The BAS (Reading Assessment ) Special Update for K-3 Teachers

posted May 1, 2012

Spring Assessment for the BAS for all K-3 Teacher: DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald has just notified FEA that she intends to require a spring assessment of the BAS in DoDDS schools (FEA bargaining units in Europe/Pacific). FEA opposes this decision. We are issuing this special Update to explain why we believe her decision is not good for education or the DoDEA budget.

FEA Position: FEA agreed to pilot the BAS reading assessment in the fall and to survey members afterwards. K-3 teachers overwhelmingly felt that, while the assessment had merit, it was very time consuming to give. Many teachers felt they already knew the instructional information from using Reading Street. Teachers also were concerned that way too much time was lost during the first quarter of this school year. Teachers were pulled out for BAS training, along with trainings on math and social studies curricula. FEA believes that repeating this assessment the last five weeks of school will rob students of too much instructional time with their classroom teacher. FEA asked DoDEA not to interrupt the instructional time this late in the school year.

Meeting Management's Interest: FEA offered a compromise to the Director in order to meet her needs. FEA proposed that K-3 teachers only be required to give the "instructional level" of the BAS. This would minimize the testing time, and thus time out of the classroom. This meets all of management's interests. It provides Headquarters with the pre- and post- test data points they want for their national reports. It gives school CSI committees data points. It gives teachers instructional information for the last 5 weeks of schools. Also, based on Headquarters own charts, the independent level can be easily discerned to share with parents. DoDEA headquarters rejected this compromise.

A string of broken commitments: FEA is concerned about a series of broken promises. In August 2010, Mr. Charlie Toth, (retired Deputy Director) informed FEA that DoDEA wished to buy a system-wide reading assessment that teachers would have to administer individually to students. FEA asked that this decision be postponed for one year because DoDEA had just purchased a new reading curriculum. Teachers had not even been trained in Reading Street, and there was no way to know if a new test was needed, or if the built-in assessment could be used (saving millions of dollars). Also, after using a new curriculum for a year, teachers could best advise Headquarters on what outside assessment (if any) would best complement Reading Street's assessments. Mr. Toth rejected FEA's request. FEA went to Ms. Fitzgerald and she agreed not to convene a team to make this "assessment buy." Headquarters did not follow this directive and in October 2010, a TET was formed, flown to Peachtree City, Georgia, and made a recommendation to buy the BAS.

FEA went back to Ms. Fitzgerald and ask that instead of ordering nearly 2000 kits, that a small pilot be done with a few schools using the BAS and another select set of schools using the built-in Reading Street assessments to see which provided the most useful data. It could potentially save millions of Federal dollars. DoDEA agreed to the pilot. In February 2011, the Director told FEA that Headquarters personnel had ordered the nearly 2000 kits and she was forced to implement the program worldwide.

FEA asked that it only be done in the fall since there was extensive training going on this year for early childhood teachers and that we survey K-3 teachers to determine our next step. We surveyed over 600 educators and received a clear message about the BAS (the results will be in the May FEA Journal). The results were shared with the director.

Next steps: FEA worked hard on a compromise to meet all of DoDEA's interests without taking away nearly a week of instruction time at the end of the school year. The cost of implementing this program will exceed a million dollars. All of this is occurring while DoDEA talks about a budget crisis. DoDEA drastically cut the Transfer Program so that there were almost no moves for educators in Groups D and F. DoDEA continues to deny face-to-face training for teachers, including ESL teachers faced with new standards and assessments for the next school year.

FEA has notified Headquarters that we are at impasse in bargaining the implementation of the spring BAS. We have contacted the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to intervene. A meeting with the FMCS is expected this month. While employees should follow directives from their supervisor, we expect Headquarters to comply with Federal labor laws.

FEA appreciates the fact that DoDEA goes to the field and says the right words, but it is more important to return to Arlington and do the right thing.