California Educator

April 2015

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Fortunately, the national fascination with test scores seems to be waning, and more and more parents are joining educators who have long been fed up with the unnecessary pressures on their students. We need to make sure Congress is listening. We are at a major crossroads in this state and in this country with standardized testing, and as I write this, Congress is debating and moving quickly on the reautho- rization of ESEA. Your representatives need to hear from you about what must be included. Tell Congress that there must be oppor- tunities for all students, no matter where a student lives, and they must give our students more time to learn and educators more time to teach by cutting back on high- stakes testing. Please join me in making sure Congress gets it right this time. Visit today and add your experienced voice to our nationwide advocacy efforts. Ask Dean In its initial stages ESEA allocated a billion dollars a year to schools with high concentrations of low-income students. This was momentous legislation and a huge step in a federal effort to close the achievement gap. That original ESEA bill contained over 17,000 words. When you print it out, it's over 40 pages long. But in all those words and pages, do you know what phrase doesn't appear a single time? Standardized tests! You also won't find the words "failing" or "sanctions" or "AYP" anywhere. The word "testing" appears only once, and that's only in the context of testing new educational ideas — in other words, encouraging innovation and taking risks. In fact, there is not a single reference in the original ESEA to any of the awful things we have come to associate with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Between 1965 and today, the country's whole approach to determining what's important in teaching and learning has shifted to the simplistic idea that a test scores tells it all. The overreliance on test scores has been and is a disaster. It has undermined quality learning, nar- rowed curriculums and scuttled important subject areas. NCLB hijacked testing from what it was intended to do — to provide feed- back to educators and help guide and differentiate instruction. At its height, NCLB required 17 high-stakes tests per student during a K-12 time period. Teachers aren't opposed to testing. After all, we invented it. It's an important tool that we use and will always use. But using high-stakes standard- ized testing to label and punish our students and schools isn't fair, and it must stop with the reauthorization of ESEA. Dean E. Vogel C T A P R E S I D E N T When did high-stakes testing take the place of learning? There is a role for charter schools in California's education system, and that role should be performed to the same high standards of integrity, transparency and openness required of traditional public schools." "As California continues to transition, transform and revitalize our public schools with the Common Core State Standards, old student assessment methods must make way for the new, and that takes time." Do you have an issue or topic you'd like Dean to address? Let us know. Email When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was signed into law by President Johnson in 1965, it was a key component of his "War on Poverty," and was designed to deliver new resources to schools that served low-income students and to help close achievement gaps for students of color. 4

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