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'We need to test less but test right...' Colorado Springs superintendent asks for three-year moratorium on testing, challenging Colorado Springs's participation in PARCC

The superintendent of one of the largest school districts in Colorado, Dr. Nicholas Gledich of Colorado Springs, has asked the school board of Colorado Springs to put a three-year moratorium on the PARCC tests and to develop a local system that restores the classroom, teachers, and children to the center of the district's work. "It is not the test score that should excite us each year. The excitement is the day-to-day interaction and engagement of students acquiring new knowledge and skills..." the superintendent told his school board in a lengthy memo on August 22, 2014.

Colorado Springs school supt. Nicholas Gledich.For many long-time leaders of the resistance to corporate education reform in Colorado, the important message from Dr. Gledich is the position in which he emphasizes the "art of teaching" and addressing the needs of the whole child. The entire statement is copied and pasted below:

From: GLEDICH, NICHOLAS M. Sent: Friday, August 22, 2014 1:45 PM

To: Good morning,

Colorado Springs D11 Board of Education's summer schedule did not permit the Board to talk as a Board on the proposed waiver. Board members individually support my thoughts and thinking on the subject. However, we work as a board, and did not have a board conversation. If this was going to be a request of the Board to submit a waiver, we need board conversation. The Board has no action to take at this time. I believe the conversation regarding testing needs to begin.

The thinking shared during the summer with the board members individually was not a moratorium on PARCC and CMAS. It was as follows:

1. I will ask the Board of Education to request a waiver from the state. The request is:

a) To discontinue Partnerships for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) as they are currently administered for a three year period of time

b) To replace the administration of PARCC and CMAS with a random sample of students in District 11 adhering to the current testing structure from the State over a course of three years.

c) To fully implement within the three year period of time an annual assessment that is based on the next generation graduate this is developed through collaboration with District 11 staff and community with support from experts in the field of assessment and instruction.

After learning that the State Task Force was formed based on the House Bill 14–1202, I decided that it would be in the best interest to work through the task force created through legislation. To my knowledge, no venue exists at this time for the District to request such a waiver. District 11 will do it's best to connect with the established statewide task force. The state concerns being addressed by the task force are the same concerns of District 11. I believe it is best to work within the vehicle established by the state.

2. To fully implement within the three year period of time an annual assessment that is based on the next generation graduate and is developed through collaboration with District 11 staff and community with support from experts in the field of assessment and instruction. Thus creating what the D11 community would define as a meaningful and relevant alternative to the current state assessment tool and process.

· We need to test less but test right.

· We need to move from test accountability to instructional accountability in our minds and in our actions.

· We need to honor our current work on development of graduation requirements that has led to the need for a comprehensive view and assessment of the “whole child”. · Our focus is on building a successful instructional model and assessment framework. The intention is to build a system that defines the essential components of District 11 learning inclusive of: an environment that promotes academic preparedness, cultural competency, the development of highly skilled team members, innovative thinkers and problem solvers, efficient and effective users of information technology, civic responsibility and effective communicators.

o This model will be learner-centered, applicable to all classrooms, have a focus on research-based practices, while upholding a teacher’s creativity and ability to apply the “art of teaching.” We will promote engagement, critical thinking, and student achievement in relation to Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness.

· The potential alternative could lead to a K-12 Next Generation Portfolio based on the D11 Achieve Graduate components or a myriad of components including but not inclusive of the current ICAP components.

The district 11 Board of Education and I believe that our students deserve the very best.

Thank you for reaching out to me.

Additional Thoughts Shared

1. I have asked teachers and principals to shift from assessment accountability to instructional accountability. This means by honing our craft, we will strike a balance. A balance of appropriate progress monitoring and benchmarking will assist our children with the acquisition of knowledge and result with higher achievement. Through these actions, we need to continue to balance the attention to the “whole child”. While assessment is foundational to knowing what a student has learned, we need to test less, but test right. Assessment needs to evolve to help establish progress toward “whole child” development.

2. It is not the test score that should excite us each year. The excitement is the day-to-day interaction and engagement of students acquiring new knowledge and skills. The moment when students cross the stage we are sealing the deal highlighting our commitment to learning and achieving from prekindergarten through 12th grade. Our purpose is to increase the value of the congratulatory handshake while being accountable for the “whole child”. My worry is adding a student performance component on all teacher evaluations needs more thought.

3. Every classroom, every school, every department within the district plays a role with this success - a graduate ready for continued learning, the work force, and life. We need to commit to the development of the “whole child” and be less concerned about the time taken from direct instruction of tested areas and be equally concerned about embracing extracurricular activities, elective classes and special area subjects as they contribute to the foundation of the tested areas and support the development of the “whole child”.

4. We need to commit to the Colorado Academic Standards. We need to test what is most important, test right and use observations from our progress monitoring and benchmarking to guide our instruction. We need to accept the accountability that goes along with the congratulatory handshake – sealing the deal for our students when they cross the stage and graduate.

Nick Gledich, Superintendent, Colorado Springs School District 11

Nicholas M. Gledich, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Colorado Springs School District 11

1115 N. El Paso Street, Ste. 209

Colorado Springs, CO 80903

(719) 520-2001

From: The mail User [csubstance@aol.com]



Comments:

August 25, 2014 at 4:31 PM

By: Nina Bishop

D11 Supertintendent

Without talking to Dr. Gledich directly; it's hard for me to know what's going on in his mind. I was not at the meeting between Dr. Gledich and his teachers. I heard the news from a teacher friend and then followed up, as a supportive parent, the next morning to verify what I had heard. My teacher friend told me that there's another superintendent (s) who might be supportive but just don't have the nerve to speak up. If Dr. Gledich is able to stop PARCC, CMAS and MAPS; HE'S A HERO IN THE D11 COMMUNITY!!!

