CPS statement on 2019 MCAS results: MCAS not about real education, equity or justice

The latest MCAS results point to three conclusions:

First, Massachusetts school and district accountability system is not helping students, even by its own limited criteria, test scores. The nation is moving away from standardized test scores as the true measure of learning, but Massachusetts state officials hang on.

Second, the decisions about what it means to “meet expectations” or to qualify for a diploma in this state are driven by politics, not educational wisdom or experience. That’s why the same percentage of students qualify for diplomas as last year, even though the test is different and supposedly has higher standards. Officials feel that if they flunk too many students, the whole edifice will come tumbling down. Under the old tests, the standards were higher for the elementary grades than for high school for the same reason: The high school was required for graduation and parents would revolt if the state refused to give diplomas to too many students.   → Read More

CPS Statement on Release of the”Student Opportunity Act”

The details of this bill are promising and a testament to the hard work and commitment of tens of  thousands of public education advocates – unionized educators, parents, students, and everyone who recognizes that public schools are the foundation of our democracy.

We applaud the Education Committee for listening to our grass roots movement and for their hard work so far.

Much work remains, however, to ensure the final bill is something to be proud ofWe in Citizens for Public Schools and the Fund Our Future Coalition will continue to be vigilant and vocal until the best possible bill is signed, sealed and delivered. And our vigilance will continue even after that happens, to be sure the added funds go to real educational needs and support the vision of our communities for educational quality and equity. — CPS Executive Director Lisa Guisbond   → Read More

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