high-stakes tests

All posts tagged high-stakes tests

3rs flyer HS smWe have a great list of panelists for this Thursday night’s forum entitled The 3R’s of High-Stakes Testing: Parents’ Rights, Responsibilities and Repercussions. They have the experience and information to answer your questions regarding high-stakes tests, and will empower parents with the information you need to do what is best for your student, as well as recommend actions you can take to encourage district and state leaders to do what is best for all students when it comes to assessments and accountability.

Unfortunately, JCPS has decided NOT to participate in our forum, despite originally agreeing to send three top-level administrators to serve. We are uncertain what new information would have prompted JCPS to suddenly decline our panel after our marketing and communications had already been placed into motion. As of this writing, JCPS has declined to respond to our list of parents’ questions, claiming that a document they forwarded from the state answers many of our questions (which it does not). For purposes of transparency, we wanted to share the conversations following our initial invitation to JCPS to participate in our panel regarding the forum so parents are aware of the dialogue that has taken place, and the district’s unfortunate unwillingness to provide the answers we feel parents are entitled to.

We have forwarded the list of the questions to an attorney at the state, as well. We will share everything we have learned on Thursday night. Join us!


Timeline of Conversations:


On April 14, I received the following email:

Dear Gay,

Thank you for the invitation.

Dr. Dena Dossett, Karen Branham and Dr. Alicia Averett will attend the forum on behalf of JCPS. They will be happy to answer questions during the forum.

I am sorry, but we are not able to provide Stewart Auditorium as a location for the event.

Please let us know at your earliest convenience when a location has been secured, so we can communicate that information to our staff. Also, please advise once you have a final list of panelists.

Sincerely,
Allison


On April 19 at 4:59 PM, I received the following email:

Dear Gay,

Today JCPS received the attached communication from KDE regarding “opting out.” I believe it answers many of your questions, and in light of the guidance it provides, JCPS will not be attending the forum next week.

The KDE guidelines are clear, and you may make copies of this letter to distribute to parents. KDE and the legislature sets the rules and JCPS follows those rules.

I apologize for the change in plans.

Allison

Allison Gardner Martin
Communications Director
JCPS
502-485-3551


On April 19 at 9:52 PM, I responded:

Hi Allison,

I am already familiar with the information in this document. It is not new information. We have done our research and had reviewed this document, along with many others, prior to collecting and sending our list of questions to you.

Although KRS does not allow a student to “opt out,” they can “refuse” the test. Doing so will result in a zero or novice score (there is contradictory information about this, which is why we continue to ask the question). The repercussions of “refusing” the test is what many of our parents’ questions revolve around. In addition, this document only pertains to the state test (KPREP). Our parents have questions about district assessments, test prep, and more. Furthermore, we are aware of an “opt out” letter than has been afforded to some parents, under “rare situations.” Lastly, the new ESSA law changes the game going forward, and affords teachers, administrators and school districts increased flexibility regarding opt out (see attached).congressmen letter

In light of the fact that the document you provided is not new information, we would appreciate if you could review our list of questions again and provide answers to the best of your ability, as well as continue to plan to have representatives on our panel. The marketing has already been purchased, flyers have already been printed and distributed, and parents still have the same questions as before. Nothing has changed since your acceptance of our invitation on Thursday. Declining now would be an affront to all parents and panelists who have expressed an interest and/or made plans to participate in the event.

We continue to look forward to your responses to our FAQs by the 21st, as well as your honoring your commitment to answer parent questions on the 28th.

Thank you,
Gay


On April 20, I received a call from Tom Hudson, Chief Business Officer, asking why I was continuing to promote JCPS’ attendance at our forum. I responded that I had not heard back from Allison, but felt that since nothing had changed since they first accepted our invitation, and the event was now less than a week away, it would be impractical and imprudent to not continue with our marketing that was already set in motion. Creating new graphics and flyers is a considerable drain of resources and expense, and takes time away from other important tasks at hand.  Furthermore, I had every reason to believe that my bringing her attention to the fact that the information she forwarded was “old news” would encourage them to stay on our panel. Tom informed me that they do not support the parents’ rights to opt-out, and therefore would not be participating in our panel.  I sent the below message in a follow-up email to Tom.

[Allison’s] statement that the “attached document” answers many of our questions was false. I had not heard anything else from Allison after sending my reply email, so I was operating under the assumption that my arguments were persuasive enough to continue with the panel (and still believe they are.)

I am disappointed that JCPS has decided to decline our invitation after we have already expended our resources designing and purchasing marketing materials and promoting the event, when nothing has changed from when the invitation was initially accepted. Meanwhile, our parents’ questions still remain unanswered.

