We are excited to present a talk by Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? and now a visiting lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Pasi has been a teacher, a teacher educator and educational coach and advisor for many years. He has become a global ambassador for Finland’s successful approach to school reform, one that is radically different from the test-driven, top-down reforms many of us have been resisting here in Massachusetts and across the United States.
Tempers flared and fingers stabbed out vitriolic editorials at the news that the Joint Education Committee wanted time to hear from voters and think about proposed charter cap and school turnaround legislation.
First, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz released a statement announcing the one-week extension. The statement was posted at the Blue Mass Group blog, prompting an interesting series of comments, including an excellent post by CPS member Shirley Kressel.
1) The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted this fall to begin pilot testing PARCC exams to see if we should move from our current MCAS tests to these new exams. The plan is to include 15% of the state’s students in approximately 2/3 of state schools. (For more, see our PARCC test fact sheet, here.)
2) Is opting out an option? More and more parents, teachers, school committee members and superintendents believe parents should be able to decide whether their children participate in these trials. → Read More
CPS submitted public comment on proposed regulations to implement the Chapter 222 law on student discipline. The law attempts to ensure students facing exclusion from school have access to alternative educational programming so they can continue to make academic progress. It also aims to increase fairness and reduce the number and length of student exclusions. CPS and other groups weighed in to ensure regulations from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education support these goals. Here are our comments:
Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education
For 32 years, Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) has worked to promote, preserve and protect public schools and public education. Key to this mission is ensuring equal access and educational opportunities for every child, and making sure that every student has a well-rounded public education that meets the needs of the whole child.
Campaigns against the overuse and misuse of standardized testing are exploding across the nation. Many parents, teachers, students and activists agree that one-size-fits-all exams produce narrow, misleading snapshots of U.S. children and public schools. State and local policy makers are starting to heed their constituents’ message by reducing testing overkill.
Now, major groups seeking to overhaul assessment have allied to help win more policy changes. Today, they announced the launch of “Testing Resistance & Reform Spring.” Citizens for Public Schools is proud to be a partner in this important campaign.
Testing Resistance & Reform Spring (TRRS) seeks to ensure that assessment contributes to all students having access to a high-quality education. The core theme is, “Enough is Enough: Less Testing, More Learning.” The alliance unites grassroots boycotts, rallies, opt-out organizing, town hall forums, petition drives and legislative campaigns around three fundamental goals:
- Stop high-stakes use of standardized tests;
- Reduce the number of standardized exams; and
- Replace multiple-choice tests with performance-based assessments.