Why No Mention of the Effect of Poverty on Georgia’s College and Career Ready Performance Index?

Georgia released a lot of data about every school in the state which is summarized by a score attained through the College and Career Ready Performance Index.

When the results were released this week by John Barge, State Superintendent of Education, the focus was on the new calculation system used to generate a score for each school.  The second thing was to show that elementary school scores improved from 74.9 to 78.5 (+3.6), middle school increased from 73.9 to 75.0 (+1.1) and high schools decreased from 73.0 to 72.0 (-1.0).

When the media caught hold of the data, they immediately posted lists of the highest and lowest performing schools, and directed Georgians to their website to find the score of schools in their neighborhood.

There were also interviews with principals and superintendents who talked about the new system used to calculate the scores, and to explain that the system is a better way to tell citizens the degree to which students are ready for college and career.

But there were also some who questioned whether this system tells us anything about student’s readiness for college and careers.  “Who knows what they want to do in elementary school?”, one school board member in Cobb asked.

Missing from the announcement and media reports was the effect of poverty on the CCRPIs for the schools.  Six hundred and seventy-two thousand (27.3%) of children under age 18 live in poverty in Georgia, and more than one million (59.7%) of children attending school are eligible for free or reduced meals.

Poverty in Georgia has increased steadily since the provision of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 which mandated annual testing in the content areas of math and reading for all children grades one through eight.  Georgia assumes that the test they use, the Criterion Reference Competency Tests (CRCT), measures college and career readiness.  I don’t think it does.


Figure 1. Map of the Percentage of Students in Poverty by Georgia Counties.

In the graph in Figure 2, I’ve selected the five states in which I’ve lived, and graphed the percentage of children living in poverty, 2008 – 2012. Georgia leads the selected states in the percentage of children living in poverty.

Why is the state reluctant to talk about the possible effect of poverty on student scores on the state’s Criterion Reference Competency Tests? Student CRCT scores contribute 60% of the index that the state uses to rank schools.


Figure 2. Children in Poverty from 2008 – 2012 for Five States

Why no mention of poverty, when in fact, it is well-known what the effect is of poverty on academic achievement (see Figure 3). The state has its own data showing that poverty is inversely related to student achievement on the CRCT. The higher the percentage of children living in poverty, the lower the achievement scores. Take a look at Figure 3, which shows a scatter plot of all Georgia schools vs poverty measure using free and reduced lunch.

Figure 3. Relationship between CRCT scores and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunches.
Figure 3. Relationship between CRCT scores and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunches.

The state really does not want to bring poverty into the equation when it calculates the performance index of Georgia schools. Why?

The states thinks that using poverty is an excuse for ineffective teaching and failing schools.

If you read Georgia’s Race to the Top (RT3) proposal or reports, you will find that the burden of helping kids who live in poverty is left to classroom teachers and their colleagues.  Most of the $400 million received from the Federal government for the RT3 is used to write and implement “rigorous” standards, develop data collection systems, develop the technology to measure teacher effectiveness using student tests, and hire inexperienced teachers to turn around “failing” schools, based on the CCRPI.

You can read more details about Georgia’s Race to the Top here, here, and here. If you do, you won’t believe it.

Diane Ravitch has explored this issue in-depth in her recent book, The Reign of Error, and what she has to say about how poverty affects academic performance is relevant here.

Georgia has a poverty rate of about 28%, and this ranks the state among the top five states in the U.S. in terms of childhood poverty. It ranks Georgia very high in international comparisons of childhood poverty. In fact, the rate is more than double the childhood poverty of any other comparable Western nation.

But Ravitch explains how school reformers (she names Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools; Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City public schools; Bill Gates, the head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Wendy Kopp, the chief executive officer of Teach for America; and Arne Duncan , the Obama administration’s secretary of education of this group) believe that effective teaching can overcome poverty.

These folks believe that schools can be fixed by tweaking with various parts of the system of schooling. The real problem is that they do not see the school as part of a larger system that includes the community around the school, and how the two interact. No. They see the school as separate. And they shun anyone who suggests that teachers alone can not make up for problems that their students bring to school.

They make the premise that if every classroom had a great teacher, and if schools were privatized and put into a free market system, then we would experience changes in learning beyond our wildest dreams.

