Thursday, December 5, 2013

New York Parents Have A Message--What Would Michigan Parents Say?

My friend Kemala is part of a group of parents that sent a message to Bill de Blasio (the incoming mayor--New York has a mayor-controlled school system) about what they are looking for in a new schools chancellor.

It's a really good video! I like that it has a narrative and a clear message.

And it made me wonder--if parents put together a video in Ann Arbor, or Ypsilanti, or Dexter, or... for the school board, what would the key messaging points be?

What if the video was targeted at state legislators?

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  1. Well, they do have to take the ACT someday and that will determine your future. Either testing can be done along the way or a big surprise in 11th grade. I am a huge proponent of testing and it should be done before school starts or after school ends.

  2. Michigan decided to use ACT as a measure of "college readiness" a few years ago. In regard to the writing portion, I find this laughable and sad. The writing portion of the ACT is a 30 minute on demand essay where students rely solely on their opinion (there is no synthesis of information or use of reliable facts) and logic. The writing is graded in about 3 minutes and is graded "holistically"; this means that it's based on rubric but also based on the perception of the grader. As an English/writing/reading teacher, this isn't the majority of writing that my students do (or will do in college). Just because students ace the ACT writing portion does not mean that they are ready for the writing they will encounter in college.

    Another big issue I have with the ACT (used as a state assessment tool) is that there is zero incentive for students (besides those who are for sure going to college).

    As we look ahead to the CCSS, I am (hesitantly) hopefully that the state writing assessment changes.

  3. Anonymous at 8:28--standardized tests per se are not the problem. What we object to is the frequency of the tests (which leads to more test prep, which crowds out real teaching and learning) and the HIGH STAKES placed on the tests. In NYC, test scores are the sole or dominant factor in determining student promotion, middle and high school admissions, school closures, and teacher "effectiveness." Even if these tests were well made--who would know, since they are not made available to the public for scrutiny despite the millions we pay for them?--they can provide little more than a snapshot of the student's capabilities.

    As for your point about the ACT, years ago no one prepped for these tests. The test prep industry--and it's a lucrative one--didn't really emerge until the 1980s. Because prepping is now standard, kids who don't prep at all may be at a disadvantage. But let's get real, it does NOT take years to prepare for the ACT itself. It's a matter of becoming familiar with the format and with "techniques" like process of elimination. That can be done in weeks. It does not need to start by having 4 yr olds bubble in answer sheets! (Yes, that happened in NY this year.)

  4. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I'm a big opponent of high stakes testing, which, by the way, arrived in New York before Michigan but is a tidal wave crossing the nation. Ever higher stakes, coming soon to a school near you--as evidenced by the legislation that will hold third graders back based on a single reading test!

    But my question is, if you were to have a single message (think--one line, the way the people in this video have one liners) to our state legislators, what would it be?