Thursday, March 13, 2014

One Mom's No-Nonsense Attitude on Opting Out

As the nation gets into its standardized testing season, the number of parents, in districts throughout the nation, that are opting their children out is growing. 

In a story from Chalkbeat Colorado, one mom was very clear on her wishes for her daughter.  When the school ignored them - placing her daughter in an office with adults who were talking to her about the test and refusing to allow that child back in class AFTER testing was done - well, you watch the video.

It's funny because a letter sent out to superintendents that had a series of "misconceptions" seemed to also have its own problems.

Angela Engel, a former Colorado teacher is became an author and parent activist said this:

Parents are sick and tired of the commercialization of our child’s education,” Engel said, explaining just one of the many arguments of parents who want to opt-out their students. “They are not for profit. The policies around high-stakes testing is making a lot of money for the test publishers like Pearson. Kids don’t have lobbyists. It falls to the parents to protect their interest. Too many commercial interests including consultants, data managers and curriculum publishers are benefiting.” 

In the end, the district apologized to the parent and their assessment staff "received further clarification."  

A related story is what Denver students are saying via social media about the testing.  One high school tweeted the testing schedule which has a silver, black and blue day.  Black and blue, very telling.

The bottom line is you are supposed to do whatever you are told as a public school parent by your school, your district, your state. 

The REAL bottom line is you are the final voice on your child.   In my opinion, that parents are exercising this voice is all for the better. 


Anonymous said...

What is the policy in SPS for kids who are opted out? Do the kids get small-group time with the teacher or do they join another class? I'd like to opt out of spring MAP but don't know how. I'm also worried that the school would have my kid do nothing during the testing time.

-nw mom

Anonymous said...

If you wish to opt your child out of MAP testing, you simply email the principal and state your wish to opt out. Our middle school lets students sit in the library and read during testing. As long as your child is old enough sit quietly for an hour or so and read, draw, or do homework, then that's about all you can expect. It's really on the parents to make sure there is something to keep them occupied.

The Colorado article stated that about 1% opt out, and it doesn't surprise me that it's such a small number. It takes effort to opt out, and parents generally don't want to do anything that singles their children out.

opt outer

Anonymous said...

An article was just posted on the front of the WA Post via Slate that anyone interested in Opting Out needs to read. Fascinating insight into the tenacity it may take to do so.

I Opted My Kids Out of Standardized Tests...Then I Learned A Thing or Two


Anonymous said...

It should be noted that the Colorado testing is equivalent to the state MSP. MAP is something else altogether. Opting out of MAP is different than opting out of the MSP.

[MAP] opt outer

Anonymous said...

What about opting out of MSP? What' is the downside?


Anonymous said...

I opted out of Spring Reading Benchmark Assessments today (we get lots more tests than just MAP and MSP! My kid is sooo lucky).

Told them we would take MSP and math MAP (b/c of course placement issues), but weren't sure yet on reading MAP or math benchmark.

This blog has helped me define what I didn't like about the number and purpose of the standardized tests, and given me the tools and courage to opt out. Thank you, everyone.

Signed: trying

Anonymous said...

MSP is correlated to the state grade level standards and is used to evaluate schools. I believe it's now also included in 6th grade math placement (4th grade scores used for 6th grade math placement...).

MAP is not directly correlated to the state grade level standards. It assesses general math and reading achievement levels, and the content and sequence of tested material doesn't necessarily match the state standards. That doesn't make it good or bad, you just need to keep that in mind when analyzing scores. It is used to evaluate teachers, as well as for 6th grade math placement.

Both tests have upper limits. A student can get a perfect score on the MSP tests, while the MAP is adaptive and the raw score gets reported as a percentile rank. The reading MAP has a stated ceiling of 245. If your child is hitting that number, it gets pointless to continue the test year after year. The math portion has a higher ceiling, but once a student hits the algebra readiness number (250?), I'm not sure how valuable it is to take the test year after year.

We don't like our child's MAP scores being used to evaluate teachers (for many reasons) and don't find the data meaningful. You don't know what specific skills were assessed. The data can be useful for some families, however, so I think you need to be thoughtful in your choice to opt out.

For the MSP, it's a pretty short test and we don't have a compelling reason to opt out. We don't want to penalize the school by opting out, and there is some usefulness in being familiar with standardized tests. We may change our tune once the tests are Common Core aligned (next year).


Anonymous said...

Dear AP -

Yes, we're going to do both MSPs b/c I agree w/doing state level tests like that. We're also keeping the MATH MAP for exactly the reasons you stated.

My child's school is one of the few in SPS who take another standardized test, the Benchmark Assessments (RBA, MBA) THREE times/year, for no valid reason that anyone has explained to me (the reasons I got were math = "pre unit assessment" and reading = "to see how the kids understand class work" ... which in my opinion were not valid b/c they don't track the actual curriculum and teachers should be able to get that from actual classwork).

So we're opting out of the spring benchmarks - they've caused my kid a lot of anxiety previously - and possibly out of spring reading MAP. Haven't decided yet on that one.

Thank you for the info about the stated ceilings. That was something I didn't know, which might also impact my decision.

Signed: trying