ACTION ALERT: IL Legislators will hear testimony on controversial school testing requirements #stopcommoncore #ccss

The Caucus Blog –

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is the new state assessment and accountability measure for Illinois students enrolled in a public school district. PARCC assesses the New Illinois Learning Standards incorporating Common Core and will be administered to students in English-Language Arts and Mathematics. Many school districts are reluctant to accept the PARCC exam and want more time to ensure students are ready to take the tests – but they risk federal funding if they don’t comply.

The House committee on Elementary & Secondary Education: School Curriculum & Policies will be hearing subject matter testimony on PARCC Assessments next Wednesday, February 25 at 4 p.m. in Hearing Room 114 in the Capitol Building.

According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, more than 40 downstate superintendents have asked the state superintendent to delay PARCC testing, saying “the testing initiative has moved too fast, is ill-planned, does not support the basic tenets of quality formative assessment such as validity and reliability, is consuming vast and valuable resources (both human and monetary) at the district level, and, most importantly, will not truly benefit our students.”

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IL PARCC Myths Busted #stopcommoncore #ccss

Know the truth about opting out of the PARCC test.


Source:   Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education

Myths and Facts about PARCC in Illinois

MYTH: States and districts will lose Title I Funding for our schools because of opt out
FACT: Your district will not lose federal funds because of opt out There is no federal or state law that requires penalties for schools or districts if parents opt out or refuse the test. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law did include a mandate that required schools to have a 95% participation rate on state tests or face sanctions. However, since 2014, Illinois has had a waiver to NCLB that replaces those sanctions with a new accountability system. The IL NCLB waiver says that to receive points on factors in the Multiple Measures Index (MMI) used to grade schools that depend on test results, schools must have participation sufficient for results to meet a 95% confidence level. If large enough numbers opt out, a school or district could fail to meet that confidence level. Schools that do not meet their MMI targets are “priority schools” and are targeted for interventions. Priority schools are primarily designated as such by being in the lowest 5% of schools based on various performance ratings. Note that interventions for priority schools do n ot include withholding of funds. Additionally, we know of no cases in other states where schools have been identified as “priority schools” solely on the basis of low participation rates. There have been schools that did not meet participation rates last spring in New York State, and even some in Chicago as well. One year on from massive opt outs, there have been no consequences. You can r ead more about this issue here . ISBE is making overblown threats to scare districts and families from opting out of the test. See our letter to ISBE debunking their misinformation here .

MYTH: There is no “opting out” of PARCC.
FACT: Your child can refuse the test. Students can refuse PARCC testing. Parents should notify their school in writing that their child is refusing the test and they expect their child to be treated with kindness and respect. Although the IL State Board of Education has said that “Opting out is not an option ,” they have also said districts “ can develop a policy for those students who refuse to take assessments on testing days .” Though some states do have opt out laws or regulations or broadly allow opt out in practice, Illinois does not. As a result, parents are not permitted to refuse the test on behalf of their children; special needs children, children with anxiety and children as young as 8 are expected to refuse the test themselves. We are working to get an opt out bill passed in IL, HB306 . We need your help; please call your state representatives and tell them to support HB306 so that there is a clear and humane policy for families that don’t want their children to take PARCC or other state-mandated assessments.

MYTH: Illinois would lose millions in federal funding if the opt out bill HB 306 became law
FACT: Other states already have laws clearly permitting opt out of state-mandated testing The following states have opt out laws or regulations: California, Wisconsin, Utah, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon. Other states, like Washington, have allowed parents to opt their children out without formal provisions with no adverse consequences; Rhode Island plans to d o so this year. Some other states, including North Carolina and Massachusetts, with no opt out provision in law or regulation have informed school districts they should create alternative education settings for children whose parents refuse the tests. MYTH: PARCC has been properly field tested FACT: PARCC has not been shown to be valid and reliable The PARCC field test was given to determine if schools had the proper technological “bandwidth”. Results of how well students did or did not do have not been released to any district. Neither PARCC nor the state has done any study on the validity of the field test results. (We filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the studies; we were told none existed.) No data has been released advising the public how much money has been spent to meet the technical requirements of PARCC.

MYTH: PARCC is the only way to truly assess our students
FACT: Standardized testing provides an incomplete picture of what students are learning and how schools are performing Teachers assess students every single day. Parents see the results through quizzes, tests, projects, homework and through these results have the ability to see how their child is learning and what problems they may need to work on at home and school. PARCC results will not be provided until the following school year — at which point students will have moved to the next grade. In any case, standardized testing is primarily a measure of the socio-economic characteristics of a school’s community. At this time, there are only 9 states plus the District of Columbia that are still participating in PARCC testing this year: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. (RI and MA not using the test for all students.) 13 states that originally planned to use PARCC have dropped out . Over 70 superintendents in IL have publicly asked the state board to delay this test because the test isn’t ready, and our schools aren’t ready for this test.

