As the letter indicates, last year Change the Stakes worked with the DOE and the public to provide a FAQ page on opting out that many parents found very helpful. In the course of that process I supplied questions to Deputy Chancellor Suransky's office, but they also took questions directly from the public once the process was initiated. Please feel free to suggest to me any further questions you feel should be addressed now, and I will post any response I get from the DOE about how to proceed from here to create a useful ongoing resource for the public. (I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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March 3, 2014
Last year Mr. Suransky worked with us on an ongoing basis throughout the spring to develop and update the FAQ site. We submitted an initial list of basic questions, and then both we and his office added to those questions as new issues arose. Of course Mr. Suransky and his staff took our questions as drafts and often re-worded them to best suit DOE policies, but the results were I believe satisfactory and very useful to both parties, even though the relationship of Change the Stakes to an administration that was strongly pro-testing was essentially adversarial.
How does Chancellor Fariña plan to direct principals and superintendents to approach families who opt out of the state tests? Will these directives be shared with families so teachers, principals and parents alike know what to expect?
Do parents have the right to request a portfolio evaluation in place of the state ELA and math exams for the purposes of promotion? Can they request the teacher's judgement or report cards be used in place of standardized tests for this purpose?
What is the appeals process that families can use if they do not agree with a school's promotion decision? Can teachers appeal a promotion decision that runs counter to their judgment of what is in the best interests of the child?
What was the rationale for removing the promotion decision from the classroom teachers? Are there any plans to restore their traditional authority over this decision?
What is the timeline for promotion in June, promotion after summer school, and promotion appeals?
How are this spring's ELA and math exams going to figure in the evaluations of teachers and schools?
Can parents see the state tests after they have been administered? Is there any provision for parents to challenge their children's scores?
Given the widely acknowledged disjunction between the still-incomplete implementation of Common Core standards and this year's ELA and math exams, will the DOE direct middle and high schools to disregard state test scores in admissions?
Should parents be asked for permission for their children to participate in field testing? Are schools required to notify families ahead of time about the administration of these tests? What form will this communication take, and will all schools be expected to follow a similar procedure for notifying parents?
What measures generally can parents take to prevent their children's personal information from being given to InBloom or any other outside entities without their consent?
Will the DOE direct all principals in NYC that there are no restrictions on the right of parents and teachers to discuss freely with each other all aspects of educational philosophy, teaching methods, and state and local education policy, with no penalties for teachers or parents who express opinions contrary to those of school administrators, the DOE or the SED?