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This spring, tests developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium will be administered to well over 10 million students in 17 states to determine their proficiency on the Common Core Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM). This in-depth analysis of sample mathematics test questions posted online by Smarter Balanced reveals that, question after question, the tests (1) violate the standards they are supposed to assess, (2) cannot be adequately answered by students with the technology they are required to use, (3) use confusing and hard-to-use interfaces, or (4) are to be graded in such a way that incorrect answers are identified as correct and correct answers as incorrect. No tests that are so unfair should be given to anyone. Certainly, with stakes so high for students and their teachers, these Smarter Balanced tests should not be administered. The boycotts of these tests by parents and some school districts are justified. In fact, responsible government bodies should withdraw the tests from use before they do damage.

Some notable quotes from the report:

“why  offer  a  keypad  that  builds  numbers  from  left  to  right?  Students are  taught  to  solve  whole-­‐number  addition  by  working  right  to  left—just  like  you probably  do!  Every  school  calculator  builds  numbers  right  to  left  for  a  reason.  With  an  input  device  that  is  harder  to  use  than  correctly  adding  the  two  numbers,  what  will  we  learn  about  a  student  who  gets  this  question  wrong?”  4th Grade Math SBA.

“A  simple  sketch  is  the  most  appropriate  way  to  show  one’s  work.  However,  there’s just  one  major  issue:  There  is  no  way  to  draw  or  submit  a  drawing  using  the  problem’s “technology-­enhanced”  interface!  So  a  student  working  on  this  problem  is  left  with  a problem  more  vexing  than  the  mathematical  task  at  hand—“How  do  I  show  my picture  by  typing  words  on  a  keyboard?” 10th Grade Math SBA.

“So  the  problem  is  not  just  that  the  number  line  behavior  needs  fixing;  it’s  that  a number  line  is  the  wrong  tool  for  answering  Question  1.  Asking  students  to  display the  exact  results  of  division  with  fractions  on  a  tiny  number  line  marked  only  in whole  units  —whether  it  “snaps”  or  not—is  like  asking  students  to  eat  soup  with  a fork  to  determine  whether  they  know  how  to  eat.”

“At  some  point  between  April  16,  2012,  and  now,  a  simple,  well-­‐specified  interface idea  turned  into  a  nightmarish  implementation.  Smarter  Balanced  quality  control failed.”

“The  graphic  on  this question  was  obviously  not  created  using  mathematical  software.  The  graph  is
inaccurate  and  misleading.”

” why were  there so  many  buttons  on  it  and  what  do they  do?.  The five  arrow  buttons  above  the  numbers—three  leftward  and  two  rightward  pointing arrows—look  so  similar  that  their  actions  can  only  be  deciphered  through  trial  and error.  (I’ll  list  their  functions  here  to  save  you  the  effort  of  experimenting:  move
cursor  left,  move  cursor  right,  undo  last  action,  redo  last  undone  action,  and  delete digit  to  the  left  of  the  cursor.)  Only  the  last  of  these  buttons—Delete—is  needed.”

“the  last  key  on  the  keypad  a  subtraction  key  or  a  key  for  inputting  a negative  number,  or  can  it  be  used  for  both  purposes?  It  acts  a  lot  like  a  subtraction key—you  can  enter  “65–1”  for  instance—but  you  can  press  it  repeatedly  and  display many  subtraction  signs—like  a  negative  key.  I  wondered  whether  “65–1”  would  be evaluated  by  the  parser  as  64.  Unfortunately,  it’s  impossible  to  figure  out  what  this key  actually  does  mathematically.  That’s  why  I  call  it  “inscrutable.””

“Calculators  typically  don’t  allow  more  than one  decimal  point  in  a  number—precisely  to  prevent  silly  typing  mistakes.  There  is no  benefit  to  this  question  in  allowing  typing  mistakes.

” the  design  that  CTB  implemented  for  Smarter  Balanced penalizes  struggling  students.  Students  at  ease  with  the  mathematics  and  familiar with  computer  input  interfaces  will  breeze  through  Question  4—they  need  only correctly  type  “64.”  But  a  student  who  struggles  with  the  math,  makes  a  mistake  or
two,  and  tries  to  correct  his  mistakes  may  get  mired  in  the  ridiculous  interface, especially  if  he  is  tempted  to  input  his  answer  with  the  graphical  keypad.  It  reminds me  of  the  saying,  “The  rich  get  richer….”

