High-Stakes Testing

Understanding the Common Core: Resources from AR Ally

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia. To say they're contentious is to put it mildly. Admist a nationwide backlash, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a member of the Arkansas OTL Campaign, has released a short guide for parents to answer some of the biggest questions about the Common Core and its impact on their children's schools.

The Common Core State Standards have been adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia. To say they're contentious is to put it mildly. For various reasons, a nationwide backlash has taken hold and some states are reconsidering the standards.

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"Gag Order" Bars Educators From Talking About Standardized Tests

A "gag order" in New York's contract with test-making giant Pearson bars teachers from talking publicly about mistakes they find on state tests. The American Federation of Teachers has launched a petition asking Pearson to remove the gag order from current and future contracts. Sign on!

Teachers in New York recently administered new Common Core-aligned standardized tests, but because of a "gag order" in the state's contract with test-making giant Pearson, the teachers are barred from talking publicly about any mistakes they find on the test.  

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Options In The Standoff Over Test-Based Education Policy

By Jeff Bryant, Education Opportunity Network

Teachers, parents, and students are speaking out against the extraordinary emphasis on standardized testing that has become the bedrock of the nation’s education policies. They are questionining the whole idea that teaching and learning can be expressed and judged solely in numbers and rankings, which seems to be a forgone conclusion to policy makers and economists.

This post originally appeared on Education Opportunity Network.

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The Beginning Of An End To Sanction-Driven Education?

Jeff Bryant, Education Opportunity Network

Zero-tolerance school discipline policies and high-stakes testing go hand-in-hand to create the school-to-prison pipeline. Are these policies finally starting to fall out of favor?

Last week, the Obama administration took an important step for the well-being of the nation’s youth – especially those who are of racial minorities – by issuing new guidelines that many hope will shut down what has come to be known as “the school-to-prison pipeline.”

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What Does the Drop in NYC Test Scores Really Show Us?

By Michael Holzman, Schott Foundation

No student learns well in places where resources are systematically diverted from where they are needed to places where wealthier families live. The results of the Common Core-aligned 2013 New York State tests of students paint a stark picture of systemic inequality in access to education resources and opportunities.

The results of the 2013 New York State tests of students in grades 3-8 have been greeted with consternation, as they should be, but it should be emphasized that they paint a picture of a system—especially that part administered by the New York City Department of Education—that is far gone in failure. This is simply the most recent indication of that failure and the Department’s lack of attention to its responsibilities.

Failing to the Top: How Students Are Being Set Up to Fail

By Jeff Bryant, Education Opportunity Network

As new Common Core-aligned tests roll out in the states and student scores plummet under the higher standards, it's worth pointing out how students are set up to fail by education policies that establish standards without providing the resources and opportunities students need to meet them.

I have this recurring nightmare – one that, I fear, is about to become reality for most of America’s school children.

In my dream, I’m back in elementary school. It’s testing day and I’m struggling to remember my locker combination and get to class on time. My backpack implausibly opens and spills its contents into the hallway. Indifferent schoolmates rush by.

Messages About Public Education That Don't Sell Well (and Ones That Will)

By Jeff Bryant, Education Opportunity Network

We need to do a better job of selling public education as an institution worth defending. In particular, here are five messages about public education we should stop using because they don't sell well. 

[The following is from a talk given at a meeting of the Young Elected Officials last week in Washington, D.C. This post originally appeared on Education Opportunity Network.]

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Ed "Reform" Strategies Didn't Work in Private Sector, Why Should They Work in Schools?

For all the positive-sounding rhetoric around "competition" and "accountability," forcing individuals or organizations to compete for resources and scapegoating employees instead of addressing larger structural problems doesn't do any business any good. Despite their failure in the private sector, these same strategies have become the dominant education reform agenda in our nation's schools.

If today's dominant education reform agenda is to be believed, the best way to reform our schools is to take a lesson from businesses and the private sector. We should pit schools and teachers against each other in a vicious competition for limited resources, and hold teachers accountable for larger societal ills like poverty and inequality by tying their livelihoods to high-stakes tests and firing those who fail to perform.

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What Parents Really Want: Poll Says More Funding, Less Testing and Strong Local Schools

A national poll reveals that parents overwhelmingly prefer to have strong, neighborhood public schools rather than "school choice" options like charer schools and vouchers. Parents are also concerned about the rise of high-stakes testing in our nation's schools and the need to provide students with wraparound supports and a well-rounded curriculum.

This is probably only news to people who support the expansion of charter schools and voucher programs, but parents overwhelmingly prefer to have strong, neighborhood public schools over any of those "school choice" options.

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