I haven’t had a chance to post about State Council, which took place a few weekends back. It was a hectic, but business-filled weekend, and I’m proud of my work there.
The Elementary and Secondary School Act (what we know as No Child Left Behind) is once again up for reauthorization. For years it has been stalled but with the change in the make-up of the Senate, it is likely to go through in some form. There are opportunities, and risks. The good news is that there is a lot of support for reducing testing from the annual nightmare in grades 3-11, to doing what is called grade-span testing. Many will remember this from their own childhood, when we were tested once in elementary, once in middle grades, and once in high school. Bad things include the usual privatization efforts under the guise of “choice”.
Our voice will be critical as we will need to advocate strongly for changes in testing policy and school reporting, while at the same time speaking firmly against privatization
This vote will likely come to a head in March. Be prepared to contact local legislators to let them know you are a public school teacher and what the right thing to do is. For those in Republican districts, please reach out to your federal elected officials as they will be driving this and need to hear from us.
NEA has information here: http://www.nea.org/home/NoChildLeftBehindAct.html
Changing API is a first step
With the change in standards and testing, the old API system (Academic Progress Index) that the state of California has (sort of a state version of AYP, but it measures growth) needed a new look. The testing moratorium means we are not generating test scores needed for the current API. The big part for me is the elimination of decile rankings of schools, which just serve to highlight economic disparities. Our lowest decile schools are the ones that have had the largest test score growth, but could not get out of the lowest category because of where they started. This is an example of how these systems work against our schools and communities that in the the most need. When this was brought to the floor there were loud applause as it passed overwhelmingly.
I look at this is an interim step for dealing with the elimination of the testing system, CST, that this went along with. I look forward to further reductions in testing (see above) and more emphasis on teacher-driven assessments that reflect student learning and abilities, and respect our professional judgement and abilities.