Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pushback on NC exams

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.


Wiley Coyote said...

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.

Translated: We, the foxes guarding the henhouses, want to ensure the status quo remains and that we oppose any attempt to implement teacher accountability programs or student performance tests, no matter what the programs/tests are or from where they originate.

Graduation rates miraculously skyrocketed with the lowering of required credits to graduate, along with a parallel path to getting a diploma.

Who needs accountability?

Pamela Grundy said...

They're not asking to be released from all accountability, they're asking to be released from a particular set of especially bad tests. Unfortunately, the current status quo involves an excessive reliance on high-stakes standardized tests that don't (and can't) measure the most important skills our children need to learn. The MSLs are just more of the same. Opposing them is fighting the status quo, not upholding it. Gentle readers, please join us in signing the petition.

Wiley Coyote said...

Educrats don't want any student testing, and teachers do not want any performance accountability program.

It doesn't matter who comes up with either program.

The erosion of what it takes to get a high school diploma is a prime example of the dumbing down of the whole public education process.

Anonymous said...

What are the "most important" skills our children need to learn which cannot be tested?

And how will we know when they have them if they can't be tested?

Sounds like a bunch of touchy-feely hooey to me.

Why not just test students on the academics and not worry about all those other fantastic untestable skills?

Yes, I know everyone is so hot about "soft" skills today, but astrology was hot in the 1960's too...

Pamela Grundy said...

Creativity, critical thinking, resilence, motivation, persistence, curiosity, question asking, humor, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, civic-mindedness, self-discipline, empathy, leadership, compassion, courage, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, resourcefulness, spontaneity, humility.

As a parent of a middle-schooler, I want my son not only to gain academic content, but to learn and practice skills that will help him lead a useful and meaningful life. School can't teach all of these skills, of course, but well-run programs not obsessively focused on test scores can help foster and encourage their development.

Pamela Grundy said...

Should have credited the Maria Montessori Facebook page with the above list.

I'd add teamwork as well.

Anonymous said...

Heath , Since when did you start sticking up for your teachers? Boy is this new policy or what? Sorry pal too late most have already written you off and are waiting for the replacement model.

Gary Bender said...

"Educrats don't want any student testing, and teachers do not want any performance accountability program."

Wow Wiley, that is quite the generalization you have made there. You might as well have said that all Republicans believe that Obama was born in Kenya or that all Muslims are terrorists.

The truth is that the great majority of teachers don't mind being held accountable for their job performance and how their students are growing. They just want a method that accurately measures the job they are doing, and right now, these state tests do not meet that criteria. If you would like to discuss whether this is the case, let's do so.

So rather than make blanket comments about the entire profession, why not look into what MeckActs and other organizations that want to end this testing madness actually advocate?

Anonymous said...

Wiley Coyote -

Do you have a job? The sheer amount of posts you leave here makes one wonder. Why not start your own right leaning blog if you have such disdain for the CO?

Do you give of your time to help children in our schools? Or anyone for that matter? Why do you spend so much time and effort deriding folks who work for the benefit of children? Why don't you spend some time volunteering at your neighborhood public school instead of perpetuating your mean spirited, no solution rants on the ills of public education and society in general.

You are pathetic.

Wiley Coyote said...


Thank you for the kind words....

From your comment, it seems you have read many of my supposedly "mean spirited comments and rants", but you obviously haven't comprehended a single one of them (if you really did bother to read them).

I have put forth many ideas and also backed up my posts with facts.

It's your choice to agree or disagree with my position(s), just as it mine to disagree with yours.

No difference.

You have a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

If CMS is so short of money why do we continue to fund the 5 area superintendents.
Now, get ready for the blowback on this one:
If CMS is so short of money why does every HS have a fully funded football team. You would think that 1, 2 or 3 of the HS could find better use of the football dollars.

Anonymous said...

We need you to be the next superintendent.

Wiley Coyote said...


I have stated many times that using test scores to decide the fate of a teacher's compensation is ludacris.

I know many teachers "don't mind being held accountable for their job performance", but unless the accountability part has teeth in it, then it means nothing - hiring, firing, school assignments where needed, etc.

I've also stated that the current "tenure" system needs to remain in place until the whole public education system is revamped with accountability at all levels.

We've been using the same failed system for decades.

Anonymous said...

Why does CMS pass minority children that do not complete tasks or perform on tests? For that matter why would they do that with a majority child?
My child would like to know as she works very hard to maintain her advanced A average.
Kids see it Heath why cant you?
I also vote Wiley for the next super..

Anonymous said...

