Monday, July 23, 2012

Myths About Public Education

Because there are so many myths about public education being spread by so-called education reformers, those of us at Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education decided to counter four of the most pervasive myths with facts.

To read the myths and our responses click on Myths About Public Education under INFORMATION AND FACT SHEETS on the right.

Click here to download a pdf file of the Myths About Public Education.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012: Question of the Day

Who is providing Tony Bennett's campaign dollars? Follow the money!


Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Indiana Coalition for Public Education


The Indiana Coalition for Public Education (ICPE) is a bi-partisan non-profit organization. Its mission is to focus public tax dollars on the K-12 education of public school students by opposing legislation in the Indiana General Assembly that would:
  • fund private school vouchers
  • expand private school tax credits
  • privatize charter schools by allowing private colleges and agencies to be authorizers
  • put for-profit managers in place to take a profit from operating public schools
  • privatize public schools through any other means
The membership year of the ICPE is July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013. Membership renewals are vital to maintain a strong lobbying presence in the long session of the legislature which begins in January.

Membership (including renewal) forms are available at the ICPE web site.

Mail checks to: ICPE, PO Box 7093, Fishers, IN 46037

Saturday, July 14, 2012

July 14, 2012: Question of the Day

With so many of our tax dollars going for unnecessary high stakes testing, can you think of any better ways to spend that money?


Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 2012: Question of the Day

With all of the emphasis on test scores this week, do you think that these higher numbers are the best measure of what a child has really learned? Are we promoting students to be life-long learners or are we teaching them how to be good test-takers? What do you think?


Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11, 2012: Question of the Day

Did you know that Indiana’s education voucher program will divert $58.5 million in the first two years from public to private schools based on 7500 vouchers in the first year and 15,000 in the second year?

The cap on vouchers will be LIFTED by 2013; there will be no limit after that.
Where is the outrage at this shifting public tax dollars to private institutions?


Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012: Question of the Day

If test results are going up ("FWCS Posts ISTEP+ Gains for Third Consecutive Year"), wouldn’t that say that FWCS is doing better, so we can therefore trust that our teachers are doing a good job? Wouldn't the natural consequence be to see a decrease in testing rather than an increase? Does this make sense?


Click the question mark below to see all our Questions of the Day or click the link in the sidebar.


Monday, July 9, 2012

NEIFPE Platform Adopted

Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education has adopted the following Platform:
To build a school, family, and community partnership that fosters learning, creativity, critical thinking skills, and success among our children:
  1. We believe tax money should support public education in the state of Indiana. All school districts in Indiana deserve equitable funding.
  2. We believe tax dollars should not fund for-profit charter schools or vouchers for private/parochial schools.
  3. We believe the use of high-stakes testing is harmful to students. The time and money spent on testing and test preparation should instead be spent on hands-on learning and creative problem-solving skills.
  4. We believe test scores should be used as a diagnostic tool for instruction. Test scores should never be used to grade schools or to evaluate teachers.
  5. We believe more tax dollars should be appropriated to pre-school and all day kindergarten. Research clearly shows that consistent early childhood education has positive long-lasting results.
  6. We believe in the important role of the teacher in the classroom. All children should be taught by qualified instructors. Effective teacher preparation programs are vital, and teacher licensing should be based upon effective teacher preparation.
  7. We believe the family plays a critical role, and parents must have a significant voice in the education of their children. A good educational environment is developed in the partnership between the school and the family.
  8. We believe in a broad curriculum which includes the fine and performing arts, physical education, science, social studies, as well as math, reading, and writing. Such a curriculum is determined by the individual needs of local schools and their communities.
A pdf version of the document is available HERE, or by clicking on the link to NEIFPE Platform under INFORMATION AND FACT SHEETS in the menu at the right.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Scrap IREAD-3

Indiana Parents for Fair Testing have information about IREAD-3 including a petition to the Indiana Department of Education.

Why IREAD-3 Should Not be Used to Determine Retention or Promotion for 3rd Graders

Please sign the following online petition joining others in Indiana who oppose a grade retention/promotion assessment.

The intention of IREAD-3 is to identify and retain in third grade children who have not mastered grade level reading skills. If a child fails this 40-question test, the school is required to retain the child in a third grade reading setting, potentially for up to two years. In addition, children who fail IREAD-3 are required to retake the third grade level ISTEP+ the following year in math and reading, even if they passed this test prior.

