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SUBSTANCE EXCLUSIVE. 'While, I respect the right to opt out of testing, it is extremely important that all families understand that by doing so their child’s future could be negatively impacted...'

Ohanian Comment: Do you wonder why the Chicago school chiefs are fighting so hard to make all the kids take the NWEA test? Read the backgrounds of NWEA personnel here.

Before moving to NWEA, Dr. Edward Freeman,Vice President of Research and Development, played a key role in the Denver school district marching to the drumbeat of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lots of questions have been raised about board of directors member Lynn Fielding's "connections," starting with the Children's Reading Foundation and Lynn Fielding's books.

Board member Joseph J. Wise's Atlantic Research Partners lists among its "Clients and Projects": Chicago Public Schools, IL: Comprehensive Curriculum Capacity, Coaching and Data Assessment

"I wanted to take a moment to thank you again, once again, for welcoming me into your Chief Academic Leaders' Forum in Chicago. I was honored to have the opportunity to sit amongst fantastic educators and gain some more insight into where education is headed. . . ."-- Melissa Bove, Lead Professional Development Consultant for Chicago Public Schools at NWEA

Dolores Cupp, Victoria Tabbert, and Phil Salemi of Chicago Public Schools all offer fulsome praise on the Atlantic Research Partners website.

Atlantic Research Partners offers Implementation of the Common Core State Standards: A Transition Guide for School-level Leaders
Developed by the Aspen Institute Education and Society Program, Education First, Insight Education Group, Student Achievement Partners and Targeted Leadership Consulting
September 2013.

Next, take a look at The Education Mayor: Improving America's Schools by Kenneth K. Wong, Francis X. Shen, Dorothea Anagnostopoulos and Stacey Rutledge (2007). Wong is on the Board of Directors at NWEA. People who care about public education in Chicago might be interested in what his book says about mayoral control:

  • In Chicago, Mayor Daley and Paul Vallas had a very productive partnership.

  • Chicago is frequently cited as an example of successful mayoral control. . . rising test scores in elementary grade, more rigorous academic curriculum in high school.

  • Mayoral control reduces competing political actors and strengthens the school district's political capacity to undertake large-scale system wide reform.

  • The authors don't seem eager to ask productive for whom? Successful for whom?

    And so on and so on. So many "connections" between NWEA, corporate reform, and Chicago. So little time.

    by George N. Schmidt

    The "Chief Executive Officer" of the third-largest school system in the United States hastily issued an order on Friday, December 20, 2013 to CPS principals. The principals were asked to stop parents from having their children opted out of the NWEA testing program. In what amounts to a threat against parents via the future of their children, Byrd Bennett warned principals to warn parents about the "possible adverse impact" of boycotting the tests on the children.

    Two days after she reported to the December 18, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett dispatched a letter to both parents and principals trying to head off a massive boycott of the CPS NWEA testing program.

    "While, I respect the right to opt out of testing, it is extremely important that all families understand that by doing so their child's future could be negatively impacted," Byrd Bennett wrote in the December 20, 2013 memo she issued by email to the city's public school principals. A companion letter to be sent home to parents via their children follows towards the end of this article.

    Parents who asked principals for further information about the massive testing being done this school year have been rebuffed, with some principals refusing to honor the requests of parents.

    The full memo to principals follows:

    From: Communications, Internal Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Subject: Message from CEO Byrd-Bennett, backpack letters for today

    Dear Principals and Network Chiefs,

    As you know, the Chicago Board of Education recently approved a new promotion policy for our elementary school students. The former promotion policy, which used the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) as the standardized assessment, had to be updated due to the change in the format of the ISAT. I fully support this change to align with Common Core State Standards and create a more well-rounded picture of student process and needs.

    As educators, we know that the data gleaned from the NWEA illustrates whether our children are on the right path and helps us better direct our resources to those students who need individual supports. This is why we must make every effort to ensure the highest possible participation from our students.

    I am aware of certain groups who are encouraging parents to opt out of the NWEA exam. While, I respect the right to opt out of testing, it is extremely important that all families understand that by doing so their child's future could be negatively impacted. As school leaders, I am asking that you continue to work to educate students, teachers, parents and the community on why this test is so critical. Without scores from the NWEA exam, students will not meet the necessary criteria for grade promotion and could be required to attend summer school before being allowed to move to their next grade.

    I thank you for the work you do each day to support the next generation of Chicago's children, and ask that you stress to your families and school communities how important it is that every student participate in this spring's NWEA exam.


    Barbara Byrd-Bennett
    CEO, Chicago Public Schools

    The same day, but too late in many schools for the principals to distribute to children, Byrd Bennett issued the same message for distribution to more than 400,000 children.

    The memo sent to CPS parents by Barbara Byrd Bennett was sent to be distributed by principals on December 20, 2013. The message children were supposed to take home to their parents follows:

    Dear CPS Parent or Guardian.

    In October, the Chicago Board of Education passed a new promotion policy for our elementary school students. No longer do we use the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) as the standardized assessment. Our new policy relies heavily on data from the Northwest Education Association (NWEA) exam, which is administered to students in the spring. I fully support this change, as I believe it will create a more well-rounded picture of student progress and needs.

    In the coming weeks, you may receive correspondence from individuals and/or groups encouraging your child not to participate in this exam. While I respect your right to opt out of testing, it is extremely important for you to understand that by doing so your child's future could be negatively impacted. Scores from the NWEA are one of the tools we use to gauge a student's readiness for the next grade level, and which could benefit from summer school.

    I understand the view that too many assessments can take away from our children's valuable learning time. I share this concern, which is why my staff has conducted a rigorous review of all District assessments, and decided to reduce assessments for students in Grades K-2. However, certain exams, including the NWEA test that will be administered this spring, are important tools for measuring student growth and determining where children need academic supports. That is precisely why I encourage you to allow your child to participate in this exam.

    I thank you for the work you do each day to support the next generation of Chicago's children. If you have questions about the NWEA exam, I invite you to contact Myetie Hamilton at 773-553-2237.


    Barbara Byrd-Bennett

    CEO, Chicago Public Schools

    Basically, Byrd Bennett is using the "New Promotion Policy" to threaten children on their futures at CPS. The seven members of the Board of Education and Byrd Bennett are now claiming that children will not be able to get into Chicago's selective enrollment high schools and other special programs unless they comply with the current CPS testing program, which will be ignoring state test results and using a private testing program -- at least for this year.

    CPS has changed the test it uses every three to five years since mayoral control began in 1995. The reason is a simple accounting trick. Every time a "new" test is used, the baseline for "Trending Up" is established at a lower place than students had reached on the test's predecessor. The cheap accounting trick was begun by Paul G. Vallas in 1996, when he told schools that the most important test would be the IGAP (the state test at the time) and that the ITBS (and the high school TAP) would really not count for much. After the testing programs were completed (and teachers had de-emphasized the ITBS, resulting in lower scores), Vallas changed his mind and decided that the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) was really after all and certainly the better test than the state test.

    Because the ITBS scores had been artificially lowered, Vallas had a base line from which he could claim "improved" citywide test results for the net couple of years. By 1999, the fraud had played itself out, and even then Mayor Richard M. Daley was asking questions about where the miracle was going. By 2001, Vallas was on his way out of town.

    — George N. Schmidt with Ohanian notes





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