MecklenburgACTS.org is joining the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE) in calling for CMS to place a moratorium on administering the Measures of Student Learning (MSLs), the array of new, high-stakes state tests rolled out last spring.
At a time of shrinking school budgets, rising class sizes and plummeting teacher morale, the last thing our schools need is yet another wave of expensive, time-consuming tests.
We will formally present our resolution to the Board of Education during the public comment period at the Board meeting on Tuesday, September 10. Please plan to join us at the Government Center at 5:30 for a short rally and press conference, and then at the meeting, which starts at 6.
The MSLs tested subjects not covered by the longstanding End of Grade (EOG) and End of Course (EOC) tests. K-12 teachers across the state agreed that the MSLs were poorly designed, did little to promote vigorous and engaging classrooms, and took time and resources away from richer and more meaningful opportunities.
Despite these problems, more MSLs are scheduled to debut this school year. The first wave will reach high schools in December.
North Carolina created the MSLs in response to requirements in the state’s Race to the Top grant and its federal waiver from the No Child Left Behind requirements. Both programs require that all teachers be evaluated in part based on student test scores, even though such evaluations require a massive expansion of testing, have been notoriously unreliable and have never been shown to improve student performance.
Last month, CMS Superintendent Heath Morrison and other North Carolina educators traveled to Washington D.C. to ask Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for relief from this requirement.
If Duncan does not take the sensible path of allowing the state to drop the MSLs, our CMS Board and Superintendent should stand up for Mecklenburg County children, and refuse to give them.
For more information on the problems with high-stakes standardized tests, as well as descriptions of better ways to evaluate teachers and students, see the “Testing Information” section of the MecklenburgACTS.org website.
Text of the MecklenburgACTS.org-CMAE Resolution on Excessive Testing
“We can teach our way to the top, but we cannot test our way to the top.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison couldn’t have been more correct when he made the above statement to the Charlotte Observer in December, 2012. It is for this reason that we are asking the CMS School Board, Superintendent and the entire CMS school community to support a moratorium on all tests labeled Measures of Student Learning (MSLs). These tests are poorly designed; not good for children, do little to promote vigorous and engaging classrooms, and take time and resources away from more rich and meaningful opportunities.
First, the MSLs given last spring were deeply flawed. K-12 teachers universally agreed that many of the test questions were not only difficult for students to understand but, more importantly, asked them to respond to questions that were not part of the state curriculum.
Second, the number of these poorly designed tests is expected to expand dramatically next year. CMS has had previous experience with a rapid expansion of testing and it hasn’t been positive. When the system did this several years ago, students, parents and teachers voiced widespread concern. Superintendent Morrison was right to be concerned about this increase when he said that he was “very troubled by the amount of testing we are being asked to do.”
Third, these tests are redundant. The state already has a number of tests that measure student learning. These End of Course or Grade tests were put in place to both measure student learning and assess teacher performance. We do not need another battery of tests on top of these.
Fourth, in a time of tight budgets we do not need to spend money on the manufacture, printing and grading of more tests. If we don’t have enough money for teacher assistants and teacher salary increases we should not spend money on flawed tests. As Superintendent Morrison pointed out, these tests would be “an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Fifth, because of multiple administrations for each test, the amount of instructional time wasted is much more than 2 hours per test and therefore detrimental to students. Each test must be administered in multiple ways to accommodate Individual Education Plans and English as a Second Language requirements. As a result, teachers are pulled away from instruction and class time is lost.
As a community, now is the time to stand up for public schools and stand against statewide mandates for new, excessive and unneeded standardized tests.
We, the Mecklenburg County citizens listed below, submit this resolution to the community and all concerned entities and governmental bodies that are involved in making decisions related to the tests labeled Measures of Student Learning.
Larry Bosc, Charles Smith, Kevin Strawn, Erlene Lyde, Linda Ingle
Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators
Susan Harden, Carol Sawyer, Pamela Grundy