Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Do our district administrators support spending millions on Smarter Balanced standardized tests?

Parents at at least one elementary school in our district received an email from their Parent-Teacher Organization today designed to encourage them to advocate for the district’s legislative priorities. “This email contains legislative advocacy information to help you stay up to date with what is happening in Des Moines,” it said. “Superintendent Murley requested that this information be shared.”

The packet contained, among other things, two documents summarizing the state task force’s recommendation that the state adopt the very expensive Smarter Balanced standardized tests. Neither document makes any reference to the dissent that accompanied the task force’s report and that raised serious concerns about the substantial and unquantified tech-readiness costs of adopting those tests. It also omitted this memo, written by our own David Dude for the Urban Education Network of Iowa, raising serious questions about tech readiness and cost. Finally, the packet included a statement about assessments, issued by the Iowa Association of School Boards, that sounds like it could have been cut and pasted from a standardized testing industry press release.

The district included all of those materials in the advocacy packet without comment on whether it wants people to support or oppose the new tests. Omitting any information about the dissenting opinion and any contrary views, though, could certainly come across as an endorsement. What are parents supposed to make of this information?

We have no idea whether the ICCSD has adequate technology to administer these tests. Judging from Dude’s memo, there’s a very good chance that it doesn’t and that the technology costs alone (not to mention the cost of the tests themselves) will be, in the dissent’s words, “significant and ongoing.” The Governor’s school funding proposal isn’t even enough to maintain our current level of spending. Where will the money for these tests come from? Where will it come from the next year, and the year after that? What is our district going to cut to pay for these tests?

It’s at moments like this when I wonder who our administrators work for.


Julie VanDyke said...

I got too catty and had to cut, paste, and save my comments to Word to look at some time in the next few days, but, yes, it did include the words "bitchin shirts rule!".

Also, I'm getting tired trying to Cassandra warn people what administration and board are doing behind the curtain in time for the public to do anything about it...and getting burned at the stake for it while too many people these things will effect don't do anything about it till it's too late...and besides, it's so much harder to warn anyone with Murley's figurative duct tape literally over my mouth with yet another Lynch, Kirschling, Swesey led attempt to limit community/public comment AGAIN on the board agenda for possible vote next Tuesday.

Remember when they pretended - Kirschling was way into it and seemed to be quite angry with me for not trusting his word on it - that this was all just about them clarifying what the public comment process was for people who might come to a meeting and not know how to do it?

Yep, more fabulous plausible deniability brought to you by the man who isn't a doctor but plays one on TV...except that Murley's duct tape is silver, in a box with some other things that are worth much more than $1.00 each, and I would suppose has his finger prints on it not that it really matters because I've been wearing the pink hello kitty duct tape that was in reach on my way out the door the other night. And besides, when you're an honest, vocal, informed, outspoken woman that a man in a suit has actually told he'd like to duct tape your mouth shut while you're sitting in his office over the lunch hour with the door closed, and you thought he was kidding until he wrote a policy he can't remember writing to actually accomplish it looks is now about to happen, it'd be way too creepy to use that particular roll to protest the gagging of public conscience, oh, oops, I mean, comment.

Anyway Chris, Dude already answered your question on the tech for this testing in that worksession, I don't think it was P&E, how would they ever find the time with community/public comment more important than anything else they do just by the sheer number of times they've put it on committee, board meeting, worksession, board retreat agendas now...hell, by that alone, keeping people from talking about what they're doing must be MUCH more important than them actually spending that time just doing it....bitchin shirts rule!

Julie VanDyke said...

Sure would have been great if that info about the legis email address had gotten out in time for district parents to send testimony by email to the IA House Education Committee that would've become part of the record kept on HF80 to try and help get that 6%...but, goodness, there wasn't enough time to do that was there...that Engage site is just ever so helpful when they want to use it to communicate with the public and district parents huh?

There was plenty of time when you consider the multitude of ways that email address, which was provided on the HF80 Ed Com hearing web page with the offer for people who wanted to be heard pro or con prior to deadline.

I waited to see if "the district" would get that info out on their own and then, when it came down to the wire...I tried one last Jiminy Cricket...but apparently the duct tape got in the way and even leading the horse to water didn't get it to drink = 0n the day of the hearing M 1/26, when it bothered me too much to not see the word get out, I texted the following to "the district" at 12:40pm

"Hearing length not increased to 3hrs, nor room changed=7:00-9:00pm, room 103. On deck in first group of 1-40 speakers but that's more fluid than literal and so a little scary not to know.
Anyone may send testimony by email today, not liking 1.25% is "con/against it", and if received b4 5:00pm it should be included on record: housechiefclerk@legis.iowa.gov "

In contrast, this is what CCA's "district" did to get their word out. Seriously, take a look at this, it's so "transparent" and such excellent open communication with all stakeholders, that I think I'm having superintendent envy: