Courageous Pinellas Mom Stands for Rights of Special Needs Son

Kudos to Laura Oosse McCrary for her passion in the fight against the invalid, unhelpful invasive FSA test that is admitted not to give appropriate accommodations to special needs students.  Laura opted her son out and wrote  the story of her son's journey and how he is now doing well and actually learning. You may read the entire story HERE, but here is an excerpt:

Our son took the FCAT in 4th grade, and he scored a Level 3 on the math! He was proficient! Wow! Maybe I did something right after all. However, his tics had returned for over a month due to anxiety from all the testing. It was at this time that I learned about the Opt Out Movement. I was fed up with the abusive tests tied to the standards, and wanted to do something to help change it for all of our students and teachers. I asked the school principal what I could do, and she said I would need to go to legislators and the state. She said this isn't coming from the district. That is exactly what I am doing today.

I was very fortunate that my son's school was so tuned into my son's needs by the end of fourth grade, and they wanted to do everything they could to help him his last year of Elementary School. They wanted to try putting him back in full main-stream classes with the help of an assistant. Wow! What a concept!  That is what I had been fighting for since he was in Kindergarten.

During 5th grade we learned a lot! What worked? Opting Out of High-Stakes Testing was key!

My son had the most amazing teachers in 5th grade. This is the year we learned how to survive Common Core. I don't want anyone to have to learn how to survive common core.  What I want to is to teach parents how to defeat it! These standards are NOT cognitively or developmentally appropriate for our youngest learners. (Note: There is no research that will ever tell you that they are. Please click here for more research that supports this conclusion.)

Here is the quote from the validity study showing that special needs students were not properly accommodated via a conscious decision by FL DOE:

"Given the interpretation of "reading" by FLDOE, use of a human reader is not an allowable accommodation to ensure the construct remains intact.Students who have mild-moderate intellectual disabilities and limited reading skills will have limited access to the passages without the use of a human reader. Students with vision or hearing impairments who also have limited ability to read, including reading braille, will have limited access to the passages without the use of a human reader. When required to read independently, these groups of students will not have the ability to demonstrate their understanding of the text beyond the ability to decode and read fluently. For example, without access to the passage, the students will be unable to demonstrate their ability to draw conclusions, compare texts, or identify the central/main idea."  (p. 44 - Emphasis added)

Through it all, Laura kept a good relationship with the teachers and worked hard not to blame them for the ridiculous system being imposed on teachers, students and families:

I am asking all parents to please stand up for teachers! Do not place blame on them. They are suffering too. Not only do they have to teach developmentally inappropriate standards, they have to watch our kids suffer.  Our teachers are being micromanaged. There is little time to review things our children do not understand. The curriculum AND the timeline it needs to be taught is set in stone, and our teachers' jobs are on the line if our kids don't do well on these tests. 

I have found that opting our son out of the state-directed standardized test (FSA) did not affect his school or his teachers, and, that it couldn't be used against him for placement in remedial classes.  It did not hold him back at all! And he didn't have the stress associated with needing to learn so he could pass a test.  In return, the rewards were tremendous!

Mrs. McCrary even helped organize a rally in support of the Pinellas teachers as her group UnitED for Florida Children made their concerns about testing at a recent school board meeting:

A special education teacher, Wendy Bradshaw, just resigned from Polk County because of the kinds of things that Laura's son was experiencing.  Her resignation letter went viral and here is her recent speech in front of the Florida State School Board:

This abusive treatment of our most vulnerable children must cease!

Pasco Mom Calls out Testing Madness at School Board Meeting

Wonderful mom, researcher, and activist Deb Herbage gave a great sppech cogently pointing out the problems with Florida's testing system and its lack of validity at the Pasco County School Board meeting on October 20th.  It is reproduced here with permission.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Browning for sending the letter to Governor Scott requesting an executive order to suspend the use of the 2014-2015 FSA data.  While we appreciate your efforts  and the efforts of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) in speaking out against the flawed accountability system here in Florida, we, the parents, teachers, grandparents and students here in Pasco County and across the state of Florida are not asking for a "pause" with an ultimate reinstatement of the FSA.  We are asking that you HALT the FSA.   This test is no longer about our kids.  This test is no longer about a fair and accurate measure of "accountability".  We are not asking for a pause with the FSA because of technical glitches and the failed administration of the FSA last spring.  We are asking for a halt because the test is not a valid measure of ANYTHING.  We are asking for a halt of the FSA because AIR and the FL DOE have been unable to produce ANY validity documents.  In the executed contract the FL DOE has with AIR contract # 14-652 that Commissioner Stewart signed - it specifically stated AIR "must provide empirical evidence of psychometric validity and reliability" AIR failed to do that and worse the FL DOE did NOT hold AIR to the terms of the EXECUTED contract.

A retired psychometrician in CA sent a letter to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC),  which is developed by AIR and part of the FSA platform,  requesting the validity documents and he was told they don't have them.  The Utah [district school board members] sent a letter to Senator Simmons (Senator Simmons here in FL) stating they do not have validity documents either.  Alpine teamed with EdCount who is a partner to AIR.  That was hardly an independent review of the FSA.  And now today OH stated they are using Florida's test?  This test is about corporate greed, political agendas and control. 

If the FL DOE, the districts and the counties continue down this road with a flawed, invalid test due to the lack of validity documents I fear there will be grave legal dangers and consequences due to the fraudulent test.   There is already a lawsuit that was filed in 2009 and will finally be heard in March 2016 in regards to the "accountability" system in Florida.  The evidence of fraud is mounting.
Janet Adkins stated today "Parents have a right to know whether their child is making adequate progress."  This test is about corporate greed, political agendas and control.  NO parent in this state will know the answer to that.  It's time to stop the education malpractice and focus on our kids.

Posted in Testing. Tagged as Alpine, Deb Herbage, Kurt Browning, Pasco County School Board, Utah, validity.

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