“Whatever test, the results need to be teacher, student and parent friendly. They should impact instruction and be understandable for parents and students,” Salazar added. “It should be like a cholesterol test, most of us don’t know the science but we do understand the results.”
end of update
One view comes from two Long Island superintendents with Long Island being the epicenter of opt-outs in NY state. It is thoughtful and cogent. From the Suffolk Times Review:
At first glance, the current, heated, conflict over state testing and the “opt-out” movement appears to be a dispute between those who believe in and those who dispute the value of state tests. But this conflict goes deeper. It is a conflict about what is good for children and adolescents, about how children learn and thrive, and about how to raise young people to enter into and contribute to their communities as mature members of a democratic society.
Those who support testing contend that facing tests, and the concomitant adversity that one might experience (even if the test is developmentally inappropriate) are a part of life. To do otherwise is considered weak, and represents a failure to develop the “grit” necessary to fully engage in life’s challenges. For these people, it is inconceivable that locally developed assessments — perhaps even more purposeful and useful assessments — could accomplish that very same goal. Living in a culture of fear as we do, many people believe that it is necessary to impose carefully guarded secret tests from above to make sure that we hold incompetent adults — untrustworthy teachers and administrators — accountable for the abject failure of some children who graduate from our public schools.
Then they get even more serious:
While not discarding other learning — the arts, science, history and other subjects — outright, self-appointed education reformers believe teachers and administrators must attend to the English and mathematics tasks above all else. They believe that education is about getting children ready for the world of work, few questions asked. To these reformers, children who go to public schools “live to work” as the saying goes, and ought to be educated to do so.
Many defenders of current state tests also find it morally reprehensible to break the rules, even if the rules support a broken system. To be an agent of change, and seek to be in favor of a better system is considered wrong and virtually un-American to these people. The system is what it is, and everyone should be quiet and obey the rules. Our founding fathers, who were patriots, would have had a hard time understanding why they risked their lives to establish our democracy if they believed that adherence to the official way of doing things could not be challenged. We would suspect that the likes of Washington, Franklin and Jefferson would do far more than simply opt-out of tests.
- Underlying the “opt-out” movement is the belief that there are many highly successful school systems around the state that have taught children to read, write and learn mathematics at the highest levels for decades, while also providing these children with serious exposure to science, history, various arts, athletics and a host of meaningful community experiences.
- Underlying the “opt-out” movement is recognition of the reality that helping poor children cannot be done by testing them.
- Underlying the “opt-out” movement is the belief that teachers by and large have contributed greatly to the high-level achievements of countless public school students.
- Underlying the “opt-out” movement is the belief that a simplistic and suffocating approach to improving education is bad for children — all of them.
Yes, everyone should have seen this coming. The avalanche of "opt-outs" should have been fairly easy to predict. Agitation, even outrage, about the so-called "Common Core" standards has been steadily building for years.
Yes, parents and students are within their rights to make this decision, but let's be clear: There could be harmful ramifications. Student progress — or lack thereof — has to be charted and tests are an important component of that. School districts face potential sanctions from the state Education Department if participation rates on the exams are low. And federal funding could be jeopardized as well.
I give them credit for recognizing - what Arne Duncan either won't or can't - that parents do have rights in the public education arena (there are quite a few legal rulings from the Supreme Court on this subject.)
But they get a bit off the rails here:
Nobody should be pleased with or advocating for anarchy. But it's also perfectly clear something is desperately wrong with the education system — that there is a profound disconnect between those who say the Common Core initiative is devastating and detrimental and those who defend at least the concepts, if not the rollout, of the changes.
Do they know what anarchy means? Shades of Princess Bride, I don't think so. Because I have not heard any parents say "overthrow public education." They are asking hard questions about one test.
But again, I give them credit for pointing out that disconnect.
Here's their final take:
The impetus that led to these curriculum and test changes must not be lost in the public furor or political battles over implementation. The education system has to emerge from this with improvements — but ones that have more administrators, teachers and parents on board and that are rolled out in a logical, manageable way.