Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Letter to Newly Appointed SBOE Member, Steve Yager

NEIFPE member Anne Duff published the following letter to new SBOE member Steve Yager on her blog.

Dear Mr. Yager,

I am writing to you as not only a member of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of Trustees, but also as a mother of three children who attend FWCS who are subjected to an exorbitant amount of high stakes testing.

With new academic standards barely in place before the school year began, our teachers had to learn these standards and be ready to implement them for this school year. New tests were developed over these standards, and our children were yet again obligated to endure another testing nightmare. As practice tests were given on computers, malfunctions occurred including the inability to choose the appropriate response, slow response time, navigation issues, freeze and reboot issues, and other issues that make young test takers fear and worry about these high stakes tests.

As I’m sure you are aware, FWCS chose paper and pencil tests so that our children would no longer have to worry about these issues that arose from the computerized tests. And, although testing was shortened, I believe there is still entirely too much of it and that stakes –especially for a brand new test and brand new standards with no historical data – are too high.

When Glenda Ritz put a resolution on the agenda at the February 13 State Board of Education meeting about pausing accountability this year, I was shocked and disappointed that this item was immediately dismissed. The resolution was stricken from the agenda with little explanation. It is my hope that when Gordon Hendry said, “and today I believe is not the right time or place to have the discussion that you presented as it relates to pausing accountability. I might add that I’m opposed to that. But I’m more than happy to have that debate at a future meeting” he sincerely meant that he would have this discussion at a subsequent meeting. Our schools – my children’s schools and our community’s pride - need a pause in accountability. It is time to reflect on what we are doing to our schools and our neighborhoods as we label them as successes and failures. It is time to take a look at the 12 options from our federal government on pausing accountability and consider one of these options. We have been given this opportunity. As a parent, I have had enough. There are no strings attached to pausing our accountability, and I feel it’s time to take a step back and take a breather from all of this testing mayhem for once and choose an option, as 26 other states have already.

It is my hope that the pausing accountability options from the federal government are presented at the July 1 SBOE meeting, and that options are discussed and selected. This is our opportunity as a state to stop and reflect about the testing and the stakes placed on our children and schools.