Nonsense.

Ravitch makes it clear that doing this makes no sense. But it does make sense to recognize the effects of poverty. She says this:

Poverty matters. Poverty affects children’s health and well-being. It affects their emotional lives and their attention spans, their attendance and their academic performance. Poverty affects their motivation and their ability to concentrate on anything other than day-to-day survival. In a society of abundance, poverty is degrading and humiliating. Ravitch, Diane (2013-09-17). Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Kindle Locations 1933-1935). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We’ll explore this issue in more detail over the next few posts.

In the meantime, what do you think about the state’s reluctance to deal directly with the issue of poverty and its affects on academic performance?

Georgia’s College & Career Ready Performance Index is Not Scientific But is a Media Darling

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Figure 1. Are you here to measure me again? Really!

The Georgia Department of Education would have you believe that the College & Career Ready Performance Index is based on scientific research, and is a valid and reliable “index” of school performance.

Each year during the spring, about 1.6 million Georgia students need to be in school so that they can spend hours upon hours being measured with the state’s CRCT, a multiple-choice  measurement devise.  Like the cow in the photo, students, starting at age six, go to school to be measured, once again. How much have you grown, the state wants to know? We are beginning to hear from parents about letting the state measure their kids. Some are refusing.

Weights and Measures

The state use the term weights as we do as in weights and measures.  I’ve reported on this blog that corporate reformers, including many state departments of education actually believe that tests, such as a Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, are testing college & career ready skills.  How do they know that?  They really do not.  In fact, the CRCT measures content knowledge in math, reading, language arts, science and social studies.  It does not measure communication skills, or how to solve problems collaboratively, and how to be innovative.  Success in a job and college might be related more to these qualities that don’t figure into the CRCT. Why aren’t “competences” that count, measured?

Mechanistic Thinking

Another fact you should be aware of is the state changes the “formula” to calculate the CCRPI of a school.  Last year,  70 points out of 110 were allocated as the “achievement” portion of the index.  Because local districts in Georgia thought there was not not enough credit given for the school’s “Progress” or improvement on test scores, the DOE balanced the index by adding more points for Progress,  and decreasing the points allocated for achievement from 70 to 60 points.  There is absolutely no scientific basis for this.  It is pure opinion on the part of the DOE staff to reconcile complaints from the field.  Perfectly valid, but not scientific.

But, you must keep in mind that the DOE thinks in mechanistic terms.  So, when you have a scale of o – 100 or 110, they immediately translate numbers to letter grades based on common knowledge.  Maureen Downey quoted one DOE administrator who said:

We all know what a 100 is on a test.  If the score is a 65, there are some things that need to be improved.

This kind of thinking limits the way we view schools.  By thinking in traditional ways, such as thinking that a score of 65 means we are not working hard enough, we ignore the ecology of communities and think that performance in school is unrelated to the world around us.

Another truth is that these tests are not needed.  They don’t contribute to the improvement of learning in any situation.  In fact, there is evidence that students would be more successful in school, and teachers would be able to do what know best– figure out ways to help their learn to love learning.  How can an average score tell you anything about a schools performance, let alone an individual student?

Raising the Bar

The reformers enjoy raising the bar.  They seem to like making it more and more difficult for kids to pass in school.  The state plays a game—an unfair game.  They keep changing the rules to raise the stakes.  It hurts students and their parents.  It puts teachers in the middle.  For instance, at the 5th grade level the state raised the bar by stating that, students passing 5 core courses (now including reading) must also pass all CRCT tests.  The former CCRPI required passing only 4 core courses and did not require passing CRCT scores for credit.  They push the bar up at other levels.  If you want to find out about other changes, and the rationale for them, you are led on a search to the CCRPI Accountability page, developed by Harter, Cardoza and Reichrath.    Don’t look for an easy way to figure out the rationale used in any of this.

Keep in mind that the CRCT is based on Georgia’s content standards.  And as some researchers have noted, standards represent a kind of system of “weights and measures.” Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute tells us that standards’ reformers use the word—benchmarks—as a synonym for standards. And he says that they use it too often. In science education, we’ve had a long history of using the word benchmarks, and Loveless reminds us that there are not real, or measured benchmarks in any content area. Yet, when you read the standards—common core or science—there is the implication we really know–almost in a measured way–what standards should be met at a particular grade level.

