A big week of testing-related education news to share with you––
1) FEDERAL: President Obama signed into law the successor bill to No Child Left Behind, the legislation that mandated annual state testing in grades 3-8. The new law, Every Child Succeeds Act [ESSA], looks like an improvement at first glance, but the annual testing requirement remains, and journalists and bloggers who are actually reading the telephone-book-sized bill have started to publish some revelatory stories, some straight-up weird.
2) STATE: Governor Cuomo’s Task Force on the Common Core made its recommendations. For years, many ICE families have refused the state tests, deeming them to be too long, poorly constructed, and inappropriate as the basis of teacher evaluations. Now the governor’s own task force agrees with us. But as with ESSA, we might want to delve a little deeper before doing a victory dance.
3) CITY: I n a previous update here, we reported that the letter we asked you to endorse was delivered to the mayor and chancellor having been signed by parents in every borough and in nearly every district in the city. While there still has been no direct response to that letter, parents got a response of another kind last week when a Brooklyn superintendent, mincing no words, made clear that educators risk disciplinary action if they freely share their professional take on testing. A 3-minute video of her exchange with parents has started to go viral. ICE Parent Action requests that you watch it and share with friends everywhere; it’s chilling. That educator gag order is just one of several roadblocks NYC Department of Education puts up to deter test resistance from catching fire in the city. No Threat Left Behind illuminates the strategy the city uses to stifle the opt out movement, which is much larger elsewhere in the state. (Full disclosure: ICE PAC parent is a co-author.)
All of these developments have led NYSAPE (New York Allies for Public Education), a coalition of 50 grassroots activist organizations, to declare: Parents Will Continue to Opt Out Until Ed Law Repealed & Real Change Seen in the Classrooms