Why I’m Not Opting Out

Katie Taylor is a recently renewed NBCT (AYA/ELA) and serves as the Deputy Director for the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession. The views represented in the blog post are her own and not representative of the organization for which she works.

 

Why I’m Not Opting Out

My third grade daughter came home from school on Tuesday, “too pooped to practice.” This is unusual for her, because rain or shine she cannot wait for Tuesdays and Thursdays because those are “soccer practice days.” She wasn’t ill, the weather was perfect for practice, so what gives?

Tuesday was SBAC testing, the third one so far in the last two weeks. When I sought the source of her exhaustion, I calculated that excluding stretch and snack breaks, recess and lunch, 4.5 hours of her 6.5-hour school day was spent testing.

4.5 hours in front of a screen, taking a test. Looking at her face, my mother bear instinct kicked in and I thought,  “I’m not having her go through this again” despite the fact that she still has at least two more days of testing to go.

And yet, after thinking it over, I decided not to opt her out of the rest of her tests.

I’ve been an educator for 18 years, a National Board Certified Teacher for 10, and a parent for 11 years. As an educator with children in public school, it is sometimes difficult to find the line between when I am engaging as an educator and when I am engaging as a parent. This year of testing has been particularly hard from both stances.

As a parent I am tempted to excuse her from testing, the educator in me knows the undue burden it would do to the other children, teachers and administrators at her school. Her discomfort was for a day, and no more than 5-7 partial days in one month. The pain inflicted on teachers and schools for low participation and low-test scores lasts entire school years.

I believe the solution lies in removing the punitive nature of what the test scores mean for schools in terms of resources and performance evaluations. I do not believe that my pulling my daughter out of school during the state tests accomplishes that. Being part of public education is being a part of a collective community, and I fully recognize that there are parts of her community that do not have the luxury of opting their children out for a myriad of reasons. For many of these families, the high-stakes tests are even more high-stakes since it’s many of these children’s scores on which resource allocation decisions are made.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like how much my children are tested, but I also don’t have any interest in returning to a time when it was okay to ignore the opportunity gap. Her teacher doesn’t want to spend his time testing, nor does her principal and I won’t affect a change in that outcome by having my daughter miss testing days.

As an educator and as a parent, I can make a change by being active in policy conversations and using my voice to change current and future testing practices.

As a parent, I can do what I did this week – listen to my daughter’s concern, tell her I’m proud of her perseverance and that all I want is for her to do her best, and then take her out for ice cream and tuck her in bed early with a good book.

39 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Opting Out

  1. Brenda Woods Stingily on Facebook

    “As an educator and as a parent, I can make a change by being active in policy conversations and using my voice to change current and future testing practices.” Thank you! This is “Right On!” We are all part of a collective community- and your words spoke truth. As an educator and parent also, I applaud your words and action.

  2. T.J. Purdy

    Well said, Katie. I’ve also wrestled with this conversation and appreciate your perspective.

  3. Sarah Nainby

    Thanks for this Katie. It was really helpful and echoes a similar sentiment I am feeling. The action we take must affect the change we want, not just dig us into the mud deeper.

  4. Dr. Judith Serrano

    I salute you for the following statement in your above blog post: “As an educator and as a parent, I can make a change by being active in policy conversations and using my voice to change current and future testing practices.” We need more parents such as yourself who can be active in policy conversations and use their voices to help create change. However, I believe that the for a third grader to spend 4.5 hours of one school day in front of a computer screen taking unnecessary tests that will not in any way shape or form provide her or others any benefit is just plain child abuse and WRONG! Even if you believe your child to be resilient, at the very least, as an “informed parent”, you could have modeled for other parents that “opting out” of something that could be harmful to children, and at the very least is of no benefit and causes great disruptions to school resources and routines, is a RIGHT that all parents have. At my school, teachers are not allowed to talk about the option of “opting out” with parents. I am very proud of a teacher at my school who has opted his child out of testing, showing other parents that it is an option. As educators we need to work to help others understand what is happening in education and stand up for what is right for our children. We should NOT be held hostage to do things that are harmful to children as we wait for things to change . . .

    1. Mark Gardner

      Dr. Serrano, when you write “at the very least, as an ‘informed parent’, you could have modeled for other parents that ‘opting out’ of something that could be harmful to children, and at the very least is of no benefit and causes great disruptions to school resources and routines, is a RIGHT that all parents have,” I am very confused, and hope that you didn’t mean for it to come across the way I read it.