Ironically,  while  poor  results  on  the  Common  Core  tests  will  be  a  blow  to  policy makers,  parents,  educators,  and  students,  they  will  be  a  boon  to  those  in  education for  a  profit.  I’ve  been  in  the  business  for decades  as  an  educational  publisher.  For many  companies,  including  the  large  ones,  there  is  no  business  like  the  “failure business.”  Failure  precipitates  crises  on  a  large  scale.  National  politicians, governors,  and  state  legislatures  demand  immediate  action  to  address  crises.  In desperation,  school  officials  look  for  quick  solutions.  They  loosen  purse  strings  in states  and  districts.  And  the  quick-­‐solution  vendors  spring  into  action,  throw together  products,  and  make  a  quick  buck  from  their  “solutions.”

The  same  testing  companies  that  delivered  these  failed  tests  will  win  lucrative  new
contracts  to  deliver  “better”  tests  to  states  forced  to  abandon  the  current  ones. 

========

So why are we subjecting our children to this?  Oh yes, Greg Lavelle.

Why is this test currently just inserted without General Assembly approval, to be used for the next 5 years?  Oh, yes, Dave Sokola.

Why do you not know how bad this test is and the express harm it will cause your child?  Oh, yes. Earl Jacques

Various members of our General Assembly’s Individual actions often bordering intentional deceit, by these individual people, have almost derailed the entire public educational system.

So, how can we stop this entire process from destroying our children?

Don’t let them take the test… Period…

2011_Lavelle_Mugshot1

vimeo.com/120619448

Do not let your child take this test.….   Wilmington City Council should actively encourage all residents to opt their children out of this test….  Every other governing community in this state should follow suit!   it is about  the children… Seriously, why should they be sacrificed to corporate profits?

Today there is a referendum to increase funding for all schools in the two priority districts that have been hit by Markell’s cuts. It is just  for 16 cents. It is necessary to keep schools open, so go vote. You have till 8:00, when polls close… You just go to a Christina or Red Clay school nearby with your ID… and they will look you up, certify you, (and make sure you didn’t vote elsewhere already) and then vote yes for both options…

It is way too cold to go through all that effort just to vote “no” which changes nothing.  So if you are not inclined to vote “yes”, just stay at home.

With testing almost upon us, it is time for our leaders to step up and tell parents it is ok not to have their child take the test.  There is no law requiring parents not to opt out.  Furthermore, there is a law on the floor allowing for parents to have the right to opt out.  School boards across this state are considering measures in all 19 districts on whether or not to “encourage” the opting out of students from taking these tests….

It is time our elected officials do the same.  Parents need to know they will not be punished for opting out. The best way for that to occur, is for elected officials, in charge of deciding state law, to say this test is bullsh/t and all parents should not let their kids take it…

The best and most credible spokesperson to accomplish this is none other than Greg Lavelle.. His switched-vote last June 30th around 9:30 pm, was the deciding factor that allowed this test to go forward….  When he voted against it; the bill was defeated… minutes after getting a phone call from Gov. Markell he voted for it; it passed….

Greg Lavelle actually has children in the category who are hurt by this test.  All exceptional children will be grievously set back by this test.  This test goes against human nature.  When you have children who are flatly unable to meet regular adult standards, forcing them to try fully knowing the outcome, is cruel and inhumane.

Expressed this way it is clear.  Making children who will be playing soccer to run miles in order to build up stamina, may be deemed as cruel by some outside of sport, but it is often done and the children do grow stamina through the routine and develop new muscles.   But….. making children who have no legs be forced to run a mile, with no wheel chair, no artificial limbs, no accessories, is cruel and inhumane.

The Smarter Balanced Test, and this came directly out of the mouths of Mark Murphy and Penny Schwinn, is designed to not use accommodations for children with special needs.  “They want to see how bad they fail”, was the direct quote.

The humane measure of education would be to say:  let’s see where in society we can put these people so they can lead productive lives.  Mark Murphy, Penny Schwinn, Dave Sokola, and all those who voted in support of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, take the opposite tack:  let us see where in society these people can never fit in, by giving them a test they cannot possibly do well upon… like making Stumpy there run miles on his two tiny stumps. Betchu he won’t get two feet?

One philosophy brings out the best of human behavior; the other exposes the worst.

