Testing Rebellion Spreading to Colorado

Two recent events show that parents, teachers and elected official are standing against academically unhelpful, developmentally inappropriate, psychologically invasive and expensive tests. That movement is spreading across the country, this time to Colorado.

Analogous to what happened in Lee County, the Colorado Springs School Board for District D-11 voted unanimously to seek a way to opt out of the PARCC test, the statewide assessment used in that state to measure compliance with Common Core.  The resolution will only test the minimum number of students and parents will be able to opt out. According to television station KOAA, the concerns were mostly and rightly about lost instructional time:

The District's resolution regarding state mandated testing would mean students and teachers can focus more on education and life skills in the classroom and spend less time preparing for standardized tests. It's designed to give the district flexibility in the classroom...

...In a daring move, all seven board members gave a resounding "yes" at Wednesday's meeting, in favor of not giving all students the state tests Partnership of Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS).

"I know that i've heard from community members over the last several years, whether it be parents, whether it be teachers whether it be principals that we seem to test more than we teach," said Dr. Gledich.

The resolution asks the State Board of Education to allow D-11 to only test a random selection of students with PARRC and CMAS during the next three years, enough to meet the federal minimums. Parents would be able to opt-out or opt-in their students for the tests, Dr. Gledich said.
As with the Lee County vote, parents came from all over Colorado in support and were thrilled at the support of parents' rights:

"I'm so excited that D-11 has taken a stand," said Sarah Sampayo, who's children attend Lewis-Palmer District 38 schools.

Parents from across the state, including Denver, Pueblo and Monument, attended the board's meeting to voice their support for D-11's bold plan.

"I want my young kids to enjoy education and learning, I don't want them staring at a test for hours day, after day, after day," explained Denver mom, Kellie Conn.

These parents hope that if D-11 can do it, the rest of the state will follow suit.
"hopefully it will creep into Jefferson County, it will creep into Denver, it will creep into Littleton," said Conn.

And analogous to the brave Gainesville teacher, Susan Bowles, who refused to give standardized tests to her young kindergarten students, Peggy Roberts, a courageous teacher from Aurora, Colorado wrote a letter refusing to give her students the PARCC test.  Here are some excerpts:

Dear Citizens of Colorado,
I am a teacher in the Aurora Public School District. I am writing to let you know that I will be refusing to administer the PARCC in the 2014-2015 school year. I do not stand alone in my refusal of this high-stakes test. I join the ranks of educators across the country who are fighting back against policies and mandates that ultimately harm our children and destroy our children's opportunities to become confident, active, problem solving citizens.

I have watched the testing increase over my 18 years of teaching in the public schools. I have watched what it has done to my ability to meet children's needs and to allow children the opportunities to engage in learning that is authentic learning that furthers the purpose of these children's lives. This year, in particular, I am watching an onslaught of Common Core curriculum infiltrate our schools, along with additional tests and test prep to add to the test load which permeates every minute of every school day.  I hear again and again that I should find the "good" in this curriculum and make the best of it. I am a literacy coach, therefore, I work with many teachers and children in our building. I believe our children deserve better than simply, my ability to find the "good" in this Common Core test prep curriculum. I believe our children deserve what President Obama's children have at Sidwell [Friends School in Washington D.C.], where teachers have autonomy to teach without scripted Common Core curriculum and common core high stakes testing.  I take objection to the fact that our children are being used as guinea pigs in an experiment to implement standards which were never field tested, are copyrighted, were not created using a democratic process, and were not created with the serious input of classroom teachers. Furthermore, the Common Core standards have placed unrealistic expectations on our youngest learners, many who now view themselves as failures because they are unable to meet the developmentally inappropriate expectations set by the Common Core standards.

I also refuse to administer the PARCC because I believe that participation in such testing gives the test credibility of which it has none. The PARCC test was designed to assess the Common Core standards, which are not grounded in research, nor are they internationally benchmarked. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Common Core standards, Common Core curriculum and Common Core testing, will in any way close the achievement gap. It will do the opposite... (Emphasis added).

Public officials like Governor Scott, those in the legislature, and Jeb Bush as he decides whether or not to run for president, need to know that teachers, parents, and elected school boards will not sacrifice their children and their futures to political and corporate opportunists bent on controlling the lives of our children and making billions of dollars via these tests.


Posted in Testing. Tagged as Colorado, D11, Peggy Roberts, Susan Bowles.

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