Boycotting Standardized Testing
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    Default Boycotting Standardized Testing

    New York Parents: My Kid?s Not Taking Another Standardized Test!



    The standardized test boycott is rapidly gaining steam.


    By Suzi Parker
    April 18, 2013
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    Parents are opting their kids out of standardized testing in New York?and the rest of the country. (Photo: Getty Images)







    Eric Mihelbergel, a parent of two elementary students in upstate New York, thinks his children are being used as tools to evaluate teachers.
    And he doesn?t like it.
    ?My kids spend about 25 percent of the academic school year focusing strictly on taking tests and practicing for taking tests,? Mihelbergel told TakePart. ?These tests are not used for my child at all. They are strictly used to evaluate the teacher, the school, and the school district. This is not acceptable to me. My child goes to school for an education, not as a tool for someone else?s purpose.?




    Mihelbergel is part of a growing movement of parents who?ve had enough with standardized tests in public schools. Parents, teachers, and academics want more creative teaching that uses arts, science, and history instead of ?teaching to the test.?
    This week in New York, parents, teachers, and students participated in the largest protest thus far. Students decidedly opted not to take tests administered by the state of New York. Some parents were told that boycotting the tests was against the law, but their children did so anyway.
    Mihelbergel says his fifth-grade daughter did not take the tests and faced no problems. In fact, the principal was very cooperative. She didn?t attend school the morning of the tests and refused to take the makeup test. His other daughter, who is in second grade, takes a different set of tests in May and will also refuse to take them.
    An overabundance of testing has, according to critics, contributed to a rise in cheating by teachers and administrators, a segregation of students based on test scores, high teacher turnover, and the decrease of classes that teach enrichment such as the arts.
    Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University, has followed this movement for the last few years. He says that it began about two years ago by parents and education professors in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Maryland, and Florida, who called the movement ?United Opt Out.?
    ?The organization began to grow rapidly not only because testing was being increased, but because the tests, as a matter of policy, were being used to rate teachers and schools, thereby leading to consequences ranging from cheating to the transformation of instruction to test prep,? Naison told TakePart.

    Diana Zavala?s son is in fourth grade in New York. She says she got involved in the movement after she saw a startling change in her son?s attitude.
    ?He was a child who loved school, who was curious and eager to learn and experiment and I noticed he was coming home worn down, stressed and unmotivated,? she said. ?I also noticed he was interacting with his sister in a multiple-choice style of way, offering her choices with letters attached to the questions. He talked about reading levels and not loving books. He talked about being a number three or four and cared about competing with his classmates rather than collaborating with them in a group activity.?
    Zavala is now a member of Change The Stakes and The Movement Of Rank-and-File Educators (MORE), both are striving to move the system away from testing and more to educating. When she first got involved, parents saw what she was doing as ?an anomaly, a reaction to my son?s emotions.?
    ?They thought that there could be potential harm in doing what I was doing: pulling out of testing,? she said. ?I think parents no longer feel this way.?
    Mihelbergel and Zavala want educational change?now. And they aren?t alone. Naison says this movement is quickly spreading across the country.
    ?In a few years, it [the movement] will be so strong it will get elected officials to reconsider whether testing on the scale it is done now, is the way to improve our public schools,? Naison said. ?I suspect that by the next presidential election in 2016, candidates will be competing to propose ways to reduce the amount of testing in schools?all because of this movement.?

    Great idea? Positive way for parents to get their complaints with "the system" taken seriously? Should these parents be penalized? Should the students? Do you think that keeping the students out of the testing will work, or will it cause problems for the students and the school districts?

    Thoughts?