Now Greg has taken his own children at this point, laid them on the cross and bound their hands and feet to the wooden crossbars…. Right now, before the huge railroad spikes get driven in to their tiny hands and tiny feet, is the time for him to scream out:  “STOP!  This is a mistake.  We should not do this to children for any reason….. ”

Greg as the sole person who was first against the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and then was somehow persuaded to be for it, is the perfect human being to now stand up and say… “Wait, I was wrong. I was very wrong. I was lied to.  This is a terrible test… This ruins children including my children!  You all must opt out…”

For someone who has always been against this test to say “You all!  Opt out!” would be welcome but realistically would change little.  Those on the fence would say:  “There he goes again; he’s always been against the test; of course that is what he is going to say”…  But, for someone who was once on record for it in a very public way, to pivot, switch his support, and call for public action to boycott the test being taken, would send giant ripples through the state….

He has special children.  So with what we know from Penny Schwinn and Mark Murphy, we know in heart that both he and his wife have to be against it.

Greg Lavelle has confided to those who asked him what he was thinking last June, that he was told that the DOE was going forward with the test whether he voted for it or not… (Just like it is going forward with the privatization of 6 schools despite whatever policies the two districts came up with) …

Imagine if you are attacked by a bamboozler.  In the struggle you take away his gun.  Everyone cheers… Then he cries tears and complains that is his only gun, and how he needs it to shoot food for his family’s table… So you give it back to him?

Greg needs to decide his future.  Is it being the obsequious servant who sells out the rest of the house to keep in his master’s good graces?  Or is it being the guy who cares little what pompous asses think of him, and only wants to be remembered as the guy who always did what he thought was right?

He may have been wrong before, when the fog was thick.  But it is gone now… One can see clearly as far as the eye can see.  His legacy if left unchanged, will doom every child of every parent in this fair state, unless they choose to opt out and not let their children take the test….

We call on him to save his children.  Not for me.  Not for any group, political or otherwise.  Seriously, none of us matter that much… But children?  There are none like them anywhere else in the world…. They should not be forced to run miles on stumps… This is a cruel test and cruel people are pushing it… It will do no good to any child of Delaware to continue any further with this charade ….

All can see it for what it is. 2011_Lavelle_Mugshot1

60 people showed up at the PTA meeting yesterday to get information on all sides of opting out ones child….

For a detailed look go here….

But to summarize…. out of all those very concerned with educational issues, who are very knowledgeable about children and parents, 58 plan to opt out their child.

If 58 out of 60 educational specialists or parents knowledgeable about the issue,  believe that opting out is in the best interest for their child… shouldn’t that be telling you something?

It now appears the only ones who take the test will be children of those parents who did not get word, who do not know any better. Get the word out to them, beginning now…

No child should take this test….. 

ITTS… IT’s This Test, Stupid.  The problem is THIS test….

  • Tell them to call their principal and find out what day their child is scheduled to take the test.
  • Keep him/her home on those days.
  • If they try to trick him into taking the tests, tell him to get sick, go to the nurse, have her call you, and you go pick him/her up. Then give the principal an earful for making you miss work!
  • Take your child’s test.
  • Let your child take the test… why not? (He/she is supposed to be in school anyways)
  • Decide if you should opt them out.
  • Opt them out….. and you’re done. You decided.

Do not allow your child to take the Smarter Balanced Assessments starting in March.

A. Call your principal’s office and ask when your child will take the tests.

B. Make arrangements to withhold your child from school on that day and the following ones.

C. Instruct your child if he is ever taken to a computer to begin the test, he/she is to get sick right away, go to the nurse, have them call you, and you will pick them up.  Tell your child that is very important that he never take that test.

Opt out your child… It is only for their benefit that we ask…

This is what the Smarter Balance Assessment is designed to do.. This is what is hidden in the sadistic term:  “rigor”

(Have you STILL not taken these tests?  Scared to see the truth?)

And it is what the DOE, Jack Markell, and advocates of Charter School money into their own pockets, will never say…

The sole purpose of this test is to Measure, Pressure, and Punish…

As any parent knows, that does not work for children… They stop learning completely in that environment.  Instead their minds focus on what THEY find interesting, which may be sideline misbehavior going on under teacher’s noses.

