Five Hours of Gates-led Kindergarten Common Core MAP Tests! #TESTHearingsNow

Dear Bill and Melinda,

You are making history, Bill and Melinda.  You have now reached a new level of notoriety.  You two can now be known in history books as the American billionaire couple — with your seat on Air Force One and 80 senators in your pockets — who are forcing 5 year olds to sit behind a computer screen taking a Common Core MAP test for 5 hours.  As the richest couple in the world, you have the hubris to think you have that right?

You can now be infamous for pushing a testing system of adaptive Common Core MAP tests down to the early childhood level.  You are accountable because you have used your power and wealth to force feed the Common Core to the Department of Education, the State School Officers, and the state Governors with what amounts to as a whopping $2.3 BILLION as discovered recently by Jack Hassard, noted here by Diane Ravitch.

“We have long known on this site that Bill Gates’  foundation underwrote every aspect of the Common Core standards. Mercedes Schneider has documented nearly $200 million in grants specifically for the writing, evaluation, review, implementation, and advocacy for the Common Core standards.

Jack Hassard, a retired professor of science education, has scoured the Gates search engine and concluded that the investment of the Gates Foundation in the Common Core is actually $2.3 billion.”

You are pushing the inhumane and unnecessary NWEA Common Core MAP tests with major financial backing.  Sara Littman wrote about your $5 million grant to the NWEA MAP tests in Connecticut here.  Seattle Education Blog wrote about the Gates Foundation grants for MAP tests also.

Because of you — despite being in tears, these innocent 5 and 6 year old children — children who used to be finger painting, learning nursery rhymes, engaging in dramatic play with miniature kitchens, role playing with costumes and puppets, and building forts with large wooden blocks — endured FIVE hours of standardized testing.  FIVE hours of standardized testing of 5 and 6 year olds?  Do you really think American parents and teachers are going to allow this testing abuse?

As a kindergarten teacher and special education teacher with 20 years experience in early childhood education, I am outraged!

Every early childhood expert I know will be as well, but I want more than that! I want parents to be outraged! I want teachers and administrators to be outraged! I want them all to call Congress and demand #TESTHearingsNow!

And then I want Congress to be outraged enough to put a gate up between corporations and public education to preserve public education for our children, our parents, our teachers, our communities,  and our very democracy.

So is this test really that bad? Here is a demo of the MAP test for primary grades.  Just imagine being 5 or 6 years old, sitting behind a screen taking this test for 5 hours, then read the details below as written by the Badass Teacher who is sending out the alarm call to stop this madness!

The day my kindergarten took a test called the Common Core MAP

 

“We had been told to set up each child with their own account on their numbered Chromebook. The Teacher on Special Assignment came around and spent about an hour in each class doing this in the previous weeks.

We didn’t know exactly when the test would be given, just that some time on Thursday or Friday, the proctors would come and test. I set out morning work for my kids today but before the bell rang, the proctor arrived. I quickly swept off the tables and she said we’d begin right away. I went out to pick up my class.

 

While the proctor set up the computers (disregarding what we had done — that hour the TOSA spent in each class was unnecessary), I went through the usual morning routine.

 

Parents who happened to be in the room scrambled to unpack the headphones, which had arrived in the office that morning, and distribute the computers. We started a half hour later. The kids were excited to be using the computers. That didn’t last for long.

 

The test is adaptive. When a child answers a question, the next batch of questions is slightly harder or easier depending on the correctness of their answer. The math and language arts sections each had 57 questions.

The kids didn’t understand that to hear the directions, you needed to click the speaker icon. We slipped around the room explaining.

 

Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse was available. A proctor in one room said that if a child indicated their answer, an adult could help. Other proctors didn’t allow this. I had trouble dragging and dropping myself on the little trackpads.

 

Kids in one class took five hours to finish. Kids were crying in 4 of 5 classes.

There were multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”). There were kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything. Kids accidentally swapped tangled headsets and didn’t seem to notice that what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen.