The Georgia Department of Education, bound by the No Child Left Behind act, the Waiver they received, and the Race to the Top, fits the model of using weights and measures to convince us that the scores reported under the banner of CCRPI have scientific meaning.

They do not.

Digging Deeper

If you are willing to look at Excel Spreadsheets, you will soon become aware that the state has collected massive amounts of student data that they believe is real, and is to be believed as measures of student performance in reading, English language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Figure 1. CRCT 2012 All Students by State in Reading.  How is the "standard" determined?
Figure 1. CRCT 2012 All Students by State in Reading. How is the “standard” determined?

Examine any grade in the chart.  More than 120,000 students at each grade level (3rd – 8th)  took the CRCT in reading.  According to the state from 4 to 9 percent of the students did not reach the standard.  You can find similar data in English language arts, math, science and social studies.

But here is the question:  How did the state determine the “cut off” score that establishes the standard?  Did they use some mathematical model to do this?  Is there data out there that they consulted to lead them to a number?

No.

There is no formula.  There is no science.  This is pure opinion by the state.  In fact, they can change the standard each year (which they do).

As you look over the newspaper articles that create league tables listing the schools with the highest CCRPI scores and those with the lowest CCRPI scores, we really do not know what these scores mean.

Here are some additional pages to consult to enable you dig deeper into the CCRPI.

 

Inconsequential and Consequential Differences in the Georgia Score Card Data

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The Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) released two year’s worth of data based on CRCT tests.  The CRCT data is used to grade each school in Georgia, on a 100 point scale.  The score is determined by four numbers weighted as follows

  • Achievement on CRCT–60 points
  • Progress on CRCT–25 points
  • Achievement Gap Size & Change–15
  • Challenge Points–10

Inconsequential Differences

The Georgia Department of Education today released the second College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI), based on data from the 2012 and 2013 school years. Georgia’s elementary schools saw a one-year increase in scores from 74.9 to 78.5 (+3.6), middle schools saw a one-year increase in scores from 73.9 to 75.0 (+1.1) and high schools saw a one-year decrease in scores from 73.0 to 72.0 (-1.0).

But no matter how you look at this data, the change from one year to the next is inconsequential.  In Figure 1 we have created charts for each year and placed them next to each other.  The pattern is nearly an exact duplicate.

Figure .  Georgia State Data for the Years 2012 and 2013 next to each other.
Figure 1. Georgia State Data for the Years 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

Figure 2 shows the same data in the traditional bar graph format.  Again, as you look a the data, there is little difference from one year to the next.

Figure  Bar Graph Comparing CCPR from 2012 and 2013
Figure 2. Bar Graph Comparing CCPR from 2012 and 2013

Consequential Differences in the Score Card Data

There are two maps that show some of the consequential differences in the CRCT data.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper has provided a map of data by school for the metro Atlanta area that includes a significant part of the 1.6 million school children that attend Georgia Schools.

The map reveals a pattern that is consequential.  There are differences that are quite clear in score ranges, and how they are distributed in the metro Atlanta area.  Scores for each school can range from less than 60 (red dots) to 90 or greater (dark green).

If you just focus on these two data points, there is an obvious difference in scores based on geography.

Click on it, and it will take you to AJC’s interactive map where you can look at the data for each dot.  Each dot is a school.

Figure 3. Map of Metro Atlanta Schools by CRCT Scores
Figure 3. Map of Metro Atlanta Schools by CRCT Scores

 

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Figure 4 is a map of a region extending from Atlanta to Athens based on poverty.  Poverty data shown on the map ranges from below 11% to above 23%.  I’ve also superimposed the poverty percentage by county.  Please be cautious in using these numbers.  For example, Fulton County poverty rate is 18.9, but if you were to focus on the northern part of Fulton, the rate would be below 11%. The same is true for Cobb and Dekalb.

There are three oval shapes on the map.  The red oval shows a concentration of schools (red dots on the map in Figure 3).  This region of the map, except for Clark County (Athens), has very high poverty levels.  This is not a startling finding.  In many reports on this blog, we have reported research studies that show that number one factor contributing to a student test score on exams such as the CRCT, is poverty.

