Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Is Colorado Dept of Ed Subverting State Board & Parents to Serve David Coleman's Interests?

The Colorado Dept of Education's careless and unprofessional announcement of a switch for the state mandated test for juniors was ill-timed and rather shocking. When the state began to backpedal, it was obvious they'd been caught, admittedly not doing "what's best for kids." So whose interest is CDE - or the mysterious "selection committee - serving with this decision.

The shift is not simply a matter of choosing between equal tests. The SAT is implementing an entirely new format and style for which there has been no piloting, meaning the data from this assessment will be completely raw. There is no context for these scores and no legitimate comparability for cut scores. Asking high school juniors to take this test and allow it to become part of their permanent record is truly an egregious disregard for the best interests of kids. And, I am shocked at the wanton disregard with which CDE has acted in this case. Just as CDE did with PARCC, the state is asking our students to serve as guinea pigs for an "un-proven test."

Additionally, I am too well informed to not be suspicious of ulterior motives regarding the decision. It is no secret that there is strong sentiment in Colorado for withdrawal from PARCC. In fact, not two weeks before this decision, both Elliott Asp and Steve Durham were quoted in Chalkbeat as implying that this spring would be the last year for PARCC. Had the state chosen to remain with ACT for juniors, it would have been a very easy shift to ACT-Aspire for grades 3-9. And, it's no secret that many districts are strongly in favor of ACT-Aspire.

Now, with a shift to PSAT and SAT, the State Board faces a much more difficult decision in withdrawing from PARCC because it makes little sense to switch to Aspire for 3-8 or another test and then use PSAT/SAT at the high school. And, those of us who are paying attention have not forgotten that one of the strongest and most persistent proponents of PARCC is College Board President David Coleman. Obviously, College Board and some at CDE seek to establish a link between PARCC tests at grades 3-9 and PSAT/SAT at high school. Losing Colorado would have been a serious blow to PARCC, but with the recent decisions in Colorado and Illinois to leave ACT and sign with SAT, PARCC's status is strengthened. This seems to be an intentional move by CDE to force the State Board's hand regarding PARCC. Clearly, CDE appears to be acquiescing to the will of DavidColeman and College Board, as opposed to the desires of the people of Colorado.

The entire issue is suspicious and deserves great scrutiny by the parents and educators in Colorado. The news of the "selection committee" was a surprise to many who have followed this discussion for years, and the ambiguity of the identity of committee members is questionable as well. Like all the previous work done with HB1323, any committee tasked with making this monumental decision should have been conducted with great transparency. CDE has failed the people of Colorado on all accounts regarding this decision.

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