CPS Thanks the Parent, Labor and Student Reps for Saying “No to MCAS 2.0!”

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to adopt Commissioner Mitchell Chester’s “door number three” recommendation: a new test to be developed by a contractor using many PARCC questions.

CPS members opposed this recommendation and believe that the board’s decision only strengthens the need for a three-year moratorium on the high stakes uses of standardized tests, whatever name is attached to them.

We agree with the Commissioner on one thing: our students, teachers and schools have reached a point of diminishing returns. But the diminishing returns are from the whole high-stakes testing enterprise, not MCAS itself, as Chester claims.

In voting to continue with a new and untested test, our data-driven education policymakers ignored their own data from a study commissioned by Secretary of Education Peyser. The study compared MCAS and PARCC in terms of their ability to predict college readiness. The results showed that neither test predicts more than 5% to 18% of the variation in college grades in math and English.   → Read More

November 16th Hearing on PARCC vs. MCAS

Next week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hold a final public hearing before they vote on whether to transition from MCAS to PARCC testing. Or maybe they will listen to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who said last week that he will propose “Door No. 3,” or “MCAS 2.0”- a homegrown version of PARCC that does not exist yet.

We’d love to see as many of you as can come to the public hearing at Malden High School on Monday, November 16 at 4 p.m. Map and directions can be found here.

Parents, students and teachers will be sending a strong, clear message: PARCC tests are not the answer. We oppose using any standardized test to make high-stakes decisions about students, teachers or schools. It’s time for a moratorium! You will be able to sign up on arrival to speak for three minutes.

Let us know if you’re planning to come!   → Read More

New Developments Strengthen Case for Moratorium on Punitive Uses of State Standardized Tests

A perfect storm has engulfed the Massachusetts test-focused accountability system:

  • First, the Mathematica study commissioned by Secretary James Peyser showed that neither MCAS nor PARCC measures college readiness accurately. Mathematica reported that test scores accounted for only five to 18 percent of the variation in first-year college grades.
  • Next, Commissioner Mitchell Chester pulled back from his push for Massachusetts to adopt the national PARCC test, telling the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week that he will propose “Door No. 3,” or “MCAS 2.0” – a homegrown version of PARCC that does not exist yet. This year, students took three different state tests: MCAS, PARCC on computers, and PARCC on paper. Next year, no one knows what’s in store. How can we rank schools on student achievement with such different yardsticks?
  • Then, last Saturday, President Obama unexpectedly announced he has directed the Department of Education to work “aggressively” to cut back on standardized testing and to change the No Child Left Behind waiver agreements through which the federal government pressured states to increase testing.
   → Read More

Welcome to the Hunger Games!

It was another marathon State House hearing on the future of public education in the Commonwealth. Some called it a circus, with throngs of bused-in charter parents in matching t-shirts; parents, students, and teachers wearing “Public Funds for Public Schools” stickers; a beaming Gov. Baker with his entourage; and cameras recording the testimony of two opposing visions of education. I kept having visions of The Hunger Games, with Gov. Baker presiding over an arena of combatants, fighting for education resources that dwindle over time, while the needs continue to grow (along with the divide between the state’s rich and poor).

Civil rights icon Mel King, as always, drilled down to the struggle’s essence. Our elected representatives should fight for liberty and justice for all, but they seem content to fight just for some. “This legislation does not set forth justice for all…it’s justice for some folks and not for all folks,” he said.   → Read More

Week of Action on Charters, Oct. 5-9

Citizens for Public Schools and other members of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance are holding a Week of Action on Charter Schools to raise public awareness about how students in our district public schools are impacted by charters. The messages will be spread through social media and local media outlets. Fact sheets and background information are available here.

KEEP PUBLIC FUNDS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Click here to Sign this Petition to Keep the Cap on Charters.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5: Public Funds For Public Schools

Communities all across Massachusetts are losing funds to charter schools. Check out this interactive map to see how much your community is losing.

Take action!

  • Watch for and wear the new Public Funds for Public Schools stickers. (Teachers can contact their local association president to get them.)
  • Share the sticker image and its message on Facebook and Twitter. (It will be posted on the CPS Facebook page.)

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 6: Public Control of Public Schools

A major problem: charter schools can be approved despite objections from a majority of local taxpayers and elected officials and local officials have no say over how those charters are run.   → Read More