Notice that many of high scoring schools are in low poverty areas of the map.

The current wave of “reform” based on core standards, and student test scores would have us believe that the major factor influencing the performance of students is the quality of the teacher in the classroom.  Out-of school factors, and the variety of differences among school leadership, curriculum, and teacher collaboration are not considered.  If educators bring up the issue of the effects of poverty on student achievement, education leaders such as Joe Klein, formerly of the NYC schools, and Michelle Ree, formerly of the D.C. schools insist that performance in school by all students should be the result of the effectiveness of the teacher; poverty levels should have no effect. This is nonsense.

 

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Figure 4. Map of Poverty in the Atlanta region and Georgraphical location of CRCT Scores Trending Higher and Lower. Poverty Map Source: Poverty USA.

No Tinkering, Please

Reformists have been “tinkering” with schools, K – college.  This “tinkering” is playing havoc on teachers, students, and parents, and there seems to be no end in sight.   We’ve tinkered with achievement test scores, achievement test score gaps, graduation and drop out rates, teacher VAM scores–you name it.

The release of Georgia’s CRCT data plays into the hands of tinkerers.  Tinkerers are machine age thinkers.  They see the school as a K-12 factory and they focus on cause-effect relationships.  They keep tinkering with this variable and that, but schooling has resisted change.  The results of the CRCT are available on online, here for 2012 and here for 2013.  The results are broken into parts–subjects and departments of math, reading, science, social studies, language arts.  We are stuck in this paradigm in which schooling is reduced to discrete and disconnected parts, and the focus is on testing each of these parts each year thinking that our tinkering will change the results.  They do not.

The system of education must be thought of as a whole.  If we think of school as separate from the community within which it resides, and we tinker with in-school variables, we are behaving mechanistically, and if we test again next year, the results will be the same.

In Georgia we are spending nearly a billion dollars tinkering with one variable because we are stuck in a mechanistic model.  The idea is, if we can really change this one variable, then everything else will change, especially student test scores.  You’re wondering, what variable is he talking about?

He means measuring teacher quality.  That’s right, we spend about a billion dollars using student test scores, and a complicated, yet invalid mathematical model to analyze student test results. We do this to check on the effectiveness or the value a teacher adds to student achievement on the same test that is used to come up with this conclusion. I didn’t make this up.

We mandate that all students sit for several weeks taking tests to evaluate their own teachers. Professor Stephanie Jones, at the University of Georgia asks, Is this a violation of child labor laws?

The state of Georgia, being one of the Race to Top winners is locked into a system of evaluation wherein 50% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on these CRCT tests.  It makes no sense to do this.  A teacher works within a system–be it an elementary, middle or high school, and the learning of students in a teachers class is effected more by out-of-school factors, than factors that the teacher has some control.  The test score that a student gets on a the CRCT is the result of that student being in a system.  It is not a cause-effect relationship.  There are too many variables that affect student learning, and least of these may in fact be the teacher.

What do the leaders in the Georgia Department of Education think about this?  I didn’t hear much of a discussion yesterday or today in the media or from the DOE about the connection between test scores and poverty.  I didn’t hear them talk about new paradigms?  I didn’t hear them question the VAM model that will be used to check on our teachers. I didn’t hear anything.

 

What do you make of the State of Georgia’s score card data?

Should Parents REFUSE to Allow Their Children to be Given the Georgia CRCT Test?

 

"Creative Commons Test for Dairy Farm" by Yasin Hassan is Licensed under CC By 2.0
Creative Commons Test for Dairy Farm” by Yasin Hassan is Licensed under CC By 2.0

It seems as if one Georgia couple says yes.

In Marietta, a Georgia a couple has refused to allow their children at the West Side Elementary school to take the high-stakes Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). These parents informed the school’s principal two days before the testing period that their third and fifth graders would not be taking the CRCT. When they arrived at school to meet with the principal at a prearranged meeting to discuss what activities were planned for their students in lieu of the CRCT, they were instead met by a Marietta police officer who asked them if their kids were going to take the CRCT. When they said no, the officer told them they would have to leave the school property otherwise they could be arrested for trespassing.

After the police warning, the parents went home to find an email response to their email letter in which they informed the school their children would not be taking the CRCT.

