Latest from Bob Schaeffer at Fair Test on Resistance to Corporate Testing Mania

The assessment reform movement gains momentum across the U.S. and even beyond national borders, as parents, students, teachers, administrators, and school board members say “Enough is enough” to standardized exam misuse and overuse. Now is the time to ratchet up pressure on members of Congress and state legislatures to roll back test-and-punish mandates!

Less Testing: More Teaching — Contact U.S. Senators April 8 
National Day of Action for “No Child Left Behind” Overhaul

Fact vs Threat: Schools Unlikely to Lose Federal Funds Due to High Opt Out Numbers

Atlanta School Test Cheating: Lessons Policy Makers Ignore

Are Exit Exams Necessary?: 
More States Say “No” 

Join the Obamas to Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

 Testing Companies Fight for Assessment Contract

Districts Report High Opt-Out Levels
Colorado Students Use Test Opt-Out Time for Education

 Parents Protest Standardized Exams; Support Opt-Out Bill

District of Columbia
 Test Cheating: How Did it Differ from Atlanta

Senate Passes Bill Curbing State Testing Amid GOP Anger
High Time for a Testing Timeout

: Atlanta Cheating Verdict Reveals Education “Reform” Failure

Students Organize Screening of Anti-Testing Film

: Debunking the Post-Katrina “Miracle”

Parent Explains Why So Many Families Are Opting Out of Testing

: Tell the Schools, “No PARCC For My Kids”
Massachusetts Students Explain Test Flaws

 Governor Continues Effort to Reduce Testing After Rejection by Feds

 Common Core Testing A Battleground Issue

New Hampshire
 Districts Develop Performance Assessment Systems

New Jersey
 PARCC Test Refusals Top 50,000
Nearly 40% of Montclair Students Opted Out from PARCC Test

New York Districts Forced to Drop “Sit and Stare” for Students Who Opt Out
Thousands of New York City Families Will Boycott Math, Reading Exams

North Carolina School Grading System Should Be Erased
North Carolina Teachers Tell Board There’s Too Much Testing

Ohio Auditor Continues Probe Into Test Score Manipulation
Ohio First Year of PARCC Implementation No Picnic

 Sees More Than a Thousand Opt Outs So Far
Oregon Letter Blasts Damage to Education From “No Child Left Behind” Testing Law

High-Stakes Testing Has Many Problems
Less Testing, More Teaching: A Great Move for Pennsylvania Schools

Rhode Island Students and Teachers Find Faults With PARCC Test,101207

Texas Anti-Testing Push Continues at State, Local Levels
Texas Families Start STAAR Opt-Out Movement

Washington State Tests Useless for Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
Washington Parents Protest Use of Non-Validated Smarter Balanced Exams

Canada Testing the Idea of Scrapping High-Stress Exams

United Kingdom Teachers Endorse Boycott of New Test of Four-Year Olds

“Hocus Pocus” and the History of High-Stakes Testing in the U.S.

The Lost Purpose of School Reform

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468


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Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Exactly Were the Differences Between Cheating in Atlanta Under Beverly Hall and the Cheating in DC Under Michelle Rhee?

We all know that administrators and teachers in DC and in Atlanta cheated in order to keep their jobs and gain large cash bonuses. In one city, scores of teachers were indicted, some plea=bargained, some went to jail, and the chief died of cancer. In the other city, only a couple of whistle-blowers lost their jobs, but the chief went on to fame and fortune while all the other culpable parties kept their bonuses.

But why is it that only in Atlanta were teachers and administrators indicted and convicted, but nowhere else?

What difference was there in their actual behavior?

To me, the answer is simple: in DC, officials at every level, from the Mayor’s office up to the President of the US and the Secretary of Education, were determined to make sure that Michelle Rhee’s lying and suborning of perjury and lies would never be revealed, no matter what.

Read for yourself part of the official documents in Atlanta (I’m quoting from The Answer Sheet) and see if you can find any real differences in behavior between what happened there and what happened in DC.

“A[tlanta] P[ublic] S[schools] principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated. When principals and teachers could not reach their targets, their performance was criticized, their jobs were threatened and some were terminated. Over time, the unnreasonable pressure to meet annual APS targets led some employees to cheat on the CRCT. The refusal of Beverly Hall and her top administrators to accept anything other than satisfying targets created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.

