PAA Action News
May 7, 2015

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PAA Action Alert

Help roll back  

standardized testing today! 

Call on your Senators to  

co-sponsor S. 1025 


FairTest has prepared this call to action on S. 1025, the U.S. Senate bill we told you about last week from the ironically-named Sen. Jon Tester.  


Sen. Tester's bill calls for grade-span testing to replace annual federally-mandated standardized tests.   


You can help end testing overkill by acting today! Use this model letter to urge your state's two U.S. Senators to co-sponsor Senator Jon Tester's proposal to reduce federally-mandated standardized testing to once each in elementary, middle and high schools.


Within the next few weeks, the Senate will vote on a new federal education law to replace "No Child Left Behind." The bill approved by the Senate education committee unfortunately would keep annual testing in grades 3-8. Senator Jon Tester will offer his bill to reduce testing as an amendment when the Senate takes up the legislation. Floor debate is expected before Memorial Day!


If you want to cut back testing and end high-stakes, act now! Every Senator matters. Use this online letter or call your Senators today. (For phone numbers, see http://www/ 


Thank you.




PAA just faxed a letter to all 100 Senators - you can read it here, and feel free to use any part of it! 


Here's the language of S 1025 -- called the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act -- and the Senator's press release announcing the amendment.

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PAA news
PAA publishes Common Core PARCC/SBAC position paper

PAA has been working for some time on a position paper opposing Common Core and the PARCC and SBAC tests. We posted the final position paper this week along with a Common Core fact sheet and an annotated bibliography.

Please share these documents widely and consider endorsing the position paper. 

We were very pleased that Diane Ravitch posted our paper on her blog.


Link to PAA charter school accountability webinar

Kyle Serrette of the Center for Popular Democracy (CPS) made a great presentation for us last Tuesday on the many problems with charter school accountability. PAA's Steve Norton, from Michigan Parents for Schools, emceed the webinar and shared some of the problems they have seen in his home state. 

You can listen to the recording and view the excellent power point presentation here.

Along with the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools, CPD has been researching and monitoring charter school fraud, waste and mismanagement for some time, and has written several disturbing reports focusing on specific states including California and Tennessee, with more in the works. Kyle and CPD are willing to work with local PAA groups to challenge charter school expansion in your area - let us know if you would like to consult with these experts!  

Big Opt Out Movement in SC

Good news from Sarah Johnson, co-leader of PAA affiliate Charleston Area Community Voice for Education and leader of its partner group, Opt Out South Carolina.

Sarah reports that small handfuls of SC parents have been opting out of the state tests since 2011, but this year, we have seen a big leap in numbers.  We had more than 200 students in at least two dozen counties opt out of the ACT Aspire state tests this year.

South Carolina is unique in the Opt Out movement in that we have repealed Common Core and rejected the Smarter Balanced tests.  We created new state standards that will go into effect next school year.  Many feel the new standards are too similar to the Common Core, but at least we have taken a step away from the official CCSS and are no longer part of the CCSS testing consortium.

Many Opt Out parents in SC faced significant pushback this year from the SC Department of Education, but after we challenged their "no opt outs allowed" stance, flexibility was given to school districts to honor parental refusals of testing and to provide alternate settings for non-testers.

Most school districts honored our opt outs with the exception of three school districts, including our largest, Greenville County School District.  GCSD not only disregarded our written parental refusals, but repeatedly attempted to test our students and then gave them disciplinary referrals for refusing the tests.

So, though we have some challenges in parts of the state, in general, parents are really catching on to the problems with high stakes testing.  We expect our Opt Out numbers to be in the thousands next year as our new NCLB-waiver-influenced teacher evaluation is rolled out.  The new model links teacher evaluation to student tests scores via VAM and SLOs.

Here are two links to media reports of these stories -

Read Sarah's history of the SC opt out movement here.

Also, Opt Out South Carolina is on Facebook -please take a moment to like them!!!!

The very first high-stakes test

David Spring, a leader of PAA-Seattle, writes this blog post about how the Army used tests: 

Friends, As May is the Official High Stakes Test Til You Drop Month here in Washington state, I though you might be interested in reading a personal story about the very first high stakes test ever administered in the United States. The date was September 1917. The test was given to my great uncle Minton - a 17 year old Norwegian farmer boy from North Dakota. I hope after you read this story, you will work with me to end high stakes testing here in Washington state.
PAA blog highlights

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