In that reply to the parents, the Associate Superintendent of Marietta Schools said, in part,

The District must deny your request that your students be exempt from participation in the CRCT or other standardized testing as well as reporting and recording of such scores. Federal and state law mandate the administration of these assessments. It is important for you to understand the potential consequences of electing not to participate in such nationally and state-required assessments. These may include but not be limited to effects on students’ on-time graduation, promotion to next grade level, placement and final subject grades.

It is true that the CRCT must be administered.  But it says nothing about what might happen if parents refuse to let their students take the test.  However, if a child were to “fail” the CRCT, they could be retained.  But the parents have the right to appeal, and when the do this, the school must set up an assessment committee.  Here is a quote from United Opt Out website which relates to any case in Georgia:

According to state law (O.C.G.A. § 20-2-282, 283, 284, and 285) if a child does not take the CRCT or fails it they can be retained. This is mandatory in grades 3,5 & 8 only. There is no specific wording in the law for refusal to take the test. IF a child is to be retained there is a procedure the school must go through, including parent notification.

This procedure also offers a procedure for parental appeal of the retention. If the parent appeals the retention a placement committee consisting of the principal, all teachers and parents is formed. The parents must be notified, by the school, in writing, about the committee meeting. Based on the student’s academic achievement the committee will decide if promotion is warranted. The decision must be unanimous. If your child is performing at or above grade level this should not be an issue. If the child is not, the committee can promote the child with the understanding that additional help will be put in place the following year.

In the West Side Elementary School case, the parents are in a place in which the school will have to form a committee to assess each of their children to make a decision about their retention, or moving on to the next grade.

Indeed, the parents made it clear what they were doing, and were not going have any threats by the district.  In a reply to the Associate Superintendent, the parents wrote:

I believe that there was a MAJOR misunderstanding in what I communicated in my email Sunday night/Monday morning.  In no way, shape, or form, did either my wife or I ask for anyone to give us permission.

What I said was that WE REFUSE to allow our children to be given the CRCT Test. I do not require permission to refuse something.  Yet the response stated that, “The District must deny your request that your students be exempt from participation in the CRCT or other standardized testing…”  

Once again… I did not “request” anything. I told you that my children would not take part.  I have read most of the Federal and State laws about this test, and there is nothing in the verbiage that states that the Rights of the Parents are declared void in the process of implementing the CRCT Testing. If I missed the point where we stop to be parents, I would like you to point those out to me. You also did not specify the direct State and Federal Laws that say that the parents are not allowed to REFUSE their child’s participation in the CRCT Testing.

The fact is that the laws do not tell us we can not refuse the testing. We actually have that right.

There is growing support around the country supporting parents who decide to either opt their children out-of-state testing, or simply refuse to allow their students to take high-stakes tests.  There is no Federal Law prohibiting or allowing opting out of tests.  In fact, schools only have to show that 95% of students took the test to comply with Federal regulations.

Not only are the tests not a very good measure of student learning, the tests are more of a punishment than anything else.  For nearly a school year, teachers have planned and carried out instruction plans with their students involving a range of activities including projects, inquiries, homework, quizzes, unit tests, class discussions, one-on-ones, collaborative activities, and more.

In its infinite wisdom the state mandates that the true measure of learning is a sit-down, solitary paper and pencil fill in the bubble test.

Why would parents allow their students to take part in an activity that does not enhance their students academic growth, but does enhance the bottom line for a few big testing companies (see ahead for the facts). For their students, the test results are not used to help them improve learning, nor do the tests give teachers any meaningful feedback on their own instruction, let alone help their students.

Is this Test Envy?

Could our obsession with testing be national envy?

When the Soviets put the first satellite into orbit in 1957, the U.S. went into orbit, too. We wondered, what happened?  How did the Soviets get into space first?  What are kids learning in school?  Why isn’t our science and technology better than the U.S.S.R?  Pressure was put on the U.S. space program directors, and they finally got it up a year later. Money poured into the National Science Foundation (NSF) for curriculum improvement projects and summer Institutes for math and science teachers.

Disclaimer: I attended and was supported an NSF summer institute in physics at the Illinois Institute of Technology and an NSF Academic Year Institute at Ohio State University).

