Friday, March 25, 2016

On Opting Out

Update 2: Useful chart from Ed Week on how each state does its testing.

end of update

 Update: Education Week is reporting that only 21 states are continuing on with Common Core tests (SBAC or PARCC.)

end of update

From Soup for Teachers' Facebook page;

Did you know that students in our district who opt out of standardized tests receive a zero rather than a more statistically accurate null score? Please join me in asking our board to make the change to a null score to increase the statistical accuracy of test scores in our district.

Dear Directors,
We are entering spring testing season, which for our family means Opt Out season. We choose to opt out daughters out of MAP and SBAC because we believe these high stakes tests are fundamentally damaging our schools. We believe these tests are harmful for students, especially those who are already most vulnerable because of learning and developmental disabilities, children from low income families and children who are English language learners. We also believe these tests carry a strong bias that benefits white children from higher socioeconomic groups. We question the value of these tests and question who benefits from them; certainly not the students and teachers. Finally, we believe these tests have brought a climate of fear to our schools, school communities and our district. 

I understand that the federal government requires that we test annually and I understand that our state has chosen the SBAC. I am also aware that at out district could join other school districts who have chosen to give students who do not take the test a null score rather than a zero. I am asking you to take this matter into consideration because I believe that a null score provides a statistically more accurate picture of of the test scores in our district. I believe that regardless of one's personal position on standardized testing, this is an area where we could reach a strong consensus. 

I am available to testify at a board meeting on the benefits of adopting a null score instead of our current practice of issuing students who do not take these tests zeros.
Thank you,
Shawna Murphy
Mother of 2 SPS students


But there is also this:
Sally McNair  
Hi Shawna, the zero is required for federal accountability purposes under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/Every Student Succeeds Act. It is not a state or district level decision. Unfortunately, about half of states require a high stakes test(s) to graduate, and WA is one of them. That is a state decision and not required by federal law. Because of the transition to the new test, it changes a bit for each class what they must do to meet their graduation requirements. Please consult this chart from OSPI to try and decipher: http://www.k12.wa.us/assessment/StateTesting/default.aspx

On the Families and Education Levy and their use of test scores for programs:

Shawna Murphy Just found out that you can request that the city not tie levy money to your test scores and instead request the use of classroom observations and other measures.

This is all information to look into because if some changes were made, the opt-out choice would not affect schools as much.

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