From Jen, Community Action Committee Chair – Opting Out of Testing (again)

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 10.34.26 AMDear Families,

For those who may have missed an earlier email…

As you know if your child is in 3rd-5th grades, we are coming up on the weeks of school devoted to the New York State tests. If your child will be taking the tests, we wish you luck!

Last year, 20 percent of students in grades 3-8 refused to take part in New York State’s 2015 Common Core assessments.

While the PA as a body has not taken an official stance on this enormously complicated issue, many parents remain concerned about standardized, sometimes high-stakes testing, including ways in which it can reshape other methods of learning. Some of us also continue to have serious concerns about how these tests may continue or again be used to assess both teachers and students here and across the country, though it is clear that the conversation in New York State has begun to take a more positive turn. Below is a link to a letter from Jen Nessel, the co-chair of the Community Action Committee, on the movement to opt out of the tests and what to do if you want to opt your child out. This is a letter that represents a point of view, but also tries to provide accurate information. Please direct all inquiries to Jen at jennessel@yahoo.com.

Letter from Jen Nessel, Please read!

OPT OUT “FORM LETTER”

Jen Nessel

Community Action Committee Chair

An Education Professor’s Opt-out Letter to Her Daughter’s Teacher

Dear Families,
I hope you’re enjoying your break! Some of you will remember Britt and Haven, who are former members of the EVCS community. Britt is also a professor at Columbia Teachers College and trained many of our beloved teachers at EVCS. I asked her permission to share this letter with our families because I found it incredibly moving and informative about the ways in which teaching and learning are being threatened by the growth of high-stakes testing. Please take the time to read it– these issues are critical to the future of education in our country.
Also, I recently went to a surprising talk by an Earth School parent who worked in the testing industry for 15 years and blows the whistle on all the ways the tests don’t measure what they are supposed to measure, are graded arbitrarily, sloppily, and incorrectly, and are basically a $2.7 billion scam. If you’re interested, you can watch the talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvnUqYAXK-4&feature=youtu.be.
All the best,
Jen

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Opting Out of Testing

Dear Families,

As you know if your child is in 3rd-5th grades, we are coming up on the weeks of school devoted to the State tests. If your child will be taking the tests, we wish you luck!

optWhile the PA has not, as a body, taken an official stance on this enormously complicated issue, we are deeply concerned about the implications of high-stakes testing and the ways in which it is reshaping more organic methods of learning and assessing both teachers and students across the country. Below is a letter from Jen Nessel, the chair of the Community Action Committee, on the movement to opt out of the tests and what to do if you want to opt your child out. This is a letter that represents a point of view but also tries to provide accurate information. Please read it!

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Join us THIS SATURDAY to #ProtectOurSchools!

Time is critical:  Governor Cuomo is threatening to withhold state funds for DOE – public schools and funded Afterschool programs in order to force through is policies of more charter schools and more threats to our teachers!
We have until April 1 – when the Governor and state Legislature must pass the budget-  to let them know that NYC public school parents do not agree with his priorities and tactics of punishing kids and teachers!
EVCS families, meet up across the street on the SW corner of Third Ave and 41st St at noon. We will gather there, then cross the street to join the demonstration in front of the governor’s office! If you come late, just find us!
Also, bring signs and noisemakers!

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Tompkins Square Middle School PTA and The Earth School PA Invite ALL

Screening of “RISE ABOVE THE MARK”
Thursday March 19 5:30-7pm Auditorium (600 E 6th St)

Hear why Earth School parent and author Todd Farley (Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry) won’t allow his kids to take the tests and doesn’t believe yours should either.
on Tuesday March 24 5:30-7pm Auditorium (600 E 6th St)

The Community Education Council District 1 Invites you to a Panel on Accountability, high Stakes Tests and the current status of Education Policies
Wednesday March 25 6:00-7:30pm PS 20

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Reminder: Tomorrow Discuss high stakes testing, Wed. Mar 4 at EVCS

A talk on Testing, tomorrow
Wednesday, March 4 at 8:45am

Please welcome Celia Oyler, Teachers College Professor.
Celia will discuss high stakes testing, its implications, and what it means to “opt out”.

The talk will take place at 8:45 in the auditorium after CWS drop-off. All parents and caregivers from all schools are welcome and encouraged to attend. Hope to see you there.

Interesting Read: Why Are American Schools Obsessed With Turning Kids Into Robots?

Brought to you by Jen Nessel, Chair of Community Action Committee 

Standardized tests aren’t the only way of measuring intelligence.

Feb 2 2015, 9:21 AM ET

Anya Kamenetz is very clear when she says she didn’t set out to write about standardized testing. A 2014 New America fellow and lead education blogger at National Public Radio, she had already written two books about the future of education and wanted her next project to be about innovations in K-12 education. But as she began researching her new book, The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing—But You Don’t Have to Be, she found something surprising: Innovations weren’t at the center of the story for K-12. At best, they were at the margins, always seemed difficult to incorporate. Why? Because of a social and political obsession with standardized testing in America. In order to write accurately about improving K-12 education, she had to write about what she calls “the gorilla in the room.”

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Charter schools, high-stakes testing, Common Core and more!

community

Dear Families,

The Community Action Committee’s first topic will be organizing with the Community Education Council (CEC) against the opening of a Success Academy Charter School in our district that would take space from actual public schools. More info can be found here. We’ll be meeting this coming Tuesday after drop-off in the lobby, possibly moving to Roost for some good coffee.

Meanwhile, for more information on the Common Core– not so much how it is interpreted in our school, which Bradley did a good job of explaining at the PA mtg this week, but what the national context is, some of the criticisms of how it affects at-risk schools and kids and how it relates to high-stakes testing, corporatization of education, teacher scapegoating, and sharing our children’s personal data — read this speech by Diane Ravitch reprinted in the Washington Post.

If you’re interested in these issues or have others you’d like to work on, please join the CAC and come to the meeting Tuesday!

Best,

Jen

PS If you can’t make it but want to be kept in the loop, just respond to this email and I’ll put you on the list.