Areas of Specific Interest
High Stakes Testing
Our research indicates that standardized, isolated tests (in California, the STAR and CAHSEE) do not inform us as to the academic health or progress of individual children, classrooms, teachers or schools due to other variables that exist.
There is ample evidence to indicate that when a centralized approach is used to create, administer and evaluate standardized tests, problematic incentives are created. We find that the competition created through No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Race to the Top (RTT) narrows the curriculum, specifically in our most disadvantaged communities and contributes to unethical conduct across the state; specifically when teachers are asked to minimize the California Teaching Standards in order to teach scripted lessons, ignoring varied levels of physical development, language development, socio-economic diversity, learning styles and special needs.
We support the use of multiple measures of assessment and those that track the progress individual students make during a school year, given specific starting points and take in to consideration all variables including the mobility rate (children moving from school to school).
We support education funding that targets the specific needs of the education community and includes the voices of all stakeholders.
The information that we receive seems to indicate that conflict between families and school districts over resources and access to quality education programs for special needs children is growing.
We encourage conflict resolution strategies that include the voice of parents, advocates, specialists and those working on the frontlines with special needs children.
We propose transparency in district legal spending, equal representation in litigation and efforts to decrease conflict.
Recent studies describe that Zero Tolerance policies, implemented in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, have replaced common sense approaches to discipline and too often criminalized behavior that might have been handled with more proactive strategies. We believe that the overuse of punitive consequences such as suspension, expulsion and especially involuntary transfer are systematically contributing to the drop out crisis.
We advocate for proactive discipline, fair hearings, full discovery, equal representation and respect for the constitutional rights afforded all Americans such as Miranda Rights and parental notification.