Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Posting from the PARCC/MCAS forum

Posting today from the final PARCC/MCAS forum in Springfield. From the cards up front, it looks as though Secretary Peyser, Commissioner Chester, Chair Sagan, and Board members Mary Ann Stewart, James Morton, and Ed Doherty will be hearing testimony today. I've put my name in to offer testimony, and I'll post it once I've done so. Open question of course is if we're going to do another hour or more of the called experts all being pro-PARCC.
As always, no promises on names and such, but I'll get what I can. Updating as we go once we start!

Introduction by Chair Sagan, as they're all here now.
"have invited expert testimony the beginning section...have tried to group that on specfic themes if you could...after that, public testimony"
"restrict topic of Board hearings"
will begin with testimony from invited guests, speak up to five minutes
public must keep comments to three minutes
will call two to three speakers at a time

President of college: established as National Armory in 1789 by George Washington
speak on behalf of community college presidents
hope that it will improve quality and readiness of students who come to us
"think it represents a higher standard of readiness for COLLEGE and career readiness"
potential for even greater curriculum alignment
will reduce number of students requiring developmental education
reduce resources for Accuplacer test; one test rather than two
hope you will not water down PARCC
some experience with MCAS that was not helpful to us
study by Higher Ed: students who place on highest level of MCAS place into college level
students in needs improvement "were not really college ready"
K-12 public education and our relationship to it: brag that we have the highest levels of achievement in NAEP
according to Schott (?) were last for Latinos coming out of high school (I'll have to look that up)
students who are testing into lowest levels of math, not really ready for it
kids choosing majors to avoid math
basic number facts are what trip them up
real disconnect between high school math and college math
Sagan: PARCC not framework, not curriculum, how will that work?
"Are you hoping that they won't come here? That K-12 will be more accountable?"
president: latter. Should test kids in 11th grade, then they have more time for more math
"have enormous clout that you aren't using"
"virtual fund the Springfield Public Schools; they'd close without you"
thus K-12 should fix this

College of Liberal Arts president: involved in PARCC council
importance of K-12 and higher education
"Berkshire Compact for Education"
in recognition that we all know that some credentialing necessary post high school
ongoing work with high school
already working on English and math alignment
"a bootstrap effort"
through PARCC, greater understanding of college faculty of K-12 education and college readiness
"focused on college readiness and placement" which we think is the appropriate set of markers
"what PARCC assessments mean,"
"align with college educators"
had faculty participate in the judgement study
valuable to look at items and gauge readiness
math were please, ELA had more questions
Dean, Berkshire CC: A PARCC Higher Ed fellow
significant change from MCAS; higher buy in from high ed faculty
"shocking to me to see students taking pre-algebra"
PARCC serving as the next step for placement purposes
MCAS wasn't a tool for that; Accuplacer not a tool for that
in past, high school teachers concerned about MCAS placement and higher ed on Accuplacer, now everyone will use same test
"inform high school to college transitions"
"it's the high school and college faculty not just sharing testing, but the standards...have a better sense of the curriculum"
professor of education for UMass-Amherst
worked for GED and the CPA exam
"I see myself as a test evaluator"
have keenly been interested in MCAS and PARCC, and have done some work for Smarter Balanced
MCAS was very well aligned
"when a student in high school graduates with a 'needs improvement,' that kind of makes sense" that they wouldn't be ready for college math
expect that college benchmark for PARCC will be much more informative
for six days in a row, PARCC tested a million people
"PARCC, it went off without a hitch"
standards appear to be right, will the teachers accept those standards and teach to those standards, and do the teachers adhere to them

