Chula Vista Elementary School District protesters
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Earlier this year, parents from several Chula Vista Elementary School District campuses submitted forms to opt their children out of all tests other than those devised by classroom teachers. Parents outlined their opposition to testing in an April 10 Reader article.

Now, parents in the district have been told by the administration that their children will not be allowed to opt out of a test called Local Measures. Some of these parents believe that the district is violating their parental rights, as guaranteed by the Supreme Court, by insisting their children take this test.

The Local Measures test is partially based on Common Core Standards and also uses a computer-based software portion from the company Achieve 3000.

Anntoinette, who has a sixth-grade son in the district, says that although she submitted a form opting her son out of all tests, she has now been told her son must take the Local Measures test. Anntoinette says tests and test prep already consume too much class time and the test will not advance her son’s education. “If I had the results I could use them to help him over the summer, but I’m told I won’t even get the results.”

Parent Kristin Phatak said the principal of Salt Creek Elementary School, Lalaine Perez, called her the evening of April 15 and told her she would not be able to opt her children out of the upcoming Local Measures test. Phatak was also surprised that Perez suggested she consider moving her children to a charter school or that she should keep them home from school during the test.

Perez did not return an April 16 phone call seeking comment. (However, Chula Vista Elementary’s public relations officer, Anthony Millican, followed up by intimating it was unethical for me, as an author, not to have disclosed in the April 10 testing article that my daughter is a member of the Chula Vista Educator’s bargaining team. Millican also stated in an April 18 email, “You should have got our side of the issue in the first place.”)

Phatak is also appalled that the district would be using Achieve 3000 as part of their Local Measure test.

One critique Phatak expressed was that the test emphasizes nonfiction selections for the reading portion because fiction is more nuanced and therefore is more difficult to test.

Parent Cindy Roucher, from Clearview Elementary School, gave a supporting example of the testing problem with nonfiction literature. She said her third-grade daughter reads books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which are above her grade level. But she said her daughter did not do well on the nonfiction portion of the reading test. The reading subject was astronauts, and Roucher believes had her daughter been introduced to the subject matter and vocabulary she would have fared better on the test.

Manuel Yvellez, president of the Chula Vista Educators, pointed out to Chula Vista trustees at the April board meeting that there are problems with the Local Measures test.

Yvellez said in an April 16 interview that schools like Eastlake Elementary, which normally do well on tests, did not have a single student who passed the sixth-grade reading and writing portion of the test last year.

Yvellez says the state has yet to establish the Common Core Standards and he marvels that the district is already adjusting the bar upward for the Local Measures test.

Yvellez also said teachers “have no way to build curriculum for the test. Teachers have been told to download Common Core–aligned curriculum from various websites.”

The stage is set for confrontation.

Parent Cindy Rouston exchanged emails with Chula Vista superintendent Francisco Escobedo. Escobedo wrote to Rouston that “We will fully comply with your request to exclude [student’s name removed] and [student’s name removed] from statewide assessments. We will also continue to administer our district and school tests and progress tracking mechanisms.”

Rouston construes this to mean that the district will force her children to take the Local Measures test. She wrote back: “I am not asking for the district’s permission. I am simply stating and exercising my constitutional right as a parent and that supercedes any ed code.”

Testing was apparently under way this week and it has taken a new twist.

On April 17, Phatak wrote, “My 5th grade son told me today that his teacher gave him a district test and he told his teacher, ‘My mom doesn’t want me taking any district tests,’ and his teacher took the test away. He sat and read his book while the other kids tested. I’m really proud that he spoke up for himself; he might be the first child in California that has had to refuse the test the way other kids are doing in other states right now.”

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Comments

shirleyberan April 19, 2014 @ 7:31 p.m.

This is getting to be too much. Is it education or indoctrination! Much of the time my daughter was in public school it felt like they believed they had authority over us both. When she went to a 5th grade camp for a week I thought she was having a good time because I didn't hear anything (before she had her own cell phone). When she got home she told me the living conditions were unbearable to her, cried a lot, and they would not allow her a phone call to her mother (because I would have come and got her, duh). The next year we were at 6th grade, new school, I told the office I would be keeping her home the week of camp. I got a letter from the school and social services that my daughter was truant... This appears to be a dangerous trend and against parental rights.

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shirleyberan April 19, 2014 @ 8:18 p.m.

