Everything they didn't tell you about CSAP
As Alfie suggests on Twitter,
this is a good template for op-ed that could be submitted to any local paper. Replace "CSAP" with any standrdizd test.
By Angela Engel
CSAP won't help your kids get jobs. According to a recent report, "Are They Really Ready To Work? Employers' Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of New Entrants to the 21st Century U.S. Workforce," employers identified professionalism, teamwork, oral communication, ethics and social responsibility as the most important skills. These are the very skills not being measured by CSAP.
CSAP won't help your kids succeed in college. Recent reports say 50 percent of college students require remediation. In college, they don't supply questions and force-feed answers. You're expected to think critically, demonstrate inquiry, and solve real problems.
CSAP won't help your kids read and write better. Shaded bubbles don't teach kids, people do. Children emerge as lifelong learners when reading is for reading's sake and writing has value to the writer, not only to the data collector or the report drafter.
CSAP won't help your kids grow into good mothers and fathers or husbands and wives. Life's most important jobs require confidence, cooperation, and compassion. High-stakes tests produce stress and anxiety and promote competition. Children today are reporting stomach aches, headaches, and fatigue in growing numbers. The percentage of children being medicated is increasing at alarming rates.
CSAP won't help your kids be good citizens. Realizing the promise of democracy requires empowered voters willing and able to challenge fraud and corruption. Standardization is the antithesis of American values. Governments attempts to micro-manage education is a violation of the fundamental and inalienable rights of the individual. The United States was founded on the principle that government is responsible to, and derives its power from, its citizens, not the other way around.
CSAP cannot be trusted to indicate anything - especially student achievement, teacher effectiveness or school quality. Answers not graded by a computer are graded by temporary workers with no education experience and little training. They examine hundreds of student responses during a single shift. Their judgments of your children's answers are not scientific, but subjective.
CSAP won't improve your child's education. Findings show that increasing standardized testing does not improve student achievement. While the costs are never calculated, class sizes are increasing, curriculum is narrowing, and breadth of content has replaced depth of learning. Many districts have lost music and art. Schools have less money for field trips and after-school activities. Practice booklets have replaced books, computers, and lab equipment. Colorado has spent more than $50 million a year developing, administering, grading, summarizing, and reporting all those numbers with no return.
CSAP doesn't create a positive and respectful school climate. Income has the highest correlation to CSAP scores. Researchers can predict schools' summative test scores with 83 percent accuracy based on the number of children on free and reduced lunch. It is particularly damaging to children with disabilities, English second language learners, and children from low-income families. CSAP punishes teachers, pressures students, and pits administrators against parents.
CSAP scores don't get schools more money. Funding is based on pupil enrollment. According to the Colorado Department of Education, "The Education Accountability Act of 2009 (SB 09-163) repealed previous SAR law. Negative weights for Unsatisfactory and No Score percentages are not in effect anymore." In looking at this year's budget cuts perhaps it's the tests we should consider cutting.
I'm a mom. I used to be a teacher. I really care about kids. I know, as you know, that these measurement tools are counter to who we are as learners and everything we value about human development, engagement, and equitable opportunity.
This year will mark the sixth year we send a refusal note the day before CSAP testing begins. Administrators have always acknowledged our parental authority and respected our family's decision. Non-conformity and challenging the status quo makes many people uncomfortable. I simply explain that CSAP is like gambling - it's designed to make you lose. The wealthier you are, the more you can afford to risk. Dr. Martin Luther King said, "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." In the game of CSAP and high-stakes testing, our children are losing. Refusing to let them take the test won't make them win; it will just change the game.
Angela Engel is author of "Seeds of Tomorrow; Solutions for Improving Our Children's Education." She lives in Denver.
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