Review:  The Smarter Balanced Test will redefine levels of academic acceptability.  Instead of having a child jump a three foot bar, they will be asked to jump a 5 foot high jump bar.  Those who succeed will be rewarded.  Those who fail will be humiliated and punished.  Some children of wealthy intellectual parents are already two grades ahead of their peers.  They will pass because the standards are jumped ahead two grades ahead of where they were previously.

Review:  Those who fail to beat the higher expectations will be held back. The teachers will be fired.  New principals will take over the schools. Public school money will be diverted to investors. (I believe with that last sentence the motive for continuing this charade is obvious to all who read it.)  This puts great pressure on all those involved.  So much that cheating is rampant, (Michelle Rhee) in order to fake the results more positively.  In this environment, only the test matters… education is not about learning; it is about your test score, test score, test score, test score.

Review:  The priority schools debacle provides the first glimpse of the punishment.  A.  Disrupt schools to which the University of Delaware gave an A+ rating…  (What did the DOE say?  We won’t accept their rating… ha, ha,ha. Can anything be more transparent?)  B. Fire 50% of teachers and hire educational thugs (TFA) to take their place. C. Bring in friends of the administration at exorbitant salaries to run these schools into the ground. D.  Have schools answerable only to the DOE and not to the local boards hand-picked by citizens of whose children are in those schools. Then hopefully all these parents get so fed up, they send their children over into charter schools and the landlords of those charters get wealthy beyond their wildest wet dreams.

Measure, Pressure, Punish.

Now, as a parent, do you see how it all hinges on the first word…. “measure”?

If they can’t measure,  then it becomes very hard to pressure… Pressure against what?   You can’t push people against a wall, because there is no wall.  Instead you have the spectacle of pushing people down a long avenue with no end… To the laughing of spectators obviously glimpsing your futility.

And if they can’t pressure because they can’t measure… how can they punish?  Your child?  and YOU?  Your teachers.  Your school.  Your district?

There is currently even controversy over whether there is even an educational problem. As mentioned above, independent experts rated two of the schools slated for charterization with A+ ratings…   Seriously, how can an A+ be a problem?

Therefore they have to change the grading method… Instead of saying A’s are great, they have arbitrarily taken the A’s and divide that select group into sections slated as A, B, C, D, and F…  These new grades are what will be used and all those B’s, C’s, D’s, and F’s of before, now automatically become…. F’s…

Now they can say… Look at all these F’s… You must be punished by becoming a charter school…

To those few who were top of the old A’s category, there will be no change.  They will still reign on top… Those in the middle of the A’s, will be deemed mediocre.  And those who used to be considered A- students, will now be F’s…..

And be punished…..

As all can plainly see, this punishment is not over anything your child has or has not done… This punishment is fabricated to create a situation from which those perpetuating it, can prosper.   It is all for them… not for you, or your child.

“Whoopee!… Our charter school we got for free is now full of students each paying us with money that used to go to their public schools,”

“Yay!  Lots and lots of money that came from people who thought they were being assessed for schools in their neighborhoods, which if better funded, actually helps increase the value of their homes…  ”

“Hooray! Instead, their school assessment goes into the deep pockets of 20 Greenville natives… How about that?”

it’s done… Greg Lavelle sealed the deal last June 30th… Nothing your government can do about it….

Measure, Pressure, Punish.

But you say…. what if  no kids show up to take the test?  What if parents revolt so they can’t measure?  Would it not follow that they then can’t pressure?? They then can’t punish??  Like… how could they, if they don’t have measurements backing up their premise, even if they skewed those few results to show what they want to show, if they don’t have anything to skew, how can they go forward?  Right?

Exactly. 

If you want to stop the Measure, Pressure, Punish Madness, opt your child out from the test… Join the opt out movement and keep your child home on the days your child is scheduled for the Smarter Balanced assessment.  We only need 7000 of Delaware’s students to opt out, in order to throw the test results into the rubbish bin… We anticipate across the state of Delaware, there are more then 7000 parents out there who truly love their children….

Because if you love your child, you have really been given no other choice by this DOE, other than opting out.

In the State of the State Governor Markell said the following:

“However, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts. And the facts are clear. The students in these schools aren’t making sufficient progress, while students with similar challenges are making extraordinary progress in other schools.”

