In a follow-up Washington Post article to the inaccurate one penned by Valerie Strauss last week explicitly claiming that the D.C. Public Charter School Board intends to give standardized tests to 3 to 5 year olds, reporter Michael Alison Chandler yesterday did nothing to stop the spread of this false rumor by writing that the organization’s goal is to “rank preschools based largely on how children as young as 3 are performing on reading and math tests.”
“To be clear, the proposed Early Childhood PMF builds off measurements schools already use, which are detailed in a school’s accountability plan . . . There are no new tests. I repeat, these measurements are not "standardized test" in the sense of fill in the bubble tests. [Bold and underline included in the original text.]
Mr. Pearson goes on to explain that:
“Data from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education shows that more than half of all 3rd grade students are unable to read and do math at a basic level. If a student falls behind by third grade, it is extremely difficult for them to catch up.
That’s why it’s important for young learners to leave preschool programs and enter kindergarten with a strong foundation for doing well in elementary school and beyond. To do that, there has to be some measure of how our youngest learners are doing in identifying their colors (literacy), counting (math), and managing their own emotions and getting along with others (social-emotional).”
PCSB Board member Sara Mead also fires back in a column with her own points, with details on each assertion here:
1. The early childhood PMF does not require any new tests or testing of preschool or early elementary students,
2. The early childhood PMF does not require pencil and paper tests for young children,
3. The early childhood PMF does not establish high-stakes testing for young children,
4. The early childhood PMF does not evaluate schools based solely on assessment, and
5. The early childhood PMF recognizes the critical importance of social-emotional development.
Ms. Chandler does point out that the 26 schools involved in the pilot of the Early Childhood PMF generally like the new tool. At the same time, however, she reveals that there is now a petition with 200 parent names calling for the PMF to place more weight on social and emotional growth. It seems that Shining Stars Montessori Academy, which participated in the task force that developed the tool, has a particular problem with it since I’ve heard from school representatives twice now opposing the plan.
It should be a lively meeting when the PCSB votes on the policy in September.