Testing Season Is Upon Us! But it Doesn't Have to Be...

It's that time of year. Day light's saving is here. Early warm days remind us that spring is around the corner. Glorious summer awaits. But first... first things first. It's testing season.

I've already been asked to take my students to the computer lab to help prepare them for the new Smarter Balanced Field Test which is all online. Proponents of these assessments like to say, "Look, no more silly bubbling! Now you are challenged by questions which really show what you know!"
Kiara has had enough of this testing injustice. We're opting out!

But to that I say, please. This test, just like the SAT, will be an excellent indicator of family income levels. Students who read online, have their own computers, and use the technology they have for reading and schoolwork are at a huge advantage on this test. And guess what. There are still multiple choice questions. And the short answer English questions, well, I'm curious who will score them and how many of my students will actually complete them within the time frame given. And if early field tests from New York are any indicator, our students will do poorly. Not only will they struggle to read lengthy passages followed by just a couple of questions, not only will they battle with questions that require them to think "the Common Core" way, but their scores will tell them they are not proficient, their teachers are failing, their schools are failing, and any small bit of confidence remaining in our public schools will erode away to nothing. Awesome. Sounds like a great way to evaluate students, teachers, and schools.

Want to read more to debunk myths about Smarter Balanced Assesments? Here's a great start.

But I took my classes to the computer lab. I helped my students get an early preview of the materials and I will again for two days next week.

I complain to colleagues, tell them what a waste it is. "Well, I don't see it going away," one answered back.

But it could.

And next month, all of my students will spend eight hours taking this test. It is a "Field Test," not a real test at all. And the prep I've been doing in the computer lab? Practice. Practice for the practice. Not a real test. Practice. Allen Iverson has a few things to say about this.

The thing is, NONE of my students HAVE to take it. I wish I could tell them all this, but I'm not allowed to inform students or their parents that it is within their rights to opt out. Seriously. I cannot tell my students or their families or I could be removed from my position. I thought about doing it anyway. Let's test the district and see if they really would go after me, but after a conversation with my husband, we decided I should keep my mouth shut.

But it's so hard for me. I believe the right thing to do would be to talk with parents about the changes happening in education and the roles we all play. I want to tell them our students and our schools are not just data points on a district map. I want them to know about their right to opt out. I want them to know that if they exercise this right they will be taking a stand for our students, our teachers, and our schools.

There is a simple opt out form, but it could be more challenging than just submitting a form.
Read this post from a parent who opted out.

But I would love to find out what would happen if parents at my school, and schools all over our city, state, and country did the same. Imagine if we took our schools back. Just imagine.

Spring could be a glorious season once more. 

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