Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

Dear Principal _____________________ and Superintendent_____________________, I do not want my child, _____________________________, to take the AZMerit test, or any other tests based on the CCSS.

I oppose having my child’s range of intellectual and emotional qualities measured by standardized tests. I am dissatisfied with these tests, because they don’t measure meaningful learning, they create inappropriate pressures on children, they create counterproductive rivalry among schools, they’re responsible for less engaging education because teachers feel compelled to raise the scores by “teaching to the test”, and finally, better forms of assessment are available, such as portfolio assessments.

I also object on moral grounds to standardized tests contributing to discrimination, increasing pupil alienation, and spurring unsuccessful students to drop out. I find standardized testing socially unconscionable – leading to gate keeping and perpetuating social segregation. In addition, I object to the personally identifiable data collection that will be obtained on my child via the AZMerit test and stored in the State Wide Longitudinal Data Systems  and managed through the U.S. Department of Education and distributed among companies and organizations who have taken part in the development and implementation of the CCSS and related assessments. Data collected on my child, without my permission, is in violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution

As a concerned parent with the responsibility and right to be involved in the academic training of my child (Arizona Revised Statute 15–102), it is within my legal and moral right to opt out of standardized testing and insist upon better ways of evaluating my child’s understanding of ideas. I request useful assessments which advance fairness, accuracy, quality, and equity: evaluations such as the Learning Record (analysis of students’ learning over time by a teacher who knows them well), work sampling over time, structured and informal observations and interviews, performance and exhibitions, audio and videotapes, portfolio and journal assessments, and evaluation including input from teachers, students, parents, counselors, and principals.

I am also against any tests, where graded results are not given to the students so that they may see their mistakes and learn from them. I would ask that the school please provide an alternative activity for my child during administrative sessions of testing (not makeup tests, as my child will be in his/her regular classroom environment during makeup test). However, I understand that an alternative activity is not required on the part of the school. If you are unable to provide an alternative activity for my child, I would ask that you please allow my child to read silently.

I am reserving the option of removing my child from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional anxiety of my child on the day of refusal and whether or not the school will provide appropriate alternate activities for my child. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to the remainder of the school year.

_______________________________________ Signature of parent/guardian ______________________ Date

Click HERE to print out a copy of the Refusal letter.

Read more

SB1455 Resurrected by Sen. Carlyle Begay. Please Help Get it Scheduled for Another Vote!

Wait!  Didn’t you say SB1455 had been hijacked?  Then you said it was back on the right track?  Now you say it’s been resurrected?  Yes, Yes, and Yes.  

After being placed on the "right track," it failed in the Senate on March 7 by a vote of 18 Nays; 11 Ayes; 1 Not Voting.  Shortly after, Sen. Carlyle Begay brought it up again.  (Only senators who voted Nay can do that, which is why Sen. Begay voted Nay.)

So, it can be Reconsidered.  The problem is this:  Is there anybody who can turn some of those Nays into Ayes?  

YES!  YOU!  See below for the names and contact information of Senators who voted Nay, followed by some Truths that YOU must convey to them, in order to convince them to change their vote.

Click HERE for the Excel File of Senators who Voted Nay. (Sen. Miranda did not vote.) Please contact them via Phone, Facebook, Email, In Person, and Twitter.  If you cannot open the file, please send me an email at anitalchristy@cox.net, and I will send it to you.

The Truth About Why You Should Support SB1455.  (These are prioritized based on the most common objections voiced by senators, and are not necessarily in order of your or my priority.)

1.  Standardized tests, including AzMERIT, are not the only assessments given to students throughout the year.  In fact, Standardized tests are unreliable in assessing a student’s educational progress.  AzMERIT has never been validated or proven to be an indicator of a student’s progress.  AzMERIT doesn’t tell us anything about third-grade promotion.  AzMERIT is given in the Spring, but the results aren’t available until November, which is three months after the next school year begins! Teachers have no input into Standardized Tests.  Teachers aren’t allowed to see the tests. Teachers don’t see their students’ tests, even after they’ve been graded by third parties.  Parents don’t see the graded tests.  Students don’t see the graded tests.  Nobody has any idea what answers were right, and which were wrong!  

Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Careful observations and documentation of student work and behaviors by trained teachers is more helpful than a one-time test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful for measuring achievement and provides more information for teaching than multiple-choice achievement tests. Parents working with teachers, term grades, homework performance–these and other indicators are far better than AzMERIT.  See How Standardized Testing Damages Education.    