And I believe standardized tests label kids one way or another, when it always fluctuates. I won't label my dog dumb or underachiever. She can always learn, under positive circumstances.

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eastlaker April 19, 2014 @ 8:21 p.m.

There are many things wrong with Common Core. Some of them could potentially be fixable. But what is so very wrong is the gathering of information on these students from a young age.

The "permanent record" used to be a joke at school--when teachers would say that something would end up on your permanent record, it was usually meant to get students to settle down and behave themselves.

Now it is no longer a joke--it is looking like these students will have permanent records, and those records will be further mined for data, which will be sold to other corporations. Those corporations will in turn do their very best to sell products to school children, based upon all the data than has been gathered.

This is turning children into commodities, as I have said before. Fodder for corporate exploitation. Preyed-upon and targeted while still in school, and vulnerable.

If--and again I say, if--the Common Core curriculum had been developed by teachers in reasonable formats, rolled out with all the books, workbooks, etc. first; then taught; then some testing started after a couple of years of the materials being out there, I might be able to say it was a good idea.

But none of that was done. The whole process was backwards and half-hearted and bizarre. And then the testing is made into the most important part of it. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have never heard of such a debacle being presented as a requirement. Testing should have absolutely no connection to the selling of data and the further merchandising of our children.

If donating blood would suddenly be a requirement, and then testing be done on the blood of our children, and then products sold to them based upon DNA, wouldn't that be seen as horrific? Well, this is using the products of their minds, only to be taken away and used against them.

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Visduh April 21, 2014 @ 8:49 a.m.

eastlaker, you hit it on the head with your comment about the roll-out of these standards. Unfortunately, in the public sector, and especially in the schools, fads come along and are wholeheartedly adopted with little or no lead time. Those fads are later discarded almost overnight. Common Core isn't a fad in the sense that the edu-fraternity isn't jumping on it voluntarily. Once in place it will prove much harder to dislodge.

Why is it that these new approaches are adopted with an immediate cut-over, regardless of the need for a careful phase-in? I don't really know, except that administrative careers are based on "action" and not deliberation. So, the fact that this process we are seeing is "backwards and half-hearted and bizarre" was almost to be expected and follows the history of how-many earlier educational "reforms."

Some of the things I've heard about Common Care make sense to me, but where they involve a whole new approach, might require many years to implement. For example, if we want a new approach to math and problem-solving skills, the start probably needs to be in first grade. Expecting the students in, say, eighth grade to immediately master this new approach and pass a test on it is totally unreasonable. Much the same would apply in reading comprehension. And so it goes.

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AMillican April 20, 2014 @ 6:26 p.m.

Hi, I just wanted to publicly thank Ms. Luzzaro for taking the responsible journalistic high road in disclosing her family ties to the bargaining team whose president she quotes at length in her article. I think her disclosure will even be more appreciated by her blog followers and friends because it serves to increase her credibility. We certainly will have our differences in views of her news coverage, or word choice. But it is important that Ms. Luzzaro also be commended when she does the right thing. --Anthony Millican, Communications Director, CVESD.

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Susan Luzzaro April 20, 2014 @ 7:19 p.m.

Mr. Millican, While it's wonderful that you are a Reader reader, and I appreciate that you are a commenter as well, your accolades are unnecessary. As you are clearly aware, I disclosed my daughter's position in a November 2013 article--and I included Chula Vista's position on opting out.

You represent Chula Vista Elementary,the district and you are apparently not aware that wives and husbands, sons and daughters, ultimately are separate individuals.

Frankly, Superintendent Escobedo and you as the district's spokesperson, should recognize and give accolades--not to me, rather to the parents who hold a minority position in your district.

My editor will continue to inform me of the need, or absence of need, for disclosure without the help of the communications director of Chula Vista Elementary.

Succinctly, I don't need your praise for doing something right, I did nothing wrong. I reported on parents in your district- and in a previous story the Sweetwater district--who have weighed the question of testing, both state and local, and have decided in the interest of their children to opt out.

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Susan Luzzaro April 21, 2014 @ 10:11 a.m.

Visduh, your use of the word "fad" struck me. For years now the education system touted and labored under No Child Left Behind. Districts like Chula Vista established their value by the STAR test scores--now suddenly those tests are invalid and a mistaken method--poof--they're gone.

