Monday, November 17, 2014

Mary Beth Tinker's Letter of Support

Editor's note: Mary Beth Tinker, from the famous Supreme Court Case Tinker v. Des Moines that set the national precedence of students' First Amendment Rights, sent us a letter of support.

"I've been following and cheering the students of Fairview High School who are opting out of CMAS testing.  As a fan of students who put civics into action, it's heartening to see the students doing just that. 

When I was a thirteen, in 1965, I wanted to put civics into action, too, by wearing a black armband to school to mourn the dead in Vietnam. Administrators didn't like that, and I was suspended.  But if democracy means anything, it means that the people who are affected by decisions should have a say in the decisions. When the case went to the Supreme Court, we won by 7-2 in 1969.

As the students in Fairview articulate so well in their video, they did not have input into the house bill which requires the test. Instead, they were expected to passively sit by while the decision was made by legislators and for-profit testing companies.  With impressive investigative skill and critical thinking, the students decided that their time and resources could be better spent. And they went on to expose the fact that $36 million was being spent on the testing while funding for their schools has been cut by 6% since 2008.
The Fairview students are not alone. They are part of the growing voice of students, like those in Pennsylvania dressed up as rats and guinea pigs to testifying at hearings, saying, "We're not guinea pigs!"   And, there are many other students with the same feelings.

So, bravo to students who take their civics lessons to heart and put democracy into action! By standing up for themselves, they are standing up their democratic rights and for their education!

Thank you, Mary Beth Tinker"

John Merrow's take on the CMAS protests

John Merrow, education correspondent for PBS and president of Learning Matters, recently blogged about student opposition to CMAS.  He quotes several Fairview High School students about their views.  It's a great piece:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Testimony from a student who took CMAS.

Editor's note: The following comes from an email we received from a high school senior who took CMAS. At her request, her name, as well as the name of her school and district, are withheld. 

"I am a senior at [name of school], and did take the test today. Due to the reputation we have, we weren’t given the option to opt out, and if we weren’t there –for whatever reason- we would be required to make up the test on the day we get back.
"The science test included mostly Biology and Physical science topics, which we haven’t seen since freshman year (bio) or earlier (physical). The questions that didn't cover those topics, you would have had to take a specialized course, such as AP Chemistry, to fully understand. It was a fairly easy test with one or two harder questions: much like the ACT science section.
            "The social studies test consisted of various, unrelated, topics and some random questions about India, which we also haven’t seen since freshman year in AP Human Geo. The majority of the questions focused on insurance, bank statements, and mortgages. These topics are not only not required, but not always offered. I know I don’t go to a normal high school, but that isn't fair to give us a test on subjects that aren't offered. It will create a never ending loop. [name of high school] doesn't have the funds, resources, or space to create an economics class. Due to the fact that  [name of high school] doesn't offer these courses, we have a greater chance of not doing so well. By not doing well, we don’t get as much funding because we ‘aren't doing our job’. Not getting that funding re-starts the loop again.
            "The social studies topics are things that should start to be covered in middle school if not elementary school. They are important things to know, but because of this test, they will be crammed in the first few months of senior year, just so the school can get good scores. This means that schools will be teaching for the test, which already happens too much with ACT and SAT, rather than teaching for life- which is the ultimate test of what actually works.
            We have been promised since 3rd grade that we can stop these tests in 10th grade. There is a reason why the cut off was 10th grade. ... People are also starting to realize that standardized tests don’t tell you about the student. That is why more and more colleges and universities are becoming test optional schools each year. Why should the school's funding be based off of a test when college admission isn't?
            "One of the worst parts of the test is that they didn't account for the mass of people on the server at once. Not only is the entirety of [name of school district] on ONE wifi, but with the amount of people taking it, the app kept crashing. I was in the lucky class that had to sit in a classroom for 2 hours while we were trying to log on. This error was because of the fact that there were about 120 other people at our school alone trying to access the test, let alone the rest of the district and state. I talked to a student from a school in a different district who also took the test and they had issues with this as well. The amount of problems that would have occurred had the rest of [name of school district] also taken this test is ridiculous. The app doesn't work for that many people and having a test on a computer is un-reliable. Many computers (we were mostly on Chrome books, again because of lack of funding and space) ran out of power and had many glitches. ...
            "I know none of the seniors at my school took this test seriously and we put random answers just to get [it] done. 

Our Video

This video we created explains why we oppose CMAS.  Also, footage from the actual protests themselves can be found here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Our Open Letter

If you haven't already, please check out our open letter.  This letter was written entirely by students at Fairview High School and outlines our concerns regarding the CMAS standardized testing program.  The open letter can be viewed here.

If you are a current or former Colorado public school student and you would like to add your name, click here.

Welcome to the CMAS Protest blog

This blog is run and updated by students at Fairview High School.  We will be discussing our efforts to combat the CMAS standardized testing in Colorado.  If you'd like to write a guest post, send an email to