Still no R.I. law that mandates participation in the PARCC

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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

Comments

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sarena45

It is completely unacceptable that the Commissioner of Education in Rhode Island, #DebGist, never put into place a plan for all of our 39 District Superintendents to have protocol in place for children that were not taking the test. Instead you have parents being told inappropriate, confusing and stressing us out, someone from RIDE should have came forward and fixed their oversight and given guidance to Districts and parents. I have spoken to countless parents that have expressed the turmoil they are being dragged through. Parents have been told their child must sit in a room with the form and MUST take it, come and take your child home on the days of the test (keep in mind this will go for 1.5 weeks in March, and again in May), your child must sit in the room with the other children that are taking the test and can read for 3 hours with a book they bring from home, Your child will get a zero, your parent letters to Opt-Out of taking the test are 'Not Accepted'. Special Educaton goals for that day are not clear how they will be met beause "all teachers on hand" will be overseeing the tests. This is very stressful and paralyzing to the parents. Parents need clarity and consistency throughout the school districts. Where is the leadership, and how are we to have belief in a system that gives no trust for basic foundation protocol. I will say Cranston PV has been working with me to give my child who is in 7th grade, but reads and comprehends at lower levels a plan of action that will meet his needs since we are not taking the test. When a child has an IEP, which has measureable goals being met with the requirements of what must be met, my son does not need to take PARCC test that does not provide his necessary accommodations, and is setting him up for failure. My child has seen enough failure from the Dept. of Ed for many many years.

Sunday, March 8, 2015
davebarry109

What will you folks accept? A continuation of a failed school system? The highest high school drop out rates in the industrialized worldj? The mediocre standings in math and science in the world? What would you esteemed educators and parents accept? It is not enough to be against something. What will you do to fix the current mess?

Thursday, March 12, 2015