Well, it’s now back to school time. Has your school district been trying to convince you of the so-called “importance” of Common Core and associated High-Stakes tests? Have your schools shown you their testing schedules yet?
Most schools will spend approximately 2 months worth of school days for test preparation and actual test taking. Is this in your child’s best interest? Or is this in the best interest of corporations, so-called “non-profits” (who’s CEO’s make over a $500,000 a year), and politicians?
Every parent & teacher should follow this money trail and ask themselves if this is in the best interest of our children!
So, what should parents do?
Say “I REF– USE!” Protest the national take over our local schools! Protest high-stakes testing! Protest data mining of students & families!
Join thousands of parents this year to PROTEST the AzMerit!
NOTICE! Opting out of the AzMerit will NOT hurt your child’s grades in 2015 & 2016!
Gov. Ducey signed SB1289 on March 26, 2015 that protects both schools and students from any ill effects of the AzMerit:
Sec. 2. Assessments; student letter grades; moratorium
“Notwithstanding any other law, a pupil’s score on an assessment selected pursuant to section 15-741, Arizona Revised Statutes, may not be used as a factor in determining a pupil’s letter grade in any particular course in school years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.”
News Flash: Teachers are NOT allowed to see the AzMerit test questions before, during, and after the exam. Teachers are required to sign a document that states that if they view the test questions, then they are at risk of losing their jobs.
Other News: The Arizona Department of Education came out with a new AZMerit Information Sheet on March 20, 2015, which is full of half-truths, at best. Opt Out AZ informed the Superintendent of Public Instruction of the sheet and it has now been taken down. However, due to hard copies still circulating, we would like to debunk these myths:
1. AzMerit is unique to Arizona –FALSE. It is was created by the company AIR (American Institutes for Research) –the same company that created Utah’s and Florida’s Common Core assessments. AIR is a partner of Smarter Balanced who is one of two testing consortia that received $330 million from the U.S. Department of Education to create and administer Common Core tests. So far, the sample test questions are the exact same as Utah’s and Florida’s.
2. AzMerit only measures academic performance –Misleading. AIR is a behavioral research company. A behavioral research company can easily gather sensitive information (political views, religious beliefs, family values, etc.) from a student’s answers to test questions via psychoanalysis. This information can be shared with companies and organizations that helped develop and implement the Common Core Standards due to President Obama’s recent changes in student privacy laws.
3. AzMerit computer-based test results will be comparable to the AZMerit paper-based test results –TRUE.
4. The limited student data associated with AzMerit is secure –FALSE. Data will be collected on your child by the company AIR via taking the AzMerit test (not directly by the state of AZ). AIR will store this data in the State Wide Longitudinal Data System that will be linked to the U.S. Department of Labor. AIR recently experienced a data breach and data clouds are never fully secure.
Truthful Information about the AzMerit:
The AzMerit test (Arizona’s Measurement of Educational Readiness to Inform Teaching) is a high-stakes assessment that will result in an increased collection of personally identifiable information on students in grades 3 – 12. This test will line the pockets of big businesses and will take away unprecedented local control of our schools and student data.
Despite its name, it is not a state created test. Here is a little history on the AzMerit:
On September 28, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education awarded two national testing consortiums over $330 million to develop tests based on the Common Core Standards. These consortias were PARCC and SMARTERBalanced. Bill Gates also contributed millions of dollars to these two so-called “non-profits”. After our state signed onto the Common Core Standards in June of 2010, State School Superintendent, John Huppenthal and the Board chose the PARCC test for AZ. The PARCC test was scheduled to be taken in the spring of 2014. However, after it was soon discovered that John Huppenthal had a conflict of interest with being a member of the PARCC board. Arizonans cried foul! Concerned citizens demanded to exit out of the PARCC test. Concerns were also voiced about about the data collection associated with both the PARCC and SMARTERBalanced tests. So, the PARCC test never took place and Arizonans were promised that they would be given a true, state-led test for the next school year.
On November 3, 2014, John Huppenthal announced that the American Institute for Research (AIR) would provide our new Common Core State assessment. However, Huppenthal failed to mention that AIR was also a business partner of SMARTERBalanced. So, what did AIR do to help us create our own state specific AZ test? They chose test questions from the SMARTERBalanced test, and handed it back to our State School Board –which in turned named it “AzMerit” to lead Arizonans to believe that we now had a true state-led test.
What are some of the problems with AzMerit?
• AIR (who administers the AzMerit) is a behavioral research organization. Behavioral research is usually administered to people who have severe cognitive or communication disabilities to determine why they demonstrate inappropriate behaviors. Why is a behavior based research organization testing children who are attending normal schools? This question should be asked by every parent. Sensitive personal information can be gathered on your child from test question answers via psychoanalysis and stored in the Statewide Longitudinal Database. Parents and teachers are not allowed to view the AzMerit test questions –EVER!
• The AzMerit test will cost our state an estimated $19 million with more millions to be spent in subsequent years –and we do not even own the test questions! We are just “renting” them at an approximate rate of $5,000 per test question from AIR.
• There is no correlation between high-stakes testing and improvement in student education. There has been only one study to prove otherwise — and it was funded by Bill Gates. (Another conflict of interest?) So why are taxpayers being forced to pay for a test that will not produce better education results?
• Teachers are having to spend valuable class time to teach to the test. This replaces creative methods of teaching and discourages real critical thinking and enriching academic activities. Some schools are spending the entire month of March to prepare for the test.
• The AzMerit is designed to be a high-stakes test –even though is unproven. The test can be incorporated into a student’s GPA. Teachers and principals could lose their jobs. Students may not be able to progress to the next grade if they fail the test despite getting good grades and performing well through the entire year. Some children may be great students, but terrible test takers.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? —> OPT OUT AZ!
You have a right to opt out of a test that is unconstitutional and detrimental to your student.
Send a letter to your school principal before testing begins, notifying them that your child will not participate in AzMerit.
Schools receive per pupil funds based on enrollment of 100 days or more. That means your school will receive 100% of their money for your child’s 100 day attendance –even if he/she does not take the AZMerit. Also, the Arizona Department of Education is protecting schools from any retribution from low test scores or a student’s choice to opt out this year.