The Forum on Educational Accountability (FEA) has been formed to expand on and advance the ideas in the "Joint Organizational Statement on No Child Left Behind" to improve federal education policy. The Joint Statement has been signed by 143 national education, civil rights, religious, children's, disability, and civic organizations, representing more than 50 million members.
[The following article will be published on page one of the October issue of Substance. Substance will be mailed to readers on Thursday, October 3, 2002].
Twelve English and Social Studies teachers from Chicago's massive Curie Metropolitan High School have informed Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan that they intend to refuse to administer the controversial CASE (Chicago Academic Standards Examinations) tests in January 2003.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will vote starting October 19 on a new NLCB/ESEA. The main bill, introduced by Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY), is about as bad as NCLB. It will require tens of millions of new tests and a heavy reliance on test scores to judge teachers, principals and “low scoring” schools. Congress must hear your voice if we are to block the worst provisions and have a chance to win beneficial changes.
Education Reform in Massachusetts began with high hopes. As educators, parents, and citizens, we believe those hopes have been eroded by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests. These tests have disrupted our classrooms and schools and diverted valuable resources away from efforts that put decision making more appropriately in the hands of local communities, schools, and teachers.
The following excerpt is from the opening chapter of STANDARDIZED MINDS: THE HIGH PRICE OF AMERICA'S TESTING CULTURE AND WHAT WE CAN DO TO CHANGE IT by Peter Sacks. (Perseus Books, Cambridge, Mass., February 2000).
Revisions are needed to the ESEA legislation now in Conference Committee in order to help strengthen the effort to improve schools' capacity to educate all children well by avoiding the dangers of too much testing, unrealistic adequate yearly progress mandates, and unfeasible "corrections" and sanctions. FairTest recommends that the Conference Committee adopt the following changes:
The level "proficient" varies substantially from state to state, depending on the difficulty of the test and how/where the state set its cutoff point for "proficient." Massachusetts, for example, is quite stringent, so that only 20% of tenth graders are labeled "proficient," though MA consistently scores among the top states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).