Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Opting Out of PARCC

We're opting out of PARCC.  

I went to an LSC meeting at Laney's school this week and her teachers recommended that kids in Laney's grade (sixth) take the test since it seems inevitable that the test will be used for selective enrollment when she's in seventh.  Their opinion is that it's good practice.

This isn't bad advice.  And they almost persuaded me.  But then I asked a question: "who grades this test?" No one there knew.  According to this source, Pearson (the company who created and operates PARCC) are hiring folks off Craigslist at $11/hour.   Let's take a look at a math question (click to embiggen):

I want to be very clear here - I'm not bothered by the question.  I don't think I could ANSWER the question; but, I'm going to take it on good faith that the methods for answering these questions are addressed via common core curriculum.  What bothers me is that they've rolled this thing out so poorly that no one knows who's going to be assessing Laney's response, which will be delivered in paragraph form.  When a teacher assesses a test response, I can read what she had to say, Laney can discuss it with her.  This is not true for some jamoke off Craigslist.

PARCC, by the way, is estimated to come with a 70% failure rate.  

But even this isn't why we're opting out.  The test doesn't count, after all.  It won't be used to determine funding for the schools, it won't be used to fire any teachers.  Why not just give Laney a real-life trial run before the goddamn thing matters?

Well, I'll tell you: We're opting out because the whole damn thing smells like a dirty political trick designed to liberate lots of good government dollars from public schools and into the hands of charter school hucksters*.  

I believe in public education.  I believe all children have a right to a quality education.  And I am sick sick sick of public school teachers and administrators being vilified as lazy or entitled by those who are baldly gaming the system by underfunding public schools while robbing our children of valuable classroom time with hours and hours of standardized testing.

The PARCC rollout in Chicago is a crappy political game with a clear goal of driving a stake through the heart of public education.  

And for this year, at least, we're not playing. 

* yes, yes, I know.  #notallcharterschools