Now that winter has all but passed without the torrential rains we expected, Angelenos are wondering what all the fuss was about El Niño.
The same might be said as the national standardized testing opt out movement finally reaches California. What started out in New York as a hurricane seems to have been downgraded to a chance of sprinkles here in sunny California.
But with the SBAC tests still two months away, the conversation is getting lively in school council meetings, on blogs and among policymakers.
Probably fearful of a spread of the New York movement in which over 200,000 students opted out across that state last year, the National PTA is trying to muscle parents out of exercising their legal right to opt children out of standardized tests. In January, the PTA adopted a position against state laws that give parents the right to opt out of state testing. Former US Deputy Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch says that might have something to do with the PTA receiving $1 million last October to promote Common Core assessments. This will be news to some of the less edu-policy obsessed.
Even President Obama admitted that his education policies have rained on a lot of parades, saying recently that he hears from parents who worry about "too much testing, and from teachers who feel so much pressure to teach to a test that it takes the joy out of teaching and learning. I want to fix that," he said.
The PTA says, “We highly value family engagement in education and respect the rights of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, however,,,"
So where does that leave LAUSD? The district has issued a directive to school administrators that they must inform parents of their legal right to opt out of standardized testing, even providing school administrators with a sample letter to send to parents. But don’t think that means LAUSD is taking a stand against standardized testing. Sources who attended a district meeting last December said that principals were warned not to let their opt out rate reach 95%. Some principals I’ve spoken to are quietly ignoring the directive. One claimed to have no knowledge of it. And some parents see the nonsense in standardized tests but know that's the #1 marketing tool for prospective parents. One parent even suggested that students should take the SBAC--and be given community services hours for the chore.
I'm not predicting that the testing game will get rained out here in Los Angeles, but Coffee with the Principal and other school site parent-teacher-principal meetings should get pretty lively in the next couple of months.