But, NSF funding didn’t settle it.  Politicians turned on the schools.  They laid the problem on doorsteps of our schools.  How are we as a nation going to be able to go forward if we have inferior schools? Our nation is at risk, and it’s squarely on the shoulders of teachers to improve, or get fired.  Thus, the origins of test-based accountability had its beginnings with the launch of a 183.9 pound-22 inch sphere.

The assault on teachers began here, too, but has accelerated since the No Child Left Behind act mandated national testing.  This meant that masses of data were made available not only to the state, but to private companies. Outrageously, this data is being used to test not only the students, but their schools and teachers as well.  The Race to Top Fund put the nail into the coffin when it required states that wanted some of the $4.5 billion to use student test scores as a measure of teacher value or performance. In Georgia, our esteemed legislature enacted a law requiring test scores to be used for 50% of teacher evaluation.  And today, Georgia will release it new rating system (2011-2012 and 2012-2013)  of schools based on 110 points, with more than 50% of the points based on student test scores.

This double dose was like a tornado hitting the schools.  The frenzy of annual springtime testing is operating now in millions of homes around the country. It puts teachers and students at risk. And I should also mention parents.

When the results are reported, normally in the summer, comparing one another in this competition will become a game played by departments of education and especially the media.

According to a Brookings Institute report, the cost of testing in the U.S. exceeds $1.7 billion.  But according to the report, that is only for payments to testing vendors who also score the tests.  But what is the cost for lost instructional time.  In Georgia, the CRCT exams began last week for many schools, and if you include high-school end-of-course exams, the testing period runs into mid-May.  So for about 4 weeks or about 12% of the school year, high-stakes exams dominate the school experience.  What’s the cost of 4 weeks of testing?  Well according to the Brookings Institute, about $600 billion is spent on education in the U.S. per year.

Therefore, the cost of testing in the U.S. is closer to $72 billion.

We spend $72 billion on tests because we are envious of other nations.  We spend $72 billion on tests to test teachers using the unscientific VAM modeling.  We spend $72 billion on tests that do not provide meaningful feedback to students and their parents about learning.  And we spend $72 billion on tests that in an increasingly narrow curriculum.

Should parents refuse to allow their children to take high-stakes tests, such as Georgia’s CRCT?

If your answer is yes, go the United Opt Out site.  There you will find resources to support the refusal to have students take high-stakes tests.

How is High-Stakes Testing Related to Child Labor in the U.S.?

 

"Creative Commons Classroom" by William Creswell is Licensed under CC By 2.0.
“Creative Commons Classroom” by William Creswell is Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Reblogged from Stop the CRCT Madness by Stephanie Jones.  Dr. Jones’ research engages the intersections of social class, gender, and race with language, literacies, and educational equity with a particular interest in social class and poverty.  You can follow her on her blog Engaged Intellectuals.

Context for Dr. Jones’ Article on Child Labor

I think Dr. Stephanie Jones’ Child Labor in the U.S. is very proper to reblog in light of events in Marietta, Georgia. A Marietta couple has refused to allow their children at the West Side Elementary school to take the high-stakes Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). These parents informed the school’s principal by email two days before the testing period that their third and fifth graders would not be taking the CRCT.

When they arrived at school to meet with the principal at a prearranged meeting to discuss what activities were planned for their students in lieu of the CRCT, they were instead met by a Marietta police officer who asked them if their kids were going to take the CRCT. When they said no, the officer told them they would have to leave the school property otherwise they could be arrested for trespassing.

The first response that these parents received from the school was a threaten to them and their children. They were told that all students must take the CRCT, or face the consequences. They were also told that this would risk their older child from going on an overnight field trip.

The Associate Superintendent of Marietta was quoted said this in its email reply to the family:

The District must deny your request that your students be exempt from participation in the CRCT or other standardized testing as well as reporting and recording of such scores. Federal and state law mandate the administration of these assessments. It is important for you to understand the potential consequences of electing not to participate in such nationally and state-required assessments.

But these parents are to be supported for standing their ground. Here is what the parents said in reply to the Superintendent, Assoc. Superintendent, and Principal of West Marietta Elementary School:

I believe that there was a MAJOR misunderstanding in what I communicated in my email Sunday night/Monday morning.
In no way, shape, or form, did either my wife or I ask for anyone to give us permission. What I said was that WE REFUSE to allow our children to be given the CRCT Test.