Agreed, Sir, as long as you accept that neither are governors or secretaries of education entitled to their own facts either…

Let us be clear which facts you are using… If we lived In a world where everything was made clear and we weren’t involved in tricking people onto paths they otherwise would not agree to follow, in such a world all would state ones objectives clearly.. What you said, would in truth, be spoken thusly:

“Based on a test geared to the diction of upper Midwest America, these children of the inner city’s poorest residents, aren’t scoring as high as some other of its citizens who have been culled out of public education and drilled unmercifully upon Midwestern rural diction,  and who upon exiting their schools, know very little other than how to take that one test …….. “

Yet they don’t know sports. They don’t know music. They don’t know arts. They don’t know math. They don’t read for enjoyment.  All they know is how to follow orders to avoid severe punishment, which enables them to score well on this test…. which hopefully they will never take again.

Our questions needs to be:  Is this really the low bar we all want?

Perhaps, if the test were a viable measure of basic knowledge... (Have you still not taken these tests? ).. But it isn’t.. It is a sorority initiation rite..  You know where they ask you impossible questions (which professional adults cannot answer), and if they want you in, they give you the answers beforehand, but at least it looks from the outside that they are fair and open and allowing all who answered correctly to join…

The Olde South used similar tools to manage the black vote between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Act… I believe it was called a “poll test” which served as a gate-keeper to determine who was acceptable to higher authority, and who… wasn’t…. ( If you were acceptable, you got the answers beforehand. )

The Smarter Balance Assessment is similar to that literacy test, although it is not just a voting right upon which we are shutting the doors of opportunity…. it is the right to join the middle class…  This test is the gate that must be passed in order to get out of working fast food or part time retail across one’s lifetime…. With the Smarter Balanced Assessment, 70%  across the board will not make it into the Middle Class in their lifetimes.

This is becoming the new gate that must be passed if one wants ever to make more than $15,000 a year… But one doesn’t pass on hard work or ingenuity… One can only pass, if one is given the correct answers beforehand… Don’t believe me?… Then obviously YOU HAVE NOT TAKEN THE TEST…..  Take it.  (then come back and argue intelligently…)

If this test ever becomes the standard, then we move on to where a minority of America controls the fate of the majority… We turn ourselves into the South Africa of apartheid fame… Where all opportunity belongs to a very select group who inherit the right, didn’t work or earn it, and the fodder for their success is the vast majority who could do equally well if ever given a chance, but…. are denied that single chance for that very reason….

Every Afro-American.  Every Hispanic.  Every White American whose parents make under $50,000 a year, will become the victim of this test… This test will determine the new generation’s winners and losers for decades to come… It is not based on ability.. It cannot be learned… It is nothing more than a personality test to determine if you “fit in” to the clique of the white, suburban, upper middle class… (You still haven’t taken the test, have you?  When are you going to face the reality and understand that unless you actually have taken your child’s test yourself, you are not responsible enough to even offer your opinion on whether this premise is true or not?)

If this test gets entrenched. we will become a two class society.  This test was created in secret. Run through legislature without discussion,  Signed with just two signatures. Absent all public discussion. Absent all public input. Railroaded underground out of sight of all accountability… Some even illegal.

But there is a way for all good citizens to fight back… A great way…  The test is put in place over the objections of all parents, teachers, and educators… But you don’t have to take the test…

You can opt out…

And if enough people opt out, this whole procedure has to go back again before the representatives of the people, And this time they will be ready.  This time, with input from parents, teachers, and educators, ALL WHO WERE TURNED AWAY FROM  PARTICIPATING THE FIRST TIME,  we might be able to get things finally done right…

But you have a big part to play…

You will be told you are hurting progress.  But as the governor originally said in my first paragraph… “No one is entitled to their own facts…. “

Facts are that children across the board now know more than they did when most of us were young.  Independent tests have shown this to be true over time.  So we were already progressing rather well, before this boondoggle appeared to interrupt continuous progress.

What they are worried is that we are hurting their progress.  Their progress towards separating America into two Americas… One where if you are born in the right circumstances, you can get a job and prosper.  The other, where if you are born in the wrong circumstances, no matter what you do, you will be shut out of getting a job, and of prospering….

Their progress is what they are worried over… Not yours…  All you have to do to stop it, is not send your child to school on days your child will be tested on the Smarter Balanced Assessments….

This is not only your right. It is your Constitutional obligation as an American……  You should be allowed equal access to a prosperous future as well, correct?