Mitchell Chester
The realization of many teachers, parents and students that our classrooms are drowning in standardized tests has prompted a discussion that has moved beyond schools and school committees and has now prompted state education officials to address the issue.
Last week, in the first vote of its kind in Massachusetts, the Tewksbury Town Meeting voted 82-51 to reject PARCC testing (and the related Common Core standards). According to an article in the Lowell Sun, “Several residents spoke in support of [Ruth] Chou’s article, saying they were opposed to the high-pressure PARCC exam, the ‘controlling’ nature of the standards and the trouble with having standards decided at a state or federal level.” 
 
Also last week, Boston Teachers Union members voted unanimously to endorse a resolution calling for: 
  • A moratorium on punitive uses of state-mandated standardized test scores, including designating schools level 4 and 5.
  • Public hearings in schools around the state on the impact of these mandates and on better ways to improve education for all children, including the creation of a new accountability system that is diagnostic, not punitive. 
  • An end to new test mandates including the “district-determined measures.” 
The overtesting issue came up at last month’s state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) meeting. New Chair Margaret McKenna commented on the large number of school days (20 to 25, she said) lost to testing and test prep in some schools, according to a Patriot Ledgerarticle. “What I keep hearing is the districts keep saying it’s the state; the state keeps saying it’s the districts,” said McKenna. Earlier, Commissioner Mitchell Chester said in a letter to school districts that he planned to look into whether there is too much testing in our schools. “I’m committed to understanding the concerns about the amount of testing that is occurring in Massachusetts schools.”

Tracy Novick
Chester’s comment prompted CPS Board Member and Worcester School Committee member Tracy Novick, in a powerful op-ed, to suggest Chester startreally listening to what students and teachers have to say on the issue. In her Worcester Telegramcolumn, Novick wrote, “He’s going to need to listen to students like Board of Education student representative Donald Willyard, who reported at the meeting that students at his school had already spent the better part of a week taking a practice test. He’ll need to listen to students as young as kindergartners who know that they dare not make noise at recess, or sing during music class, or applaud a classmate’s presentation during MCAS time.”

13 thoughts on “MA Education Officials Question Amount of Testing: But Are They Really Listening? …. Citizens for Public Schools

  1. I hate my teaching job, administration doesn't support their teachers, evals have to be negative. Teachers work so hard and it seems like we just hit a brick wall. I really don't even feel like trying anymore. Thank you good parents who bring up good kids who are respectful. Durkin wants negative reports, she must get off on them. She is not a good person and we all know this fact. No more 14 hour days for me…not for this administration ..because they don't appreciate it. Don't become a teacher.

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  2. I had always LOVED teaching. Seeing the smile when a child catches on, the wow moments. I LOVED taking the lesson a little further than it needed to go, or finding a way to reach the lower achievers. I can not say that anymore! I HATE teaching now! My every word needs to match a CCSS, my sole purpose is to prep and test, and TEST and TEST and did I mention test?!

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  3. I hear you and I empathize. There are so many people busy building “kick ass” reputations as administrators and there's the wall street or state street test moguls and there's all the emotionally fragile parents and the salacious media who love to hate teachers and the left and right politicians who pander to anything to get a headline and no matter how many hours you work or how many family events you miss on behalf of students it means nothing.

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  4. why is it that we only have one electrician for 28 schools, while we are SO top heavy in administration? How does that make sense, We have minimal custodians, who work their asses off, and try and keep up. While we have an overload of over paid fools up at Prab! I will probably have to wait at least a month to have a problem fixed in my classroom that affects the students learning. How is this okay? Plus the head of the custodians makes at least 95,000 and does nothing to earn that pay!

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  5. I love seeing that Aha moment in a student's eyes..that look is becoming less and less..because of testing. What has happened to education? We allow a bunch of corporate heads who probably had their fathers get them through school design an education plan? WTF! Kids are learning less, because the teachers are not allowed to stop and TEACH these kids! move forward, leave the others behind so Durkin can take home how much? The teachers are not in this for the money, the out of touch administrator's are this “gig” for themselves. One electrician for 28 schools, how many “helpers' does old durkin have to back her up, lack of clean schools, ..but yet she rakes in how much? I actually hate my job now because of Durkin and her policies..blame the teachers-if you get beat up-rigor, rigor! okay the reincartion of Hitler-..go away!

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  6. Corporate America is making BIG bucks off of teachers' fear and stress and laughing all the way to the bank. They have the power because they have the money, and if anything is wrong with our country's educational system DO NOT blame the politicians, just keep blaming teachers! (Let's see if that works)…

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  7. Why are we being led by sociopaths? There is NO way these folks care about the students.TOTAL DISREGARD for young people. Teachers are being forced to implement things that do direct harm to learners. If it feels wrong–it is WRONG.

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  8. Why has the fear in this system not yet subsided? Perhaps because the destiny for NBPS has not yet be fulfilled. Last year was phase one: – gut NBHS as well as the existing administration at PRAB. Phase two is this year:- systematically eliminate Special Education Services to all but a very limited few (because they are too costly) Then put the burden back on the classroom teacher. (they don't have enough to do anyway!!!) Phase three is next year: exhaust all classroom teachers and staff to the point of resignation and replace them with cheaper, inexperienced teachers. It is very, simple and very effective and sadly it is halfway to fruition. Well done Mitchel Chester, Dr.Durkin, Mayor Mitchell and SC members – how proud you all must be of your recent accomplishments … we teachers salute your forethought at the expense of our students!

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