Mass Business Alliance for Education: Linda Noonan starts
"remain committed to high standards and accountability"
have decided to look at education system again
"found that although our students top the nation on many measures, others on a steeper trajory to overtake us"
"not to just lead in relative but in actual terms"
"took it seriously when we were looking at standards that were more geared towards college and career readiness"
"the study found without a doubt that MCAS has served a purpose, but is not suited..."
"bar is too low"
found that less than half of 12 grade students graduate ready for college
"weren't designed to measure that and were designed for lower level"
"our concern is that MCAS gives a false sense of readiness"
"PARCC is not a magic wand"
concern with time on testing is shared by employers; we want to be sure that it's the right test
president of Baystate Health: jobs that require high levels of education and training
concerned by high levels of remediation needed by students
"if a system is going to get better, I firmly believe we need to have measurements and need to have standards"
think taking a break of even a few years would be dangerous
"maintain your focus on measurements and standards"
president of medical device company
holds up a blood pump "one of the most complex medical devices in the world"
employ 100 technicians; most high school graduates; most come straight from high school without further training
to screen new applicants: one page, nine questions to determine if applicant has essential skils
50% fail his test (he's holding it up; I don't know what it says or is)

district that piloted PARCC this year in East Longmeadow
"what went well, what was challenging, and some additional comments"
piloted it in elementary schools with paper and pencil
concise of what went well, extensive challenging section, much about testing administration
would suggest that those technical aspects be taken into consideration
staff had worked to implement frameworks; abed shift in leadership
"made the standards come to life for staff"
provided concrete examples for instruction
can improve: too many days of testing, too many items, conflicts with other required assessments
Timed sessions "were a significant concern for us"
why time a criterion referenced test?
incredibly difficult to meet student IEP acccommodation as PARCC requires licensed teachers to proctor exams
no clearly structured system of assessment for us, for students whose parents opted them out
revision due to feedback from the field
Sagan queries time component: less time?
response: particularly in ELA writing, for students to come back and dig for evidence
"when you put a time component on it, you're testing in conflict of how we teach writing"
no time for revision
Students: "I've always had time to finish and do my best work!"
for technology: were around 60% there, won't be there for next two to three years
hope the state will look at how we look at how we support all districts
"can imagine time would be even more of an issue" for students in elementary typing
"icons are all very different for how you answer items in the box"
first time ever anybody has experienced the icons

Then I was part of a panel; my testimony here

Superintendent of Wilbraham: narrows curriculum and cuts down on actual learning
coalition of western MA districts
signed a statement of concern on the emphasis on standardized testing
tests with less time, less often, not on an annual basis
not until everyone has had time to adjust
adequate time and resources needed

teacher from Excel (charter) school, Chelsea: have seen benefit of PARCC across our schools
will help us develop life skills in every lesson we teach
says students "light up" when they see readings on rocks or eletricity
offers cross-state collaborative data

insert lecture from Sagan here...

teacher who lives in Wilbraham: DESE called new tests "exciting"
"I found that statement almost comical"
know of no one who thinks that more testing is exciting at all
alarmed that CC and PARCC have somehow created critical thinking skills now
"have been staples in our classrooms for decades"
that we need "more standardized tests to do what we do daily is insulting"
do not need PARCC to measure these skills; these tests inherintly cannot measure these skills
"most useful at measure students economic backgrounds"
"Massachusetts needs to do right by its students; we don't need PARCC"

Teacher in Ludlow; strongly opposed to implementation of PARCC
has reduced students to data points that are to be tallied to determine if the students are worthy and that their teachers are effective
with MCAS there is now a procedure for students who vomit on the test booklet
comments that this will get worse with timed test
"what is tested may ultimately be less important than what is untested"
act in a manner that shows that our children have value beyond data points

teacher in Ludlow: many of points she was going to make
invited experts have come out to support the PARCC
those here of their own volition oppose the PARCC test
take time out of their summer vacations to come and talk to you tonight
"why...would we want to adopt this problematic test?"
first mention of Chester's chairing of PARCC board
"give our students the respect they deserve with regard to this decision"

Gill-Montague's PARCC coordinator
goes beyond school test and student learning
27 school days disturbed as a result of testing
greater test is validity
"currently the answer is no"
factors aside from learning need to minimized so all that is measured is learning
PARCC has test-specific test tools that are not used outside of the test
test glitches: test was loaded with them
anytime that happened, student concentration broken
some students kicked off the test who then had to log back in
lots of moving parts on the screen; that was "kinda of overwhelming"
knowledge "pretty far down the list of what was assessed this year"
critical to get this right
"if we as a state fail to do this correctly, our students are the ones who are going to lose"

sorry this testimony, which attacked both Common Core math about the importance of estimation and then went for UN takeovers, completely lost me

mother of high school student and Stand for Children member (aha!)
believes it allows parents to compare student to other children across the country
family should be able to move throughout the country and have consistent result