MYTH: Students might be held back or not graduate if they refuse PARCC this year
FACT: PARCC is not attached to any high-stakes decisions this year The IL State Board of Ed has said that PARCC will not be used for anything for students this year : “This is a baseline year so there are no consequences for schools or students.” In future years, Illinois intends to use the PARCC test that students will take during their 3rd year of high school coursework as a graduation requirement. Schools/districts have no idea what PARCC scoring will be like and have no idea how testing will proceed this year, so it is unlikely that an individual school or district could attach their own high-stakes to this test. Ask to be shown policies in writing if administrators make threats like this.

MYTH: Students have never opted out of a state test; it can’t be done
FACT: Thousands of students opted out of state tests last year Students across Illinois refused to take the ISAT last year. In Chicago alone, more than 2000 students were recorded as “Code 15”, i.e. refused to engage with the test. In New York State more than 50,000 students opted out of testing even though NYS has no laws about opt out.

MYTH: Children opting out of PARCC must be kept home during the test window
FACT: Your child can refuse the test at school and do an alternative activity Write a letter to your child’s principal to let them know that your child will refuse testing. Explain that ISBE says that districts can create their own refusal policy. State that your child will be reading a book or engaging in another quiet activity during testing time.

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The Blast Radius of Proposed New “No Child Left Behind” Bill

ACTION ALERT: Read information below then contact senators!

People who care about the security and defense of this country need to contact:

Rep. John Kline
DC: (202) 225-2271
MN: (952) 808-1213)


Sen. Lamar Alexander
DC: (202) 224-4944
TN: (423) 752-5337

Let them know you don’t want any bill re-authorizing ESEA at all. We want ESEA sunsetted after extensive national public discussion of how to educate low-income children without damaging them further and all of public education K-20 at the same time.


Until Feb. 2 Alexander has an email set up for feedback:
Request repeal of ESEA/NCLB….it cannot be fixed.


By Christel Swasey. Reprinted from:

Senator “Let’s-Don’t-Talk-About-Common-Core” LaMar Alexander  has proposed a bill to amend  ESEA (No Child Left Behind Act) in order “to restore freedom”. The bill is called the “Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015“.

I read the 387-pager after I learned that education experts, slated to testify against the bill, had abruptly been dismissed and were told that the bill had been “fast-tracked,” so there wouldn’t be time for them to speak.  –No time to hear testimony and debate about a historic, child-impacting bill?

I read this bill with these six facts and questions in mind:

Fact 1. There’s a  de facto federal database composed of fifty individual databases with interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems.   These  feed on the federal school testing/data collecting system, and feed different federal databases and their powerful branches.  This clearly violates “consent of the governed” because nobody can opt out.

QUESTION 1:  Would LaMar’s bill restore “consent of the governed” to education and to student data mining?

Fact 2. There’s a federal testing system comprised of Common Core aligned, synchronized testing partnerships: PARCC, SBAC, and AIR.  This violates Constitutional separation of powers since the federal government has no business in state-directed educational affairs such as testing.

QUESTION 2: Would LaMar’s bill restore separation of powers and deny federal supervision of school tests?

Fact 3. There’s a corporate cartel of educational technology and text sellers  (Pearson Inc, partnered with Gates/Microsoft, etc) advising the federal testing system.  This violates the Constitutional principle of agency; individuals and states are coerced to use certain corporations’ products with federal approval.

QUESTION 3: Would LaMar’s bill restore a diverse exchange of academic ideas to the American textbook and technology market?

Fact 4.  The corporate cartel  finances the private groups that created and copyrighted the common education and the common data tags  programs.  Federal approval of such financing and implementation is clear by the official partnering of the U.S. Dept. of Education with the private creator-copyrighter groups.   That violates consent of the governed, too.

QUESTION 4: Would LaMar’s bill create fairness and freedom for non-Common Core aligned education providers? 

Fact 5.  Because Common Core standards are copyrighted, states (voters, teachers, you and I) don’t get to vote on them.  There’s no amendment process for any state to alter Common Core Standards nor the Common Education Data System (CEDS).  Federal promotion and partnershipping with those who copyrighted nonamendable standards, violates states’ rights and consent of the governed.

QUESTION 5: Would LaMar’s bill move us away from these chokehold national standards and restore individual agency?

Fact 6. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are hacking at the limbs of the Constitution openly, aiming to phase out the authority of the states  and of parents regarding educational authority, privacy and other issues.  Aiming to “phase out the authority of states” is blatantly unconstitutional.

QUESTION 6: Would LaMar’s bill stop the Department of Education’s agenda to “phase out state authority”?

Now, to the bill.


