A week of Action is being organized by a newly formed statewide coalition called the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance. CPS is a member, along with Jobs with Justice, the Greater Boston Labor Council, Mass Alliance, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the Boston Teachers Union, and other labor and community groups.

 

The week’s focal point comes on Thursday, June 11, with the state Legislature’s Education Committee hearing at the State House on a series of testing bills.
 
The week offers a number of ways to participate and add your voice to what we hope will be a crescendo that will reach and influence state legislators and education officials to understand that enough is enough. We need less testing, more learning! 
  • Monday, June 8, is “Less Testing, More Learning” sticker day. Teachers, students and parents will be wearing “Less Testing, More Learning” stickers. Stickers are being sent to your schools today.
     
  • Tuesday, June 9: Contact Your Legislator Day. Visit, call, email and explain why we need less testing, more learning and no high- stakes tests. Ask your legislators to support bill H. 340.  


 

PURPOSE OF THIS BILL


 

Educators, parents, and students across the Commonwealth are growing increasingly concerned about high-stakes testing and
are calling for the reexamination of how the current standardized assessment, MCAS, is being used. In addition, there is also
concern about the test and test preparation of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) – most
importantly, the time it takes away from teaching.


Many important decisions about districts, schools, educators, and students are based on these test scores. Consequently,
districts have increased the amount of time used in test preparation throughout the course of the year but are most prevalent
in the weeks leading up to testing dates. This has been done at the expenses of other learning in important areas such as physical education, art, music, and health education.


 

WHAT THIS BILL DOES

 

 

H340 is twofold. It places a three-year moratorium on the implementation of PARCC and it also removes the “high-stakes” nature of MCAS, for three years, by eliminating:

 

■ The 10th grade graduation requirement;
 
■ The use of MCAS scores in evaluating educators; and
 
■ Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s use of     MCAS scores for assessing schools and/or school districts.

 

During the three-year moratorium, a task force of community stakeholders, parents, educators, union leaders, appropriate
administration designees and legislators will meet and examine the high-stakes use of MCAS in light of the paramount goal of the
Education Reform Act of 1993 which, in part, reads:


“to provide a public education system of sufficient quality to extend to all children including a limited English proficient
student[s] … and also, including a school age child with a disability … the opportunity to reach their full potential and to
lead lives as participants in the political, social, and economic life of the commonwealth …”


The task force will meet to examine the standardized assessments that are currently used in the classroom. They will then evaluate the use of standardized assessments, the implementation of the educator evaluation framework, and the use of student data on standardized tests for the purpose of evaluating students, educators, schools, and districts in order to determine if the system of assessments are providing a quality public education system. 

 

In addition the task force will consider the following questions:


■ What are the time and cost implications of mandated testing on federal, state and district resources?


■ What impact does mandated testing have on effective teaching and learning in the classroom?


■ What mechanisms are available other than standardized assessments to measure student, teacher, school and district
progress towards achieving a quality public education?


The task force will submit their findings to the Clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Massachusetts
Legislature no later than eighteen months after the task force organizes. (The contact information for your legislators can be found here.)

  • Wednesday, June 10: Social Media Day and PARCC hearing day: Use Facebook, Twitter and other social media to get out the word. 

Also, if you can, attend the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education hearing on PARCC testing at Bridgewater State University (Rondileau Campus Center Ballroom from 5 to 8:00 p.m.and speak in public comment (3 minutes) about how high-stakes testing harms children and schools.
 

  •  Thursday, June 11: Public Speak-Out Day. Attend the Education Committee hearing at the State House if possible. Later that same day, come to the Boston Education Justice Alliance “Schools Our Communities Deserve” campaign launch at Madison Park High School, 4:30 to 7 p.m. 


 

  • Friday, June 12: Union Solidarity Day. Union members will be wearing union (red and white) colors to work as a show of union pride and solidarity. 

 Facts on High-stakes Testing

  • High-stakes testing is sucking the air out of classrooms by narrowing the curriculum instead of teaching for deeper learning.
  • Increased amounts of time, money and energy are spent on high-stakes testing, and results are often misused to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators, schools and districts. 
  • It is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness. 
  • High-stakes standardized testing has negative effects on students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities.

It’s time to STOP, take a look at what we are doing to our children, our educators and our schools, and determine if the system of assessments is improving  or actually hampering our ability to provide a quality public education system that teaches the whole child and that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning.

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