      You imply (1) being informed = opting out…and that any informed person would choose to opt out and thus not opting out means one is uninformed, and (2) that by not opting out, Katie is somehow not modeling the exercise of her rights as a parent. The implication seems to be that the only rights that matter are those that are exercised by an opt-out…and a parent’s choice not to opt out is somehow not also a right. She has fully exercised her right, and is under no obligation to model anything for other parents. Significantly, though, I do see her modeling one thing: awareness of the impact that the opt out has on the school which, through no fault of its own, is presently held to unrealistic and ridiculous requirements tied directly to testing. Opting out doesn’t hurt the feds or the people who made the ridiculous rules, but until those rules get changed, the opt out sure could hurt her daughter’s school.

      If a parent has the RIGHT to opt out, doesn’t that mean they can also exercise the right to do the opposite? I feel like your criticism of her decision is unfair. I feel like you are basically saying that the only appropriate exercise of a parent’s right is to opt out. The way I see it, she’s chosen a different battle in the war upon testing. You might choose to opt out, she chooses to fight testing through other means of advocacy. Does it have to be “all or nothing”? Cannot both pathways contribute to meaningful change? I think they can, but if we jab at one another for choosing a different approach, we end up splintering our influence…and then nothing changes.

      1. Judy Serrano

        My remarks were not intended to infringe on Katie’s options, nor “jab” at her—-I know she has the right to opt in, and I know that there are different ways to advocate. My understanding of her blog post (and I am sure you will correct me if I am incorrect) is that she understood how miserable her third grade daughter was and had wanted to opt her out, but made the decision, which of course was her right to make, for her to continue suffering through unnecessary tests because of her fear of what the repercussions would be for her school. I believe that these repercussions are part of the “cool aid” that Linda Myrick refers to in her comment below. Working in a high poverty school ( over 90% free and reduced lunch) I know many children’s parents are not as fortunate as Katie and have been denied the right to “opt” their children out of testing because they have not been informed of that right. Children of poverty, special needs children and English Language Learners are the children most hurt by thus testing craze and it is parents who are informed, who will have to stand up for those children as teachers are not permitted to do so. I understand that Katie has decided to advocate in another way. I just want to say that think she missed an opportunity to help children.

        1. Mark Gardner

          Ok. That’s what I hoped. It is important, then, to acknowledge that those who only protest the tests by opting out are likewise missing opportunities to help children, when they should also be talking to policymakers, educating other parents in other ways, testifying in front of the legislature, and seeking to influence policy at the federal level.

          1. Michele R.

            I totally appreciate what you are saying but I hope you are aware that many of us who are choosing to refuse are ALSO calling our legislators, helping to educate other parents and using other ways to get out voices heard. Refusing is simply one method of getting noticed. There is very little evidence that large refusal numbers will result in negative consequences for schools, especially for those in states who have NCLB waivers.

  5. Linda Myrick

    Someday, I believe this machine will be dismantled and we will look back at this period as tolerant of abuse of our children in service to institutions, unreasonable government directives, unfair laws, corporate influence run amok. Those drawing parallels to previous violations of civil rights throughout history have been called hyperbolic, but I believe we are obliged to refuse this abuse of our children in the service of corporate profit and data mining. This is not about ignoring the opportunity gap. That’s the kool-aid talking.

    1. Mark

      I’m curious, Linda: what would you say to a parent like Katie to help her change her mind? Accusing a parent of drinking the kool aid doesn’t enlist allies.

      I mean that out of respect for discourse. To change people’s minds we need to meet them where they are and help them see how to move, not belittle their stance.

      1. Carlee

        I don’t think we have a stake in trying to change the minds of others. It is important to have correct knowledge of these tests, including how useful they are to parents (not at all), teachers (not at all), administration (data with lots of caveats), and the creators (tons of $$$$).

      2. Linda Myrick

        Mark and Katie, I don’t mean to belittle. I don’t think there’s any chance of moving Katie. Katie, you seem to have firmly planted yourself in the camp of those who feel that compliance with the rules is the way to go, and you will comply while working within the system to change the rules. I feel that children are suffering as we parents, teachers, and administrators allow this abuse to continue. I disagree with the notion that these tests are necessary to show us “the opportunity gap.” Tests show us what they’ve always shown us. Kids with access to resources do better. These new tests—SBAC—are not vetted (so, using our kids as free guinea pigs), developmentally inappropriate, a huge time suck, expensive, and divert tech resources away from worthy educational projects. I am just now seeing that Katie replied below to several comments. Thank you, Katie, for engaging in the dialogue. I will make just one other comment regarding your reply, and that is that no child should be told to stay home on testing day. It’s our job to provide 180 days of instruction. We need to provide an alternative for students who opt out. What is our purpose as educators?

