Bullying Tactics

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 7, 2015 1 Comment

By Stacey Knudsen

The SBAC (ISAT 2.0) testing is upon us!  Parents tried very hard with the help of Representative Nate to get a bill, similar to other states that would have allowed us to opt-out of this test.  This bill did not even receive a fair hearing.  It was blocked in two different committees by Senators and Representatives that know better than parents how to direct your child’s education.  So now the bullying begins.  Why are you being bullied?  Because districts are afraid to lose precious federal funding.  Not one word has been said that this test has great value, that it will improve learning that it will inspire our children to work harder to achieve.  Why?  Because high-stakes standardized testing has proven time and time again to have no educational value for students.

Let’s look at the bullying tactics.  West Ada sends out a letter claiming that they do not have the authority to honor your request for opting out.  They site Idaho administrative code and ask parents to sign a letter accepting responsibility for violating the code, and putting their student at risk of not graduating.  It also states that a copy of the letter will be placed in the student’s permanent record. (West Ada has since backtracked, working closely with parents to honor their refusals.)

It is very curious to me that depending on which district you go to you are exposed to differing levels of bullying and intimidation.  We have heard recently of the student in Jerome who was un-enrolled for not taking a test.

Here is the problem with all of this bullying.

  1.  The rules or code which they site to require the test also states that any test used as a graduation requirement must be valid and reliable.  The SBAC has not been through the process of becoming valid or reliable.  When asked for the validity and reliability report you are sent several different documents depending on the districts.  All of them lay out a plan for how they are going to use our Idaho students over the next few school years to validate their test. “Connected to the on-going  psychometrics will be a series of high priority validity studies to address both immediate anxieties and the promise of continued improvements to the system of assessments and in  student achievement. Because the validity issues are vast, as are the data and evidence  that might be acquired in their support we propose that the priority questions be investigated first… (they go on to suggest a total of 18 different studies this school year.)

So in the meantime our students will be found basic, proficient, advanced based on a test that could as some point be proven invalid and unreliable.  Are they going to go back and fix results for students who were detrimentally affected by a basic score or inaccurately advanced because of a false higher score.  When this question was raised to a Senator, specifically addressing why we were going ahead with an unproven test that violated the code.  His response was “you assume that people here care if we are breaking the law.”

  1.  Do districts have the authority?  The answer to this is absolutely yes.  Geoffrey Thomas Idaho’s superintendent of the year had removed his entire district from taking the SBAC.  He believes the assessment has many problems and is not a valuable educational tool so he stood up for the students in his district and said NO!  There are other districts that are allowing kids to opt out as well.  So it depends on who the Superintendent is and how big of a bully they want to be.  (Unfortunately, the Madison School Board received numerous threats and eventually voted to administer the SBAC.)
  2. Do you have the right to violate code?  The answer again is a resounding yes.  Idaho schools cannot violate our fundamental right to lead our children’s education.  This right has been upheld time and time again by the supreme court.  Reed DeMourdant House education Chairman believes that in order to exercise this right you have to  remove your children from public education, this again is not correct.  Not every individual is in the position to homeschool or use private schools, but we still have a right to direct our own children’s education at our local public schools.  We have the right to influence curriculum and remove our children from projects or testing that we find to violate our sense of right and wrong for any reason.  Reed DeMourdant spoke out against the parental rights bill also.  If you are in his district he has very little faith in Idaho parents.
  3. Does the SBAC violate code?  Yes the SBAC violates code because it has not been proven valid or reliable, and therefore cannot be used as high stakes for students or teachers.  It also violates SB1372 it is now illegal in Idaho to collect any data that “measures psychological resources, mind sets, attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes or intrapersonal resources.”  The SBAC is a psychometric test!!  Depending on who you talk to they will tell you it is not.  If you want to read for yourself research SBAC, AIR and read the Idaho MOU’s where we had to provide a psychometrician.
  4. How much money can we really lose?  You have heard millions.  This is incorrect the only penalty that can be imposed on a district is 1% of title I administrative funds, and no state even the ones with opt out laws have incurred these penalties.

 

Stand up to the bullies.  We are not alone.  Parents and students across the nation are standing up and it is having an impact.  We may be small in number in Idaho but not nationally, and our numbers in Idaho will continue to grow.  Don’t let the Bullies win.  Remind the districts of their zero tolerance bullying policy.

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