Read more

I’m Sorry, Students

What does this video have to do with Arizona? This teacher is talking about the same kind of High Stakes Tests that are given to children here in Arizona as young as 8 years old.  AzMERIT is forced upon students, beginning in the third grade, and every year through high school.  In Arizona, it’s AzMERIT; in Utah, it’s SAGE;  in Florida it’s the FSA. All of these states, including Ohio and others, have paid $Millions to American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations to create these tests. 

As a parent, have you stood up for your child and opted out of AzMERIT?  Have you stood firm in the face of opposition from teachers, principals, school administrators, and the State?  If not, learn more by clicking HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.  

Read more

House Ed. Committee Poised to Stifle Voice of Voters: SB1313

The first effort to strip our duly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) of powers was during the Legislature’s last session.  Thankfully, HB2184 was held in the House.  The second whack at our eleted SPI was brought forward this session by Sen. Jeff Dial, via SB1416.  

SB1416 has been held by Speaker of the House David Gowan, until very recently, when he caved under pressure from Governor Ducey.  Gowan is currently running as a "conservative" for U.S. Representative in CD1.  Is "caving under pressure" a trait you seek in a U.S. Congressman?  

SB1416 has now morphed into an even uglier SB1313, championed by Rep. Paul Boyer, known for his disdain for parental authority in matters relating to the education of their children.  See Rep. Paul Boyer Won’t Allow Parental "Opt Out" Bill to be Heard! , Boyer Blocking Parental Choice, Privacy Bills , and Boyer Tries To Dodge Public On SB1313, Education Overhaul  

See below for a Summary of SB1313 by Vicki Alger, Ph.D.

Very simply, THIS BILL MUST BE STOPPED!

The House Education Committee will meet on Wednesday, March 16, at 2:00 PM, to vote on SB1313.  Click HERE for the agenda.  Please call, visit, use the RTS (virtual Request to Speak), email the following Committee members as soon as possible!

Read more

SB 1455 Parental Opt Out Bill Back on Track! Call Senators NOW to vote YES

SB 1455 will be voted on by Arizona Senators on Monday, March 7, during the "Third Read" at 1:30 pm.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, gives parents the legal authority to opt their children out of the statewide assessment adopted by the State Board of Education, including AzMERIT, with no penalty to the child, school, or school district.  

Please call your and other Senators’ offices beginning now and leave a voicemail message.  Follow up again Monday morning.  Ask them to please vote YES to SB 1455 during the Third Read on Monday.  See list of senators, with phone numbers and email addresses, by clicking on this article titled Opt Out Bill Hearing Today (UPDATE).

Last session, a similar bill failed by ONE VOTE.  This session, all senators are under extreme pressure by special interests that stand to gain money, power, school rankings, human cogs in the corporate machine, and private student data by keeping both Common Core and standardized testing in place.  It’s an election year for these senators.  Click HERE for the live proceedings and watch how they vote!    

During last Thursday’s COW (Committee of the Whole), Senator Allen supported SB1455 by citing  ARS 1-601, which declares the "fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right."  She also cited ESSA provisions that allow states and parents to opt students out of standardized testing.   

Statewide assessments are among the most controversial and least effective methods of assessing a child’s educational progress. If parents across the country are opting their children out of statewide assessments, there’s a good reason.

For those who are interested in knowing more about  why parents despise AzMERIT and standardized testing, keep reading.  

Read more

The Legislature’s Pyrrhic Victory? SB1416 Strips Superintendent of Power

If the Arizona Legislature succeeds in passing Senator Jeff Dial’s repulsive SB1416, this is what they will have accomplished:   

Turned Arizona’s only elected official within the Department of Education into a water boy kowtowing to the will of 10 unelected, historically incompetent and downright dangerous, wasteful members of the State Board of Education.

Arizona’s voters won’t be fooled into believing that this bill "merely clarifies statutes," as Dial states. The voters who put Ms. Douglas into office aren’t that stupid. 

This is what will be very clear to voters:   The Legislature has removed the Superintendent’s effective representation of the voter’s mandate.  The Legislature has devalued and dishonored the voters. The Legislature has told the voters to “stuff it.”   The Governor, if he signs it, will be signing one of the worst "anti-voter", anti-elected official" bills we’ve seen in a long time.

