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How charter schools undermine good education policymaking


This policy memo by Helen F. Ladd from Duke University explains how charter schools disrupt four core goals of public education policy in the United States.  See the Policy Memo here.

Educational assessment, the "tail that's wagging the dog"

That is the view of Dr. Bill Lucas, author of Rethinking Assessment in Education: The Case for Change, published through the Center for Strategic Education, (Australia).  In an interview by Anthony Mackay of the National Center on Education and the Economy (U.S.A.), Dr. Lucas, it becomes obvious that student assessment is not just a Colorado or US problem, it is global.  

Here is a taste of what is in the paper that reveals the larger, international discussion on student assessment:


CASE (the state's school superintendents association) has released a report

outlining a path to systemic change in public education by 2025

The flavor of the report can be sensed from excerpts:  "...can create momentum for achieving education transformation. They do so by galvanizing educators and the community around a shared vision and a more comprehensive definition of success that goes well beyond the limitations of what any standardized test can reveal about a learner’s future readiness." did a review of the report.



The Link Between Poverty and Low Academic Achievement Around the World


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently released a study on how its 37 member countries had fared in breaking the link between poverty and low academic achievement.  No country had broken the link, but some did better than others.  The study describes how some countries did much better than others.


CDE's policy on timing of the UIP deadlines

The State Board of Education has voted to require schools and school districts to continue to submit Unified Improvement Plans (UIPs) but has moved the submission date from May 15, 2020, to October 15, 2020.  Since there was a moratorium on testing this spring, there are no test scores to analyze to develop a UIP.   With decisions on the disposition of schools being based on test scores, A4PEP believes that it would be capricious and indefensible to make such important decisions based on testing from spring of 2019.  Therefore, A4PEP sent a letter to Dr. Kathy Anthes, Commissioner of Education, stating reasons for opposing the requirement that schools and districts submit UIPs in the middle of a changing pandemic with high likelihood that schools and districts would not be able to implement them because there may be very limited direct student contact in traditional classrooms.  Read A4PEP’s letter challenging the value of requiring a UIP this year.


On March 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education conditionally approved

Colorado's changed student assessment plan 


"Under the plan approved by the USED, schools and districts will be required to administer the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments in English Language Arts to all students in 3rd, 5th and 7th grades.  CMAS Math assessments must be administered to all students in 4th, 6th and 8th grades. This plan for assessments for this year (2021-2021) only will provide some relief for students, families, and educators after a challenging year for education amid a global pandemic. "

"The USED did not approve Colorado’s request to suspend all Science tests this year, so schools and districts must administer science tests to students in eighth grade. CMAS Science will not be given to students in 5th and 11th grades, as they normally would, but CDE must publicly report the SAT Analysis in Science sub-score this year. Social Studies tests, which are required only in state law, will not be given this year."

See CDE for full details.


Letter to Congress on changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

High-stakes accountability in the U.S. public education system has proven destructive to public education, while simultaneously creating a large and lucrative testing industry with abundant lobbyists pushing for continued expensive ESSA-mandated standardized testing.  A4PEP sent a letter to federal legislators requesting that they change the ESSA law to more accurately reflect what has been learned about school improvement since the early days of federal improvement mandates that started with the Elementary and Secondary Education act of 1965, revised as No Child Left Behind in 2002, and revised further as ESSA in 2015.  Read the letter here.


Rebuttal letter to those advocating for start-of-school-year standardized tests (ST)

The Colorado Commissioner of Education has received a joint letter from several organizations advocating for standardized tests at the start of the school year to determine the amount of learning loss suffered due to the pandemic.  Because A4PEP believes that starting the school year with standardized tests is worse than folly, it has crafted a letter opposing the use of statewide standardized tests, paid for by millions of CARES Act dollars, that will not yield the type of information needed by teachers for instructional planning in a timely manner.  The letter was sent to Dr. Kathy Anthes, Commissioner of Education,  stating the reasons for opposing the proposal by other organizations advocated for the school year to start with statewide standardized tests to determine the effects of the switch to remote, online learning late last school year.  Read the full letter here. 

Commissioner Anthes replied, and her extensive letter is here.


Attachment to the rebuttal, overall problems with standardized tests

A4PEP has crafted an addendum to the rebuttal letter outlining the larger flaws in the use of standardized test that routinely show low income students of color performing much lower than affluent, white students.  Examples are provided in this document of models for authentic assessments which provide information for teachers to assess student learning and availability for learning. Citations are included.  Read the full attachment here.

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