What’s New in Bad Ideas from MA DESE? 

With confidence in standardized tests at a low ebb, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) proposes paying kids to care about MCAS. On Friday, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will consider a Student Achievement Award Program, including a $25 gift certificate for high MCAS scores. This proposal has us in the field shaking our collective heads, wondering what incentive might encourage those who dreamed this up to consider the perspective of actual high-needs students. A $26 gift certificate, perhaps? 

Of the many obstacles to academic success faced by students with disabilities, English Learners, Black and Latinx students, and economically disadvantaged students, the lack of a $25 gift certificate is not on the list. In the context of the unprecedented trauma and dislocation many students have experienced and continue to experience during the pandemic, this proposal is tone deaf.

Tim Wise, a writer and parent of three Cambridge Public School graduates, asks how class dynamics will be affected when one high-scoring kid doesn’t get the recognition and cash while her classmate does because they are a SWD, economically disadvantaged, or an English learner.   → Read More

Concerns about the validity of the Spring 2021 MCAS Results

We write to communicate our concerns about the data shared by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from the Spring 2021 MCAS testing.

Teachers, School Committees and school superintendents told state leaders last year that spring 2021 MCAS tests would be a waste of time because nothing could be learned from the scores that wasn’t already obvious. 

However, state officials insisted that it was critical to measure exactly how much learning loss COVID has inflicted on our children, and how big the famous “gaps” among groups of students have grown.Now that the scores are out, we can see that the tests failed to reach even those limited goals. Several thousand 10th grade students didn’t take the tests, along with a few thousand middle school students at each grade level. The groups most likely to skip the tests were those that scored low in the past. Those were precisely the groups that state officials said they were eager to track.   → Read More

Public Education and Race: The African American Experience

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our series “Public Education and Race: The African American Experience.” The series began with Dr. Jarvis Givens on September 30, speaking on “Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching.” Dr. Givens was followed by Dr. Theresa Perry on Saturday, October 16, on “Looking Back to Look Forward: Towards the Theory and Practice of Achievement for African American Students.” And the last lecture in the series was on October 26, with Dr. Colin Rose, creator of the Culturally Responsive Practices Leadership Academy for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). If you missed the series, you can view a recording of Dr. Givens’ presentation here and Dr. Rose’s presentation here.    → Read More

Register now for CPS’s Annual Meeting, Thursday, November 18, 7pm, by Zoom

Save the evening of Thursday, November 18, to help us honor three dynamic 2021 campaigns for education justice: the Vocational Education Justice Coalition, the Boston Teachers Union Ethnic Studies Now! organizing committee; and MCAS conscientious objectors (educators).

CPS members and non-members are welcome!

Register and learn more here.    → Read More

CPS Testimony on Cops in Schools

CPS Board President Dan French testified on Friday, June 11, at the legislative hearing on bills regarding School Resource Officers, also known as cops in schools. Here is his testimony:

Testimony in Support of H648, S286, and H6594

My name is Dan French and I am president of the board of the nonprofit Citizens for Public Schools. I am testifying in favor of H648 and S286, as well as H694. Multiple studies have shown that the presence of school police or SROs in schools increases rates of school arrests, suspensions, and expulsions.[i] For example, one meta-analysis of multiple studies found that the presence of SROs resulted in a greater than 20% increase in suspensions and exclusions.[ii]  A study by Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) and Strategies for Youth found that “Schools with police reported 3.5 times as many arrests as schools without police.”[iii]             

            And there are additional concerns related to this data.   → Read More