Monday, March 24, 2014

D181 Students to Be Subjected to More Unnecessary Testing This Spring

Last night we began receiving comments from parents who just learned that starting this week, some D181 students will be participating in FIELD TESTING of the new PARCC assessment.  PARCC stands for "Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers."  Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, PARCC will be replacing the ISAT tests.  This morning we received a comment from parent Jill Quinones who asked that we post her detailed comment as a free standing post.  We are doing so because we believe the information Ms. Quinones provides is important for all to read.  At the end of this post, we will also be copying all of the comments we have received so far on the field testing.

Time for you to sound off.  Please let us know what you think about this additional testing? Should D181 have declined to participate in the field testing? Should parents individually opt their students out of this testing?

Ms. Quinones' Post:

Dear Parents

You can use this as a stand alone and put other Common Core Comments here:

PARCC Field Test

I will be piloting this with some of my 6th grade special education students next week. Here is some more info for you all:

Pearson, PARCC”s Field Testing Contractors sent letters to District’s on member states notifying them if school’s in their District had been selected for the Field Test. The final list of participating schools was compiled in December 2013, so yes; D181 could have been a little more forthcoming. Schools were selected to participate in a specific grade, content (math and/or reading) and mode (online/paper-pencil) and are not allowed to change that selection. Specific classrooms were selected by a minimum of 2 District representatives to make sure the selection was random. There were some other guidelines about this as well:
Every pilot classroom for the online version will do a practice component that lasts 60-90 minutes. There is A LOT of technology involved with this test, the majority of which is available to all students:
The actual testing sessions are 90-120 minutes ELA and 75-90 minutes Math. If they are taking the PBA test there are 3 sections of ELA and 2 of math. If they are doing the end of year later in May ELA and Math are both 2 sections.

Here’s the link to try the sample question that were released:
If you want the whole Field Test overview:

Teachers should not be looking over shoulders as Pearson and PARCC over the top on the security on this one. Teachers are not allowed to be on their computers, phones, or eve grading papers while students are taking this test. They must be circulating around the room the entire testing period. All teachers administering the test sign off on a lengthy security agreement agreeing to such and more. Any reported violation could potentially void the test results once this is being given “for real.”

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this Field-testing. It seems outrageous that it is happening right after ISAT and there will not be any scores associated with it – it is just research for PARCC and Pearson to make sure everything works and trouble shoot for when it rolls out next year. On the other hand, perhaps they will realize it doesn’t work! Also, those students involved in the Field Test will have a slight advantage over those that were not in that they will have been exposed and have had practice. Not sure if this is good or bad. This is a major headache for teachers as well, as we keep getting updates and changes thrown at us. Whatever your thoughts about the PARCC in general – those are issues with ISBE, not D181.

That said, I do know many Districts are, in fact, scaling back their other assessments because this test going forward will be given several times a year. For example, in my District MAP will be given Fall only to grades 3-8 and we will use Fall to Fall growth norms.

Given that D181 has done away with pull-out gifted programming and any parent/teacher can opt their kids in to accelerated programs I don’t know why we need to waste instructional time and $ in D181 with the Inview and some of the other testing we are still giving. Our Dept. of Learning should take a look at all the assessments that are being given and when.

For a funny yet sad commentary, see:


Below are the other field testing comments we have received.  Future comments will appear as regular comments following this post.

Anonymous said...
Ok what's up with our kids field testing the PARCC this week after a week of ISAT testing? At what point do they actually start learning?
The Parents said...
Anonymous: what do you mean? Which grades and at what schools are kids taking the PARRC test this week? It is truly outrageous, if true.
Anonymous said...
It appears certain third and fifth grade classes were selected by the state and our district agreed to allow this. I believe all elementary schools are affected and parents were just notified.
The Parents said...
Unbelievable. We 'd love to publish the email parents received. How much instructional time will students be missing?
Anonymous said...
Monroe 5th grade is affected by PARRC testing.
Anonymous said...
We have no idea about how much instructional time will be lost. We were just notified on Friday, and the testing begins next week. TERRIBLE timing to force kids to test again, only a week after just forcing them to do ISATS. When will they stop treating our kids like guinea pigs? Parents' opinions should have been solicited before they decided to take more teaching and learning time away from our kids!

D181 claims it was state mandated, but I doubt this.

