorium on high stakes for students and parents for a very good reason. That reason most certainly also applies to SPS. It’s just a very stupid situation that reflects the fact that certain members of BESE and John White DO NOT have the best interests of children in mind. We know they don’t have the best interests of traditional schools in mind because they have made it very clear they intend to privatize every one they possibly can.

      Teachers should be thanking parents right now for taking the lead in ending this debacle of Common Core and high stakes testing. In doing so, they are opening the way for teachers to become professionals once again and in many cases, protecting their jobs for them.

    • monirose permalink

      Marci says: “If this would have been handled professionally out of respect for authority,” that often can and does happen when the one in authority has RESPECT from the staff. Clearly that is not the case at DeQuincy.

  3. Marci Smith permalink

    Thank you for making the correct changes. I’m sorry, though, but I would have to disagree with your reply. Until students are told and parents have received the information from the school, changes by administration can be made. Since neither of these things have taken place, yet, I find it very realistic!

    • Marci, nothing about that correspondence invited discussion. It reads as a final decision.

  4. christine lyles permalink

    We were told my a supervisor from LDOE that “this is PARCC; not PARCC-like”. I continue to be amazed that LDOE personnel are giving out misinformation.

  5. Laura chapman permalink

    The whole idea of forcing kids to do ten hours of tests with a remote promise of 30 minutes of recess or other perks is nothing less than professional malfeasance.
    Call it what it is, not a reward, but a bribe.
    Students should not have to earn recess.
    Tests should not be used as psychological weapons against students, parents, teachers or administrators. We need more whistle blowers. Thank you for posting this, for making the correction, and thanks to the brave person who knew these contests were was wrong, wrong, wrong.

  6. Reblogged this on Crazy Normal – the Classroom Exposé and commented:
    In this Louisiana school district, administration is rewarding students who take the Common Core rank and punish PARCC test and punishing students who Opt Out.

    Corporate school reform is almost all about punishing public schools, public teachers, children and parents if they do not fall in line and obey without question. Is this really the United States? Is this the country I risked my life as a U.S. Marine to defend when I fought in one of its many foreign wars?

  7. The more I learn about corporate driven education reform, the more I question if I’m really living in the United States that I risked my life to defend when I served in the U.S. Marines and ended up fighting in Vietnam—a war that turned out to be unjust and based on lies, a war the U.S. lost. The only benefit from that War seems to be the HUGE profits the corporations made that manufactured the weapons used to kill millions of innocent citizens in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The U.S. wasn’t supposed to be in Cambodia and Laos, but our troops and bombs went there anyway. In fact, the U.S. dropped more bombs on primitive villages in those countries than it did in all of World War II and the quarter million cluster bombs dropped on Cambodia alone are still blowing up people today.

    I’m beginning to think that I live in a fascist country (an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization) controlled by billionaire oligarchs who base all their decisions and acts on greed/power and nothing else. Where is the compassion? Where is the humanity?

    • We now seem to be living in the United Corporations of America. The sun never sets on the Gates Empire.

      • I imagine that one day the United States will cease to exist as a democracy when the biggest oligarchs carve the country up into their own fiefdoms and break away from the original republic

        The west coast—-everything west of the Rockies but Utah—will probably become the Gates Rank and Yank Republic. After all, any Country can call itself a republic even if the government structure doesn’t fit the definition.

        The Koch brothers and Walton family will eventually end up fighting a war over the Bible Belt and Southern states.

        I wonder who will get the east coast—hedge fund billionaires probably?

  8. ACT is no longer a graduation requirement in my district. There is no official statement as of yet, but it seems pretty clear that PARCC will be the new graduation requirement.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. ‘iPad minis?!’ Is your kid being bribed to take the PARCC test? | Twitchy

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