 

Kids had to solve 8+6 when the answer choices were 0-9 and had to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14. There were questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason). There were kids tapping on their neighbor’s computers in frustration. To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so there were many instances of shut-downs and kids winding up in a completely different program.

 

Is this what we want for our youngest children?” ~ Anonymous Badass Teacher

Are people standing by and letting this happen?As it turned out, Jesse Hagopian led the Seattle teachers, parents, and students to protest the MAP tests and won.Last night we organized a Twitter Storm #TESTHearingsNow to call on Congress to hold formal Congressional hearings on the misuse and abuse of standardized testing. Our Network for Public Education #TESTHearingsNow Twitter Storm engaged parents, students, teachers, administrators, education experts, unions, professors emeritus, media, and legislators in this social media activist event.  After the event, this press release went out from Network for Public Education.  One congressman has taken up our call so far:

“Answering NPE’s call, Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-3), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, responded with a sentiment that has been echoed by parents and educators throughout the United States. The six-term Representative said, “The need for an impartial and transparent hearing on mandatory testing and privatization efforts directed at public education, is critical.  We need to have an open discussion about the dismantling of public education. I hope the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will hold hearings that allow our public schools and the families they serve the opportunity to have an open and honest hearing.”  

We trended #1 for several hours, showing evidence of wide support for these Congressional hearings investigating testing abuse. The many horrific examples of the misuse and abuse of standardized testing — like the one above that I read about today on the Badass Teachers Association blog  — become one more important reason we need to support these hearings.Bill and Melinda, it is time to stop this insanity!

We need a firewall between corporate education reform and public schools.  We need a firewall between privatizers and public schools.  We need a firewall between predatory philanthropists and public education!

Readers, it is time to take action!  Join us in calling your Congressmen on Monday, March 24th and demand formal Congressional hearings on standardized testing!  Use this Common Cause link to find your congressmen/women.  And use the Network for Public Education Toolkit to assist you with this campaign.

Readers, it is time to demand #TESTHearingsNow!

Susan DuFresne – Full Day Integrated Kindergarten Teacher and Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

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About Teachers'LettersToBillGates

Our mission is to create a dialogue with Bill and Melinda Gates in order to achieve a democratic influence on public education through the voices of education researchers, professors of education, administrators, school board members, professional teachers, parents, students, and community members. We would appreciate Bill and Melinda's feedback and want to influence their education policy and financial decisions by adding democratic voices to create meaningful relevant education for children.
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22 Responses to Five Hours of Gates-led Kindergarten Common Core MAP Tests! #TESTHearingsNow

  1. jillconroy says:

    Susan, I had no idea you were the author of this letter until the end, but I should have – as I was reading through it, I kept thinking, “Wow…this is the best one yet!”

    BRAVO, is all I can say.

    I clicked on the link to access the demo, although, admittedly, halfway through I had to shut it off. I’d wished I had a pen and paper handy to write down the plethora of faults I found with it…

    Right off the bat – the question about the apples – how does that assess skill, when The Voice is telling the student the equation needed to solve the problem?

    Moving on – why aren’t they given just ONE symbol to repeat the instructions/question. I was not surprised to see your students struggled with this.

    What about the kids with auditory processing issues? Even a slight delay would surely cause horrible struggles here.

    And those with ADD? My God.

    After spending 3 minutes listening to The Voice, I decided I have ADD and auditory processing deficits myself. But I’m 40.

    & how many 5/6 year olds got confused by the question of selecting the first word in the sentence, after the big blue arrow came down and pointed to a word in the middle (while intending to point to the whole sentence)?

    This is BEYOND insanity. I wish you could just refuse to make your kids suffer through this. Clearly, the people who designed this assessment have ZERO knowledge about education or child development whatsoever. But that’s not news.

    Ugh. Good luck :)

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Hi Jill,

      Just to clarify: I am not the orginal Badass Teacher who revealed this story. They wanted the story shared far and wide, so we posted it and tried to give some ways to get involved in activism against this misuse and abuse of standardized testing.