Read this editorial:
Parents should opt out of letting their kids be used as guinea pigs for the Common Core/PARCC “pilot” test being given in Arizona schools over the next few weeks. As a “governing board” member of the PARCC testing group, Secretary of Instruction, John Huppenthal, has agreed to pilot and then implement the PARCC test statewide during the 2014/2015 school year.

At a recent meeting with parents and teachers in Oro Valley that I attended, Huppenthal stated that the PARCC pilot test is a “voluntary” test that Arizona schools have agreed to participate in. The testing window starts next week and lasts for several weeks. Hundreds of schools across AZ and the country will have thousands of K-12 students sit for several hours to take the pilot version of the computerized Common Core/PARCC test. Pearson Testing will then gather the results of the pilot test and use them to tweak their version of the Common Core/PARCC test that they will then sell back to states across the country to use to assess the new Common Core standards which have been fully implemented this year.

What will we get from the pilot tests? According to Huppenthal, absolutely nothing, except that teachers will be able to look over their students’ shoulders to get an idea of what next year’s Common Core/PARCC test will look like. Sounds like a pretty cheap date. None of the data derived from the pilot test, regarding academic or computer skills, will be made available to participating schools to assess instruction. No financial compensation will be offered to our students and schools for participating in this pilot test either, though Pearson stands to make millions when it uses data from the pilot test to finalize their nationwide test.

Do students have to take the Common Core/PARCC test? No. The state of Arizona has not yet adopted a test to assess the new Common Core standards, so officially students/parents who opt out of the pilot test cannot be penalized in any way for not taking an “adopted state assessment”. Our kids are being pimped out to the Pearson testing company without the schools asking parents for input or for permission.

What can parents do? Parents are their kids’ ultimate educators and protectors. Parents can call their children’s schools and check to see if their child will be involved in this pilot test. They can then ask that their kid be “opted out” of taking the test or they can simply keep their kids home the day of the test. We have enough problems in Arizona with education, let’s not add to the list the problem of a predatory testing company using our kids for their financial gain.

Brad McQueen
Elementary Teacher – Tucson
Follow Brad on Twitter at @cosmowisdom
The Parents said...
Parents need to speak out in opposition to the PARCC testing. Write letters to the BOE, make a pubic comment at tomorrow's board meeting and OPT your children OUT of this guinea pig test!
Anonymous said...

STURBRIDGE — Less than two weeks after the Worcester School Committee gave parents permission to opt their children out of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers field-testing, the Tantasqua Regional School Committee has done the same.

Tantasqua Regional School Committee member William J. Gillmeister of Brookfield made the motion asking for the school's administration to develop protocol to allow parents of students scheduled to take the PARCC field test to opt out of the testing.

The motion passed with an 8-7 vote.

"I'm opposed to the Common Core and I'm certainly opposed to the PARCC test," Mr. Gillmeister said. "Students have to take the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System), as well as the field test. And I think that if parents feel this is too much testing for their children, they should have the opportunity to opt out of it."

In addition, Mr. Gillmeister said the school committee needs to send the Legislature a message that they are placing unnecessary burdens on the school district.

"Unlike the MCAS at one point, where there was some field testing, that was going to happen," Mr. Gillmeister said. "This particular instance, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as whether or not the PARCC is actually going to be implemented because the board of education still has not finalized that, as well as they have not addressed the question of whether they are going to be offering the PARCC and the MCAS at the same time. There's just too much uncertainty going on here and I think parents ought to have the opportunity to opt out."

School Superintendent Erin M. Nosek said the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's position is students or school districts can't opt out. They see students taking the field tests as part of the required state assessment system, she said.

"The Department of Ed said this is not an option," Ms. Nosek said. "So I'm a little perplexed as to how I move forward."

Ms. Nosek said two Grade 8 math classes (roughly 34 students) are scheduled to have two performance-based assessment test sessions in April, and three Algebra 2 classes (roughly 45 students) at the high school are scheduled for two end-of-the-year assessment test sessions in May.

In the vote for Mr. Gillmeister's motion, School committee member Sheila Noyes-Miller of Brimfield abstained, while School Committee chairman Michael J. Valanzola of Wales, who makes it a point not to vote unless there is a deadlock, cast the deciding vote.

