Will BESE Once Again Concede Authority to Supt. White?

The Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary education meets Thursday and Friday May5 & 6.  Their policy to assign zeroes to school performance scores for every student who has been opted out by his/her parents will be revisited.

I am posting this letter to the Louisiana Board of Education so the information can be easily shared.

All BESE Members -

Note this paragraph in the attached parent opt out letter from New Jersey.  The ability of BESE to assign a zero to a school performance score for a test that is not taken is just as illegal as assigning a zero to the student whose parents exercise their parental rights over which the school has not authority or control.  

. .....various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. 

The overriding flaw in the use of a single standardized test score for accountability purposes is the application of HIGH STAKES.  This is not only NOT mandated by federal law, the Office of Civil Rights issues caution based on The Joint Standards:

This is a huge civil rights issue and the major imprimatur for the accountability and accessibility requirements of ESEA/NCLB.  It should not be forgotten that civil rights apply to ALL students when it comes to education.  I was advised by representatives of OCR, during their presentation last year the National School Boards Association meeting, that it would be appropriate to file my complaints with their office but that, "Arne Duncan Loves testing!"   I believe Sec. Duncan is being tested himself now.  

This guide is intended to apply to standardized tests that are used as part of decision-making that has high-stakes consequences for individual students and that are addressed in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (Joint Standards, 1999).3  The Joint Standards, viewed as the primary technical authority on educational test measurement issues, was prepared by a joint committee of the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Council on Measurement in Education, the three leading organizations in the area of educational test measurement. The Joint Standards was developed and revised by these three organizations through a process that involved the participation of hundreds of testing professionals and thousands of pages of written comments from both professionals and the public. The current edition of the Joint Standards reflects the experience gained from many years of wide use of previous versions of the Joint Standards in the testing community.

When test results are used as part of high-stakes decision-making about student promotion or graduation, students should be given a reasonable number of opportunities to demonstrate mastery,21 and students should have had an adequate opportunity to learn the material being tested.2.   [Because this requirement has not been met for students,  the extension of high stakes consequences cannot be applied/transferred to schools/districts whether or not the student took the test. The moratorium on high stakes for students must also apply to teachers/schools/districts.]
. The Joint Standards states that there should be adequate evidence documenting the relationship among test scores, appropriate instructional programs, and desired student outcomes.23 When evidence about the relationship is limited, the test results should usually be considered in light of other relevant student information.24 [Because many districts have not adopted/purchased/distributed textbooks/instructional materials as per state law, this test cannot be expected to align with any curriculum and is therefore not valid or reliable for high stakes purposes.]. 
BULLETIN 1794 - State Textbook Adoption Policy and Procedure Manual 
Revised September 2009
As indicated in the Joint Standards, it is important that there be evidence that the test adequately covers only the specific or generalized content and skills that students have had an opportunity to learn. 27Educational institutions should have information indicating an alignment among the curriculum, instruction, and material covered on such a test used for high-stakes purposes. To the extent that a test for promotion purposes is being used as a placement device, it should also adhere, as appropriate, to professional standards regarding tests used for placement purposes.28     [Because BESE did not provide a model curriculum - as per its own policy decision in Fall of 2001 - but in fact recommended that local districts each create their own, there can be no evidence that students had an opportunity to learn "specific or generalized CONTENT and SKILLS" to be assessed.] 

These criteria [measurement validity, attribution of cause, and effectiveness of treatment], based on established professional standards, lead to the following basic principles of appropriate test use for educational decisions:
  • The important thing about a test is not its validity in general, but its validity when used for a specific purpose. Thus, tests that are valid for influencing classroom practice, ?leading? the curriculum, or holding schools accountable are not appropriate for making high-stakes decisions about individual student mastery unless the curriculum, the teaching, and the test(s) are aligned.
  • Tests are not perfect. Test questions are a sample of possible questions that could be asked in a given area. Moreover, a test score is not an exact measure of a student?s knowledge or skills. A student?s score can be expected to vary across different versions of a test ? within a margin of error determined by the reliability of the test ? as a function of the particular sample of questions asked and/or transitory factors, such as the student?s health on the day of the test. Thus, no single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student?s knowledge.
  • An educational decision that will have a major impact on a test taker should not be made solely or automatically on the basis of a single test score. Other relevant information about the student?s knowledge and skills should also be taken into account. 
  • Neither a test score nor any other kind of information can justify a bad decision. Research shows that students are typically hurt by simple retention and repetition of a grade in school without remedial and other instructional supports. In the absence of effective services for low-performing students, better tests will not lead to better educational outcomes.
National Research Council, High Stakes: Testing for Tracking, Promotion and Graduation, p. 3 (Jay P. Heubert & Robert M. Hauser eds., 1999).