Tim Collins, president of Springfield Education Association
"testing mania hinders teaching"
NCLB "more about shame, blame, and punish"
NCLB "leaves far too many children behind"
tests are criterion referenced tests
MCAS growth measure is anything but a growth model
compares students scores across the state
no analysis of the comparability of these assessments
would be irressponsible to use data with two different assessment and no analysis of their comparability or validity
know children in urban areas are resiliant, and can overcome these challenges
"if it's not tested, it's not valued"
no longer time to build relationships with challenged children
these are the things our children need "to become positive productive human beings"
calls for moratorium
foundation formula has not changed since 1993; conditions in Gateway Cities have changed dramatically

Springfield teacher: waste of time, energy, and money
"already have that test called the MCAS"
should waste another dime or minute on a new test
"testing cannot make students college or career ready"
"foolish investment"
need to invest in music, art, shop classes, drama
"that would be money well spent"

incoming junior at East Longmeadow High
people who can't even function correctly because the process takes so long
standardized test "don't represent all that you can take out of a student more fully"
think having time standards on test is absolutely absurd
student could have a bad day, "and maybe you don't well on that test, and oh, well"
"one size fits all practice is absolutely absurd"

parent in Springfield: divide "between real people and the experts you've brought in"
strongly urge them to hold forums to come and present another side
urge you to reject the PARCC, the Common Core and even MCAS
Common Core has created a concern "that you guys are going to come in and take over their districts"
has been mocked by John Oliver (that was testing, not Common Core)
teachers who are leaving teaching due to system of teaching to the test
they all said "this is a better form of testing" none made a connection with a better form of education
where are stats on fostering arts and
"at what point do we start to hold you accountable for the damage you have done to our children?"
that money should go into our classrooms and our teachers
"if you're looking for insight into the sorry state of our schools, I'd strongly suggest you start by looking in a mirror"

limiting the amount of science and social studies; students coming into fifth grade who have had none
cutting play-based learning, which research shows is most effective
developmental appropriateness: "if you introduce something that's too high or too low, they will not learn"
teacher: describe one particular student: "path for failure, rather than building him up and show him what he really is"
reading-based language disability: can reason and can learn, but disconnect in reading or writing or both
loves to talk about books that he's downloaded on his iPad
"he is by all means a student that can succeed in life"
cannot pass PARCC, steps, reading,
"was by means a star student during our STEM challenge"
during the PARCC test "he was defeated; he looked up at me and said 'I don't get it'"
"why does this one test say this [not college or career ready] about him?"
"my students aren't failing this test; this test is failing them."
retired teacher from Springfield: brought testimony from other parents
parent earlier spoke about success of student: principal came from Holyoke
majority of parents in Springfield cannot provide background education needed to their children to pass these tests

Tayna Pitt, chair of NAACP education committee, was looking from information to you all
speaking personally: "I'm against all standardized tests for children"
social worker by trade, working with children
"what I don't see being account in a children's personal life"
you don't have enough information for a child to receive a degree
see children in her office in tears because they have to take a test the next day
"kids have to walk through dangerous situtations to walk back and forth to get to school"
"you all really need to think about what's important: a test? or getting a child ready for life?"
retired teacher, graduate of Springfield of High School of Commerce
not in favor of a standardized test being determining if you get into college or graduate from college
union rep: opposed to PARCC testing, and calls for limits of testing overall
miss 20% of our days overall (High School of Commerce)
most disturbing is loss of other things
"we live in a touchy-feely world"
looking for students who make good decisions, support those orally and in writing
want our children to be influencers, dreamers, achievers,...
you might have a child who does really good on grades and really poorly on the test