      Thank you, as always for joining in the conversation!

      Susan

  2. Pingback: Every Kindergarten Teacher and Parent MUST Read This… | The Indignant Teacher

  3. Karz says:

    Absolutely heartbreaking and beyond frustrating. I received a phone call from my daughter’s school nurse that I needed to come bring a change of clothes because my Kindergartener had wet herself because she was afraid to tell anyone she needed to use the bathroom during her test. She asked if she was going to have to take it again and, if so, would I pack her extra clothes. :(

    • Sandra says:

      My God, is this what America’s children have to endure for 12 years??
      I’d be looking at homeschooling if you could. Just find out your state laws and teach her at home. That’s too much trauma for a little one!!

  4. inspireteaching001123 says:

    Reblogged this on Inspire Teaching.

  5. inspireteaching001123 says:

    Reblogged this on Inspire Teaching.

  6. As a retired educator, father of two children, and grandfather of three, I am appalled at the above. How about a kid, like myself in grades 1-4? I lost my breakfast when we had what was called achievement tests, mom kept me home and I recovered when it was too late to go to school. At noon I lost my lunch if the tests were continued that afternoon. This happened every time these test were given were given I was not the only one who did this. The school psychologist called it “School bus fever”. I out grew in after 4th grade. While teaching high school, I had a few students who had this same fear of testing. One year our seniors, 12th grade, just filled in the answer sheets with a, c, d f, a, c, etc. because they were opposed to testing. It looked like they were a bunch of idiots, they were just being kids. After that the administration had to bribe them with tickets to baseball games and tickets to Cedar Point to encourage them to take the tests the best they could do.

  7. I am a concerned citizen and parent, who is expert with many technologies. I want to understand the issues and I hoped to get a sense for Common Core and how it is being implemented. I clicked the link, “Here is a demo of the MAP test for primary grades.” and did all the activities. I can understand how the implementation (using laptops and touchpads) would probably be very challenging and frustrating for young children and older adults. As far as the content of this specific “demo” goes, I didn’t experience or see anything that was too extraordinary or questionable. I will continue to research this topic further, but this demo failed to get me over concerned about Common Core.

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and look at the demo. I am a highly qualified Kindergarten teacher in both general education and special education. As an adult, of course we are able to match the content with correct responses. My suggestion was for readers to look at the demo through the eyes, cognitive skills, language skills, listening skills, attention span, and fine motor skills of a 5-6 year old. I can tell you that this type of adaptive online standardized testing in inappropriate for kindergarten children.

      As to your research about Common Core, I suggest you read blog posts here with the tag Common Core and read Dr. Mercedes Schneider’s blog here: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/ .

      Most importantly, keep asking questions and discussing Common Core and standardized testing.

      Thank you again,

      Susan DuFresne, Kindergarten Teacher and Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  8. Doris S. Chiappetta says:

    For many years now, teachers have not been consulted at all. Why anyone would think Bill Gates or for that matter, anyone other than a teacher should be consulted is beyond me. Congress should also stay out of education. Our children’s futures should be in the hand of professional educators. And, I don’ t mean administrators who haven’ t been in a classroom in 20 years. Use the grass roots teachers, those in the trenches, to let you know how children Lear and what is needed for success.

  9. Doris S. Chiappetta says:

    I just saw an ad on TV extolling the virtues of Common Core and how the challenge will help our children reach full potential. I wonder who is paying for the ads.

  10. Joyce Frye says:

    Back to highly qualified well educated intelligent teachers and local control of education by administrators who understand children. Former GATE elementary teacher Joyce Frye, San Diego

  11. 56MTlivin says:

    I am 35. When I was in kindergarten, we did none of the things you listed that kids should be doing at that stage of their education. We were learning the most basic reading and math skills. My children were learning skills in kindergarten that I learned in 1st and 2nd grade. Kids are doing amazing things at the kindergarten level these days. It must scare the hell out of a certain population, that in the future, most of the people will be educated and will be able to think critically for themselves! That is obviously not the case now.

