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The in box. What is the cost of constant testing in dollars and instructional time?

October 2, 2012

Madame President-

Last night I received the letter from Executive Vice Presidet Lawrence that the AFT Educational Issues depart, in tandem with the Legislative Department, will implement the actions of “Resolution #5″ to design guidelines and draft legislation for a total cost analysis of testing in our schools.
 
I just wanted to thank you and the others on the Executive Council for all your efforts on this.  I am three weeks into my school year and already I have tallied that as of Wednesday, Oct 2nd, my students will have spent 738 minutes of prepping for and taking standardized tests, which would have otherwise been used for instruction.  Some students in Chicago have done more than that already.  
 
While diagnostic testing has some place in helping educators reflectively improve their instruction, we need to make transparent exactly what’s happening in our classrooms. I know that when legislators and parents have access to this information, they will be both interested and frustrated as teachers and students. 
 
I know that you share my feelings of urgency for better teaching and learning conditions.  I believe we are one step closer with this action that both AFT and NEA have taken.
 
Towards dignity in our classrooms,
Adam Heenan
Chicago

============

On Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 9:47 AM, Adam Heenan wrote:Good morning President Weingarten-

Resolution #5 is based on New Mexico State Senate Memorial (Bill) #73, which calls on the State to assess and publish exactly how much instructional time and public dollars are going into testing and test preparation.  While the education committee was unanimous in their support for a resolution , it was not prioritized, and therefore I attempted to attached the “resolveds” to the end of Resolution #2, the Executive Committee’s Statement Against Testing.
 
I have attached the original Memorial, and below is the press statement we wrote after NEA-RA passed their version of it on July 5th, 2012.  They plan to have their locals use a “digital survey toolkit” to achieve the goals addressed by the legislation.  The AFT Resolution doesn’t ask for that, but it is an option.  I think it is more important to get versions of #73 into the hands of all the locals’ legislative teams for them to decide how best to use it where they are.
 
Again thank you, and the Exec Council for their valuable time on this.
 
Best,
Adam Heenan
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***For Immediate Release***
July 5th, 2012
 
NEA Funds Grassroots Toolkit to Measure How Much Testing is Actually Taking Place 
in our Public Schools.
 
As our country’s financially overburdened education system prepares to invest an estimated $14 billion in implementing the Common Core State Standards, the nation’s largest educators union has approved a measure to self-report and shine some transparency on the amount of our schools’ time and resources are being devoted to standardized testing.Last week at the National Education Association’s (NEA) annual Representative Assembly, 9,000 teachers voted to approve New Business Item (NBI) #82 which calls on the NEA leadership to make available a toolkit and assist and encourage Union locals to collect and publish all manner of data relating to testing and test prep.  Through a battery of surveys and tools accessible through the NEA web resources, rank-and-file members will be able to get a comprehensive analysis of precisely how much taxpayer money and instructional time schools, students, and teachers are being spent on testing and test-prep in their municipalities, states, and ultimately in the nation.In a truly collaborative grassroots effort that brought together many educators concerned about improving students’ education, teachers adapted the NBI’s  language from New Mexico State Senate Memorial 73, sponsored by New Mexico State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez and passed by the New Mexico State Senate 34-0 in February of 2012. The Memorial called on the state board of education to develop and conduct a full cost analysis of the time and money spent on testing and test-prep. These initiatives meet a demand of parents, legislators, taxpayers, students and educators alike wanting greater transparency around the cost–both fiscally and in other resources of what many feel there is an overbloated, unscientific regime of high-stakes testing of the children of our country.  The NEA representative assembly funded the project at $11,000.00, nearly four times the authors’ projected minimum cost.A version of the bill is also set to be presented at the end of the July to the delegate body of the American Federation of Teachers, a second national teachers union.  That version has a “follow-the-money” clause, designed to determine exactly how much taxpayer money, intended to go directly to schools, is actually going to the coffers of test-publishing companies, a multi-billion dollar industry.

The toolkit that will be developed is intended to be adaptable for anyone to study and publish how much testing in their public school system.  Also published with the surveys will be a link to the text of New Mexico Senate Memorial 73, so all interested parties can replicate and present to their own legislative bodies: school boards, city and state legislatures and other interested parties.

The following are excerpts from speeches by teachers supporting NBI #82

“The end goal is getting to a common understanding of what a 21st century education can be, what it should be, and what it actually is…to have in hand the numbers of hours kindergarteners in my district spend testing would be critical information for my legislator friends, parents, and school board.

If we don’t make the effort to record the time spent on test preparation we can’t create desperately needed awareness among parents, legislators, administrators, and tax-paying voters about the negative impact of high stakes testing.  We must attempt to quantify it, to address it, to fix it.”  

- Julianna Dauble, Washington Education Association

“As a profession, we need to reframe the discussion on student learning and what constitutes effective teaching.  We cannot do this alone. We need to gather the support of our communities. We need to organize our communities to accomplish this.  Anecdotal stories are not enough to do this.  We need data.

NBI 82 would provide locals and states with…data needed to organize a network of community support to eliminate high stakes tests and help  move  to acceptable measures of student learning and effective teaching.”

-Rick Baumgartner, Virginia Education Association

Special thanks go to Senator Michael Sanchez (D-29) and Elaine Romero, the New Mexico Education Association, the Washington Education Association and Julianna Dauble of Renton, WA, the Teacher Union Reform Network (TURN) caucus including Steve Owens and Rick Baumgartner, and the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) including Xian Barrett, Adam Heenan, George Schmidt, and Sharon Schmidt.

– 
Adam P. Heenan
Chicago, IL
tw: @ClassroomSooth
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