        1. Mark Gardner

          Despite what it might seem in our interactions here and on other posts, Lynda, I agree with 99.5% of your points. I see that you are an incredibly passionate advocate for kids, that is why I wanted to point out the sense of belittling—this kind of forum is difficult since we don’t get to read one another’s tone, etc. The theme is all the same: frustration with the system as it is and frustration with finding the right way to respond.

      3. Bonnie

        I believe the “kool aid” response was to those who have been trying to convince us all that refusing the tests will harm the schools and that politicians and their corporate lobbyists have the best interests of our children in mind.

  6. Katie Taylor

    I appreciate the dialogue and the concern about the current state of education, and presume positive intent in the concern Dr Serrano expresses for children in her reply. To the extent that we recognize that education is a civil right, and we are in a critical time in education Lynda – I also agree.

    While I do not agree with the characterization the testing as abuse, I do understand that the conditions were difficult not just for my child, but for all involved in testing. There is an amazing and pervasive resilience in the students, teachers, principals and district administrators who are charged with the hard work of educating all students no matter what legislative and political pressures are placed upon them from the outside.

    And, while I do recognize that parents can (and many have) opt their children out of testing I also want to recognize that this choice while available is not possible all families – many parents have jobs they cannot leave and some cannot be sure that their children will have a safe place to go if they aren’t at school. I believe each parent strives to do the best they can by their child in the way that they can, which is why I elected to share my decision but not condemn others for theirs. I agree with Mark, let’s meet them where they are and engage them and help them in their work to improve outcomes for their children.

    I had the opportunity to take my children to see the play Robin Hood tonight, and we had a great conversation on the way home about when it is ok to break the rules. Social justice conversations are important to have with our children, and within our system of education. I wish I could say that testing was an isolated example of where we are not doing right by all of our students, but unfortunately there are many examples of inequities in the other 170 days when students aren’t being tested. I invite and hope parents will be a part of standing up for the needs of their own children, and also will stand up for the needs of their children’s classmates, and their children’s teachers too. Maybe we could even stand up for children in the school across town where the needs and context might be vastly different than the one our children experience.

    Thankfully, dialogue like this helps us to focus on what stand for and maybe invites us to consider ways to make productive and lasting change. At the very least, we recognize and honor that we could do a lot better job of making sure that all children’s needs are being served, and when we start at that place, I believe we inch closer to engaging in dialogue and action that will address the opportunity gap.

    1. Judith Martin

      Katie Taylor – since the children who opt out are still at school, parents who work should have no problem with opting their kids out, also. The kids don’t just stay home or have to go home; they still have an entire day of school, as usual. At our school, the opt-out kids could read at their desks. Some forward-thinking schools have a separate place for the kids to go where they can read or do other work.

      I also want to add this: you and others are talking all about changing the system through slow processes. We have already done those – forums, FB groups, conversations with administrators, etc. Unfortunately, no one has listened and we now are forced to employ civil disobedience such as refusing the tests. And we need to move as quickly as possible because: WE HAVE AN ENTIRE GRNERATION OF KIDS WHO ARE BEING CHEATED OUT OF A GOOD EDUCATION. Their lives in education lasts a short 12-13 years in public school. If they miss out on this vital quality education base, they are going to be struggling their entire lives.

      These tests have no purpose – they ARE child abuse – and they are being used against teachers. There is no good reason to take these tests. The only entity who profits from these tests is Pearson. I also believe in perseverance and building a work ethic and stamina in our children – I was known for my high expectations and quality work I expected from my kids. But these tests, and the inordinate amount of class time wasted on prepping, preparing, giving, and scoring these tests is completely wrong. Perseverance is great, IF it is at an appropriate level for the children’s developmental levels. These tests do no such thing. It would be like asking me, as a teacher, to perform some steps required for doing surgery. No earthly way I can do that. Same with the state tests.

    2. Bonnie

      I work as well. I refused the tests for my daughter. She was under no obligation to take them. She attended school that day as refusing the tests is not an excused absence. She read a book during the test at her school.