"It reaches the point of exhaustion, relative to the mandates from the state. Every time you turn around, there are new requirements on our school district but no money to back them up," Mr. Valanzola said after the meeting. "And, for me, this sends a message that we are tired of the mandates and, ultimately, we are a School Choice district that believes in choice. Choice should rest with the parents and their right to be engaged in the process."

On Feb. 11, the Norfolk School Committee sent the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education a letter saying it would let parents decide for their children whether they will participate in the PARCC test. On March 6, the Worcester School Committee agreed to send a letter to the state similar to Norfolk's.

Portions of the new test will be given to 81,000 students in Grades 3-10 to help officials at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education gauge whether it should eventually replace the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is scheduled to decide in fall 2015 whether to replace MCAS English and math tests with PARCC, although the 10th-grade MCAS requirement would initially remain in place.

Contact Craig S. Semon at Follow him on Twitter @CraigSemon
Anonymous said...
Our district has been so busy dealing with the L4A mess, we have yet to fully comprehend and deal with the disaster that common core will mean for this district. This field test is just the beginning.
Anonymous said...
I am livid that our kids are being forced to do this! They already missed so much school from the snow days. Whose dumb idea was this? What ever happened to transparency? I am opting my child out.
My friends opted their children out of the ISATS and it wasn't a big deal at all. Don't believe the administrator's lies that it is "against the law" to not let your child take the test. That is garbage.
Anonymous said...
8th grade classes are also taking this field test.
Anonymous said...
Just what our 8th graders need, more lost school time.
Anonymous said...
5th graders have also been taking middle school placement tests so they've really had no instructional time for two weeks. Unacceptable!!
Anonymous said...
From the D181 website:

PARCC Field Test: Schools and grade levels participating in the field test scheduled for the week of March 24 and April 7 were randomly selected by PARCC. Therefore, not all D181 schools are participating, and not all grade levels within a school are participating. Further, classes were selected will take either the Performance-Based Assessment (PBA), the End-of-Year Assessment (EOY), or both, in either English Language Arts (ELA) or math. To minimize the testing burden on schools and students, the majority of students will take only one component. The D181 participants are noted below.
School Grade
Subject Classes Mode Component
6 ELA 2 Online PBA
CHMS 7 Mathematics
2 Online EOY
ELA 2 Online PBA
ELA 2 Online EOY
Mathematics 2 Online EOY
Madison 5
Mathematics 2 Online EOY
Monroe 5
Mathematics 2 Online PBA
The Lane 3
Mathematics 2 Online PBA & EOY
The Lane 5
ELA 2 Online PBA
Walker 4
Mathematics 2 Online PBA & EOY

Why was this not discussed at any BOE meeting? Why were the parents notified at the very last minute?
Anonymous said...
The district web page lists which grades and schools are part of this field test. It looks like grades 3-8 and all schools except Oak and Elm. How is that Oak and Elm got excluded????
Anonymous said...
Prospect is excluded too.