I knew from page one that this was going to be a big, fat two-tongued document because the bill’s purpose statement:  “to restore freedom” conflicts with its own title: “The Every Child Ready forCollege or Career Act of 2015“.

This bill by its title and throughout its text cements the Common Core Initiative into federal law without once using the term “Common Core”. How?

Did you know that the phrase College and Career Ready has been repeatedly, federally andcorporationally defined in multiple places as only Common Core. (See College and Career Ready definition: the Dept. of Education defines college and career ready standards as “standards common to a significant number of states.”  There is one thing that meets that definition.  Anytime you see “college and career ready,” run; it equals only the Common Core.

Can a bill claim to restore freedom while it promotes the exact, synonymous term that takes freedom in education away?

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IL Superintendents urge Common Core testing delay: ‘How can test data be valid under testing conditions like this?’ #stopcommoncore #ccss

Washington Post –

More than 40 superintendents in Illinois school districts are urging state education officials to delay a requirement that students take a Common Core test known as PARCC this spring, saying that they are not confident that they can administer the test properly and questioning whether the data obtained from the test will have any value.

The PARCC test was created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two federally funded multistate consortia tasked with creating new Common Core tests with some $360 million in federal funds. (The other is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.) In 2010, PARCC had 26 member states, but it has suffered major defections since then, with fewer than a dozen states now committed to using the PARCC exam this year. Mississippi pulled out this month, and Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest system in the country, recently decided to buck a state mandate to give the PARCC to all of its students this school year.


Read more and support the listed superintendents

Posted in Common Core Testing, Illinois Common Core | 1 Comment

Flossmoor IL District 161 superintendent questions value of state-mandated PARCC test

The Chronical –

In a letter Friday to the Flossmoor School District 161 community, Superintendent Craig Doster questioned the value of the state-mandated PARCC test for local students and schools.

“From low class sizes to offering a host of extracurricular activities to ‘not teaching to the test,’ much of what happens in District 161 is driven by our community’s high expectations for its schools,” Doster said. “PARCC is an important example of how state mandates sometimes clash with our local needs and priorities.”

Doster’s communication shares many of the same ideas – and some of the language – as a letter that Dale Mitchell, superintendent of Homewood School District 153, sent to community members last month. For example, the preceding paragraph is nearly the same in both letters. The letters are not identical, though, and Mitchell’s communication includes more anecdotal language about the effect of PARCC on District 153 students and schools.

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Common Core a Huge Hurdle to Education Deal #stopcommoncore #ccss

National Journal –

Republicans and Democrats are in rare agreement that there is a deal to be had on sweeping education legislation. But first they face the near-impossible task of getting past two words that have become explosively controversial: Common Core.

As they try to reach compromise on a rewrite of the 2001 No Child Left Behind law, the last thing negotiators need is the encroachment of a tangential yet inflammatory issue that worries a sizable chunk of the populace. But that is exactly what the Common Core State Standards have become – a litmus test for grassroots conservatives angered by federal encroachment on local schools, and a reliable way for contenders in the crowded GOP presidential field to earn their stripes on the right.

“If you said you oppose Common Core, show me where you stood up and fought,” Sen. Ted Cruz said in Iowa last weekend, in a challenge to his fellow presidential contenders, according toThe New York Times.

Common Core, a complex set of stacked math and reading standards compiled by a group of governors 10 years ago, has become a political lightning rod for the Right since President Obama tied stimulus funding to states’ adoption of them in 2009. Republicans angling for a presidential nomination, including Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, have spoken harshly against Common Core, saying it has been forced on states and comes dangerously close to a national curriculum. Earlier this month, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who once supported Common Core, called it a “frankenstandard.”


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Chicago school district refuses to give PARCC Common Core test as mandated by the state of Illinois

Washington Post –

The Chicago Public Schools, the third largest system in the country, has decided to buck a mandate to give all its students a new Common Core test known as PARCC this school year, a decision that could have implications across the country for Core testing.

The Chicago Tribune reported that school district chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, with support from the school board, made the decision not to give the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test to all students. Instead, students in just 66 of more than 600 schools in the Chicago system would take the PARCC test. The other schools will use standardized tests that they have already been using.

The decision came just as Mississippi pulled out of the PARCC, one of two federally funded multi-state consortia tasked with creating new Common Core tests. (The other is the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.) PARCC, which had 26 states in 2010, has suffered major defections in recent years, and now it has fewer than a dozen states — including Maryland — plus the District of Columbia. PARCC officials have said the consortium will not collapse but continued defections could challenge that assessment.

The decision by Chicago could also affect the national discussion with mandated annual standardized testing, perhaps the most contentious subject in the debate about rewriting No Child Left Behind. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who just became the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, has said he will push legislation rewriting NCLB, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, onto the Senate floor by the end of February, and has suggested abandoning annual standardized testing that is imbedded into the law. The Obama administration has pushed to continue annual testing.

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