Feds warn of cuts if Common Core opt outs continue
Ohanian Comment: At one time we could say the letter below is from our US Department of Education. Now we must ask whose ed department is this? Who are they acting for? And for what purpose?
The Twitter handle of the US Department of Ed is @usedgov. It's short, to the point, and totally accurate. A 'used' government exploits the people and grinds them down.
The really big question here is-- why is the federal government doing this? Seriously? Why does the federal government have such a burning desire to have all students take the BS Tests? What use does the federal government have for the data generated by the tests? What policy decisions are going to be informed by test results? What part of the public good is threatened by children who don't take the test? If few US students take their local BS Test, so what? What bad thing happens because they don't?
The most cynical part of me says that none of those questions matter, that the feds promised test manufacturers a good, solid hold on a huge testing market, and they are doing their best to live up to the bargain they made. "Where are my customers," bark Pearson et al.
"I'm sorry, sir." says Acting Pretend Secretary King. "I'll get back out there and rattle my sabres some more." Too bad for him. I'm pretty sure the parents of the Opt Out movement don't scare that easily.
by Joseph Spector,
New York and other states may face federal aid cuts if a significant segment of students opt out of standardized exams next spring.
The U.S. Department of Education warned states this week that federal school aid may be withheld withheld next year if less than 95 percent of students take government-mandated exams.
In New York, Title I funding that exceeds $1.1 billion could be at risk if the opt outs continue. The issue is pronounced in New York: 20 percent of students in grades 3-8 opted out of the tests last April in protest to the controversial Common Core exams.
"A high-quality, annual statewide assessment system that includes all students is essential to provide local leaders, educators, and parents with the information they need to identify the resources and supports that are necessary to help every student succeed in school and in a career," the U.S. Department of Education wrote to state education departments Tuesday.
The warning comes as New York has vowed to take steps to comply with the federal requirements, but at the same time tries to ease concerns from parents, students and teachers about the state tests. New York spends more than $23 billion annually on its schools, the most in the nation.
Earlier this month, the state Board of Regents suspended the use of the Common Core tests to evaluate the performance of students and teachers for the next four years.
In a letter Tuesday to the federal education department, New York education commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the state recognizes the importance of the tests and is seeking to limit the state's low participation rate, which last year included 200,000 students not taking the exams.
"We believe that these statewide assessments provide critical and timely information on all students so that we can better support students and improve educational outcomes in schools across the state," Elia wrote. "That has been our consistent message to teachers, principals, school districts leaders, parents and other stakeholders."
Elia said the state has provided a toolkit to districts to help stress the importance of the exams, as well as seek feedback from educators and parents. The state has also shortened the length of the exams.
United States Department of Education
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
December 22, 2015
Dear Chief State School Officer:
Before the spring 2016 test administration, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of key assessment requirements that exist under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA). These requirements will remain in place for the 2015-2016 school year, and similar requirements are included in the recently signed reauthorization of the ESEA, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
A high-quality, annual statewide assessment system that includes all students is essential to provide local leaders, educators, and parents with the information they need to identify the resources and supports that are necessary to help every student succeed in school and in a career. Such a system also highlights the need for continued work toward equity and closing achievement gaps among subgroups of historically underserved students by holding all students to the same high expectations.
Section 1111(b)(3)1 of the ESEA requires each State educational agency (SEA) that receives funds under Title I, Part A of the ESEA to implement in each local educational agency (LEA) in the State a set of high-quality academic assessments that includes, at a minimum, assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and not less than once during grades 10 through 12; and in science not less than once during grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 9, and grades 10 through 12. Furthermore, ESEA sections 1111(b)(3)(C)(i) and (ix)(I) require State assessments to
"be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children" and "provide for the participation in such assessments of all students" (emphasis added). These requirements do not allow students to be excluded from statewide assessments. Rather, they set out the legal rule that all students in the tested grades must be assessed.
