NCLB Change and Opting Out of Assessments Pick Up Steam

Greetings,

I hope you are taking a break from shoveling this week - but not a break from activism! Now is an excellent time to weigh in with Congress and to start thinking about our own state-based efforts to curb testing overuse and misuse.

Do you believe that the No Child Left Behind expectation that 100 percent of students score "proficient" on state tests is ridiculous and - more important - damaging to our students and schools? If your answer is "yes," I invite you to join educators across the country in urging Congress to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (known as NCLB in its current form) and reduce punitive testing mandates. Sign a petition here, and email your U.S. senators and representative here. Don't wait! After years of being delayed, this bill redraft is now on the move.

We know that neither kids nor teachers benefit from all this testing. So just who does? This article spells out how publishing giant Pearson is a winner in corporate education reform.

Parents and students across the country are fighting back, in some cases by opting out of mandated tests. Click here to learn about the New Jersey Education Association's plan to flood the airwaves with ads critical of PARCC and about the NJEA's efforts to encourage districts to notify parents of their right to opt their children out of PARCC.

Our sister organization to the north is also becoming active. The Maine Education Association Board passed a resolution that begins, "Parents in Maine deserve the opportunity and choice to opt their public school students out of high-stakes standardized assessments." It goes on to say that students shouldn't be penalized for opting out and that teachers should not be punished for discussing the opt-out alternative with parents.

Closer to home, click here for an advisory from the MTA Legal Services Division on this issue. Click here for information from Citizens for Public Schools, and check out Edushyster for an insightful and humorous take on the mixed messages from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on this issue.

"How else can we assess if we don't have a standardized test?" The Alternative Assessments Conference organized by FairTest can help provide answers to this question. The conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 21 at the Mission Hill School in Boston. The MTA is a sponsor.

Want to learn more about organizing for social justice? WILD - the Women's Institute for Leadership Development - is planning an all-day event on March 7 in Northampton. WILD in the Winter participants will hear about lessons learned from the campaigns for paid sick leave, domestic workers and Fight for $15 and how those lessons can be applied as we continue to work toward economic and social justice for women and their families. Click here for details and to register.

In solidarity, and in anticipation of many great things ahead,

Barbara