“To satisfy annual targets and AYP, test answer sheets were altered, fabricated, and falsely certified. Test scores that were inflated as a result of cheating were purported to be the actual achievement of targets through legitimately obtained improvements in students’ performance when, in fact, the conspirators knew those results had been obtained through cheating and did not reflect students’ actual academic performance.

“As part of the conspiracy, employees of APS who failed to satisfy targets were terminated or threatened with termination, while others who achieved targets through cheating were publicly praised and financially rewarded. For example, teachers who reported other teachers who cheated were terminated, while teachers who were caught cheating were only suspended. The message from Beverly Hall was clear: there were to be no exceptions and no excuses for failure to meet targets.

“Beverly Hall placed unreasonable emphasis on achieving targets; protected and rewarded those who achieved targets through cheating; terminated principals who failed to achieve targets; and ignored suspicions CRCT score gains at schools within APS. As a result, cheating became more and more prevalent within APS, until by the time the 2009 CRCT was administered, cheating was taking place in a majority of APS’s 83 elementary and middle schools. This was substantiated by GOSA’s erasure analysis, which identified 43 APS elementary and middle schools with at least one out of four classrooms within those schools having a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. GOSA’s erasure analysis identified an additional 9 APS elementary and middle schools as having at least one out of five classrooms with a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. Confessions by dozens of APS employees subsequently confirmed what GOSA’s statistical analysis indicated; widespread cheating occurred on the 2009 CRCT.

“It was further a part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used to obtain financial and other rewards for many of the conspirators.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used by Beverly Hall to obtain substantial performance bonuses.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that Beverly Hall and other conspirators would interfere with, suppress and obstruct investigations into cheating using various methods. Conspirators would refuse to investigate reports of cheating; suppress and deny the existence of reports of cheating; fail to act upon APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was occurring; suppress and deny the APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was in fact occurring; fail and refuse to provide complaints of cheating to the Governor’s Special Investigators, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office; and intimidate witnesses with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of criminal offenses to law enforcement officers. When questioned by the Governor’s Special Investigators and law enforcement officers, many of the conspirators made false statements some under oath denying their knowledge of and participation in the cheating.”

An inspiring interview with Diane Ravitch

Read it here.

A quote:

[Interviewer]: My biggest disappointment with Barack Obama is his education policy. He had Linda Darling-Hammond as his consultant during the 2008 election, and we get Arne Duncan.

[Diane Ravitch]: That was bait and switch. The greatest disappointment of this entire situation, which I consider to be a direct assault on the very principle of public education in America, is Barack Obama. In the state of the union, the president said that he didn’t want teaching to the test, but he wants teachers who don’t get the test marks to be ousted. He pretends to be completely detached and almost as though he doesn’t know what Arne Duncan is doing. Arne Duncan is doing what Barack Obama wants him to do, and they are doing what the Wall Street hedge-fund managers want them to do. They are pushing a privatization agenda, there’s no question about it. Obama always said if the unions were under assault, he would put on those walking shoes. Did you see him in Madison, Wisconsin? I didn’t. In fact, I was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak at the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, and I happened to be there right in the middle of that great demonstration. On Twitter I was exchanging tweets with Justin Hamilton, Duncan’s press secretary at the time, and I challenged him to march together around the State House. Arne and the president were in Miami with Jeb Bush celebrating the turn-around of Miami Public High School, which in a month received notice it was going to be closed. I mean, it was all a sham. We are surrounded by so many frauds, hoaxes, and shams. Arne has been a leader in perpetuating the hoaxes, and the president has been right there by his side. Arne Duncan is a guy who’s dedicated to persuading people that Michelle Rhee is right. He’s the worst Secretary of Education in our history.

More from Whistleblower Adell Cothorne and Mercedes Schneider

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do international test scores matter?

this is from Diane Ravitch:

Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Diagnosing a very sick teacher

Write ABOVE THIS LINE to post a reply or view this on Basecamp

Dave Greene Dave Greene posted a comment about this message on Basecamp.


Yes. I have to pass along this comment I received. Wonderful piece.

Harris Lirtzman*said:*

April 2, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Mr. Greene:

I can assure you that I have analyzed your very peculiar case with all the
professional care and diligence required.

I have made the following diagnosis:

1. You taught in public schools during a period where income inequality and
poverty were ‘reproduced’ very effectively by social structures guaranteed
to propagate a rigid pattern of academic performance differences correlated
deeply with class and race. 2. During that period there was a weak social
consensus that public schools with high proportions of students from
communities with indicators of higher poverty would receive greater
resources (i.e., federal Title 1 funds).

