From the Students of Garfield High School on SBAC Testing

April 9, 2015
Garfield High School
Seattle, WA

are leading a movement in protest of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC.) Here are several reasons why we oppose the SBAC and its consequences.
  •  The SBAC is unnecessary and not required for graduation if a student has passed the High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE.)
  • Data from initial SBAC testing indicate that only 30 to 35 percent of students are expected to pass. This is setting up 70 percent of our students for failure and will lead to increased student anxiety and a decrease in student morale.
  • Students who choose not to opt-out of taking the SBAC will miss two full days of valuable class time to take the reading and math portions of the SBAC. This interferes with preparation for final exams and Advanced Placement exams. 
  • All of our computers will be unavailable to students and teachers during the week of SBAC testing because the assessment is administered on computers. Since 31 percent of our student body is on free or reduced lunch, this standardized test disproportionately and inequitably impacts our lower income students, many of whom rely on access to school computers for classwork and studying.
Already, over 220 Garfield students, 55 percent of our junior class, have opted out of taking the SBAC, which demonstrates our clear opposition to this test. The students of Garfield High School have come to this decision on their own accord based on the aforementioned evidence.

2014/15 Garfield High School Class of 2016 ASB Officers:

President: Kevin Nguyen
Vice President: Jess Juanich
Secretary: Dawit Nuguse Treasurer:
Maddy Kennard Senator:
Chan Huynh
Advisor: Sydney Bowker
Advisor: Hannah Farrell


Anonymous said…
The Seattle Opt Out Group supports all of you in taking the stand that you have to collectively oppose this test. You are the leaders of tomorrow, the youth leaders of today, and we are proud of you! Your words are so powerful.
Yeehaw! said…
This is such awesome news! My kids at Lincoln and North Beach are "opted-out" but continue to be subjected to massive test prep. This just adds on significantly to the lost class time.
Anonymous said…
All three of my kids are taking the test, they seem to enjoy the challenge. We explained to them it's a test to measure how well the schools are performing the work of educating them. If you fail it's not your fault it's the District's, School's and Teacher's fault. Hopefully the district will make the necessary corrections in the classrooms to insure all students can pass next year. By corrections I don't mean teaching just to pass the test or pulling an Atlanta.

Anon said…
Someone asked in another thread who is grading the writing portion of these tests. I have very specific information about the state of Georgia, but this might be common knowledge. I was stunned, however, so I thought I'd share.

My sister was a teacher for 2 years right out of college. For medical reasons, she has not worked in 20 years. She recently told me about her new temp job.

She is working in a cubicle land as a temporary employee in the state of Indiana. Her job is to grade the Georgia state smarter balanced tests. I asked her many details, but the shocking part is she is grading the writing portion of the test. I asked how she does that. She said they get a rubic to follow. So, even though my sister is smart and is a great writer, there are temporary employees sitting in cube farms grading our children's essays using a rubic! I was left absolutely speechless.
Don't agree with BHP said…
BHP - it's sad you would even let your kids think it is the school or teachers' fault when they are so insanely underfunded. You can blame the District, but your kids have as much responsibility if they "fail" as the teachers.
Anonymous said…
Anon - that's pretty common. There have been ads on Craigslist for months now for Pearson (a center down near Kent) and another test grading group near Mountlake Terrace. Most of them pay $11.00 hr and no experience necessary.

Here's a good report of the experiences of one test scorer.

Just think of the decisions that are made off these test scores, graded by temp workers with no education experience.

Eric M said…
I've run across this meme twice, that the SBAC test is super-dooper-awesome for holding teachers' feet to the fire (it doesn't, not in Washington, not yet, anyway). Oddly enough, though, if a kid fails, somehow it's definitely the teacher's fault, and not the kid's fault, or their parents.

You want tell me as a teacher I didn't do enough?
I'll dare you to work as hard as I have for 30 gd years, arriving early, leaving late, skipping lunch, spending my own money, and having very little time or energy left to parent my own children.

The testing and "accountability" issue is useful as a wedge between parents and teachers. Both groups want a better life for students. Parents and teachers ought to be natural allies.

Accountability cuts every which way.
I reject the notion that teachers are afraid of accountability.
You know who we should hold accountable?
The Boeing-licking Washington State Legislature.
Anon, next time give yourself a name/moniker or your comment will be deleted.

I'm sorry that came as a shock to you but yes, these essays are being graded using a rubric AND by time. Meaning, the graders have to work to a schedule and a timetable per essay.
Anonymous said…
I'm not sure if it's a good laugh or depressing, but google Smarter Balanced ELA Scoring Guide. It's so strange to see a third grader's writing described as having a "weak opening" and "no discernible plot."

Anonymous said…
That's hideous, Tam. Ugh.
Here's a 4 on the rubric for Development/Elaboration. Narrative techniques? Does not sound third-grade-ish at all.

The narrative, real or imagined,provides thorough, effective elaboration using relevant
details, dialogue, and/or description:
 experiences, characters, setting and/or events are clearly developed
 connections to source materials may enhance the narrative
 effective use of a variety of narrative techniques that advance the story or illustrate the
 effective use of sensory, concrete, and figurative language that clearly advances the
 effective, appropriate style enhances the narration

Anonymous said…
As for the scientific validity of grading the writing, can they reproduce results in blind side by side tests? Grade a batch of 100 papers, give them to another group and have them grade them and see how close the results are. My guess is that it is just a very labor intensive glorified random number generator.

Anonymous said…
And my favorite: the third graders are "telling, not showing" with "little awareness of style."

Good lord.
Eric B said…
One of the teachers at Ingraham said that a grand total of 21 juniors tested in this session. That's out of ~350 at the school. It's possible that more students will test in the session after the AP/IB tests in May.
Anonymous said…
Yep, according to the teachers, it's never their fault. Everyone has faults, but are you willing to self evaluate and make improvements?

Stop trying to blame lack of funding, it's just not true for SPS.

I've seen so many unorganized K-5 teachers that are poor role models and if a student gets looped they will have to try and recover from two years of confusion.

3 Monkeys
cmj said…
Kudos to the Garfield high student government for taking a bold stand on an important issue.

I would hope that the graders have been given examples of a good essay, mediocre essay, and bad essay to help guide them. Otherwise, grading rubrics are incredibly subjective.

I've always believed that there are three parties involved in a child's education: the child, the parent(s)/guardian(s), and the teacher/school/district. Each of them has a certain amount of responsibility to make sure that the child learns, but the way that they divide up the pie of responsibility changes as the child grows. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way it should -- a child being bounced between foster homes isn't getting the stability and parental/custodial support that they need to succeed.
Anonymous said…
cmj, scores are usually provided large binders with actual student responses in a range of examples at each of the scoring Levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. They are provided training on these scoring ranges and examples along with the scoring rubrics. The scorers are rarely if ever provided only scoring rubrics.

The Smarter Balanced ELA Scoring Guide referred to above provides not only the scoring rubrics but also actual student responses ranging among the 4 scoring levels.

There is legitimate debate regarding whether or not the academic expectations are appropriate at these grade levels, particularly in regard to Level 4. But the scoring guides do align to the Common Core State Standards expectations at the grade levels.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
cmj, if you're interested, check out the scoring guide like swk mentions. Legitimate debate is an understatement, swk!!

Anonymous said…
The scoring guides do NOT align with common core state standards. Read the CCSS. Most say "with help". Students are not allowed any help on their standardized testing. The intent is honorable, but the execution is flawed. Deeply.

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