And, of course, this information is buried on the web site. Maybe we need to sign up for twitter.
Anonymous said...
How convenient? All of the sudden the D181 web site is down for maintenance....
Anonymous said...
The website is back online
Anonymous said...
Ok relax people . The GOVERNMENT has issued the PARCC to be assessed in RANDOM schools across the nation. This isn't something your blog or any board can strong arm. The PARCC is being "piloted" like it or not. Our admin didn't ask for this, nor volunteer certain schools for this. It is what it is. Fight through your senators, it has nothing to do with the admin at D181. Take the chip out of your side and realize that a PUBLIC school has mandates they need to follow as issued by the government. If you don't want Common Core, fight against it at the root. I personally hate it as well, but don't ridicule our district for a government issued pilot assessment. If you have complaints, hit the core, not your district.
Anonymous said...
Ok, so opt out of the PARCC testing. Easy! No big deal. Then consider sending you kids to private school. We are dealing with a PUBLIC school district. There's only so much you can ask/expect. There is another option here folks. Take it or leave it, but it is what it is.
Anonymous said...
The PARCC Assessment is replacing the ISATs, so while it's not ideal that certain classes have been chosen and others have not, it will be required for all students next year. Because our state representatives have pushed for this test to be taken at least 2 times a year, on a computer, there are logistical nightmares ahead for the entire state, our district included. The pilot is necessary to see if this is even a viable option (which it likely is not). No one wants to lose more instructional time to test, especially the teachers. If you want to push back on the amount of testing, push back on the tests mandated by the district; challenge the MAP or the new district writing assessments. MAP tests are administered in math and reading, 3 times a year, through the same class (at the middle school) every time (language arts). Because the MAP is also a computer-based test, the laptops throughout the school are tied up for MAP for 9 weeks out of the school year. If you can get a laptop cart for instruction, the bandwidth priority goes to MAP, so other curriculums are left with the spinning wheel on their screens. The Writing Assessments (administered 2-3 times a year) also tie up class time (also administered through Language Arts). Students lose time again when teachers, not administrators or paid, unbiased evaluators, are later pulled out of class to score them using a questionable rubric (not created by teachers) that will likely not show growth (because of a flawed rubric and the fact that students are writing different styles of writing in each assessment). Testing has taken on a life of its own. Teaching has taken second fiddle. The challenge should really be placed on the district to minimize lost instructional time and reassess how valuable the data is.
Anonymous said...
I totally agree with the poster at 6:04 and he/she is absolutely accurate about the impact all of this testing is having on the students. Some testing is good and can be used to drive instruction and show patterns however, too much is just that. Does anyone know the rationale for the winter MAP?
Anonymous said...
Don't forget about all the pretests are kids are taking. We do need to get back to teaching.
Anonymous said...
How ridiculous that some people think that the government can FORCE our children to take a test!!! They are not wards of the state!! The fact that our children go to a PUBLIC school makes it even more obvious. If they were at a private school ( where kids don't have to take ISATS or PARCC, by the way), then, the children could be told to leave for not taking a test. However, in a public school, that is against the law! If you don't want your child to take the PARCC or ISAT, you write a note, and the school HAS to allow your children to go to school, and provide them a place to do something other than test. And if teachers or administrators try to coerce the children, THAT. Is against the law! Contrary to what D181 believes, children in public schools are protected by laws. That's why we send our kids to public schools, too. So parents have legally protected rights to make important decisions for our own chuldren.

Opt out is a completely legal and viable option for all parents
Anonymous said...
Why would I make my kids change schools when all the administrators have to do is start listening to parents and teachers! Our district barely gets funding at all from the state, so we are we pretending like it matters what they say? Poor schools, who are notedting standards rely on funding, so they have to take these tests to 1) prevent from getting shut down, and 2) to ensure state funding. If we don't have this problem, and are children are not benefitting from it, why would we overtest them?
Just because someone tells you to do something ridiculous doesn't mean you HAVE to do it! Parents, stand up for yourselves. Your kids don't get another chance to do 5th grade again.
Anonymous said...
I agree with Wick's previous post - we didn't move here for "good enough." School districts across the country have been talking about these field tests for weeks - OPENLY - and many have decided to not take them. Our district sprung it on parents at the 11th hour. I challenge our BOE and administrators to research this issue and not settle for "good enough." We also need to formulate a testing philosophy for the district.

We have been so focused on learning for all, that we are behind the eight ball on common core. Again, this is not "good enough."
Anonymous said...
Ok, so we take MAP 3 times a year, ISAT (next year PARCC several times a year in lieu of this test), field testing, writing assessments several times a year, inview, middle schools placement tests, pre and post tests in math - wow! No wonder we cannot get through the Everyday Math textbook. Funny thing is we don't really analyze any of this data.
Anonymous said...
I saw this on a post from another blog. It is the responsibility of parents to challenge the validity of what "governments" decide. Not too long ago, black people were not allowed to even go to school. Did you support that, too, JUST because the GOVERNEMENT said it was the law?

Adolph Hitler:
"How fortunate for governments that the people they govern don’t think.,"

Socrates, 470 - 399BCE: "People in a democracy may not get what they want, but they will surely get what they deserve."


Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 1: The following is an email I sent the BOE this morning, copying an email I sent to Dr. Russell and Ms. Benaitis addressing the PARCC field testing.

Dear Board of Education Members:

Below is an email I sent this morning to Dr. Russell and Ms. Benaitis.

Tonight I will try and attend both the Focus Group and Board Meeting. I plan to attend the focus group to provide input on the need to have a superintendent who believes in transparency and who will demand it from his/her administrative staff. From my perspective as a former board member and current D181 parent and taxpayer, that no longer seems to be the expectation in D181. YOU SHOULD DEMAND IT.