D11 is HUGE. It's the largest district in Colorado Springs and also the poorest. It's filled with transient students whose parents are either military and transferred all over the place OR the student population is comprised of many ESL students or students whose parents are not English speaking. Add to that the poor and you have the perfect storm for test failure.

What I'm hearing from teachers in D11 is that they're doing everything they know how to do but cannot improve scores enough due to variables outside their control; e.g. problems within a student's home, student's health concerns (many have no healthcare), and the big elephant in the room: poverty. POVERTY results in few books and computers in the home. It also causes older siblings to stay home with younger siblings while parents are working more than one job. It's hard to keep up in school if you're unable to attend because you're babysitting. Teachers are unable to achieve annual yearly progress (AYP) demanded by the state despite all their hard work. And, that's not to say that progress hasn't been made; just NOT ENOUGH to please the state. I have witnessed, near my own home, school closures. Wasson High School was closed BEFORE they were allowed to complete the turn around time they were given to raise scores. The community protested to no avail. This caused displacement and hardship for students, parents and teachers.

D11 is also a very old district. They are not expanding, there's no new building going on. Due to the aging population in the district, the elderly won't vote for money to help the schools; they're on fixed incomes. My neighbors told me they won't vote for education funding because they've raised their kids; they're done. Now, factor into the mix that since it's an old district; property taxes are low and insufficient to help fund schools. With every school closure; property taxes fall. D11 is dying. The area of town where it resides is dying. Businesses are moving north leaving behind the transient, poor and elderly. Swooping in to save the day are the charter schools thinking they're going to change this problem by breaking up the same kids in to smaller groups; cherry picking and tossing out non conformists, like special needs kids. In the end, it's the same old problem just in smaller groups. But, now thanks to charters, it's causing segregation and the non conformists are tossed back into DIFFENT D11 traditional public schools on turn around. And, what really irks me, is that no one within the district or state CDE/BOE seems to realize (or care) how traumatic it is to move a special needs child from school to school. I have special needs kids; I know. D11 in going to implode; it's just matter of time.

I actually live in the school district and have watched two D11 schools, near my home, close. When Irving Middle School closed about 750 students moved into Sabin Middle School; they're bursting at the seams. Dougherty High School was already bursting at the seams and added a new wing to accommodate its student population. After the wing was build and they had some breathing room; they learned they were going to absorb many of the Wasson students. Dougherty is again bursting at the seams with over 2000 students. If Dr. Gledich is able to convince the D11 BOE, the CO Dept. of ED., & the state BOE to stop testing for 3 years; he's a HERO in my book!

August 25, 2014 at 10:16 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

D11 superintendent

Although the state has informed Gledich that state law does not allow public school districts to opt out, and federal law requires states to administer the same annual statewide assessments to all students, Gledich's move is important. It is the beginning.

The rotten NCLB core will not hold.

August 26, 2014 at 9:31 AM

By: Cheri Kiesecker

D11 moratorium on testing

As parents we always felt CSAP then TCAP were wasted school days and something our kids had to endure; we all dreaded the time leading up to the test, because too many days (months) were spent on test prep.

Now, on top of all the other formative tests kids have throughout the year (MAPs STAR, Dibbles,etc)kids will also have HUGE multiple day-long tests: both CMAS and PARCC.(PARCC is going to be TWICE a year, instead of TCAP that was just once per year!) I can't agree with Dr. Gledich more. The testing for sake of testing and collecting more data has got to be reigned in.

I am going to steal a quote from a teacher I once heard, "Test taker is not a job skill."

Let's stop tying teacher's hands, LET TEACHERS TEACH. PARCC scores are part of teacher evaluation so of course they are going to teach what is on the test.

Random sampling, letting teachers and schools choose the test that fits their students and their curriculum is the way to go.

I hope other school districts will follow D11's brave request for a moratorium on the over testing. Thank you Dr. Gledich and D11 for caring about students more than test scores.

August 26, 2014 at 3:50 PM

By: Deanna Masciantonio-Miller

school district D11 Dr. Gledich

Dr. Gledich needs to be congratulated for his bravery and courage to speak the truth. Thank God someone has stood up for the children and educators. His analysis of testing and the mis-use of testing is accurate. I have taught for over 30 years and I have never heard a teacher say that they believe extreme testing helps their instruction or the quality of education. We need more leaders like Dr. Gledich who is willing to speak the truth, and challenge the, so called 'elite' of education reform. Education needs to be left in the hands of those "closest" to the children being served. That is NOT the federal government or big business who stand to make billions off of the testing business. For them it is not about the children, the future of America, or education -- it is all about control and money.

Good for Dr. Gledich. My hat goes off to this man of integrity for speaking the truth. May we have more leaders to follow- ing his path.

August 26, 2014 at 7:06 PM

By: Heidi Wolfgang

Demonstrate wisdom by supporting children...

Demonstrate wisdom by supporting the children versus selling them, and you will shine as a valued leader. Nobody wants their information collected and shared, including children and including test results. Please stand against excessive testing in this regard. Please stand for the children and brighten their future. A board member serves for the children, not him/her-self and not for curriculum, testing, money, or any other reason.

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