Saturday, March 19, 2016

Principal Truly Overreacts to Opt-Out Efforts by Student

An elementary school principal in Brooklyn apparently went overboard in her zeal to prevent students from opting out.
After finding a fifth-grader handing out opt-out fliers at her Williamsburg elementary school this week, a principal confiscated the materials, pulled the student into her office and then hastily convened a meeting for students, parents told DNAinfo New York.

Principal Sereida Rodriguez-Guerra of P.S. 84 chastised the fifth-grader, sending the student into tears, before telling an auditorium full of third- through fifth-graders, “You’ve got to get this opt-out stuff out of your head,” according to multiple parents of students pulled into the impromptu tirade against refusing to take next month's state English and math tests.
Rodriguez-Guerra went on to lecture the students about the controversial opt-out movement, telling them not to believe what their parents tell them and that the state exams given to third- to-eighth-graders were good for them and would make them smarter, parents said.
 The principal also refused a PTA forum to discuss testing, telling the parents to get a permit.
 This at a high-performing school.

Now the NYC chancellor says this (to note, NY uses the PARCC test):
“The exams will contain fewer questions, and students will not have a time limit, as long as they are working productively,” FariƱa wrote in her newsletter sent to principals this week. “I believe that both of these changes will go a long way toward easing the pressure for students and families, taking into account the varied learning needs of our students and enabling all students to work at their own pace.
But, apparently, this is what that means:
 The tests have been reduced by roughly two questions, and though the tests will now be untimed, the time spent taking them is unlikely to decrease, according to parents and educators who have spent hours poring over the changes.

“Removing a few test questions here and there is not a meaningful change in the experience of students and schools, whose everyday teaching and learning is hugely disrupted by these tests,” said Megan Devir, a parent from Park Slope’s P.S. 321, who noted that while the test might be untimed this year, they used to be 75 minutes before tripling in length a few years back.
Inwood mom Kari Steeves, who helped organize an opt-out meeting this week, conducted in English and Spanish, at the sought-after Muscota New School, said, “We know [testing] restricts learning, reduces opportunity and spreads anxiety. We want our kids to spend their time in classrooms where collaboration, experimentation, pondering questions, and making mistakes are welcome parts of every school day.”
And in the "what the heck?" category, there's this story of a "testing pep rally" gone wrong.
Principals have been known to promise to shave their heads or promise pizza parties or do other things that would presumably amuse students if they do well on the tests. And sometimes there is even more.

The “more” at a testing pep rally this past Thursday at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Fla., included professional performers doing stunts with fire, according to multiple reports. But something went terribly wrong.
One fire-breathing performer got hurt, and seven students were treated at hospitals for respiratory complaints, according to multiple media reports.  
This was an adult idea - fire in a closed gym?  
The Palm Beach County School District issued a statement about the incident:
What happened today at Atlantic Community High School is inexcusable. It’s a direct violation of District policy. The District’s rules are clear that fire and pyrotechnics are forbidden inside our buildings.
Apparently some adults will do anything to get kids to take a test, including violating district policy and endangering kids.

Also, fyi, it is possible that many of Washington State's charter students will be able to opt out of the SBAC because their schools' number of students enrolled in an ALE may allow it.  I'll have to see what those numbers look like to OSPI and ask again.


Anonymous said...

Oh I am so happy to learn that the exams make the children smarter. Has anyone really said this? Does anyone actually believe this?

-- Dan Dempsey

Josh Hayes said...

I was going to complain about the off-topic post above, but now that I think of it, maybe we could pool our resources and cast a freedom spell on behalf of our kids, freeing them from under-funded, over-crowded, under-maintained school buildings?

(Seriously, Melissa, you probably ought to delete that post above.)

Anonymous said...

Josh, I see my post as on-topic. From the original post: the principal was reported to have said " the state exams given to third- to-eighth-graders were good for them and would make them smarter/," as reported by parents.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I thought the "exams make kids smarter" message was ridiculous too and thought it made perfect sense to highlight it in the comments.

BL said...

Josh was referring to a spam post that was below yours for a bit of time and has now been removed.

z said...

The "exams make kids smarter" comment is a flat out lie, but even worse than a simple lie was the "telling them not to believe what their parents tell them" comment.

If you think about the ramifications a message like that sends, that should be enough to have a principal fired. Seriously.