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    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    Never would have thought about this until this week. Both my older DDs are taking state tests this week and they are both totally stressed out. My oldest started crying when I picked her up today (she is 13 so crying is not out of the norm) and said "I want to do well on these test, if I do not it will reflect poorly on my teachers" I am pretty disgusted.
    I do not think that state testing is the best way to assess student knowledge, and it seems all schools have a habit of teaching to the test.
    Not sure if boycotting is the way to go, but I hope this movement does get some traction. I am actually looking forward to seeing what it does
    Lisa
    Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson

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    I feel the same way, Lisa. My kids are too young for these tests (they must start in 4th grade here, I think) but I felt annoyed at the MULTIPLE emails and newsletters alerting parents in our kids elementary school to the testing. Huge reminders about getting rest, eating breakfast, staying focused etc. Uh, pardon me, but don't our kids deserve that every day, not just for your stupid TESTS? Just reading the emails as a non-testing student's parent got me annoyed at the single minded emphasis on these tests! This testing train seems to have been rolling in only one direction in the past few years, and I am happy to see parents standing up to it, as it seems clear now that our legislators are not willing to listen to us. I like this movement, personally. I don't know enough about the testing/ramifications however to know what sort of actual impact such boycotts could have on actual schools, however, so my initial impression is a bit from the heart, rather than a rational, educated one.

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    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    It was the letters and emails from school that got me started this year. We start at 1st grade and some of the little girls walking into class looking completely anxious sealed it for me. I am not pleased. Dh and I chatted last night, he would be onboard with boycotting them, so I am going to start looking into that this year. I would not join a movement or anything, it would be something we do on our own.
    Lisa
    Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson

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    Community Host Sapphire Sunsets's Avatar
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    I think keeping them out of the testing is going to create problems for the school and district. Doesn't the state use those numbers to figure out how much funding the district gets? Plus, the people who are moving into a district sometimes want that info to see where the best schools are. I know when we moved here to Mass my parents wanted that info and we moved into a great district for schools.

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    Also something to think about. Especially for the MCAS. If you take a different version of them ( oldest *J* has done this everytime they are given) you don't get a diploma. If you don't take them at all, i would think the same thing would happen. Do you really want your kids to only get a "cert of completeion"(sp?) cause that will effect them getting into colleges and getting jobs.

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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    In Texas you have to pass the test to graduate or even to advance in school. At certain grade levels you have to pass the course and the test to get into the next grade. For instance if they don't pass 8th grade TAKs they can't go into the 9th grade.
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    I agree that just boycotting the test is not the answer. It could really mess up your child's chances. Here, it is law to have your child tested in certain grades (Homeschooling, public, or private). If you were very against the tests, IMO the thing to do would be to change the laws. Write your congressman, vote in the politicians that had your same POV, ect. Just skipping the test would make your child have to pay repercussions.
    Rivergallery likes this.

    ~Bonita~

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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    In Texas you have to pass the test to graduate or even to advance in school. At certain grade levels you have to pass the course and the test to get into the next grade. For instance if they don't pass 8th grade TAKs they can't go into the 9th grade.
    As specified by these requirements, a student may advance to the next grade level only by passing these tests or by unanimous decision of his or her grade placement committee that the student is likely to perform at grade level after additional instruction.
    I have never heard of the TAKs, they look specific to Texas, but they only apply to public school students, not homeschooled or private school students, students are given three opportunities to pass them, and if they don't take them, a board can decide if they are likely to pass them based on whether or not the student is "likely to perform at grade level after additional instruction". IMO there is no way that a normal, or a great student whose parents chose to opt out of the testing for boycott reasons would be held back ~ clearly their grades would reflect that they were "likely to perform at grade level".
    Last edited by Potter75; 04-25-2013 at 12:43 PM.

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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Potter75 View Post
    I have never heard of the TAKs, they look specific to Texas, but they only apply to public school students, not homeschooled or private school students, students are given three opportunities to pass them, and if they don't take them, a board can decide if they are likely to pass them based on whether or not the student is "likely to perform at grade level after additional instruction". IMO there is no way that a normal, or a great student whose parents chose to opt out of the testing for boycott reasons would be held back ~ clearly their grades would reflect that they were "likely to perform at grade level".
    They might possibly let a student through if they can prove they are performing at a high enough level, but you still have to pass the final tests to graduate.

    Students must pass their classes as well as all four sections of the exit level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) in order to receive a diploma and graduate from a Texas public high school.
    Texas Education Agency - TAKS High School Graduation Requirements
    Mom to Lee, Jake, Brandon, Rocco
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    I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosopy, as a cause for withdrawing from a friend. --Thomas Jefferson

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