Historically, members of the State Board of Education, serving at the will of whichever Governor appointed them, love to wield power, without a shred of deliberation, debate, or accountability. (Recent Ducey appointees Jared Taylor and Chuck Schmidt are the exceptions.) Here are just a few of their thoughtless, costly, and downright dangerous actions: 

The SBE’s reputation for lowering standards.  "In 2005 the State Board, over the objections of state Superintendent Tom Hornereduced the passing grade on the AIMS test from 72 percent to 59 percent for reading, and from 71 percent to 60 percent for math.  Even with the reduced passing threshold, and a math test that has gotten progressively easier, just 61 percent of the class has passed after three attempts."  Most State Board of Education members said lowering the scores would look as if they were lowering the bar and backing off high standards for high school graduates, but still they voted 9-1 to do it. And the Legislature, in their vast wisdom then as now, got into the actallowing grades in class work to add as much as 25 percent to a student’s AIMS results

The SBE spent untold thousands of dollars developing new Math standards in 2008/2009, only to dump them for Common Core Math in 2010.  

Read more

Fear and Trembling in Phoenix: A Common Core Cautionary Tale, Part I

Vicki Alger, PhD
Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
Author of 
Failure: The Federal “Misedukation” of America’s Children (forthcoming) 

This post originally appeared in THE BEACON.

Arizona is widely hailed as the national leader in school choice. It is also one of a growing number of states turning against Common Core. But you wouldn’t know it from what’s going on inside the Capitol these days.

Proposed legislation affirming parents’ basic rights over their children’s education is being held or amended within an inch of its life in the House and Senate Education Committees—all in spite of an explicit statutory Parents’ Bill of Rights affirming their inalienable liberty over their children’s education and upbringing (see here and here).

As more states fight back against federal contamination of classrooms, Arizona offers an important lesson about extinguishing Common Core for good—so it doesn’t keep rising from the dead in one infectious form or another.

About a year ago Arizona Governor Doug Ducey urged a “review and revise”  placebo instead of a “repeal and replace” antidote for Common Core. Last fall at the urging of the state’s elected pro-parental choice/anti-Common Core Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, a majority of the State Board of Education voted to sever ties with it—but the board left the Common Core -influenced standards and the reviled AzMERIT state assessment

Read more

Common Core Exec Reveals Anti-American, Anti-Christian Agenda

The third video of the Project Veritas series on Common Core shows Kimberly Koerber, a former executive for Pearson who now works for National Geographic, caught on camera justifying the Common Core curriculum on the grounds of anti-American and unconstitutional values.  She admits that elements of Common Core intentionally push elitist indoctrination upon students.  (Click HERE to view the first video.  Click HERE to view the second video.)

In this most recent video, National Geographic sales executive Koerber admits some of the political ideology behind Common Core with statements like these:

Read more

A Failing Grade for Common Core: Professor Kenneth Calvert

According to Professor Kenneth Calvert, Common Core, well-intentioned from the beginning, will utterly fail its students. Rather than raising the educational standard in the United States, it codifies and federally enforces mediocrity.

What I especially like about Prof. Calvert’s comments are his statements about teachers.  Unfortunately, 99% of teachers won’t speak out publicly against Common Core for fear of losing their jobs.  Thus, they need people like Prof. Calvert and others to speak for them.  This is what he said: 

Read more

Feds Admit U.S. Education Department “Forced” States to Accept Common Core From its Start

Did you know that on January 5, 2010, 5 months before the Common Core Standards were written, Arizona’s former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne and former Governor Jan Brewer both agreed to the Federal government’s demand to "adopt" Common Core? Click HERE to see the signed MOU on page 63 of the "Race to the Top" Appendices.  

In August 2009, a month after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the $4.3 billion Race to the Top competition, Arizona State board member Jaime Molera advised that Gov. Brewer had asked Dr. Deb Duval, former Superintendent of Mesa Public Schools, to lead Arizona’s efforts in grubbing for Race to the Top money.  In its 345-page application  and appendices,  Arizona agreed to adopt Common Core and meet every federal demand…for the "chance" at winning $250 million (which it didn’t win).

There was never a "field test" of the Common Core standards.  Horne, Brewer, and the entire Arizona State Board of Education allowed the federal government to use our children as guinea pigs, testing common standards and subjecting them to long hours of "high stakes testing."  Every one of Arizona’s "educational professionals" stood mute while federal laws (FERPA) were changed that would allow the taking and sharing of our children’s personal data with educational business executives who were giddy about making billions of dollars off them.  See the Education Datapalooza at the White House, October 2012.     

Money.  That’s why Arizona’s top "educational experts" agreed to Common Core.   All of the so-called teacher input and state involvement was nothing more than "suggestion-box” busywork.    

Now the former director of Race to the Top (RttT) has inadvertently revealed how the federal government pulled it off.   Dr. Susan Berry writes:   

Read more