Common Core will likely go the same route in a few years time. If it's a fad, it's a startling expensive one. The state has already dispensed $4.6 million to Chula Vista Elementary and similar amounts to other districts to implement Common Core.

A recent Brookings Institute report prediction coincides with neither side who are embroiled in this debate:

"The 2012 Brown Center Report predicted, based on empirical analysis of the effects of state standards, that the CCSS will have little to no impact on student achievement. "

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Visduh April 21, 2014 @ 8:54 p.m.

I can go back much farther with the fads. In the mid-60's the US was treated to an experiment with "The New Math", and not long after that a prestigious university rolled out a math curriculum that was soon branded "Some Math, Some Garbage. (The official name was Stanford Math Study Group.) Both are now just a dim memory for older folks. Harvard waded into the teaching of physics in the 60's and its Physical Science Study Committee rewrote the textbooks, removing any "engineering" from the subject, and teaching it as pure science, or so they claimed. Twenty years later, the physics books were crammed with "technology" applications, AKA engineering. The early 70's brought Early Childhood Education to the primary grades. Anyone heard about that since 1980?

There have been many more such fads over the years, wildly embraced and then rejected and forgotten.

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shirleyberan April 21, 2014 @ 11:49 a.m.

Just reminds me of middle school when a (name only) brother of mine made clear to me that my math scores at that time ensured my failure in life. He of course is a school superintendent now (I am not) but still Untrue. Fortunately for me I don't measure myself according to test scores, or future administrator ethics. Since college I have shown high performance ability in all subjects, belief in something other than test scores.

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eastlaker April 22, 2014 @ 1:20 p.m.

There is a recent Washington Post article about the data mining portion of Common Core. I will try and post the link and hope it works! The comments are very important, because they point out how completely out-of-touch with the teaching community this whole thing is.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/21/100-million-gates-funded-student-data-project-ends-in-failure/

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eastlaker April 22, 2014 @ 7:54 p.m.

I am not sure if this means that the entire "data mining" portion of Common Core will not take place.

It is so very amazing to me that collecting test results and compiling them on each and every student for the duration of their public school years could ever have been considered a good idea--not just to be held onto by the school, but by an overweening bureaucracy.

I do hope that there will be a deliberate and sensible look at all of this.

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Susan Luzzaro April 22, 2014 @ 8:48 p.m.

eastlaker, thanks for sharing the link above. The Post has continued to cover common core and testing. Finally, it can't all be put in one article and watching the continuum of information informs so much more.

You ask for something sensible, but I hope you got to see the Colbert show with common core math. Whether you are for or against common core, it's fun to watch.

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Reader2 April 22, 2014 @ 10:20 p.m.

There will be a free Unveiling Common Core–Panel Discussion by Citizens for Quality Education, San Diego Wednesday, April 23, 2014 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (PDT) San Diego, CA You must register at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/unveiling-common-corepanel-discussion-registration-10997643247?aff=eanrec101&utm_term=checkitout&utm_campaign=attnews&utm_source=eb_email&utm_medium=email&ref=eanrec102

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Susan Luzzaro April 23, 2014 @ 6:13 p.m.

Reader 2

Thanks for posting. I'm not sure who the group is, Citizens for Quality Education?

I looked up the names of the speakers and found an interesting Wall Street Journal on the speaker named Stotsky:

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304020704579278060483138096

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Susan Luzzaro April 23, 2014 @ 6:18 p.m.

Thank you Mr. Yvellez for the clarification on the Eastlake Test Scores. The additional information you provide about passage rates at many good schools is something that all Chula Vista Elementary parents should be considering. The results from this year's Local Measures testing will be informative.

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Susan Luzzaro April 26, 2014 @ 7:44 a.m.

A day or two before this article came out Rory Devine interviewed Chula Vista superintendent Francisco Escobedo. Both seemed in to have the idea that opposition to common core was simply tea party people.

Here is just one of many articles that refutes that reductionist idea:
http://www.salon.com/2014/04/24/its_not_just_wing_nuts_slate_gets_liberal_opposition_to_the_common_core_all_wrong/ea:

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Susan Luzzaro April 26, 2014 @ 7:49 a.m.

Several readers wrote to me and said they enjoyed Colbert on Common Core math.
Humor is best. Here it is in case you missed it:

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2014/04/stephen_colbert_takes_on_common-core_tests.html

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