  7. Roy Frady, MAT-Secondary Math and Science

    Katie,

    I don’t think removing the punitive nature of the assessments will change the fact that they are developmentally inappropriate. I refused to let my son take the tests, not because he would perform poorly, he is in the gifted program, but because they have no developmental value. They are neither formative nor summative and even Pearson has said they don’t necessarily evaluate what they say they do. They are not valid nor are they reliable for testing the content they say they are supposed to. That assumes there is content in the common core we are forced to regurgitate. I balk at the data collection that they are forced to endure and which sticks with them the rest of their lives. I detest the fact that learning is sacrificed on the altar of standardized testing.

    Mark Gardner, your feigning offense for what Dr. Serrano said is out of line and does not contribute to the conversation constructively. I wholeheartedly agree with her remarks. The more I dig into the CCSS and standardized tests in the development of my dissertation, the more I feel this is a horrendous joke played on the American people. One that we will eventually wake up from.

    As far as the results go, since the cut scores are set after the grading is done, they are not being assessed to an objective standard, but rather a purely subjective one that is arbitrarily set. As a result, 95% of SPED students, 90% of ELL students and 80-90% of the minority and at-risk student populations will fail. 60-70% of mainstream students will fail. So far this has led to the closure of some 40 low-income, low performing schools across the Northeast. The taxpayer funded school buildings are being turned into private schools at taxpayer expense. Guess what, these same low performing students in the most at risk populations now have to be bused for extended distances to schools that will also not meet their needs for the same exact reason. The data from these exams is what shut down those schools.

    Here, we have teachers lying to students to get them to take the tests. They tell them that if they don’t take the test, she will be fired, they will close the school, and they won’t graduate or be able to go to college. This has to stop. This is emotional manipulation and coercion. It places an immense burden on the student and in and of itself is abuse.

    I applaud your exercising your right to have your child continue to take the test despite your observations and knowing what you know about the tests. You exercised your right to choose and that is what I am advocating for all parents…that they become informed and that they have the right to refuse the test for their child, without repercussions.

    1. Mark Gardner

      Hi Roy: It wasn’t feigning. It was giving her an opportunity to clarify, which she did. That’s what reasoned discourse is about. Your last paragraph is the sentiment I did not see in her original post, the acknowledgement that rights can be exercised in multiple ways. In her follow up above, she clarified that, and I’m satisfied at her intentions and message. In contrast to the premise that questioning the tone and intention of a post in this kind of forum is ‘out of line,’ it is in fact necessary, as this kind of asynchronous conversation erases all those cues we rely upon in face-to-face interactions.

      Also, your paragraph that details how 40 schools were closed because of test scores… That is exactly why parents like Katie make the decision not to opt out. The opt out counts negatively and (as your evidence points out) can lead to closure of schools and additional undue burden to those already in challenging situations.

      I do agree that teachers shouldn’t use emotional manipulation to influence a choice to opt out. Teachers in Atlanta also shouldn’t have changed test scores. The motivation is the same: our system threatens teachers and schools if the scores aren’t high enough. Under such threats, sometimes people make poor choices.

      Not for Roy, but in general: I’d bet that everyone in this thread agrees that the tests need to go away and strings tied to assessment scores need to be cut. Perhaps we disagree on how to achieve that, but I think we’d get the whole movement further by trying to understand all the possible ways that this movement can be achieved rather than assuming that the opt out is the only way.

    2. Bonnie

      Thank you! I would love to read your dissertation when you have completed your work.

  8. Carlee

    As a mother and a teacher I believe that no child should be subjected to hours of testing that only assesses one aspect of their capabilities…that being taking standardized tests that are ambiguous, have hidden prompts, are designed for failure, and are not formative except on a very general level.

  9. Veronica

    To think it is ok for your child to be “in discomfort” for only 5-7 day is a bit concerning, I chose NOT to have my daughter in discomfort….whenever I can. I used to believe these tests were important as well. “They need to be able to take tests, we need to know what they have learned” then I dove into the belly of this testing mess. Then I started teaching ESE students. Then I gave birth to an “average” child. My son is gifted, never met a standardized test he couldn’t ace. 5/5 on all Florida tests….I dare say, boast ability! Then my daughter came. She could stare out the window at a butterfly for an hour straight…by the way, if it is during test time the teacher can’t put her back on track…how does that help? How does that assess?