  12. Ashley says:

    I’m so angry! I talked to my 4th and 2nd graders and they have to do these tests 3 times a year. My 9 year old says his eyes start burning from looking a the computer screen after an hour and a half. He says it takes 4 hours to do these tests and they rarely get a break. He gets a headache after 2 hours of it and then his mind starts wandering. Is there a way I can make it so my 3 kids never have to take these tests?

    • August G Schwartz says:

      Ashley, Common Core is not in place yet; is it? What system is requiring your children to endure, “these”, tests 3 times a year. Is it Common Core?

  13. August G Schwartz says:

    IF your goal is to establish a dialogue with Bill and Melinda Gates then you should edit your “article”, (proclamation), to not be so accusatory. Ie. remove the word, “infamous”, it carries negative connotations that are accusatory. One seeking dialogue would not use such language; by using it you betray your agenda.

    • Teachers'LettersToBillGates says:

      Good evening, August,

      We began our blog nearly one year ago with a very polite invitation to dialogue after Bill Gates announced in the Seattle Times that he wished to “make nice with teachers”. While Mr. and Mrs. Gates have yet to respond to one of the 150 letters written to them over the past year, neither has he been “making nice” with teachers. In fact, the opposite. While Mr. and Mrs. Gates use propaganda to sell their products, we use words that speak truth to power. Our agenda is simple. We want our public schools back in the hands of the public. We want a firewall between corporate reformers, privatizers, and predatory philanthropists — and our children, teachers, parents, public schools, and democracy. Our audience is far wider than Mr. and Mrs. Gates at this point. We want students, parents, and teachers to know what is going on in our classrooms behind closed doors due to federal, state, district, and building mandates. We want Congress to hold formal investigative hearings into the misuse and abuse of standardized testing.

      As to your question to Ashley: “Common Core is not in place yet; is it? What system is requiring your children to endure, “these”, tests 3 times a year. Is it Common Core?”, please allow me to respond.

      Yes, Common Core is in place. Common Core tests have been implemented in New York and Georgia where 70% of all students failed. Common Core Smarter Balanced and PARCC adaptive online tests are being piloted in other states this year and being implemented fully across approximately 45 states during the “testing season” of the year 2014-15.

      Meanwhile, Gates-funded NWEA Common Core MAP adaptive online tests are being mandated across the country by a variety of districts where his corporate reform agenda has been bought, hook, line, and sinker. What will we do when 70% of our children fail to graduate high school? How will that help our country be “competitive in the global market”? Is this the purpose of public education, really?

      Please read Mercedes Schneider to find out more about Common Core here: http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/ . We hope you will continue to read our blog as teachers across the US and beyond write their letters to Bill and Melinda Gates in hopes that someone will listen and stop their corporate reform before public schools are extinct.

      Thank you again for your feedback, August.

      Kind regards,

      Susan DuFresne, Integrated Kindergarten Teacher and Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

  14. John Young says:

    Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  15. JPSmith says:

    I got myself in hot water with Jeb Bush’s security people when I sent a picture of a kinder kiddo crying during a paper and pencil bubble in Stanford 9 test. I asked waaay back then, “is this what we want reduce Florida’s five years to? ” a scathing letter followed to both then Govenor Bush and his accomplice, DOE commish Frank Brogan. I was told as a public school teacher, I needed to follow the lead of the DOE period! Things haven’t changed obviously but as teachers, we are still crying out in attempted advocacy for those children in our charge! Right on!! Keep up the fight because the true power to affect change will always be the teacher in the trenches trying to help her students realize their personal potential.

  16. Matti says:

    As a middle school student who remembers kindergarten, I think this is insane. My kindergarten year was spent doing counting, trying to convince the teacher to let me read higher-level books (which I was capable of reading) and having no understanding of computers. NONE. This test would have been torture. I’m sure every other student would feel the same. Stop this injustice!

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