  • Given that retention has been shown to increase the rate of dropping out, and to have, in the long run, a negative effect on academic achievement, it puts children in harm's way.
  • Research has shown that boys are particularly vulnerable to the effects of grade retention.
  • Standardized tests have a disproportionately negative effect on low-income and minority children and families.
  • IREAD-3 is an unnecessary test. Third graders are assessed frequently by their teachers to determine reading skills such as word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. In addition, most schools require third graders to take NWEA twice a year or ACUITY four times a year, and ISTEP+ in reading and math.
  • The DOE requires students who have disabilities and/or are English Language Learners to take the IREAD-3, despite diagnosed disabilities or language challenges that might make participation in this test inappropriate and harmful to the child. IREAD-3 thus violates special education students' rights to the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) as mandated by IDEA (PL 94-142). (In some situations, an IEP case conference committee can override the results of the IREAD-3, allowing a student to be promoted.)
  • The American Psychological Association web site cites a number of articles dealing with the social/emotional consequences of retention. Judging a student as a failure clearly has long-lasting impacts.
  • IREAD-3 has been inadequately piloted prior to its use. With no public information available about the test’s validity or reliability, parents can not evaluate whether or not the test does what it purports to do.
  • It assumes that 72 minutes of data gathering is more valid than teachers' year-long data gathering and assessment.
  • The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing state that a major decision about a student should not be made on the basis of a single test score (AERA, 2000).
  • The younger the children the greater the unreliability of the test. Researchers know from years of observation that young children vary greatly from day to day in performance.
  • There are a variety of environmental factors that may affect a child's performance, such as poor sleep, nervousness, illness, or family stress. These environmental factors can serve as circumstances for test discrimination.
  • The high-stakes use of tests like IREAD-3 has been shown to narrow the curriculum.
  • IREAD-3 will likely cause school administrators and teachers to focus third grade reading instruction on test preparation for IREAD-3 and may limit time for more authentic classroom activities.
  • Since children with disabilities may receive an exemption from IREAD-3 (but only after failing the assessment), it may result in more parents seeking a disability designation for their children. Not only does this have psychological ramifications for families, it will further burden the special education system and divert resources from those who have a more serious need for them.
  • IREAD-3 has clearly caused fear and anxiety among school officials and parents. This will potentially have a negative impact on the school and family relationship. Instead of trying to build partnerships around authentic work the child is doing at home or at school, the school must concentrate on helping families understand the high-stakes nature of third grade reading. It seems unlikely that an atmosphere of fear will lead to children taking greater pleasure in reading and learning.
  • It is our understanding that the IDOE thus far has provided no additional money for assessment and remediation. When PL-109 was passed, money budgeted for remediation was diverted to assessment to cover the cost of administering IREAD-3. A reduction of funding for remediation is of great concern and contradicts the supposed intent of this law.
For all these reasons, it is unlikely that IREAD-3 will accurately and comprehensively identify third graders whose reading skills are not at grade level. Moreover, the IDOE's goal of retention carries the potential for considerable personal harm. Young children should not be subject to high-stakes tests. Please join others who are concerned about the impact PL-109 is having on our children and schools.

Please sign the following online petition joining others in Indiana who oppose a grade retention/promotion assessment.


Phone: 812-325-1224

Websites that provide information and a place to network with others:

Change IREAD-3 To Make it Fair

Parent Community Network

Indiana Coalition for Public Education – Monroe County and South Central Indiana

Fair Testing: Fact Sheet on Testing and Grad Retention:

Fact Sheet on Testing Young Children:

Ed Week online. Some useful points:

New book published on the topic of testing: The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don't Tell You What You Think They Do (2011), by Phillip Harris, Bruce Smith, and Joan Harris, published by Rowman & Littlefield

Newspaper Articles/Online Articles on Grade Retention/IREAD-3

I-Read 3 in Indiana: Intentional Social Segregation?

Lawmaker: Board of Education Disregarded Legislative Intent with IREAD-3, School Matters

Parents Seek to End Indiana's New Third-grade Reading Test, Bloomington Herald Times

Third Graders' Angst: Test Month is Here

Hoosiers Should Challenge the Validity of IREAD-3 Test, South Bend Tribune

More States Retaining Struggling 3rd Graders, Education Week

Starting at a Disadvantage,The Journal Gazette

Local Schools Ready for IREAD: Third-graders Have Been Preparing for One-day Test, The Herald Bulletin

Bad Policy and Bad for Kids, Herald Times

Retention Based on Test Score a Wrong Answer, Herald Times

Injunction Filed by Project School Parent, Herald Times

Indiana Third Graders Face New Reading Assessment Test, Herald Times

Indiana to Retain Students Based on Test Scores Despite Lack of Research

The Wrong Literacy Plan

The Trouble with Holding Back Students

Rog Lucido: Student Learning Can Only be Described, Not Measured