At CEA Delegate Assembly, a clear majority of delegates used our democratic process to voice their dissatisfaction with the overuse of standardized testing in Colorado public schools. The delegates voted to have CEA join coalitions demanding the state’s withdrawal from the PARCC assessment, and to call for a moratorium on high stakes standardized testing. In joining such coalitions, CEA members are inserting their professional voice into a growing grassroots movement across the country that is questioning the corporate-driven testing culture dominating public education. NEA Executive Director John Stocks was spot-on at Delegate Assembly when he said the education of children is “our turf” - we will lead the discussions on the appropriate use of standardized testing in delivering a quality education to all students.
Our outreach on the NBI has started by explaining CEA’s position on PARCC to CDE Commissioner Robert Hammond and his top staff; State Board of Education members; CEA member legislators; and leaders at CASE, CASB and advocacy organizations such as Colorado Children’s Campaign and Colorado Education Initiative (formerly Colorado Legacy Foundation). CEA is also scheduling talks with the Governor’s Office; Lt. Governor’s Office; Denver Mayor Michael Hancock; legislative leadership and Education Committee members; and other advocacy groups such as the Colorado Forum and Colorado Concern. The CEA Organizing Institute is working on a plan to advance the NBI and we will move forward to discuss coalition building with United Opt Out, SPEAK for Cherry Creek and other groups.
In all communication, CEA leaders and staff are positively promoting the NBI and speaking to the great importance of an aligned education system that includes appropriate use of assessments to improve student outcomes. It’s critical for our partners and our membership to understand the difference between standards and assessments, and that CEA is not backing away from its support of the Colorado Academic Standards. Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University articulated this point well in a recent interview with The American Prospect, saying…
“When people talk about Common Core, they often mean the high-stakes tests attached to the standards and not the Common Core itself.
Testing is not required by the Common Core. You can see that in the way the curriculum is being implemented across the country.
In places like New York that include standardized testing in the Common Core, people are really talking about the tests and the
high stakes attached to them. In a place like California, where the Common Core is being implemented without any
high-stakes tests, there's much less anxiety and debate about the value of the actual standards.”
Educators are not ‘anti-testing’; however, we can’t passively watch a corporate-driven testing agenda strangle the quality and rigor of a public school education we work so hard to deliver to students. Our community movement “Free Our Teachers, Value Our Students” is giving educators, parents, and the community an online venue to show how over-testing, underfunded mandates and red tape bureaucracy is taking away precious learning time while doing little to evaluate student needs and help teachers improve practice. This campaign is garnering real grassroots support, with more than 8,700 followers on the campaign Facebook page since mid-February.
The NBI also supports CEA positions in this legislative session on key education bills. CEA led the charge to amend House Bill 1202, which now creates a 15-member Standards and Assessment Task Force to examine many aspects of statewide assessments. The legislature heard your concerns on how assessments lessen instructional time and increase workload, and that is why this bill forms a nonpartisan group to study testing and all the implications. CEA supports Senate Bill 165 to provide districts flexibility in deciding what percentage, if any, of the final effectiveness rating should be based on student growth data for the 2014-15 school year. This bill, sponsored by CEA members Sen. Andy Kerr and Rep. Cherylin Peniston, would provide an additional year to collect data to show if new assessments can be considered valid and reliable indicators of teaching effectiveness. Another effort is underway with Sen. Kerr to introduce legislation that would scale Colorado testing requirements back to federal regulation, lightening testing loads considerably. CEA lobbyists will keep you up-to-date on the progress of these bills in the Action Line.
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