State education officials and superintendents, including Heath Morrison in CMS, have asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan for a reprieve on using state exams to rate teachers. The N.C. Board of Education is slated to take the matter up this week.
Now local teachers, parents and advocates want to take things a step further. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators and Mecklenburg ACTS will ask the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to boycott new state exams known as "measures of student learning" even if Duncan doesn't grant permission. The two groups are preparing a petition to present to the CMS board at its Sept. 10 meeting.
"At a time of shrinking school budgets, rising class sizes and plummeting teacher morale, more tests are the last thing our schools need," says a news release sent out this week.
MSLs are exams given in addition to the end-of-year math, English and science exams that are used to gauge student proficiency and rate schools. They were created to measure teacher effectiveness in additional subjects. Duncan has the final word because the state pinned its Race to the Top grant application and request for a waiver from No Child Left Behind to use of those tests in teacher evaluations. Now the state wants more time to work out valid tests and make sure they're used properly to rate teachers.
According to the CMAE/MeckACTS resolution, the MSLs given last spring were "deeply flawed," "poorly designed" and a waste of time and money. "As a community, now is the time to stand up for public schools and stand against statewide mandates for new, excessive and unneeded standardized tests," it concludes.
In his weekly report to the school board, Morrison said he and other superintendents want a chance to develop their own methods of estimating student growth and teacher effectiveness, rather than being forced to administer more state exams this year.