    Then I began teaching students that WERE making gains, just not as fast as others would like. Giving them a grade level test destroyed all the work I did for a YEAR! You go take Japanese in school for a year and then take a test on a fourth year Japanese test….how are you doing? Give up yet? Feel stupid yet?

    My school just spent THREE weeks of academic time testing…oh, there is more to come, and we won’t get results for most of them from the state until DECEMBER…let that one sink in. How does that HELP a student? How does that help a teacher? Heck, teachers can’t even LOOK at the tests for fear of losing their teaching certificates. That is not education.

    This is a money making scheme for Pearson publishing and their ilk. That is all. Under the guise of “fixing” education. Education is NOT broken in this country. Poverty is the largest issue facing our country today. Pearson can’t make money off of poverty…they can make money off of testing programs, testing prep, testing books…..the list is endless….go look in a store…
    My daughter took her SATs yesterday. For college. Know what. To get into COLLEGE the test lasted 3 1/2 hours. That’s it. One day. Less than four hours. Know what? Her results will be available May 21. We can review and remediate if needed. TWO weeks to find out, that is all.

    The only thing our country hears is money…when we hit them in the pocket they will pay attention. My daughter is NOT Pearson’s Guinea pig. I will not be part of a system designed to make others rich at the expense of MY child…and others if they will listen. Civil disobedience is the only way they listen…

  10. Ruth Rodriguez

    When I was hired as a Kindergarten teacher, I signed a contract that included the clause that as a teacher of the state of MA I was mandated by law to report any sign of abuse and\or neglect , Should a child under my tutorage suffer harm and I failed to report such, I could have been liable under the law.

    Here is my dilemma, the American Psyhological Association as well as early education experts in child development have established that the present testing measures forced on the public school children are harmful, bordering on child abuse. The challenge for teachers is who do teachers report this abuse when its coming from the state?

  11. Darcey Addo

    As a fellow educator I am embarrassed by the premise that the response to this little girl’s experience of in 4.5 hours of screen time and sheer exhaustion should be pride and an ice cream cone!

    “I believe the solution lies in removing the punitive nature of what the test scores mean for schools in terms of resources and performance evaluations.”
    I would say thats a fairly reasonable statement (albeit limited in understanding of the problems associated with HST and CCSS). Then I ask: how will compliance with the system that demands the punitive use of the scores impact change?

    We are all either part of the problem or we’re part of the solution.

    1. Mark Gardner

      With all due respect, Darcey, the whole “part of the problem or part of the solution” reduction of thinking does more harm than good. There is more than one way to be part of the solution. Have you testified in front of the legislature or secured positions at the federal level that have actually resulted in changes in federal positioning on some testing related issues? Those are also part of the solution, and are things that are “mak[ing] a change by being active in policy conversations and using [parent] voice to change current and future testing practice,” as Katie points out. Those are things parents like Katie do in fact do…and ways I know that Katie has sought to make change.

      There is a whole spectrum of engagement in this issue, from the parent who speaks out among friends to the parent to testifies before policymakers. To say that one is “with us” and one is “against us” oversimplifies the way to achieve a solution. All are necessary.

  12. Kelly Vallette

    This mom and teacher obviously does not live in New York where being part of the
    “educational policy conversation” is a moot point because, despite our rallies and phone calls and emails and faxes and protests and town meetings and test refusals, our representative government leaders do not represent us voters, they represent themselves and their corporate sponsors. This very poignant drivel sounds great, but falls short for anyone actually fighting for change and being shown over and over that our opinions, needs, children, votes, don’t matter.

  13. Holly

    She might not feel this way if she educated herself. The laws are not created by us anymore, they are proposed by corporations. I suggest she start by googling ALEC and start reading Diane Ravitch’s blog.
    And WHEN you all decide to refuse the tests, explain to them WHY you are doing it. Use examples of Rosa Parks, the Nazis, the Boston Tea Party, etc .

  14. Robert Ciani

    What is lost in this article are the countless hours of classroom time dedicated to test prep. Test prep, of course, being generalization of language, so that students will understand the 17 different ways the test may ask the student to identify main idea or theme. Many parents who elect to opt-out aren’t solely concerned with the tests themselves (though that is part of it), but the deleterious effects this test culture has had upon the classroom instruction. The policies attached to testing results, are used to take schools away from communities and give them, through receivership laws, to corporations. I have yet to see the law that says when the corporation fails that the school’s ae returned to the public. Why would any parent want to yield control over their own child or a resident give up involvement in their own community?
    Lastly, we know what schools are struggling and have for years… What is lacking is the desire to give those communities the resources to combat the effects of poverty. It is easier to pass a law that make corporations a cool dime, than to tax those wealthy individuals.

