Pennsylvania’s Latest Testing Contract

Surprise! Pennsylvania’s Department of Education just signed another $250 million, 5 year contract with a corporation to continue the high-stakes testing of our students. Opt Out Pennsylvania recently posted:

Pennsylvania just signed a $250 million dollar, 5-year contract with Measured Progress for the Common Core Keystone exams and now common core aligned PSSA’s under the guise of “college and career readiness”.  Colleges and prospective employers DO NOT consider the Keystone Exams in any capacity yet students FORCED to spend 20% or more of their time in a class during the school year on test prep and testing resulting in lost instructional time for a single test.  This is not education.  Our students are unpaid employees to political and corporate interest groups who are making billions of dollars a year on these insidious tests.

So, I decided it was time for me to send John and Carolyn at PDE some mail.

Dear Mr. Weiss and Secretary Dumaresq,

I need to let you know that I am appalled that you continue to sign contracts with Measured Progress to test our children nonsensically. The latest $250 million dollar contract is a ridiculous example of unethical practices of top educational administrators on our children, who are now unpaid employees of political and corporate interest groups. 
I call your decision as a department (and the mandate from the legislature) unethical because these tests are not in the best interests of the children, the teachers, or prospective employers. Despite this contract being signed under the guise of “college and career” readiness, where is the research that demonstrates if/how these tests prepare students for the workforce?
I recently heard you, Secretary Dumaresq on a panel at the EPLC symposium. You and Ron Cowell made it a point to blame the legislature for the problems in public education. I call foul on that whole logic. As educators, it is also your ethical responsibility to “protect the student from conditions which interfere with learning or are harmful to the student’s health and safety.” It is you, the lead administrators in the department of education, who continue to violate Pennsylvania’s Code of Professional Practice for Educators. 
There are parents and taxpayers across this country attempting to work from the bottom up to address this issue in the legislatures in their respective states. However, as an educator, you too have a responsibility based on what you know about children and from educational research. Be bold and make the right choice. Our public schools would be better without the standardized tests that drain educational budgets, lead to corporate profits, and result in the worst deficits that we can imagine – those that directly affect our children. 
Leslie Gates, Ph.D./Angry Parent