Gay

This email was sent to Allison Martin, Director of Communications for JCPS:fish

Greetings Allison,

I hope this message finds you well. I also hope that you are the best person to direct our invitation and questions to, but if not, please let us know.

In addition to several prompts from JCPS BOE members in recent months for JCPS to determine the best ways to reduce the emphasis on high-stakes testing, JCPS’s Vision 2020, Strategy 1.1.4, also commits to “Reduce, revise, and refine assessments: Develop a balanced district and school-level assessment system in collaboration with teachers that is grounded in the broader definition of student learning that: mandates fewer and broader assessments; builds teacher capacity in assessment literacy including the development and use of formative, authentic, project- and performance-based assessments; and reduces reliance on standardized, multiple-choice tests.”

Dear JCPS parents and teachers have become highly cognizant of the opt-out movement that is taking place nationwide. As a result, we have been receiving a large number of questions specific to parents’ rights regarding refusing or opting-out of high-stakes, standardized testing. We want to be sure that the information our members are receiving is accurate. Therefore, Dear JCPS will be hosting a forum on Thursday, April 28 at 6:00 pm to help answer these questions. We are calling the event “The NEW 3 R’s of Public Education: A parent’s guide to the Rights, Responsibilities and Repercussions of refusing high-stakes tests.” Dear JCPS’s position is that the emphasis the state places on standardized test scores has reached detrimental levels, especially with our most vulnerable populations, and undermines success of many other important goals our district has ahead of it. Because parents have every right to advocate for their children, and can be instrumental in leading the change our district needs, we would like to assist in creating an informed and empowered parental base that can help our district reach these important goals as soon as possible.

The event location is still pending, but it will be live-streamed and questions will be taken from the audience as well as from social media. Panel invitees thus far include JCTA, PTA, U of L, NAACP and CLOUT, as well as a teacher and parent panelist. We are hoping we can also count on JCPS to participate in the panel to ensure the most accurate information is provided. Also, if you wish to recommend another group to participate in the panel for a more robust discussion, we are receptive to that as well.

In addition, some questions we have received that we are hoping you might provide district responses to so that we can share them with stakeholders ahead of the event are:

We are familiar with the concept of “refusing” state tests:

  • Is it possible to “opt out”? What is the process? Some parents have shared with us that a process exists, yet others have had this information withheld from them. JCPS should provide clear step-by-step instructions on their website.
  • If we opt out (or refuse), will my child still receive a score? Zero? Novice? Please explain both scenarios, if different.
  • If we know we will be opting out of KPREP, is it possible to also opt our student out of test prep? What will my child do during this time instead?
  • How can test prep even be happening if it is forbidden by statute? (KRS 158.6453)

What are the potential repercussions for opting out or refusing the KPREP (possibly defined as not putting forth a good-faith effort)? I.e.,

  • Are the KPREP scores used to determine entry into a magnet, traditional or other program? Would an opportunity to appeal or provide alternative score be provided?
  • Will my child be left out of “motivational” rewards programs?
  • Could there be any discipline under school or district policies including the code of conduct or behavior?

Parents tell us they are not opposed to testing, just the excessive number of tests that do not guide instruction, and/or are not teacher led.

  • How many tests per year/per grade are there that are not used to guide instruction?
  • Are teachers prohibited from speaking up against which of these tests are unnecessary? Or which test prep they feel is ineffective or unnecessary? Is their input being sought to accomplish the Vision 2020 goal sooner rather than later?
  • How is KPREP used to guide instruction if scores are not received until following school year?

Also:

  • Do you have data on the number of students who have “opted out” or “refused” KPREP previously?
  • How much money does JCPS spend on KPREP testing, materials, software? (Please break it down by category and vendor, as well as any internal expenses.)
  • How many classroom hours are estimated to be spent on test prep (broken down by grade, subject, school)?
  • How do any of these rights change with ESSA, and when will they be implemented in JCPS?
  • What other areas has JCPS identified where they are working to remove/reduce the emphasis placed on test scores, as well as to level the playing field for all schools, so that assessments become more authentic and equitable?

If you could, please confirm JCPS’s participation in our panel no later than this Thursday, April 14, along with the name and title of the person participating. This will allow us time to include the information in our communications. We would also appreciate answers to the FAQs no later than April 21. If you have any questions about these requests, please let me know.

Dear JCPS believes having more educated and empowered stakeholders results in a stronger and more successful public education system.

Thank you for all you do.

Gay Adelmann
Dear JCPS