Go, Wiley!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, and as a liberal, I welcome reasonable testing and merit pay. I do my job. I do it well, and I know that I would see an increase in pay if merit pay was implemented. However, the tests this past spring were rushed, asked questions about the wrong topic being tested, had grammatical errors, were confusing, and were never tested before being implemented. Feel free to test me, but all I want is a fighting chance.

Wiley Coyote said...

CMS Website:

Where does CMS spend most operating dollars?

CMS is one of the largest employers in Mecklenburg County, with more than 18,000 full- and part-time employees. Close to 82 percent of the operating budget is used for salaries and benefits. About 84 percent of CMS employees work in schools.Of the school-based employees, 66 percent are teachers. Administrators, guidance counselors, media specialists, teacher assistants, bus drivers and other support staff comprise the rest of school-based employees.

In 2009, the state spent nearly 91% for salaries and benefits for public education.

No wonder politicians look at the largest chunk of a budget for places to cut and for accountability of dollars spent.

Sometimes they look under the wrong rock, in this case, student performance related to teacher compensation.

CMS had huge jumps in graduation rates, especially at West Charlotte.

Who do we hold accountable for these miraculous, one year increases so we can rain down higher compensation and praise?

Or was it just a change in graduation requirements that had nothing to do with teachers, principals or a higher power?

For what its worth said...

Gosh, imagine that! Strings associated with accepting federal dollars.

One of these days, you folks are going to realize the evils of being associated with the federal government.

Scott Babbidge said...

Wiley could not be more correct in the statement that our public education system is a failed system. As I've said many times, our public education system was built during the Industrial Revolution and under the guise that the most important thing about a child is their chronological age. As a result, we hold back our best and brightest and we leave behind those who struggle academically. Both instances are exceedingly damaging to our nation and our standing in the world.
We now have things like "Common Core" and "Race To The Top" which are nothing more than big government (and in this case liberal/progressive/communist) attempts to further erode the actual history of our nation from textbooks and to hold states and local school districts financially hostage...either dumb down and socialize the system and the things that are taught or lose funding. And no matter which side of the aisle a politician sits, they are all crack addicts....with federal money being the crack they are hooked on. We are allowing the left in this country to destroy our nation from within our schools and we have the vast majority of right leaning politicians sitting buy and allowing it to happen.
And sadly, that IS the truth.

Anonymous said...

I never knew you were a ludacris fan. You just gained instant street cred with my students from three years ago. I had no idea! You might want to know that it's not the testing, but the abysmal quality of the testing flotsam (especially CMS summatives in the past) that were pathetic, matching only the quality of the few employees left running that department. Yet, I do agree with you somewhat on the entrenchment of the system. Teachers can test very easily with materials already online from the money-sucking publishers plundering NC taxpayers for overpriced and out of date texts. Same goes for overpriced, out of date, and unnecessary admin heads trying to justify their position.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 12:20

Sometimes urban flava sneaks in....

I agree with your comment on having teachers handle the testing.

I've said before that having an end of grade test or even a mid-year test as well shouldn't be that difficult, administered by teachers as if it were one of their own tests.

1 - Implement a curriculum.

2 - Decide what students should know mid-year and at the end of the year and design tests that reflect what students should have learned at those two points in time. If the teacher has done their job, most students should be able to pass a basic skills test of the subject matter. The two tests would count as some portion of their grade but there would be no need for all the hype and anxiety over "mandatory testing". It would be the same as a teacher coming up with a mid-year test as was done for many years before state testing mania became a fad.

3 - Allow teachers to teach the curriculum anyway they see fit.

4 - Teachers would still assign projects, homework, pop tests, other major tests in addition to the two state progress tests.

I don't see what is so difficult with that process.

Teachers get to do what they were hired to do - teach - and the state gets data to show what kids in each grade are learning and how they are progressing.

Anonymous said...

Public education is not broken, never has been. Students from middle class neighborhoods and higher continue to score at levels equal to all other nations - Mr. Babbidge you're a little unhinged in your comments claiming a socialist conspiracy (but you also promised you'd be running for school board again - so much for credibility)

NCLB was a GOP initiative and many prominent conservatives were supporters of Common Core until they flip-flopped. Google doesn't lie. Now that's some truth.

Give teachers the resources they need to teach and let them teach. Give principals the resources they need to manage their faculties and get all politicians out of the way and we might be surprised at the results.

Instead we'll get to endure another 5 years of public school teachers being blamed and bullied while pushing ineffective voucher plans and more charter schools (anyone see that Ohio report from last week that showed charter schools were absolutely no better than public schools? Lots of crickets on that story). Never once will anyone hear any politician admit they were wrong.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 9:14

I checked your Google. Here's who has adopted Common Core:

Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards.

