OVER-TESTING

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OVER-TESTING is a substantive issue for educators and students. This year elementary teachers have been inundated with an unprecedented amount of top-down mandates.

  • LAUSD gives 11 standardized tests that are not mandated by the state or federal governments
  • This is in addition to 10 standardized tests that are mandated by the state or federal governments
  • This has led to 3rd and 4th graders taking up to 16 standardized tests, 5th graders taking up to 18 standardized tests, and 8th graders taking up to 17.

 

As a result

  • Quality of education has been adversely affected
  • There has been a dramatic loss of instructional time
  • Serious equity issues – due to nonuniform teaching throughout the district
  • Teachers judgment and input has overlooked and disrespected
  • It is often unclear to teachers as to whether tests have been mandated by the district, state or federal – and whether these tests are mandatory or optional

 

We are fighting for

  • Assessments that respect the professional knowledge and input of teachers
  • Assessments that do not compromise student learning time
  • Consistent testing practices across the district, ensuring equality & equity in the learning experiences of our students
  • Teaching professionals to be a part of assessment development

 

UTLA is Bargaining for Academic Freedom

Currently, UTLA's bargaining team is negotiating contract language to ensure educator academic freedom is respected and that assessments are reflective of student learning. One way is the implementation of Article XXV, Section 4.0 of our contract, where it states that, “teacher shall be provided the academic freedom and unilateral professional discretion to determine what assessments are used in their classroom, how assessments are used in their classroom, and when assessments are used in their classroom.”

Mandate Madness Graphic

Are you over-testing?

Know which tests are mandatory and which are optional.

Are you aware that the following top-down mandated tests are OPTIONAL, rather mandatory?

 

Testing Checklist
  • ELLP (Early Literacy and Learning Plan)
    • Data Walls/Folders etc?
    • Data Talks/Meetings etc?
    • Progress Monitoring
  • TRC​ ​(Text Reading Comprehension)
    • Recommended​ for grades 3rd-6th
    • Can replace​ DIBELS for students who consistently score above benchmark in DIBELS, and are in grades 3rd-5th/6th (except for ELLS, SWD)
  • Benchmark K-6 Foundational Skills Assessment
  • Benchmark Interim Assessments & Performance Tasks
  • Benchmark English Language Development Assessments
  • My Math, Think Smart for the Smarter Balanced
    • Chapter Performance Test
    • Benchmark Tests
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Stop the Mandate Madness

Get a waiver

If your school is interested in self-directing its student testing efforts, LAUSD has a waiver process that would waive non-mandated tests and replace them with alternate educator-driven assessments.

In 2017 only 11 schools applied, but all that applied were granted a waiver. These schools chose to create their own alternative assessments, reflective of the needs of their student population.

 

If you’re school would like to “stop the mandate madness,” follow these steps to organize, and apply for a waiver:

Chapter Chairs:

  1. Engage your staff on the Testing Checklist {links to dowload}
  2. Hold a UTLA meeting to discuss the impacts that overtesting has had on your teaching and student learning time
  3. Request a meeting with your principal to discuss the possibility of a waiver for your school
  4. Request that the information on the waiver be shared at an upcoming faculty meeting and added to the agenda
  5. Share your stories and send a picture of your checklist to stopthemandatemadness@utla.net
  6. Contact your area rep if you have any questions
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Take Back Your Voice – PARTICIPATE! »

  • Where and how are the decisions about testing and programs being made? We encourage you to ask
  • Next time there is something new to implement, you, your grade level, or your entire staff should ask who is making decisions on behalf of your school
  • Are the decisions being made locally? If so, which decision-making bodies at your school site are having such conversations?
  • Perhaps grade-level chairs are discussing testing issues, but are not consulting teachers for input. If you want your concerns addressed, say something
  • Often times you will find that your concerns are felt among your colleagues as well. Coming together, getting your ideas down, and looking for solutions can help grade levels and even entire staffs become more involved in the direct decisions that affect your day-to-day instruction

 

Case Study - Beachy Avenue Elementary
Such was the case at Beachy Avenue Elementary. When the staff at Beachy was asked to fill out data forms, they held an emergency meeting that same day and together decided that no one would fill out these forms on their own time. Since Beachy teachers had substitute teachers covering their classes while they discussed the data with their administrator, the staff decided it would be a better use of that time to fill out the forms then. This might have been a risky move if a few teachers had done this on their own, but taking action collectively is much less risky and much more empowering.

 

It might take a different strategy when it comes to responding to decisions made at the local district. If your staff feels the newly implemented decisions by the local district are affecting your instructional program, there are several people to turn to. You can ask your chapter chair to contact your UTLA Area chair. Local districts have instructional directors you can reach out to as well when looking for answers.

 

Tips to Organize Around Standardized Testing »

  • Arrange a time ASAP for as many educators as possible to meet directly with your principal to go over the flyer on the reverse side with her/him, informing her/him of the action and asking for her/his support
  • Make copies of the bilingual flyer on testing, and hold small group meetings with parents to explain the action and build alliances around the issue going forward
  • Regularly check the UTLA website for updates on this issue.
  • If you or a colleague are directed to administer SBAC interim assessments or to administer DIBELS to all students regardless of your professional judgment:
  • Ask for the directive in writing;
  • If the directive is given in writing, comply with the directive. Immediately get the written directive to your UTLA area representative;
  • Contact your UTLA area representative immediately in order to get support in organizing a response
  • Involve your chapter in all organizing around a response
  • For specific questions on overtesting, see our Staff Directory to find your representative, or Contact Us with your question

 

Changes in school culture do not happen overnight - Stay vigilant!

  • conversations need to occur
  • support needs to be built
  • and a collective voice needs to come together

As the decision-making autonomies are given to local districts and school sites, teachers at each school need to get involved, and demand a say in the continuing educational improvement process.