Local association leaders of the National Education Association of Rhode Island voted last week to "take a firm stance" against high-stakes testing and the Common Core curriculum.
More than 100 representatives were on hand at NEARI's triannual delegate assembly meeting.
In a release, they called for three specific actions:
1 – The immediate end to the use of NECAP testing. Rationale: Contradicting its own emphasis on rigorous standards, RIDE has now spent money on three different NECAP tests, allowed the use of 10 alternative tests, and allowed districts to develop waivers for students to meet their graduation requirements. Additionally, as districts transition to Common Core State Standards, there is little education value in giving a test while instructing students using a different set of criteria.
2 – A moratorium on the use of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing as a graduation requirement and teacher evaluation tool. Rationale: Teachers, principals and superintendents have raised concerns that districts will not have the time necessary to adequately prepare curriculum for PARCC testing prior to using it as a basis for evaluation of both students and teachers. Availability of necessary resources and technology for full implementation is also a concern.
3 – A thoughtful, collaborative approach to the development of curriculum to meet CCSS (Common Core State Standards). Rationale: The input of educators in the development of appropriate curriculum to meet the standards is essential, yet the RI Board of Education and RIDE continue to press forward without the participation of classroom professionals.
“We understand and support the commissioner’s request to the US Department of Education regarding a waiver until 2017 for PARCC to be part of teacher evaluation, but believe we need to go further," said NEARI President Larry Purtill.
“We have the following concerns: that curriculum will not be aligned yet to the test and should be done locally and in collaboration among districts; that resources are not yet in place to ensure that the needs of all students can be met; that schools are ready with the technology to administer the test; and that CCSS doesn’t become the only focus of our education system at the expense of all other opportunities.”
Purtill believes that the value of NECAP testing has been undermined by the wide availability of alternative testing.
“Now that RIDE has given the test three times, offered 10 alternative tests, and created a waiver system, it is quite clear that NECAP has lost any real educational purpose. At what cost, both to students and taxpayers, have we instituted such relentless testing?
“It is time, starting today, for the Board of Education and RIDE to listen to educators, students and parents and stop charging forward blindly with a test that clearly is not working," he said.