Were you all aware that D181 will be the subject of PARCC field testing in the next month? Were you aware that not all parents of students who will be participating in the field testing have not been told about it by the Assessment Department? Were you aware that the results are not going to be sent to D181 and therefore, the testing is not going to benefit the district or the department of learning in any way? Were you aware that other districts, teachers and schools are choosing to SAY NO and not participate in this field testing?


Haven't our students missed enough instructional time this year? Haven't you realized by now that the administrators running the assessment department are not effectively utilizing the test data collected throughout the year?

I will try and attend the board meeting tonight because I hope the board will do right by the community and make some much needed personnel changes. The assessment department needs someone who has a background and past experience in assessment in a district of D181's caliber. Enough with hiring or renewing administrators who are learning on the job, to the students' detriment!

The community expects excellence from all D181 administrators and full transparency, especially in matters that impact their children. You should have these same expectations.

Please discuss the PARRC testing publicly during tonight's board meeting and make meaningful and justified personnel decisions should you vote on contract renewals.


Yvonne Mayer
D181 Parent and Taxpayer

Yvonne Mayer said...

Part 2:

Subject: Assessment inquiry
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 10:07:32 -0500

Dr. Russell and Ms. Benaitis:

As the parent of an 8th grader, I was shocked to learn yesterday night (from a parent blog, not a D181 email to parents) that my 8th grader might be subjected to even more unnecessary testing later this spring. I was made aware that the D181 website has added "information" regarding field testing of the PARRC assessment that will begin this week and continue through the week of April 7. It took me a while to find it because it is not on the HOME page where most people look to learn new information, but buried within the Department of Learning's sublink to Assessments -- Interestingly, the SCHEDULE of all 2013-2014 testing that is on the D181 website does not show this information, so when was this information added to the D181 website? (See schedule at

Why haven't 8th grade parents at HMS received any information regarding this test, that comes on the heels of the week-long ISAT tests? Why hasn't this been discussed publicly at any of the myriad of board meetings at which you, Dr. Russell, have given presentations on all the various assessments, or in the letters signed by you, Ms. Benaitis, that have gone home throughout the year?

Why does D181 feel it can justify taking more instructional time away from students throughout the district this year, especially in light of all the missed instructional days caused by cold weather and the mold infestation/remediation at HMS? I spent about 30 minutes this morning researching this field testing and it didn't take me very long to find that other school districts are opting out and that it doesn't appear that the district will be getting test results on the students that can be utilized by the assessment department.

As a parent, I refuse to subject my 8th grader to any more testing this year. Please advise what the process is for OPTING OUT of the Spring MAP testing (which may serve a purpose for your department, but is completely useless to me as a parent and will not be used at the high school either) and the PARRC field testing (if my 8th grader is one of the ones who has been selected to participate).

Further, will ALL parents of affected students be notified that they have a LEGAL RIGHT to OPT OUT of the field tests? They have a right to know this. Why does it seem almost impossible for the D181 administration to be fully transparent and provide timely and complete information to parents of D181 students? What has happened to a district that used to demand quality from all its employees? I am very disappointed in both of you.

I look forward to a timely response.


Yvonne Mayer
d181 Parent

Jill Quinones said...

So Lane 3 and Walker 4 could have opted out of Math ISAT because they are doing both tests. Wonder if anyone knew this???


Also, D86 is a Field Test School as well. Anybody hear anything from them yet?

Anonymous said...

And remember Dr. Russell and Ms. Benatis were asking to purchase new software for more testing!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Ms. Meyer. It is shocking that middle school students were forced to take this test when you consider how many days of school they missed due to mold and leakage concerns. As a parent, I am infuriated that the administration did not even ASK parents about the PARCC or bring it up a a public board meeting! I also agree with the previous posts on the prior string. When people don't question the government, they are behaving like they live in a communist country. We live in a democracy, for God's sake! Our grandfathers fought for the right to speak our mind and make sure that our voices are being heard by our voted upon representatives. We certainly do not have to go all the way to the state senators to figure this out! This is a local, school board issue that should have been brought to the table a long time ago.
Based on the actions of a couple board members, you'd think we were living in Nazi controlled Germany. There is only so much that polite negation can do - and it obviously is not working here in Hinsdale. Time for parents to step up to the meeting tonight and demand that we be heard! School is not ONLY for testing and our kids are not test subjects for Pearson Tests!

Anonymous said...

Who is this benefitting?