The overall general principle (above) for the use of assessments has been purposefully rejected by BESE and in Louisiana legislation.  Because USED has created programs that necessarily and effectively CAUSE the application of  HIGH STAKES consequences in its "accountability" policies they are complicit in the misapplication of standardized tests. Whether or not Congress promulgated that misapplication in NCLB legislation should be considered in any reauthorization or demise of NCLB.  
Further, the use of these test scores (SOS/DOS/teacher salaries) to make determinations for funding using taxpayer dollars, particularly in light of the creation of letter grades based on contrived, manipulated and fluid mathematical formulae, is a misappropriation of those dollars. 
I recommend BESE clarify the policy for "absent" students that assigns a zero to the SPS by acknowledging that it was poorly written and does not effectively address the purpose for which is was written. I recommend BESE remove the policy as written and clarify that neither schools nor teachers will be punished for students who "absent" themselves from the test.  I recommend that BESE fully acknowledge the legal rights of parents over the welfare and education of their children. I recommend BESE immediately institute a process whereby accountability mandates can be met through a process of CONSTRUCTIVE rather than punitive accountability. 

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Carr
    November 10, 2014
    Deptford Township School District
    Attention: Paul Spaventa – Interim Superintendent
    Reference: xxxxx and xxxxx Carr – Refusal of all State Standardized Tests
    Dear Mr. Spaventa:
    We have read your response letter, numerous times in fact, and we are a little taken aback by it. We are in no way asking for your permission to REFUSE these standardized tests, assessments, questionnaires and surveys for our children. The Constitution and Supreme Court rulings supersede any authority you think you may have over our decision as taxpaying parents within this district. It is our right as parents to refuse to allow our children to take the state standardized tests because our parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children” and the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).
    Please see additional rulings:
    It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. . . . It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.
    – Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)
    This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
    – Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)
    In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the “liberty” specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the rights . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children.
    The Fourteenth Amendment “forbids the government to infringe … ‘fundamental’ liberty interests of all, no matter what process is provided, unless the infringement is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.”
    – Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)
    The liberty interest at issue in this case-the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.
    In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
    The problem here is not that the Washington Superior Court intervened, but that when it did so, it gave no special weight at all to Granville’s determination of her daughters’ best interests. More importantly, it appears that the Superior Court applied exactly the opposite presumption.
    The Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a ‘better’ decision could be made.
    – Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000)
    Furthermore, there is no “federal law” that requires the state or district to “implement” anything you referred to, or you would have included that paperwork as well. The state implemented common core standards and standardized tests voluntarily, to obtain Race to the Top federal funds. Period. It’s bad enough that the Federal Government has resorted to blackmailing the states to receive their own money, we will not allow the District to visit the States’ burden of obligation on our children. Your own paperwork on Title 6A:8-4.1 states that the District “SHALL” administer the tests; it does not say that our children have to TAKE these tests. We understand that neither of our children are of the age to be subjected to the PARCC test yet, but we REFUSE any and all state assessments that are common core aligned, up to and including it and the MAP tests.
    You did not have to make this adversarial; you could have just accepted our refusal as many reasonable districts around the state and country have done. As we’ve stated in our original letter, we have the utmost confidence in the teaching skills of our son’s teachers and their ability to determine and calculate their grades from daily class participation, class work, home work, quizzes and tests. We believe these standardized tests to be developmentally inappropriate and contain questionable and often inaccurate material, and will not subject xxxxx and xxxxx to the inevitable anxiety and stress that children all over the country are feeling.
    We are prepared to go to the media, the ACLU and to obtain legal counsel if you do not comply, and our parental rights or the rights of our children are violated. That includes carrying out the “sit and stare” policy that some districts are enforcing, as this is psychological child abuse and will not be tolerated. We do not expect our children to be retaliated against or treated any differently due to our position on this subject. It is by no fault of their own that they are in this situation. Nor do we expect to have to repeat this every time a standardized test is administered. This refusal should go into both of our children’s files.
    To reiterate: Deptford School District does not have our permission to compel our children to take any state / district standardized test or assessment. Under our guardianship, our minor children will refuse same.In addition, various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. Furthermore, during the administration of any and all make-up tests, my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his regular classroom environment, alongside the rest of his classmates. You are hereby on notice that any state agent who ignores my parental instruction, and/or who compels, harasses, intimidates, or otherwise forces my minor child, or attempts same, in any way, to participate in any standardized test or assessment, and/or who takes any action that causes my child emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against these express instructions, will be in violation of federal and state constitutional law, statutory law, and common law.
    I trust there will be no further need for clarification.m
    Kevin W. Carr
    Stacy L. Carr
    cc: Mr. David Hespe, Acting Commissioner of the NJDOE
    Ms. xxxxx, President, Deptford BOE
    Mrs. xxxxx, Principal
    Mr. xxxxx, Principal
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
    Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher

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