CPS: Mandate recess for all students

CPS Executive Director Lisa Guisbond testified on Sept. 4 before the Joint Committee on Education in favor of bills to guarantee students a minimum of 20 minutes a day of recess. Here is her testimony:

As students and educators return to school, access to recess is among many issues on their minds.

Unfortunately, this hearing’s timing means that most could not come to share their wisdom about what happens when students do not have recess, and what happens when they do.

There is abundant evidence confirming the essential need for recess for students’ physical and emotional health, social development and academic success.

Just in time for your deliberations, a paper has been released titled “A research-based case for recess” by Prof. Jarrett of Georgia State. My written testimony includes a link to the paper: https://usplaycoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Need-for-Recess-2019-FINAL-for-web.pdf

Among the paper’s many findings is that there are vast inequities in access to recess.

For example, a 2007 survey of 1,055 schools found access was affected by school size, location, region, minority enrollment, and eligibility for free and reduced-price lunch.   → Read More

CPS Calls for Moratorium on High-Stakes Testing, State Grants to Develop Better Alternatives

Calling for a moratorium on the high-stakes uses of standardized testing in our public schools, Citizens for Public Schools members and allies testified today at a State House hearing in support of bills that would also require development of alternative assessments and other crucial reforms to improve assessments.

Educators, parents, a student and others detailed the increasingly harmful consequences of our overuse and misuse of standardized testing, and the urgent need to pause the current testing regime to develop alternative approaches to educational assessment and accountability to improve our children’s education. All the speakers emphasized that the current system has failed to reduce disparities based on race, income, disability and language.

CPS supports five bills considered at today’s hearing (see below). Collectively, they would impose a three-year moratorium on the high-stakes uses of standardized test results, establish a grant program to develop alternatives to high-stakes standardized testing, inform parents about their rights to opt out, allow local districts to determine graduation requirements, and make other improvements.   → Read More

CPS Calls on DESE to Hold 10th Graders Harmless from Flawed MCAS Exam Results

CPS Executive Director Lisa Guisbond’s public comments, delivered at the April 23, 2019 Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Meeting.

An MCAS question on the 10th grade ELA exam caused enough consternation and trauma to students of color (and other students) that some students and teachers courageously spoke up, despite a gag rule put in place to protect the tests, not the students.

Commissioner Riley, to his credit, withdrew the question when it came to light (again, thanks to the students), but more needs to be done.

After all, research shows that when faced with a racially biased question, students of color are likely to be thrown off and do worse on the whole test than they would otherwise have done.

According to the American Psychological Association, researchers Steele, Aronson, and Spencer, found that even passing reminders that someone belongs to one group or another, such as a group stereotyped as inferior in academics, can wreak havoc with test performance.   → Read More

CPS Calls on MA DESE to Remove Misleading Information on MCAS Participation Immediately

With MCAS testing season upon us, Citizens for Public Schools calls on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to immediately delete misinformation on its web site and provide clear, consistent and accurate information to parents who choose to refuse testing for their children and to school officials charged with administering the test.

Specifically, we demand that DESE remove language falsely implying that it is illegal for students and/or their parents to refuse to participate in MCAS testing. On a page titled Participation Requirements for Students in Grades 3-8 and 10, it says: “The 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Law, state law M. G. L. Chapter 69, section 1I, mandates that all students in the tested grades who are educated with Massachusetts public funds participate in MCAS.”

This is not accurate.

The law requires the state to administer the test. There is no mention of students being mandated to take it.   → Read More

CPS Honors Three Champions of Education Justice

Congratulations to our honorees! Champions for Education Justice: Rev. Willie Bodrick II, Catari Giglio, Barbara Madeloni. And thanks to all the CPS members and friends who joined us last night at the 2019 CPS Annual Meeting to help us honor them. It was truly an inspiring and energizing night to fuel our spirits for the Fund Our Future fight ahead!   → Read More