The US Department of Education supports Common Core.

Here is Arne Duncan's comment on Common Core today:

...Common Core standards are a big deal in education these days, as Sunday's front-page article in The Oregonian made clear. Their creation was driven by governors and state schools chiefs from most states, supported by many major corporations and foundations.
Duncan helped propel states to adopt them by using federal leverage to get states to adopt either the Common Core or similarly high standards for what students should learn in reading, writing and math.

Also, NCLB was a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was supposed to end in 1970. It was reauthorized every five years since then. Also, NCLB was co-authored by two Democrats, one being Ted Kennedy.

Scott Babbidge is correct.

Public education is in the toilet and has been since forced busing to achieve integration was implemented 40 years ago. It's the same system using the same failed diversity at all cost programs, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars based on fraudulent assumptions and mismanagement by educrats and politicians.

Anonymous said...

Your own reasons for dissing public education based on busing and diversity have merit, but do not at all disprove the fact that for middle-class and higher students it is still among the best education system in the world.

Maybe recheck your Google, when I search Common Core and conservative there's plenty of hits showing support from the right.

George Bush pledged NCLB on the campaign trail and the GOP pushed NCLB hard - it was the first piece of legislation Bush signed as president. Just because it was a bi-partisan bill co-sponsored by Kennedy does not, in any sense, make it communistic or even liberal. Babbidge is wrong and still has no credibility.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 9:55...

You made the subject partisan by blaming everything on Republicans when both parties supported NCLB.

Only 51 Nay votes with 468 House and Senate members supporting it.

The law may have had unintended consequences later on but who is against higher standards, accountability and ensuring kids learn?

All one has to do is look at Obamacare to see what unintended consequences are and how they can arise.

It's also interesting that you keep referring to middle and upper class kids in your talking points and completely ignore a large slice of students in public schools. According to the only data we are allowed to have, 54% of CMS students are designated economically disadvantaged.

The United States' highest national graduation rate was in 1969/70 and has not been reached since then.

Becky said...

For me, one of the biggest problems with EOG's, MSL's, or any other standardized testing is that they do not allow for realistic measurement in the EC population.

The middle-schoolers I work with are academically, on average, at a 2nd-3rd grade level. We try to teach the fundamentals of middle school curriculum at that level. We implement the required accommodations and IEP goals throughout the year. Often, there is little retention of of previous or new teaching, and limited capability to make the connections to real life application.

Yet come the end of the year, they are expected to take grade-level exams. A read aloud accommodation used all year can not be used on the reading test. Language, testing modifications, and teacher understanding of response preferences aren't allowed and the student is tested at the same level as every student with no disabilities.

And then they want to judge the teachers' capabilities oases on the results do those tests?

Becky said...

Sorry, the last sentence should have read,

"And then they want to judge the teachers' capabilities based on those test results?"

Anonymous said...


Sounds like Montessori schools are THE ANSWER.

Can they teach kids to pass tests, too?

Or does that interfere with their educational goals?

Scott Babbidge said...

Anon 9:14
Before you criticize, why don't you have the courage to sign your name. I did.
So why am I not running? I'm not committed to living in Charlotte for the next 4 years. Trust me, I would be FAR better for CMS and the parents and students than Bolyn McClung or Paul Bailey.
Until you find someone who openly states they know public education is and has been broken because a) the model is completely outdated, b) the people running public education at the national and state levels are focused not on educating kids for the 21st century but rather on indoctrinating our kids with socialist drivel that not only flies in the face of what this country was founded on but actually teaches our kids lies about history, economics and social issues and c) these same people have ZERO vision for how we should be reforming our entire system.
Anon you can throw around whatever you want from behind the cowardly stance of anonymity but you are the one that actually has no credibility.
You may like me and my views or hate me and my views - I really don't care either way. But anyone that looks at public education with a reasonable and realistic and objective view knows I am right. (and no I am not right about everything, and I am far from perfect, but you and your kids should wish I was running for the District 6 seat)

Before all this nonsensical standardized testing nonsense began to proliferate, teachers taught their students and within the confines of their classrooms tested their students and used those results to determine how students were progressing. And lo and behold that was also the time that America led the world in EVERYTHING!!!

Standards need to be raised, expectations need to be raised, we need to stop holding our brightest kids back, we need to stop leaving those who learn more slowly behind and we have to demand more from EVERY student and parent. But wait, we can't do that, that would be the American way.....