Monday, March 2, 2015

Stories of #PARCC Implementation


This image from "The Teaching Experiment
Having gotten numerous emails and tweets from parents and teachers all over the country as a result of this post, I thought I would share some of their stories. I've taken out any identifying information, but they come from PARCC states such as Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Ohio. 

Here goes.....





"All of my students were immediately saddened....."
Thank you for representing the children I work with everyday in my little corner of education as a Speech-language pathologist in (Another PARCC State). 

Thank you for pointing out that my students are terrified of this testing, and dread being placed in the constraints of testing from the very beginning, and this test, in particular, has been one of the most challenging tests for them, from the very beginning as the reading levels are above their grade levels AND have subject matter which is not present in their current course of studies at the grade level they are in. For example, the fourth grade practice test for social studies asked the students to name 2 of the 3 branches of government.

As I have 14 total children of my own, eight of which are currently in college or have graduated from college or have entered the military. There are six remaining in high school and below. NONE of them were educated to know that level of government structure during grade four, unless it was during a homeschool lesson.

The immense stress that practice session placed on our students prior to the actual testing, brought about great fear among the students who had difficulty with reading, writing and constructing paragraphs, and working math problems. Those students recognized immediately that they were not able to meet the demands of knowledge required in this test. All of my students were immediately saddened and unable to put into words what they were feeling about the upcoming test.
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Please continue to educate and inform those people who can and should make the necessary changes for the children who are most directly effected by these tests. Please share with them the stories, and the fates of those children who will have stomach aches, tears and forever will fear testing because we are testing them for the sake of a test and statistics; not for the sake of knowledge.

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"Relevant and engaging ways to essentially waste time."
I'm a HS (Science) teacher in (Another PARCC State). and I'm currently trying to plan the coming week, as the PBA begins in my school. We only have about 1 computer for every 15 students.

This test is creating havoc for me and my colleagues. Some days, entire classes miss double lab periods. Others, only about 40% of my class will be present, so no formal instruction can take place. So here I am trying to come up with relevant and engaging ways to essentially waste time. However, I'm being observed during one of these periods, so my job depends on my performance during a day when no actual instruction is allowed to take place.  Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess.



Today was our first day of testing. There were reports of computers freezing.  Our school administrators are so busy with this test that they might as well not be in school.  

I'm hoping that we, as a society, stop the knee jerk reactions to the politically-charged accusations that we are "failing" our students. When I compare my current students to my former high school classmates, I see nothing but greatness. I  see them work harder, solve more complex problems, and actively engage in their communities to a much greater extent then we ever did. 


These tests simply aren't a valid metric for all those intangibles I witness on a daily basis. Instead, today I watched some of my brightest students enter my class downtrodden and defeated by the Algebra II PARCC.

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"When we get their scores, what new information will we have?"
Our Title 1 school has more than 60% low-income students with a great majority of those reading below grade level, many far below grade level. When the PARCC reading level is 1-2 grades above their students' grade, students who aren't even at grade level are going to just bomb out. When we get their scores, what new information will we have? Didn't we already know they couldn't read 3-4 levels above their current level? Didn't we already know they wouldn't be able to form a well-supported essay about text they couldn't comprehend? The scores will be so very low that they will not give useful information about what specific reading skills they are lacking. We will be left sitting ducks waiting for the next governmental useful idiot to sweep us into their dustbin of 5 second sound bites saying, "See we told you our teachers can't teach! We told you we need private business to come in and take over! We told you how smart we are and now we plan to sprinkle little bits of money around the state for reading programs and to buy a book for each and every 3rd grader to read over the summer! We told you we know what we are doing!"  Here in (another PARCC State) teachers who have tough questions aren't being invited to speak to the legislature, so kudos to you and to Illinois for at least listening.


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"Who is profiting from all this testing?"
We are parents in a city called (City in another PARCC State)  could not agree more with your recent comments regarding the PARCC testing. In fact, if I were as eloquent as you are, I would have said exactly the same thing you are saying! Our only addition to all this is whom is profiting from all this testing? We as parents are attempting to get our local School Board to organize a meeting and discuss with us (the tax payers), exactly what our children are being forced to deal with! Thank you for attempting to save us from bureaucrats!

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"We are frustrated for our schools and our children. But we also feel stuck."
I read your testimony re the PARCC testing. I couldn't agree more! It seems that majority of parents I speak to feel the same way. As parents, we are frustrated for our schools and our children. But we also feel stuck.

How can we start a change? what do we need to do? Who do we speak with? I'm overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. We need a plan and we are ready to take action.

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"...Awful, wasteful and disgusting agenda"
I am hopeful that this awful, wasteful and disgusting agenda can be stopped dead in its tracks now that people in the field of education such as you are speaking out on the absolute absurdity and blatant bullshit that this testing really is.

I plan on doing all I can to educate fellow parents and help get dedicated educators to speak out against the travesty of education of PARCC.

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"I came from a teaching/administration family....but am looking for a way out."
I read what you wrote about PARCC and I completely agree...we are trying to fix a problem from the wrong angle.

Thank you for your strength to say what needs to be said. This is my 15th year in education. I do enjoy it. I came from a teaching/administration family....but am looking for a way out. We are not addressing the real issues of why students are not succeeding and addressing the issues of how a student can make it to the 9th grade and still cannot read or do basic math.

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I am a 5th grade teacher at (another PARCC school).  I have read your letter of testimony in regards to the PARCC testing.  I could not agree with you more.  You hit the nail on the head and said it very elegantly. I am so happy that people are speaking out.  I am only hoping that someone will listen.

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As a former pre-K to 12th grade educator in (Another PARCC State) I wish to congratulate you on a clear statement, illuminating the procedural difficulty of the PARCC.

While in doctoral work, I presented in-service to K – 8th grade teachers on the Common Core for Math. While I still maintain that the original work (research, practices, etc.) is quite good, the implementation of this initiative has been horrendous!

I truly believe that this disconnect between good educational initiatives and the implementation requirements is what holds public education back from doing its best by our students.


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2 comments:

  1. The way in which you have aggregated all of these comments is really quite compelling as a way of framing your argument. It is pretty clear that your testimony resonated with others.

    The part that I would like to focus on, however, is the fact that so many states are coming together with a shared experience. While this shared experience is mostly negative in this regard, I do think it is powerful in that so many people are able to have the same conversation (or similar ones) about the direction we are heading in education.

    I do believe that enough folks will rally around many of the words that you (and others) have spoken about their experiences, such that these tests will be rolled back. However, I wonder if we will miss the broader point of what is possible when we all engage in the same conversation. I wonder if we will let this opportunity only be about the things "we don't want" rather than advocating for the things that we do want.

    What if while we are advocating for better use of assessments, we also advocated for more student voice in the classroom? What if while we were asking for less dependence on testing companies, we also asked for a cross-state collaboration space for teachers to share lessons and ideas? What if while we were sharing stories of how the tests were taking valuable instructional time away from kids who need it most, we also shared stories of what great teaching and learning looks like?

    Is there room in this testing conversation for those things?

    P.S. This comment is a part of the #C4C15 project. Find out more here: http://learningischange.com/blog/2014/12/27/c4c15/

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    1. HI Ben- Love the idea. I would certainly love to spend more time on the things we're for, rather than raging against the things we're not. Thanks for the post!

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