ISATs were pushed back because of the missed school days etc, yet the 5 graders took INVIEW very early! 4 years ago, my then 5th grader took this AFTER spring break. Now our administrators want MORE testing on top of PARCC, MAP, pre/post test etc. We need a great curriculum FIRST. Learning Dept., you have enough data-maybe you should ask the parents and teachers BETTER questions and then LISTEN. I don't see the curiousity.

Anonymous said...

InView was taken Feb 7th-years ago it was taken in April.

ISAT moved because of extreme weather conditions

Next year PARCC will be taken in March and May

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many of you know this, but PARCC only has math & language arts tests, so 7th graders still have to take the science ISATs next year.

From what I have been told, next year, the district is taking one Progress Based Assessment (PBA) test in March or so, and an End of Year (EOY) test. In my opinion, how much growth can the district, and the company behind PARCC, really expect in 2 months? Especially considering we'll also be doing MAP testing in between! Plus, don't forget that 7th grade (and whatever elementary grades) still have to do the science ISATs!

I've also heard that after next year, when we see how it goes, we could have up to 3 PBA tests and an EOY test. I really hope not. However, I've also heard that PARCC may eventually replace MAP testing. I really hope so as we take up to much valuable instruction time. There's a saying that I've heard, "You can't fatten sheep by weighing them."

I agree, the district really has to check to see what assessments it really needs. On the one hand, so much instruct time is lost due to testing. On the other hand, much of the district's state and federal money depends on this testing. If we only depend on one test, the stakes are extremely high to do well and get that money. And even then, people think in the same way. A doctor uses math differently than football player. So standardized testing does not test every possible way a kids could know something. Why are teachers asked to differentiate instruction, but standardize tests?

Anonymous said...

Not true about funding. For most districts, yes, this is true. However, the extremely small number of low income students at our schools hardly qualify us for any state or national funding. That is why we don't even have a lunch program - there are so few kids that qualify, that hot lunches are not necessary.
However, holding Dr. Russell and other administrators accountable for the $40,000 worth of the PhD that we paid for, now that is real money. As is the amount of money we pay redundant administrators.
Chicago City Schools, for example, really relies on state testing money. Yet, those teachers stood up and demanded a stop to the ridiculous testing. Especially since there is opt in for middle school, why the sudden concern with test results?

Jill Quinones said...

Part 1

Dear Parents,

You can post this as a stand alone under Superintendent learning Committee and see how many other Blog readers applied and if any "missed" the communications....

Below is my email to Dr. Schuster when she announced today she was extending the deadline for applications to the Superintendent's Learning Committee and her response. I would have had more respect if she had just said, "you are right, we felt the applicants were too controversial and we were hoping there were some neutral folk out there.""

#1 on my wish list for a new Superintendent - one who is honest and transparent.

Dear Dr. Schuster and Board of Education,

Without looking to jeopardize my own application, I feel as if I have to write to you to express my displeasure over today’s decision to extend the deadline to submit applications to be considered for membership on the Superintendent’s Learning Committee. This extension will only serve to delay the committee from starting its work.

While I hope my conclusion is incorrect, this extension appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to manipulate the parent membership on that committee. I have drawn that conclusion based on the reasoning sent out today as to why it was necessary to extend the deadline and what I know about each "reason."

(1) Some schools are not yet represented in the applications received by the original deadline – while I applaud you in trying to seek out a parent representative from every school and the diversity that will bring to the committee; the fact is, you may never get a parent to volunteer from each school. Moreover, I personally know of parents who have applied for membership on the committee from both middle schools and four of the seven elementary schools. I am sure there are others of which I don’t know about as well. If you need to leave the application period open to try to get parents from the three unrepresented schools, I understand that, but parents who met your original deadline should be the ones who are considered from the schools they represent – unless, of course, you are trying to manipulate membership.

Jill Quinones said...

Part 2

(2) There have been requests from parents for an extension as they had not seen the opportunity in our recent communications – for the life of me, I cannot imagine how a parent missed the communication on this one. News of the potential for a committee was included in the February 7 Newsletter sent around by Ms. McGuiggan to families and Key Communicators. It was discussed and included in the Board Docs for the February 10 Board Meeting. The call for applications was posted to the D181 website and included in the D181 E-News sent by Ms. McGuiggan to families and Key Communicators on March 7. It was publicized in the Suburban Life and Hinsdale Patch online on March 11 and 17, and probably other places as well. At Walker School and others, it was linked on the PTO website either directly or by a link to the District website .A reminder of the deadline for applications was again sent around on March 21 from Ms. McGuiggan to all families. If many parents missed this communication prior to March 21, it would be surprising. And if a few did and contacted you, then give them an extra few days to submit their application, but do not stop the entire process for another three weeks (two more weeks to accept applications and another to choose membership). The school year will be almost over before a first meeting can be called.