  15. Annette

    I have some sad news for anyone who believes that legislators will remove the punitive nature of tests anytime soon. While I do encourage citizens to continue writing their legislators, the reality is that there is a plan in place in this country to dismantle public education, and high stakes testing is part of that plan. After being a teacher and education activist for over 30 years, I do not believe that anything we do now except for ACTION will change the current state of affairs when it comes to testing. The only way to stop the testing nightmare is to have huge numbers of parents opt their children out and refuse to give lawmakers the data they seek.

    While you are waiting for all of this to “go away,” a generation of children (or more) will be lost. Teachers will be continue to be fired and schools will continue to be be shut down based on test scores. Some public districts will be privatized.

    I would love for you to update this post in three years (after you have used your voice to advocate for change) to see how you feel then.

    I have been using my voice for over 30 years and I have accomplished nothing except for talking to the wall.

    ACTIONS speak louder than words. Always.

  16. vsd

    While I can sympathize with Me. Taylor’s perspective, I disagree. I have been active in this movement for close to 3 years, during which time I have written countless letters, made phone calls and met with my local legislators. I was convinced that our voices would be heard. Sadly I was dead wrong. With close to 200,000 refusals in NYS, legislators are beginning to understand that parents are serious about our significant concerns regarding the recent “reforms”. I am not refusing because the tests are “hard”, though they are meaningless. I am refusing because it is another means of expressing my opposition to common core and the ridiculous philosophy that learning may be captured in a bubble. I am refusing because i want my children to have a well rounded and excellent education that goes beyond ELA and math. Science and history are merely an afterthought in many classrooms, to say nothing of the arts and languages. My daughter is resilient; while the tests are long and tedious, she will recover. We cannot get back the wasted years spent in test prep, and THAT is why I refuse.

  17. jesse

    Until high stakes is outlawed we will be losing teachers and schools at a breakneck pace. Loss of free education for the poor will only displace these children to the eventual move to YOUR. District and the rule of free market “monopoly” will begin again until YOUR community is without. My research shows only 2 politicians and 2 superintendents that have the guts to stand up and resist. If you think hundreds of thousands of us like being aske to choose being a teacher or a child advocate, of course it’s a disgusting question. Don’t be on the wrong side. You will be defamed when journalists become educated across the country. It is a truly educational movement to stop the loss of autonomy and refuse the exploitation of our beloved children! If you think an old “opportunity gap” is an excuse what about reform rhetoric and grad school textbook propaganda that insults teachers ability to be critical thinkers. That’s right. What I i told you the “opportunity gap” was propaganda to push privatization and corporate control. Corporate leaders say “if there is a problem get rid of it”. Education is an inherently charitable organization incompatible with free market rhetoric!! I shall pray every night for people in your position that you come to understand. My view was anti high stakes before I lost my job to it. That’s right FEDERAL DIRECT CONTROL is forcing the loss of spanish,(me), music, art etc. DO SOME RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SPEAK!

    1. Mark Gardner

      Hi Jesse, many of us (I’m one of the writers on this group blog) here have passionate opinions, but one of the norms we try to maintain is civility in tone. Sometimes we edge too close to the line, sometimes we cross it and need to refocus. In order for discourse to be productive, it’s important that it stays respectful of divergent opinions. I don’t think you meant disrespect, but the closing line of your reply does come off that way. People can share their opinions based upon the research of their own experience, just as you share your own experience. Your perspectives and opinions are as important to the conversation as Katie’s are, but as our broken political system models for us, the art of reasoned conversation is lost on many. Shouting down one another to be quiet isn’t a solution.

