Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Testing News Nationwide

There have been a number of articles coming across my desk about opting out of standardized testing.

One group, that I believe I have mentioned before, is United Opt Out.  Their mission statement:

We opt out of high stakes testing and resist all market-based reforms seeking to privatize and destroy public education.

They have some great stories and resources at their website.  The resources include: template letter to opt-out, talking points, a Get Tough guide for statements from school officials that you are likely to run into should you want to opt your child out of testing, a parent flyer and much more.

The next story comes from NYC where students at the highly regarded Stuyvesant High School have boycotted tests to protest using them to evaluate their teachers.  From Gotham Schools:

This movement is meant to support Stuyvesant teachers in opposing an unfair teacher evaluation system,” Senior David Cahn wrote on the Facebook page he created to encourage other students to join in.

Students across the city are taking formal baseline tests this year in many subjects because of new teacher evaluation rules. The rules require teachers to be rated in part by how much their students improve over the course of the year, and schools are using tests this fall as the baseline for determining student proficiency at the beginning of the year.

On Facebook, students discussed a variety of ways to abstain from the tests, which were administered this morning. Some said they’d rather be working on their college applications; others suggested they’d take the test, but bomb it on purpose.

The tests weren’t required. A committee of teachers at Stuyvesant voted to administer the tests to get a baseline over using a combination of historical student data, including previous state test scores and report card grades.

From The Answer Sheet at The Washington Post, a story about top children's authors in the country, like Maya Angelou, Judy Blume and Jane Yolen, who sent a letter to the President to ask him to curb excessive standardized testing.  

We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.

There is also FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, another organization that supports opt-outs.   They list Opt-Out Facebook pages and other websites.   They also have this great presentation Q&A about the possible ramifications of opting-out from Yinzercation.  There is also The Bartleby Project (great name) that invites 60M students, "one by one, to peacefully refuse to take standardized tests.."

One opt-out letter from Education Roundtable:

My child was sobbing this evening, refusing to read a short sheet his teacher sent home, because, as he haltingly told me,  he had taken the NWEA “practice test” today and could not understand the “40 questions” after reading. I did not know how to comfort him. He asked me if there was any way he could stay home and not take any more tests.  My son has drunk the koolaid that these tests “measure his brain,” and he knows he doesn’t understand them, so he thinks his brain is not big enough.  My heart is broken.

I will no longer tolerate the anxiety these ridiculous legislatively-imposed measures have caused my son.  He has never, to my knowledge, been told the results of his testing, but he feels it in the environment of his school—his cherished school—the place he has come to love and a place he felt safe and loved.  Enough. 


mirmac1 said...

How about this one at the Nation, featuring our very own home-grown effort.

Anonymous said...

I am really skeptical about this MAP. My 1st grader did well last year in Kindergarten when he took the test in the Fall, but since then the MAP scores have been, well, all over the map! Not sure if he took the test in the Spring on a bad day but his percentile for reading dropped like 70 points between Fall and Spring. It is back up this year, but the whole thing is just weird.

-Skeptical Mom

Anonymous said...

I found this Word doc on a search over the weekend. It is an analysis of testing research found on the Scarsdale Schools server:

"Lack of Evidence for the State's Use of High-Stakes Testing"


Ann D.

Anonymous said...

There are no stakes. The child will never be held back for bad scores or promoted for good scores. Don't parents want to know where their kids stand? I sure as hell do. Thanks Gd for MAP or we dumb down our education system for good protecting teachers.