In applying for funds under Title I, Part A of the ESEA, your State assured that it would administer the Title I, Part A program in accordance with all applicable statutes and regulations (see ESEA section 9304(a)(1)). Similarly, each LEA that receives Title I, Part A funds in your State assured that it would administer its Title I, Part A program in accordance with all applicable statutes and regulations (see ESEA section 9306(a)(1)). Please note that the portions of the ESEA referenced above have not been waived for States, including States that received ESEA flexibility.
Over the last several months, many States have released 2014-2015 State assessment data. A few States did not assess at least 95 percent of students in the "all students" group or individual ESEA subgroup(s)statewide.
1 Please note that all statutory citations in this letter refer to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act. This law remains in effect during the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year and the requirements discussed in this letter continue under the ESSA.
Additionally, in some states, LEAs within some States did not assess at least 95 percent of their students. ED has asked each of these States to submit information on the steps it is taking to immediately address this problem and meet its assessment obligations under the ESEA. Each SEA was provided 30 days to submit its response to the Office of State Support (OSS), and ED is currently reviewing information submitted by these SEAs. As additional States release assessment results, ED will request such information if the State or its LEAs do not assess at least 95 percent of their students. If a State's response does not adequately address this problem and meet the State's assessment obligations under the ESEA, ED may take enforcement action.
In each request for information, the SEA was asked to demonstrate that it has taken or will take appropriate actions to enforce the requirements of the ESEA, describe how such actions will specifically address the problem that occurred in 2014 2015, and ensure that all students will participate in statewide assessments during the 2015-2016 school year and each year thereafter, recognizing that the extent of the non-participation and other relevant factors should inform the SEA's actions.
Some examples of actions an SEA could take, alone or in combination, include:
Lowering an LEA's or school's rating in the State's accountability system or amending the system to flag an LEA or school with a low participation rate.
Counting non-participants as non-proficient in accountability determinations.
Requiring an LEA or school to develop an improvement plan, or take corrective actions to ensure that all students participate in the statewide assessments in the future, and providing the SEA's process to review and monitor such plans.
Requiring an LEA or school to implement additional interventions aligned with the reason for low student participation, even if the State's accountability system does not officially designate schools for such interventions.
Designating an LEA or school as "high risk,"
or a comparable status under the State's laws and regulations, with a clear explanation for the implications of such a designation.
Withholding or directing use of State aid and/or funding flexibility.
In addition, an SEA has a range of other enforcement actions at its disposal with respect to noncompliance by an LEA, including placing a condition on an LEA's Title I, Part A grant or withholding an LEA's Title I, Part A funds(see, e.g.,section 440 of the General Education Provisions Act).
If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014-2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of its students on the statewide assessment in the 2015-2016 school year, ED will take one or more of the following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the
State's Title I, Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds.
For all States, ED will consider the appropriate action to take for any State that does not assess at least 95 percent of its students in the 2015-2016 school year-- overall and for each subgroup of students and among its LEAs. To determine what action is most appropriate, ED will consider SEA and LEA participation rate data for the 2015-2016 school year, as well as action the SEA has taken with respect to any LEA noncompliance with the assessment requirements of the ESEA.
We look forward to working with you to ensure that all students participate in statewide assessments during the 2015-2016 school year and each year thereafter, and in supporting implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which includes a new focus on auditing and reducing unnecessary State and local assessments and providing parents and families with better information about required testing. Additionally, States may find other useful information regarding assessments in the Administration's Testing Action Plan, released in October 2015. As the Plan describes in greater detail, all tests should be worth taking, offer students an opportunity to learn while they take them, and allow them to apply real-world skills to meaningful problems. Tests must accommodate the needs of all students and measure student success in a fair, valid, and reliable way. In the coming months, ED will release additional resources and guidance to support your efforts to eliminate duplicative local or State assessments and continue to develop new and innovative approaches to using assessments effectively to support and inform classroom instruction.
Please do not hesitate to contact your State's program officer in the Office of State Support if you need additional information or clarification. Thank you for your continued commitment to enhancing education for all of your State's students.
Ann Whalen Delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education
cc: State Title I Directors
State Assessment Directors
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