testing

HB1490 is a first step towards reclaiming local control of education. Unfortunately it did not do away with standardized testing so districts will be giving the SBAC tests next spring (2015). They will be referred to as pilot tests. These are tests that have no validity or reliability data to prove that they measure what they claim to measure. The developers are just now trying to figure out cut scores for proficiency by asking teachers to give their opinion on where it should be set. Sounds real scientific. If Missouri is developing its own standards and now, by law, must have a new test aligned to those standards, the SBAC tests will not be with us long which is even more reason why taking these pilot tests a waste of your child’s time. Maybe it’s time to fill out an Opt Out form and submit it to your child’s school along with all the other forms they want you to fill out.

The ACLU was looking into mounting a legal challenge to forced standardized testing in 2012. They were looking for parents whose children received a penalty/threats for opting out of testing. I couldn’t find an update on where they are, but if you want to participate in the complaint they asked you to send the following:

  • your story
  • permission to join in on the ACLU complaint
  • your return address
  • a signature on a hard copy

Submit to: Nina Bishop, 3065 Windward Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80917
Questions: 719-233-1508

Last year was the first year that parents tried in earnest to opt out of testing so it seems reasonable that there weren’t that many threats before 2013. However, thirty thousand parents did opt their kids out of the New York tests this spring and none of those kids were expelled or suspended.

That’s not to say the picture is all rosy. There are plenty of schools that are attempting to  intimidate parents into submitting their kids to testing by threatening to have the student removed from campus by law enforcement if they are there during testing, or basically refusing to provide the education mandated by state law if they remain in school during testing. You can find plenty of such stories here.

Jeff Bryant wrote on OurFuture.org “Why We Need A Moratorium On The High Stakes Of Common Core Testing” about the insanity surrounding high stakes testing.

Last week, a CBS outlet in upstate New York reported that a “4th grader, hooked to medical machines and IV’s, undergoing pre-brain surgery screening was asked to take a New York State test from his hospital bed.”

The boy has “life-threatening epilepsy” and, according to his mom, was “hooked up to an EEG . . . an IV in his hand and he’s wearing a pulse oximeter in case something happens with his oxygen levels.” Nevertheless, a teacher was dispatched by the state to administer the test.

New York State’s test obsession was perhaps an attempt to outdo Florida where, last month, a local reporter in that state noticed that the state was determined to get a test score from a 9-year-old boy who “has never attended school . . . . was born premature at four pounds with only a brain stem and can’t speak or see.”

Stories like these uncover the lie of high stakes testing, that it is in the best interest of the child. It is in the best interest of the companies who sell the tests and it is forced on the schools through federal and state accountability models which practically mandate 95% participation in testing.

The opt out movement is growing in response to experiences like those mentioned above. Parents know that the tests do nothing for their children except add stress and take away instruction time. You can check on what is happening nationally on opting out in a number of places.  Opt Out of the State Tests which is part of United Opt Out where Missouri is covered under their Region 2 led by Tim Slekar and Peggy Robertson.  Region 2 covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota. There is also a Facebook page for Missouri Op Out.

You can also look at Fairtest.org which has a great FAQs page here that I highly recommend you read.

And of course we have our own forms for opting out of testing in Missouri on the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core Resources/Documents tab at the top of the list. The document contains an opt out form and support documentation citing legal precedent for the rights of the parent to direct their child’s education.

This is a David and Goliath battle. The testing companies want our money and have a lot of people bamboozled into thinking that a single snap shot test is an accurate measure of what your child knows and how well his/her teacher is teaching. They sell it for “accountability.” Can’t have education professionals just doing whatever they want in their classroom. But education journalist Sam Chaltain observed that there is a “growing willingness to publicly acknowledge . . . that tests do not align well with the latest research into how people learn; that they prevent adults from measuring higher-level thinking in children; and, most importantly, that there are better ways to evaluate student learning and growth.” The SBAC test, because it is adaptive, in fact will mostly tell you what your child doesn’t know. And the little known secret is that the test is designed to fail the majority of the kids. This does not lead to learning or improvement. Many students and teachers will become demoralized.

So help your teachers out. Free them from having to teach to the test by refusing the test. Let them know that you have confidence in their ability to assess your child’s level of learning and to use their professional expertise to adjust their teaching to meet his needs without waiting for a print out from Pearson or CTB/McGraw-Hill.

 

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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