I do not require permission to refuse something.
Yet the response stated that, “The District must deny your request that your students be exempt from participation in the CRCT or other standardized testing…”
Once again… I did not “request” anything. I told you that my children would not participate.
I have read most of the Federal and State laws concerning this test, and there is nothing in the verbiage that states that the Rights of the Parents are declared void in the process of implementing the CRCT Testing. If I missed the point where we cease to be parents, I would like you to point those out to me.

It is in the context of the Marietta CRCT incident that I reblog her article here.

Dr. Jones writes:

In many places around the globe, young children toil in factories, harvest fruits and vegetables, clean houses, and perform other “jobs” we don’t want to imagine young children doing. This forced work in sweatshops, in factory farms, or in the illicit sex and drug trades is roundly condemned as “child labor.”

But what happens when you put about a million children in 1st through 8th grade classrooms across the state of Georgia and force them to work under conditions where their individual teacher’s salary will be determined by the children’s performance on a state standardized test or other metric? Is it Child Labor? Whom the children would be working for at that point – and what they would be working for – becomes unclear.

United States Child Labor activists in the early 1900s were concerned about children laboring in factories and fields from morning until night. They claimed that such labor eclipsed opportunities in childhood to be involved with both physical recreation and mental stimulation. In other words, the child was being exploited for the economic benefits of others while the child’s interests and well-being were outright neglected. Activists sought to end this practice and argued for a free, compulsory education for all children that – presumably – would not exploit children for the economic benefits of others. Child Labor laws made it illegal to work youth during traditional school hours for these reasons.

Today up to a million children in Georgia – all below the legal age limits for work – board a school bus before sunrise and can still be found slumping over “homework” well after nightfall. Physical recreation during school hours – that chunk of time during the day when it is illegal to “work” youth – has all but disappeared.

Child Labor activists in the U.S. were concerned about the physical health, emotional well-being, and intellectual pursuits of children. They saw the working conditions of child laborers as worse than unethical: long hours, no breaks, no recreation, and no space for rich intellectual endeavors were considered to undermine human potential and the long-term health of a larger society.

Ask a child how she spends her seven-plus hours of school each day and a similar list of unethical practices may be compiled.

 

Tell that child’s teacher that her salary will depend on the testing performance of that child and chart the negative consequences on children’s working conditions in schools. Teachers – workers in the system controlled by bosses above  – will be exploited. Students – the “producing” workers in the system whose production of test scores will determine reward for those above them – will be exploited.

Business owners and supervisors worked children for long hours with no breaks and no recreation (and no choice in the matter) because they assumed they would benefit economically from the intensity of the child’s labor. Some may have recognized these practices as abusive, but the economic incentive was too seductive. What was best for children and their overall education and well-being was neglected under conditions of Child Labor. The neglect of children’s social, emotional, physical, academic needs inside schools where they spend most of their waking hours for most of their childhood is likely to become accepted practice under Merit Pay legislation linked to test scores.

How do we want adults in school to our children? Is it okay with parents if other adults look at our child and see them as potential “assets” for raising their salaries or potential “deficits” for lowering their salaries? What kind of pressure might a child feel when he learns that his teacher’s earnings are connected to his test scores?

How hard will a teacher push a child if she or he is trying to create a higher “profit margin” in test scores? Are we willing to sacrifice children and the rights they won through Child Labor laws in the early 1900s?

The focus in education has centered on big debates about teacher and school accountability for too long. These debates exclude children’s experiences of policy and the roles they are forced into every time new legislation passes. Putting our focus back on children has the potential to remind us who matters in these debates and the prices children are paying for adults’ thoughtless actions. Merit Pay linked to test scores is a move toward implementing a 21st century version of Child Labor. Multiple measures of success for children, teachers, and schools can put us back on track. Schools were not meant to be factories where children toil, indeed compulsory education for all was viewed as the antithesis of child labor. The ethical treatment of children should be a measure of success for teachers and schools, alongside multiple measures of children’s academic growth and overall well-being.

There is a growing Opt Out of High-Stakes testing movement in the U.S.  Dr. Jones gives us further support and a different perspective about why using high-stakes testing could be Child Labor issue.  What do you think?