  18. Jennifer

    With respect, I do not believe that this sentiment considers the needs of the overwhelming number of children who are truly ‘too pooped to practice’ every other day of the school year. These are the children who jump into their parents’ arms crying at the end of the school day. They cannot keep up with the rest of the class. ‘Rigor’ does not work for them, and they are being left behind. They experience more ‘grit’ than the other children, and they do not deserve to be tortured by the lack of value in reforms written by non educators and forced by academic leaders. I am proud of all parents, whether they decided to go with the flow or whether they made the difficult decision to go against authority in order to change our schools for the betterment of all children; those who are good test takers, and those who aren’t. I teach my two to listen to authority, but I also teach them not to ‘jump off the Brooklyn Bridge,’ even if it is a person of authority demanding that they do so. If the tests are meaningless, then they learn at home with their educator mom until the powers that be can come up with a better plan. Even if they do well with the changes, if it isn’t in their best interest and does not prepare them well, I will demand better for them. I give all of our kids a huge high five for putting up with this change in the system, though. I hope that it all improves for them.

  19. PD

    I refused the tests, the testing culture is absolutely out of control and interferes with actual educaton. My child is a higher acheiver, the school wants her scores badly, but I refuse to let them have that data. I did allow my child to take the practice tests due to child’s curiosity. They actually corrected the computerized practice math test in class. My child, that always has an A or B in math, scored a 77%. Will that be enough for a proficient on the test? Based on traditional scoring, it would be a C, so sure. BUT this isn’t traditional scoring, that score may be Below Proficient….and that’s the game. Hope the writer’s child scores well enough to help keep the funding coming….but low test scores also affect that funding.

  20. Mitch

    it would be nice to be transparent about the funding your organization receives from the Gates Foundation, and what effect that funding might have on your position on standardized testing.

  21. Ruth Rodriguez

    I don’t remember the title or the author of a book I read when I was in middle school over 40 years ago; but a lingering image of the book of an Armenian family clinging and hugging their children on the side of the road waiting for the van that would take them to the Nazis death camp is haunting. A comment on the book was, “how can there be such astrocities take place anywhere without massive outrage?” The fact that the Nazi atrocities, when it began, did not have the resistance that would have saved millions of youth, is a question that have been posed worldwide with a sense of regrets. Some of you may think I am stretching by this comparison, but after having a conversation with a Juvenile Court Judge, who found that since the imposition of the high stake tests, he has seen an increase in the number of youth before his court, mostly Black an Brown, and over 90% of these youths had failed the Test, and denied a high school diploma. Then, we have a for profit prisons system that is using our Black, Brown and poor children of the public schools to fill their prison. This also led an unscrupolous juvenile court judge in Pennsylvania to take bribes from the prison system for every student he refered to prison, students who were sent before his court for minor infractions previously dealt within the schools, and as we have learned many have failed the test. The reason I make the comparison is because what we are witnessing today is widespread abuse imposed by the government to deny children in the public school the right to a future, what is going on is a goverment that is suppose to protect our children , but are the carrier of the abuse.

  22. Teacher 2

    This perspective places the system’s needs and peace-keeping above the needs and well being of not just her one child, but all the children at all the grade levels. This choice basically says it is ok to put kids through the wringer for a few days, to placate a system of adult relationships and pursuits (business and industry in and around education).

    Her statements make it sound as if the trade off is similar to vaccination, and it is most definitely not comparable.

    Testing has been shown over and over to do nothing to address opportunity gaps. Research by the most reputable institutions of high education in our nation and around the world upholds that annual standardized testing does nothing more than prove that gap is real, and results are overwhelmingly predicated on income.

    Add to this that teachers are leaving schools in high poverty areas, because they know the results are about poverty not about teaching, and you are left with poor schools where no one wants to teach. At least, no one who can find a position in a more affluent school. Or, a different industry. I teach because I wanted to make a difference, after much success. But, every year I think about getting out. This brain drain serves to increase, not reduce, the gap.

    Finally, this isn’t about the testing days alone, it is about how we teach, and are allowed to teach, everyday. Both of my own children are excellent readers and writers. My daughter wants to be a writer. They both hate Language Arts. It is formulaic and uninteresting. There is little passion for it on the part of the teachers or the students, because it is just about getting better scores. That isn’t learning. Robots could take the place of both the kids and the teachers, in a truly standardized class. How dystopian of Pearson and Arne Duncan!

    This issue is decidedly not about one kid taking one for the team on one day, as the author implies. The opportunity gap is not educational measles outbreak. The gap is a problem of poverty and it has and does exist in human society globally and across tIme. The SBAC is not going to fix it.

    And, there is absolutely an outbreak of justifying apathy among adults who do not want to rock the boat with their colleagues and bosses, and who throw their kids under the bus while turning a blind eye to the river of money that is being sucked out of schools and classrooms– increasing at an exponential rate the opportunity gap.

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