Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ALERT Contact Senators TONIGHT, January 13, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 5 PM ET

Thanks to everyone who has written to the Senate Education Committee! Here is a sample letter as inspiration to write your own. It really doesn't have to be long. Just WRITE!

Here are the email addresses of the Senate Education Committee members:

Sen. Dennis Kruse (chairman) s14@iga.in.gov
Sen. Carlin Yoder (vice chair) s12@iga.in.gov
Sen. Amanda Banks: s17@iga.in.gov
Sen. Eric Bassler: s39@iga.in.gov
Sen. Jean Leising: s42@iga.in.gov
Sen. Pete Miller: s24@iga.in.gov
Sen. Scott Schneider: s30@iga.in.gov

And these are the Democrats:

Sen. Earline Rogers: s3@iga.in.gov
Sen. Frank Mrvan: s1@iga.in.gov
Sen. Mark Stoops: s40@iga.in.gov

Here is a sample letter from Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education--Monroe County and South Central Indiana:

Dear Senator,

I imagine that we are on the same page: we both want children to be readers and to be quite competent at it by third grade so that other subjects will come more easily to them. The question is how to get them there.

I am the mother of four children, with a ten-year span between my oldest and youngest kids. This difference has enabled me to have a unique perspective on the many reforms that have occurred in education and affected each of their experiences.
The IREAD3 has been one of the most damaging changes to education. It has created a pressure cooker for a learning environment for all young children.

Little kids cannot distinguish between tests-- is this prep assessment (Acuity) the one that will flunk me out of third grade? Is this ISTEP exam the one where I must do well or all of my friends will move on and leave me behind? These are the panicky thoughts of eight year-olds as they sit down to take tests.

I am not a teacher, but I do know that teachers feel tremendous pressure to get children to pass these tests. It is not a matter of simply wanting them to read-- it is a matter of wanting them to be good test-takers so that the label of failure is not forever emblazoned in their minds. It is a matter of preserving their self-esteem and keeping the love of learning alive.

I have read the research on this and the idea that we would punish kids with retention for not being able to pass a test makes no sense and does not even work. It is associated with reams of research showing that it will greatly increase their chances of drop-out, behavior problems, and damaging self-esteem. But that is just for the kids unlucky enough to fail and be retained.

What my own experience tells me is that it is robbing my child and his peers of valuable time for enjoying reading and the process of becoming a reader. The preparation and anxiety around this test (and frankly all testing) has taken time from valuable learning experiences in order to prep for this vital exam. While my now-20-year old had the ability to read books for pleasure, write his own and have "publishing parties" where they all read one another's works, act out mini dramas from novels, my ten year-old has iPad and test-prep worksheets preparing for this IREAD3 test. The fact is that all research on early childhood education (and early childhood goes through age 8) suggests that THESE are the ways we encourage and develop readers, not by testing--and definitely not by flunking 8 year-olds. Kids are on a spectrum of development. My kids all learned to go down the stairs at different ages. I did not push them down the stairs to learn by a certain time. The same should be true of reading for third graders--let alone SECOND graders.

Thanks so much for your attention. If you would like some of the research that I have read, I will happily pass it along to you.

Please do NOT move this high-stakes test to second grade. In fact, I beg you to start the process of eliminating such a reading test altogether for ANY elementary aged child.

Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer


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