3. Beginning in the late 1980s and accelerating rapidly through the early
2000s, that consensus was shattered by the collapse of the ‘moderate’ wings
of both major political parties and the rise of a group of ‘new
philanthropists’ who no longer used their wealth to promote social welfare
but to create organizations using only ‘data-driven’ measurement and
results to assess ‘success.’

4. During this same period, an oligarchical libertarianism based on the
theories of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand took over the center-right
research foundations, promoting various forms of ‘market choice’ as the
only way to ‘improve’ public schools.

5. During the 2000s, a series of international testing regimens ranked
American students as mediocre achievers setting off a moral panic used by
the new philanthropists and libertarian social researchers to justify rapid
change in the American public sector.

6. A unified group of wealthy contributors and organizations captured the
leadership of both political parties by using that panic to promote
untested theories about ‘failing’ public schools that could be ‘saved’ by
blaming teachers and imposing top-down ‘reform strategies’ that would be
‘cost-free’ to government and society, which could then be absolved from
any concerns about student and family poverty and reducing vast disparities
among communities.

I have made the following prognosis:

1. You retired from the profession at a propitious moment.

2. However, you suffer from a neurosis that is common among current and
former public school teachers who have not accommodated themselves to the
the ‘new paradigm.’

3. Your neurosis expresses itself in a constant need to ask questions,
challenge unreasonable assumptions and doubt the wisdom of the oligarchs,
libertarians, fraudulent researchers and government leaders who now control
social and educational public policy-making.

I suggest the following course of treatment:

1. A prolonged course of behavior modification using a version of the
‘Ludivico ‘Technique’ form of aversion therapy demonstrated so effectively
by a Mr. Anthony Burgess in his research study called ”A Clockwork Orange”
by watching “Waiting For Superman” until your corneas dissolve.

2. An extended period during which you read no book, article or blog that
offers any reasoned critique of the education reform paradigm.

3. That you state out loud three times, three times a day two mantra-like
formulations know to reduce anxiety among disaffected social observers like
yourself: ‘I live in the best of all possible worlds’ and ‘Market choice
theory’ is the best of all possible philosophies.’

Respectfully yours,

Dr. Harris M. Lirtzman Department of Educational Self-Delusion The
Gates-Walton University for Social-Science Construction

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Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm  Comments (1)  

ISIS and the KKK

This image recently was shared on Facebook, including by me.

racist kkk and isis

The text says, “No one thinks that these people” [a bunch of white-robed and -hooded KKK members in a black-and-white photograph with an American flag] ” are representative of Christians.” The text continues:

“So why do so many think that these people” [a bunch of black-clad ISIS members with what appear to be suicide belts around their middles] “{are representative of Muslims?”

Good question, I say.

One reason is that those Kluxers were in fact representative of many, many millions of white, racist, American, segregationist Christians from about 50-200 years ago. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. Almost all of the lynchings of blacks, anti-racist whites, and union organizers; and massacres of Indians; and slave-whippings promoted by the KKK were in fact committed by official government forces and by unofficial vigilantes or hired guns, and were generally condoned by Federal law and practices and by a majority of white public opinion at various times.But even then there were minorities of whites in the US who opposed that sort of horrible racism, often putting themselves in personal danger by doing so.

Those of us who marched or otherwise struggled against racism over the past 60 years in this country recall how scary it often was. I am certainly glad that we have come to the point that anybody espousing flat-out racism and intolerance is publicly shamed, but it took a heck of a long struggle to get there. And let us not forget how much the development of American capitalism depended on slavery. For details on that, I recommend reading The Half Has Never Been Told … See here for a low-key introduction by the author, Ed Baptist.

Right now in most of the middle east, it is often extremely dangerous to oppose sectarian religious massacres or to propose rationalist or humanist positions on almost anything. Thugs of one type or another run the show in every single country. Under Saddam (another murderous thug who was supported by the US until he wasn’t), Sunni and Shia at least lived together peacefully. After the American invasion of 2003, every single city and neighborhood has been ethnically cleansed of the minority groups who used to live there, and hundreds of thousands died.

Despite often-lofty rhetoric about peace and democracy from our official representatives (think Clinton, Powell, Obama) and discounting all the nasty bravadoccio of people like Cheney, Bush, et al, nothing the US has done in the middle east has had the effect of promoting tolerance or of allowing people of different religious faiths or ethnicities to live together peacefully. In fact, we are finally being told even in WaPo and NYT that the governments we have put into office and supported for over a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan have been some of the most corrupt and murderous regimes on the face of the planet.