Tiffany Harbridge: mother and grandmother in Springfield
Commonwealth has a long standing history of education achievement
RTTT, adopted Common Core
all RTTT funding has been spent
"for Massachusetts, it's a race to the middle"
and now there's some stuff here about them being private, which isn't true...
and now we're at inBloom, which isn't happening anymore
"arts..are MISSING" with all of this
our founding fathers "had the switch and they had prayer"
parent from Belchertown: my children do well on standardized tests, I know lots of children who don't
glad my youngest is leaving the school system the way things are going
Goes to town's budget meeting every year "our teachers need materials"
PARCC is starting from scratch; we've already put millions into MCAS
have been shifting money away from technology; state is not going to pay for technology needed
someone should look into percentage of highly educated going into education
Justine Diamond: teach college English, daughter in fifth grade
"see from both end of the spectrum"
in her classroom, portofoilo based, varied
"prepared to take tests, but very underprepared for higher level skills"
was glad to hear from daughter's teacher that curriculum didn't "suck the soul out of" teaching like MCAS
was shocked that comparative analysis was included in fifth grade; college students struggle with that
"way above fifth grade skill development"
daughter couldn't finish test, was very frustrated
timed writing tests don't measure writing skill
concerned about diminishing confidence level of students
confidence level of college students taking anything other than bubble test is low
way too much drilling and worksheets for homework
concerned about the results of standardized testing that we don't attend
skills we need to be informed and critical voters

teacher in Wilbraham: glad had people from various areas
one thing that people need to realize about the push for PARCC is often there's pressure on states due to skewed statistics
results for Massachusetts are among the best in the world
and then we had anti-numeracy testimony...I have no patience for this.
Springfield teacher: I say that because I'm proud to be a teacher
second language speaker of English
we'll get together and go over the MCAS results: "what skill does that kid now need" that he's mssing?
can't do that with PARCC because they don't release their items
ask students if they were ready for college
teacher points out that some community college students DO need remediation and that's their role
proud of what we've done in ELA MCAS question development
PARCC was supposed to be online-eh--PARCC was supposed to be less costly--eh--PARCC was supposed to be...
"it's like a car: you throw it out for something that's untested?"
daughter wants to be a teacher: "implore you: please do the right thing!"

John O'Meara, resident of Northborough
voice concern that these five hearings are diversion
implication that Common Core is a given, query of which testing method should be used
how much will it cost
and now we have another round of this national student database thing...
what is CC's end game?
think in terms of what's best for parents and students
long way to go before they know how CC will impact student achievement
asks for a parent educational program

teacher in Northampton and resides in Holyoke (and brought her toddler daughter with her)
teacher of students at risk: if the choice is MCAS or PARCC, I'd say MCAS
teacher review of questions
MCAS items released; can review and can adjust practice
untimed: "not that students need all that time necessarily, but I can say, 'Take all the time you need.'"
some kids can't read on screen
Westfield city councilor
"I have gone from worst to first my whole life"
Matt Butler, recent graduate of St. Mary's High School in Westfield
education is not about testing
have great success due to one-on-one time with teachers
"was never a time that I struggled in class and there wasn't a teacher there to help me"
"regardless of if we have PARCC or if we have MCAS, changing the title isn't enough to fix education"
fix education by re-establishing the one-to-one connection between students and teachers
"how well they develop while they're at that school"

fourth grade teacher in Springfield: K-master's degree MA public ed grad
didn't forsee the "volume and frequency" of standardized testing
didn't forsee having to help children cope with the enormous anxiety of children in testing
"I lose immense amounts of instructional time due to testing"
"have to do it with such a high volume and frequency"
no time for tech training
too much is time for test prep
"we know what will up our standards, we know what will increase the education that we're delivering, and we know it's not high-stakes testing"
Elaine Rabbitt: Dudley-Charlton SC: reviews MA's history of education
"retreat to the middle"
"businesses and colleges are clammoring for our students to have critical thinking skills."
"overwhelming emphasis on the test"
in 180 days we expect students to absorb content and skills
our current method of testing skills is getting rid of all that we value in education
"there are some public school districts that do not struggle with funding education for their pupils"
will bring 1 to 5 tech for this coming year
lose those devices for 26 school days
what began as a movement to provide education for all, is become an education for those who can afford it
"Massachusetts is a leader not a follower"
first grade student has seen more students having meltdowns and having struggles
"we're not allowed to do what's best for young children"
every teacher in my building feels the same way
and that's a wrap!

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