(3) The search for a new superintendent is progressing rapidly, and by extending the deadline for applications, the new superintendent may be able to participate in the committee member selection process – What? Even the most aggressive search will not have a new Superintendent approved much before May 31, and it could be later than that. If the new Superintendent is already employed somewhere it is doubtful that he or she will place selecting parental curriculum committee membership as a high priority prior to July 1. If the intent was to get this committee up and going this year (I think it was originally posted as membership term of 2013-14 and 2014-15), then this third reason is really a reach.

I would urge you to reconsider this extension to the general public and limit it to parents who contacted you and schools from whom you have no candidates. The original posting did not have you announcing membership until March 28. Using that original date the committee can start its important work soon after Spring Break. Additional members from missing schools, if any apply, can be added as you select them.

Thank you,

Jill Quinones

Her response (and no, she didn't sign it):

Dear Jill,

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your perspective and expected some of the people who met the deadline to feel the same way. I weighed that perspective with that from the parents who missed the other communications when making the decision to extend the deadline.


jay_wick said...

Believe it or not I rather like 'standardized testing'. In fact when I was in college the nearby ACT HQ would pay kids to take "sample tests" so that the test makers would have insight into what questions were problematic. I often made pocket money that way.

Further, I am not alone in my belief that a well designed standardized test can be a excellent way to understand what sorts of challenges learners face -- The Pleasures Of 'Teaching To the Test'| Wall Street Journal

That said, it is true that districts like ours really don't need to "buy into" the philosophy implicit in having kids take so many standardized tests. We do not need nor do we receive any significant funding to support the education of the economically disadvantaged that often is tied to performance on such tests. We do not have a huge bureaucracy that will thwart efforts to end ineffective instructional methods that such testing is often used to highlight. Rather we have an abundance of benchmarks with which to judge the progress of our students and one would think the district staff could also track the most successful methods for helping students to acquire necessary proficiency as demonstrated by various approaches.

If the PARCC assessments are well designed (and it is extremely unlikely that any test could really be worse in design than the ISATs...) we should be happy to spend a little time field testing them. We should not, however, make any endorsement of the value of standardized testing nor should we go out of our way to devote time to any specific test preparation.

Since these decision to be part of the Common Core and PARCC happened on a state level several years ago it really does not make too much sense for our district to fight these things. We should take our opportunity to participate in the field test with nonchalance; if it any massive deviation from other assessments is noted (which strikes me as unlikely but still possible...) then perhaps we might want to see if there is mismatch in what content and instructional methods have been emphasized that our students are not able to adequately demonstrate on the sample assessment.

The PARCC assessment probably will take some time away from 'regular' instruction and that is never a good thing, but a whole range of activities do take time away from "regular classroom time" already and there very likely is a legitimate question as to how much any of these things do negatively impact on the ability of all our district learners to compete on equal footing with their peers in other settings where different priorities may be enforced.

I can only hope the the elected members of the BOE understand it is not "micromanaging" to question what our district's real priorities should be anymore than it is fully appropriate for our teachers / district staff to take seriously their role "in loco parentis" to look out for the safety and best interests of our children while they are in the care of professionals. So too should each of the BOE members serve to ensure the best interests of the community are always paramount in the actions of all district personnel.

Anonymous said...

Parents should know that this PARCC field test will include above, at, and below grade level questions. For example, 5th graders taking the test will have to answer questions that are 3rd/4th grade level, 5th grade and 6th/7th grade level. It is a way for the publishers to weed out questions. If your child suffers from test anxiety, this test might surely push them to their limits. School districts with students taking the PARCC field test could have opted out those students out of the ISAT but it had to be done about a month before the ISAT.

Anonymous said...

A really good read about how all of this testing is impacting both teachers and students. Yes, standardized testing is an important tool and, used correctly provide valuable information. However, too much takes away from what is really important - classroom learning. How will the kids who take the PARCC tests make up the lost classroom time? Have parents even been asking this question?