The Taliban and ISIS are certainly murderous and intolerant, but at least they appear to be honest, which gives them considerable support…

Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 8:10 am  Comments (1)  

Why the real “Mr Fitz” keeps teaching

You may know that “Mr Fitz” is a weekday comic strip about what it’s like to teach in a modernday public school. You may not know that the author is a real-live English teacher, and he has a lot to say about the modern-day “Reform” movement in education (nothing positive) and about why he keeps teaching.

Here is his column:

Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 11:49 am  Leave a Comment  

More Testing Resistance

From Bob Schaeffer:

The testing resistance continues to expand rapidly across the U.S. with assessment reform news updates from two dozen states in just the past four days. 

 Senate Takes Up Bill Establishing Opt-Out Procedures

Charter Schools See Rise in Test Opt Outs

Connecticut Testing: The Truth About Smarter Balanced

District of Columbia
 Test-and-Punish Policies Have Not Worked

Assessment Reform Movement is Test for Jeb Bush Presidential Aspirations
State Senate Bill Would Examine Testing Fallout

Georgia School Testing Still Does Not Make the Grade

 Schools Drop Arts, Music for Testing

Educators Seek Three-Year “Hold Harmless” Period From Any New Test Evaluations
Louisiana Parish Topped 15% Opt Outs

District Reports More Than 50% Opt Outs

Maryland Test Study Commission Approved by Both Houses of State Legislature

Massachusetts Educators Explain How Testing is Undermining Learning and Teaching

 Parents Reject State Tests to Reduce Pressure on Kids
Kalamazoo College Goes ACT/SAT Optional

New Jersey 
Testing Obsession is Damaging Learning and Teaching
Educators, Parents and Students Plan “Take Back the PARCC” Event

New Mexico 
PARCC Protest at School Chief’s House
New Mexico Teachers Question Times Devoted to Testing

New York 
Billionaires’ Plan to Remake Public Education
New York Governor Uses Flawed Tests as Political Weapon

North Dakota 
Opt-Out Movement Heats Up

 Superintendent “Profoundly Concerned About New Common Core Tests”
Excessive Testing Consumes Learning Time in Ohio

Oklahoma Teachers Slam Emphasis on State Tests

House Passes Bill to Suspend Test Consequences for Teachers and Schools

Pennsylvania “Test In” Shows Parents, Teachers Question Value of New Exams

Rhode Island 
Districts Have Large Numbers of Opt Outs

Texas Common Core Tests Are a Failure
Texans Advocating for Meaningful Assessment (aka Mothers Against Drunk Testing) Powerpoint

 State Board Will Not Use Smarter Balanced Scores to Evaluate Schools This Year

Virginia Governor Signs Bill Into Law Repealing A-F Grades

Test Security vs Privacy in the Social Media Age

New Video “Defies Measurement” Available for Free

Parents of Disabled Children Tell National Groups: “You Do Not Speak for Our Children”

“No Child Left Behind” Is a Cheats’ Charter

The Cult-Like Religion of Corporate Ed Reform

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773  fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468


Posted by: Bob Schaeffer <

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Published in: on March 27, 2015 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Will eating meat really kill you?

A number of recent press blurbs claim that recent studies have proved that eating meat in any form will definitely kill you and take years off your life.

You can read an excellent analysis casting much doubt on those studies here.

If you don’t want to read that anlysis, here is the gist of it: these Meat-Kills studies are NOT based on actual, controlled experimental studies with two groups of people whose food intake and other habits are actually measured and whose outcomes are measured.

Instead, they are based on people writing down what they THINK they ate over the past four years. And unfortunately, most of us have a hard time remembering what we ate yesterday, much less a week ago. The chances of someone remembering accurately what they ate over a period of four years is … about zero. Plus, people generally lie on questionnaires like this. They over-report the amount of exercise they do and the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat, and under-report the amount of sweets, alcohol, red meat, and junk food that they consume.

Another problem with this ‘study’ is that the folks who claimed they did eat red meat or items like salami and hot dogs also claimed that they smoked more tobacco, were less physically active, and ate about twice the number of calories per day as the folks who claimed they did not eat red meat. We know for a fact that smoking cigarettes  WILL kill you.

So, if the folks in the study were telling the truth, could the real culprit be something other than the meat? We won’t know until someone does a better experimental, controlled study.

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 9:43 am  Leave a Comment  

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