Momma Bears have a hunch that this Testing Task Force will proclaim that testing is hunky-dory in Tennessee. They'll say all these Screener Tests and Benchmark Tests that districts are now required to do to implement RTI2 are magical. Also, Common core will be touted as the best thing since sliced bread. Given that there is a massive testing rebellion going on across the country right now, our state leaders are trying to prevent that from happening here with the new TNReady test (which suspiciously has questions purchased from Utah and ties to SBAC). So, to be “ready” for TNReady, they are obviously creating an army of loyal testing and common core-loving people to give the appearance of this being state-led and supported by regular people we can all trust… but can we?
Commissioner McQueen says that they have heard concerns that there is "too much testing" taking place. That is why she has formed this special task force. The press release for this task force said this:
“The new task force includes state legislators, education officials, school administrators, teachers and stakeholders. The task force will meet for the first time in late March and focus on the results of a survey of school districts and their testing. It will issue a report on its findings this summer.”
Then it lists the task force members. Of course, you know Momma Bears did some digging and investigating (because a worried Momma does better research than the FBI). Take a look and weep at the stuff we found:
People hand-picked to be on this testing task farce:
- Commissioner Candace McQueen, TDOE
- Sara Heyburn, Executive Director, TN State Board of Education
- Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, chairman, Senate Education Committee – In the TDOE announcement, Gresham said, "Assessments can be powerful tools in ensuring the work we’re doing in education is effective and that we are gaining a return on our taxpayer investments.” Well, you could say she's getting a pretty good return on her voting record because she has received a boatload of money from Students First and is heavily involved with ALEC (a corporate organization that pushes laws that benefit their donors by privatizing public entities), both test-loving entities. A school board in her district recently passed a Resolution against Common Core, so she’s torn between representing those who elected her versus those who paid big bucks for her campaign. She’s recently flip-flopped on Common Core and everyone sees it as a political maneuver to save her position and to save the common core. Click HERE for the scoop on her flip-flop.
- Rep. John Forgety, R-Athens, TN. Chairman of the House Education Instruction and Programs Committee - Click HERE to see his flyer from his election website on education. Nothing much stellar here, but do note there is nothing about repealing common core or any type of testing.
- Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, TN. Chairman, House Education Administration and Planning Committee - Thanks to Rocky Top Politics for exposing Harry Brooks and his love of the core. He recently brought Marc Tucker, Common Core over-lord, to TN to testify and spread his common core love to the House education committees.
- Mike Winstead, Maryville City Schools director. His hometown newspaper prints that he’s all about the data and testing: “I don’t jump to conclusions. I’m very diligent with my decision making. By nature, I’m very data driven, analytical and deliberate.” For this reason, the administrator is looking forward to Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) testing in 2014-15. He goes on to boast, “We’re the best school system in the state, and one of the best in the country. We’re soon going to know for the first time where we actually stack up. I’d imagine that we’ll look very good, but we’re going to see some things that will need improvement. I expect those results will serve as an impetus for future growth. We’re not complacent here, and we’re going to continually work to meet the needs of all students. We’re going to grow them academically, accelerate their growth, and ensure that they’re better prepared graduates — as we’ve done for many years.” So, this guy loves him some tests that generate data.
- Wanda Shelton, Lincoln County Schools director - Definitely a testy data lover judging by this horrifying video of a data wall in the hallway which color-codes students and ranks them by their test scores. She talks about how it is great that her students are now so competitive. She puts a LOT of weight and faith on tests.
- Mary Reel, Milan Special School District director; signed Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) report supporting common core
- Nancy Ashe, Lebanon City Schools assistant director - She was originally hired in another district as a testing coordinator! Nancy's daughter is Asst Principal at Mount Juliet High School, which makes us wonder if that is how the one student (Jasmine Carlisle) got chosen to be on this Test Task Force. Also, Nancy Ashe's husband is principal at Lavergne.
- Beth Unfried, Elementary Schools Director, Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools. WE SCOREd with this one! She is a SCORE prize winner and we all know where SCORE stands. "CHEERS to Beth Unfried, principal of Norman Smith Elementary, who has been named elementary schools director for the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, replacing Priscilla Story, who is retiring. Unfried led Smith Elementary to high honors last year as the school was chosen as the Tennessee SCORE Prize winner and named a state Reward School."
- Sharon McNary, Principal, Richland Elementary School, Shelby County Schools. Not much info we could find on her, but she's at a top-rated school in Shelby County/Memphis.
- Philip Eller, teacher, Cedar Grove Elementary, Rutherford County Schools; and a common core coach!!!
- Becky McBride, teacher, Brighton High School, Tipton County Schools; Teacher of the Year finalist for TDOE 2014-15
- Valerie Love, teacher, Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport City Schools; and another SCORE!! This one won a SCORE Educator Fellowship
- Susan Lodal, president, Tennessee School Boards Association
- Jasmine Carlisle, 11th-grade student, Mt. Juliet High, Wilson County Schools;
- Virginia Babb, member representing Knox County Parent Teacher Association. She posted on her Facebook page: “I support the Common Core and the tougher standards. This year we are actually asking my 3 kids to think! Before it was all about bubbling in a test. Sometimes this change has been hard, but learning should have some struggles. Tennessee has smart students and we need teach to their abilities, I think the Common Core is helping to do that.”
Ex officio members:
- Kathleen Airhart, Deputy Commissioner of TDOE
- Stephen Smith, deputy commissioners, Tennessee Department of Education
- Emily Freitag, assistant commissioner for curriculum and instruction, Tennessee Department of Education
- Nakia Towns, Assistant Commissioner for Data and Research, TDOE (was formerly with Knox County Schools)
- Eva Boster, Teacher Ambassador, TDOE; and
- Alyssa Van Camp, Policy Director, SCORE
The process has been very hush-hush. Nobody has seen an application process. Nobody even knew this task force was being created. Surprise! A cadre of hand-picked test lovers to determine the outcome of testing for our kids.
There are NO experts from Peabody Education college at Vanderbilt. Nope. None. Zip. Zero. None of the experts from Vanderbilt were invited to be on this TBOE testing focus group. Could it be because they published a shocking survey last year that proved the majority of teachers in TN oppose the Common Core? hmmmm.... The truth hurts, and it obviously gets you excluded from the club.
We highly suspect this testing task farce has been created to combat the testing rebellion that is going on across the nation right now, or at least prevent it from hitting Tennessee with the much longer and harder TNReady test coming next year. (Click HERE to see a brand new nationwide map from United Opt-Out. Add your pin to it if you're refusing tests for your children!) Other states that have given these Common-Core aligned tests (PARCC and SBAC) are experiencing massive opt-outs and protests. And last week, parents were outraged to learn that testing companies were monitoring students' social media to catch them if they post comments related to their tests.
Tennessee may have gotten out from the PARCC testing contract by the skin of its teeth, but it is undeniable that the company creating TNReady (Measurement Inc) is purchasing test questions from Utah and has contracted with AIR, the creator of the SBAC test. The more parents find out about these tests, the less they like them for their children. For example, did you know Measurement Inc is hiring people to grade the tests on Craigslist? Anyone with a degree in anything can be hired for about $10 per hour to grade our children's tests. This is not okay.
Until these tests are completely transparent (meaning: parents and teachers can see the questions and answers), Momma Bears will not support these tests for our children.