Today, I found out from my good friend Doug Edelstein that his school community decided to collectively refuse to administer the new Common Core test, the SBAC, to 11th graders. Doug teaches at, and graduated from, Nathan Hale (in fact, my step-dad was a classmate of his). The Nathan Hale Senate–a body made up of the teachers, administrators, parents and students–voted nearly unanimously that this test was inappropriate. The vote was taken after careful consideration and much discussion and inquiry, including two school community forums — one of which included University of Washington professor of education and renowned scholar
on high-stakes testing, Wayne Au. This is the first year that the SBAC is required in the Seattle Public Schools, and this action represents an escalation of the high-stakes testing resistance that erupted against the MAP test in 2013. In taking this action, Nathan Hale has became the latest focal point of what has now become the largest ongoing revolt
against high-stakes testing in U.S. history and an important new escalation in the national resistance to common core testing.
Doug wrote the following announcement of Nathan Hale’s courageous decision to take a stand against the testocracy:
This afternoon the Nathan Hale Senate (functions as Building Leadership Team) voted nearly unanimously not to administer the SBAC tests to 11th graders this year.
The Senate also recently voted not to administer the PSAT test to 10th graders at all in the future.
Reasons for refusing the SBAC for 11th graders included (summary):
1. Not required for graduation
2. Colleges will not use them this year
3. Since NCLB requires all students pass the tests by 2014, and since few if any schools will be able to do that, all schools will therefore be considered failing by that standard. There is thus no reason to participate in erroneous and misapplied self-labeling.
4. It is neither valid nor reliable nor equitable assessment. We will use classroom based assessments to guide next instructional steps.
5. Cut scores of the SBAC reflect poor assessment strategy and will produce invalid and unreliable outcomes.
6. Student made this point: “Why waste time taking a test that is meaningless and that most of us will fail?”
7. The SBAC will tie up computer lab time for weeks.
8. The SBAC will take up time students need to work on classroom curriculum.
This is an important step. Nathan Hale is asserting its commitment to valid, reliable, equitable assessment. This decision is the result of community and parent meetings, careful study of research literature, knowledge of our students’ needs, commitment to excellence in their education, and adherence to the values and ideas of best-practice instruction.
This resolution does not mean NHHS will refuse the 10th grade SBAC assessments, sorry to say. But the way the school went about the decision is a powerful model for other schools, and means that anything is still possible in that regard.