To the Editor:
We the undersigned are Rhode Island parents, grandparents, teachers, retired teachers, and concerned citizens – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. We are not misinformed about the nature and purposes of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC testing. We have spent countless hours of our own time researching, reading, discussing, commenting, and connecting with others across RI and across the country about this topic. Across the country, countless teachers and parents have spoken up about the harm of the Common Core, high-stakes standardized testing in general, and the PARCC testing in particular. Across the country, tens of thousands of families have refused to allow their children to participate in this egregious corporate/national plan to confuse, deflate, rank, sort, and track the public school children of America, which will result in the discouragement and alienation of many.
The PARCC testing means hours of valuable instructional time lost in favor of teaching to the test. RIDE’s claim that there is no “test prep” for the PARCC does not agree with what Rhode Island teachers, parents, and students are experiencing.
The PARCC testing means time lost to yearly tests given in multiple parts, disrupting the school day from much of March through May, particularly in high school.
The PARCC testing means diverting a significant portion of school budgets away from instruction in order to pay for tests, test prep materials, training manuals, and computers or other electronic devices required for testing.
The PARCC testing means that the subjects tested – math and English language arts – take priority, and so districts remove resources from untested subjects such as history, social studies, civics, the arts, and even science. Music, drama, libraries, counselors, and other programs and resources vital to students’ development are falling by the wayside.
The PARCC testing means pushing children beyond developmentally appropriate learning, (e.g., trying to introduce Algebra to first graders) and therefore hindering learning of essential, appropriate learning (e.g., addition and multiplication tables).
The PARCC testing means further marginalizing children with special needs – English language learners, students with IEPs and 504 plans, and children from high poverty neighborhoods. It does these students a particular disservice to force-feed them a harmful diet of test prep in reading and math.
The PARCC testing means test questions which are confusing, unnecessarily complicated, or purposely deceptive. Countless parents with advanced degrees have testified that many of the Common Core worksheets and PARCC sample test questions are convoluted and confusing. Even they cannot determine the “correct” answer anticipated by the test makers.
The PARCC testing means teachers being unfairly judged on the basis of one company’s test scores.
The PARCC testing means handing our children’s education without question to private business monopolies such as Pearson, with the company’s bottom line as their priority, blurring the focus on the obvious needs, interests, and well being of our children.
The PARCC testing means handing reams of our children’s potentially personally identifiable data to third party vendors, which intentionally or unintentionally can have disastrous consequences for them.
At a RI Department of Education/RI PTA information session entitled “Common Core: Just the Facts” held on Nov. 12, 2014, Mary Ann Snider, RIDE’s Chief of Educator Excellence and Instructional Effectiveness, admitted that there is no law that requires students to take the PARCC and stated that RIDE certainly would not punish students or their teachers for students not taking the test.
In a field memo to all RI superintendents on Jan. 16, 2015, Commissioner Gist answered the question “Will PARCC affect my child’s grades?” with the following statement: “This year, we will not have PARCC results during the current school year, so PARCC results will not affect your child’s grade in this school year.”
RIDE spokesman Elliot Krieger, Office of the Commissioner, wrote in an email on Jan. 30, 2015: “Any students not approved for non-testing who do not participate in PARCC assessments will count against school, district, and state participation rates. We will count as non-participants (rather than participants with a score of zero) any students who make no effort to take PARCC assessments, including those who attend a testing session.”
So, please know that we, the parents, grandparents, teachers, retired teachers, and concerned citizens of RI will not accept RIDE’s authoritarian demands that every child in school on testing day will be tested. As Rhode Islanders and as Americans, we have the inalienable right to follow our conscience and to do what is in the best interest of our children. Taking the PARCC tests is not in their best interest. Parents assert their right to Refuse the PARCC.
(Adapted with permission from Colleen Daly Martinez, Opt Out of State Standardized Tests - New Jersey)
Donna J. Hawkins Walsh, East Providence
Patricia Hincks, retired teacher, East Greenwich
Kim Zito, Charlestown (Chariho)
Suzanne Arena, Cranston, Decoding Dyslexia RI
Debbie Flitman, Cranston, parent of a student in Cranston and a student in Pawtucket
Donison Allen, parent, Burrillville
Jonathan J. Thomson, Pawtucket
Jean Patricia Lehane, parent, Portsmouth
Meggan Freire, Little Compton
Sheila Resseger, Cranston, retired teacher, RI School for the Deaf
Melissa Picard Hecht
Carole Marshall, retired teacher, Providence Public Schools
Dr. Daniel P. Snowman, RI College, parent, Smithfield
Janice Miller, grandparent, Cranston
Hannah Resseger, M.A.
Jean Ann Guliano, parent, East Greenwich
Dr. Dannie Ritchie, MD, MPH, professor and concerned citizen, Providence
Wendy Holmes, Providence, Professor Emerita, URI
Peg Bugara, Little Compton, Retired Educator, Newport Public Schools
Kerry Feather, parent of three children, Cumberland
Stacie Laplume Giles, Warwick
Ken Maynard, concerned grandfather, Riverside
Holly Bellucci, parent, Smithfield
Eloise O’Shea-Wyatt, retired teacher, opposed to all privatization
Jennifer Thomson, mother, Pawtucket