Budget, Standardized Testing, Vision: 2020

Parents’ Questions Remain Unanswered

This speech was presented to the JCPS Board of Education on April 26, 2016. The video replay can be found here.periscope

Dear JCPS,

My t-shirt says:

We LOVE our teachers
Our school’s the BEST
We are more than a

KPREP is May 9-13. Many schools started test prep, boot camps, pull outs, etc. as soon as we returned from spring break. We are already receiving reports of test prep violations, misinformation, and anxiety leading up to the tests. Parents are aware of the national opt out movement and are asking questions about their rights. KDE has provided direction about opting out but there is no information available about how that plays out in JCPS.

Therefore, Dear JCPS and a few partner advocacy groups decided to put on a forum to get those questions answered. It’s this coming Thursday night at the Aeroclub. It’s called the 3R’s of High-Stakes Testing: Parents’ Rights, Responsibilities and Repercussions. We hope you can join us.

On April 11, we sent an invitation and a list of these questions to JCPS. They originally accepted our invite with three names attending.

On April 19, nearly a week after marketing resources had already been expended and wheels were in motion, JCPS suddenly declined citing a recirculated KDE document from a year ago. What changed?

We were informed that the district wants everyone to participate in the assessments so they will not be answering any of our parents questions. Why?

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).

Many feel the high stakes, standardized tests and test prep that do not guide instruction and instead are used to test and punish have become excessive, and we have a right to this information. So I will ask again.

  • How much money does JCPS spend on KPREP testing, materials, software?
    —->> Instead of freezing teacher salaries, get rid of high stakes tests!
  • How many tests per year/per grade are given and how are they used to guide instruction?
  • How many classroom hours are estimated to be spent on test prep (broken down by grade, subject, school)?
  • How many staff hours are dedicated to assessments?
  • Our parents have been told by many in JCPS that it is not possible to “opt out”? Yet some parents have shared with us that a process exists, while others have had this information withheld from them. And KDE offers two forms. So please provide the process and repercussions for doing so.
  • Is it possible to also opt a student out of test prep? What will the student do during this time instead?
  • How can excessive test prep even be allowed to happen when it is forbidden by statute? (KRS 158.6453)
  • Why 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?
  • What impact do these test scores have on admission requirements into magnet and traditional programs?
  • What other potential consequences exist at the district level?
  • How do any of these rights change with the new ESSA law, and when will they be implemented in JCPS?

You say you want more involved parents. Yet we are treated as if we don’t have the capacity to be part of the decisions necessary to educate our own children.

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