Letter: Opt out of standardized tests
Great news! The Colorado Board of Education voted last month not to penalize our schools and school districts whose standardized-test-taking participation rates drop below the state’s preferred 95 percent threshold. Now there is nothing holding parents and students back from opting out of these ridiculous tests. Despite the coercion and hype, there is no way the districts can force your child to take these tests. They cannot disobey a parent’s request to opt out. Remember — you are the parent, and you know what’s best for your child. My daughter, an A-plus student, will not be taking the standardized Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test this month. The Opt Out movement is growing by leaps and bounds. If you truly care about your child and their education, you should opt your child out. Go to http://www.thecbe.org and click on the “Opt Out” link to find a letter to give to your school principal this week.
Opting out of the tests sends an important message of support for our local teachers, who are miserable (and powerless) under the weight of the oppressive teach-to-the-test state and district mandates. Opting out will send a clear message to the Aspen and Roaring Fork school administrators and school boards that you don’t want your child’s precious learning time and your hard-earned tax dollars wasted anymore.
The new test is simply a terribly conceived testing devise. You owe it to your child to look at the sample questions at http://practice.parcc.testnav.com/# (click on the “Test Preparation” link). Then, you decide if these test questions have any relation whatsoever to your child’s academic aptitude. The literacy tests are poorly worded and have ambiguous, multiple-choice answers concerning theme, setting and main idea. Story selections are placed on one side of the screen, and children have to scroll up and down the story to read the passage and attempt to locate the answers in the text. The math questions are equally awful. The third- through fifth-grade questions are answered via unnecessarily complicated, frustrating, three-part drop-down menus that small children have to navigate to answer basic arithmetic questions. One sample problem asks children to mind-numbingly click on 48 individual grid boxes to solve an equation. There are non-intuitive sidebars of symbols, and children are asked to solve the problem both numerically and by writing sentences to tell how they arrived at the answer. This writing portion isn’t even developmentally appropriate for younger children. The sixth- through eighth-grade sample questions are just as terrible.
These tests do not measure your child’s academic ability; their only result is to reduce your child to a cold, hard test-score number. The tests are given in March, and scores aren’t sent to parents and teachers until September, long after a child has exited the teacher’s classroom. The scorecards don’t give parents, students or teachers any helpful, actionable information such as, “This child is deficient in two-digit multiplication and subtraction of fractions.” When children see themselves reduced to a test-score number, it is demoralizing. Many Aspen and Roaring Fork school district parents have told me about their children being crushed by scores that are not in any way a reflection of the whole child, their intellect, their curiosity or their aspirations.
Review the test samples, discuss the tests with your child, get their opinion, and then ask yourself: Why are you personally allowing our district to waste precious instructional time on this nonsense? Opt out this week, and help get our schools back on the track of meaningful, inspiring instruction.
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