Boycotting Standardized Testing

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Boycotting Standardized Testing

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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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[LEFT]Parents are opting their kids out of standardized testing in New York?and the rest of the country. (Photo: Getty Images)

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[INDENT=3]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.?

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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?

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1530

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

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

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.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1530

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.

Sapphire Sunsets's picture
Joined: 05/19/02
Posts: 671

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.

Sapphire Sunsets's picture
Joined: 05/19/02
Posts: 671

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.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4107

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.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6545

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.

Joined: 05/31/06
Posts: 4780

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

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".

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4107

"Potter75" wrote:

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

Joined: 05/31/06
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I don't know. It doesn't seem to be working all that well for TExas. State rankings of high school and college graduation rates - The Business Journals

And it seems to be hugely expensive. I wouldn't support it.

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  • Testing is expensive and costs have increased since NCLB, placing a burden on state education budgets. According to the Texas Education Agency, the state spent $9 million in 2003 to test students, while the cost to Texas taxpayers from 2009 through 2012 is projected to be around $88 million per year. [94]
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    GloriaInTX's picture
    Joined: 07/29/08
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    "Potter75" wrote:

    I don't know. It doesn't seem to be working all that well for TExas. State rankings of high school and college graduation rates - The Business Journals

    And it seems to be hugely expensive. I wouldn't support it.

    Well it depends on whose numbers you use I guess. I think Texas does very well considering the large number of immigrants we get that affect the stats.

    TX High School Graduation Rates Among Highest in U.S. | The Texas Tribune

    I didn't say I support the testing. Just not sure a boycott is the way to go since I want my kids to graduate so I would rather know how they are doing on the tests before they have to take the final exit test to graduate.

    Joined: 03/08/03
    Posts: 3179

    I am very much against standardized testing, I think it measures very little beyond how well kids take that test (or how well teachers taught to it), but I wouldn't boycott only because of how it might affect my children. I would rather fight these battles in a way that doesn't affect them directly or put them in a position where they are having to deal with MY views on such things. My son is doing all the testing this week and the school's efforts to minimize the stress are having the opposite effect on many of the kids. We don't make a big deal out of it at our house so luckily Nathaniel is not bothered by it.

    But I hate those tests.

    Joined: 05/31/06
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    "AlyssaEimers" wrote:

    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.

    Are you sure that is correct? I don't live there, so of course this information could be wrong.......please correct me/link me if this is wrong or outdated.

    Lord says the standards of No Child Left Behind have led many states to make tests easier so more students can pass. According to research Lord has done with PIPE, South Carolina's testing is the hardest, while Tennessee and Texas currently are considered the easiest.
    Another issue with state testing is which students even take the tests.
    Private school students aren't required to take TCAP or Gateway tests because private schools build curriculums differently from public schools. A proposed bill sponsored by 92nd District Rep. G.A. Hardaway sought to require private, home schooled and church-affiliated school students to submit to the same testing as public school students. The bill was defeated in committee last week, but Hardaway says his reasoning for sponsoring the bill was to get the state to examine the tests and standards.
    Hardaway says by including every student in the language of the bill, it would force everyone to discuss the testing.
    "It makes some sense to have a leveling of the playing field in what students know and don't know," Hardaway says. "They've dumbed the tests down to where a lot of them just don't make sense. They want to show improvement and proficiency, which is misleading because you've got higher test scores because you've got easier tests."
    86th District Rep. Barbara Ward Cooper, a former private and public school teacher who sits on the General Assembly's education committee, says she believes all students should be treated the same.
    "All the schools should meet the same standard," Cooper says. "Testing isn't always the best way to measure what you know. Some teachers that pass the teaching tests aren't good teachers."
    Woods says the changes should address the problems and improve what students know when they graduate from high school.
    "If you cannot apply your knowledge, you probably won't be successful in the workplace or in college," Woods says. "By revising standards and assessments, it'll move us to very real results. If you graduate with a diploma in Tennessee, we want that to mean something."
    [h=4]Tennessee Department of Education[/h]

    AlyssaEimers's picture
    Joined: 08/22/06
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    They may not have to take the same exact test, but they have to have standardised testing done. For homeschoolers, you can do any standardised test you want (There are several companies that you can buy them from), but it has to be done.

    - I just went and looked up the State Laws. It appears private schools might not have to do standardised testing (I do not know of any private schools that do not do the testing), but homeschoolers and public school students do by law.

    Rivergallery's picture
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    "AlyssaEimers" wrote:

    They may not have to take the same exact test, but they have to have standardised testing done. For homeschoolers, you can do any standardised test you want (There are several companies that you can buy them from), but it has to be done.

    - I just went and looked up the State Laws. It appears private schools might not have to do standardised testing (I do not know of any private schools that do not do the testing), but homeschoolers and public school students do by law.

    In Oregon we have to have a "valid current test".. Meaning they do expire.. you can only use tests from certain years.. but do not necessarily have to take this years brand new test.. I think they are 5 years.. CAT and Iowa Tests are the ones I have seen in our state.. I think now they are doing a different one at our local grade school. They have to be administered by someone that is trained by them, and not a family member.

    Each state is different - Hslda.org has the info per state

    I think PS'rs should be able to opt out.. to the point of staying current with the state hsing testing regs.. If the state doesn't require testing then your child should be able to opt out.. And I might consider a boycott valid in those states. I might consider contesting the ps if my child was in an off year according to hsing standards.

    In general though. I personally do not boycott much. I tend to follow the law and fight it in other ways, like signing petitions, contacting senators, or congressmen, voting and informing.

    mom3girls's picture
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    I do have to say that I would not boycott if it could negatively effect my child. At our schools (both private) the testing is not required by state for the grades they are in. Only certain grades are required by law. I think that the private schools are doing them to use a marketing tool for incoming and perspective families. I am very against putting my kid through anxiety for their marketing ability. I asked my DD3's first grade teacher how she would feel I pulled Mia next year. She said she was fine with it, we have had kids pulled before. But she did say she wants Mia to take it because she thinks Mia would enjoy it.

    Joined: 11/28/06
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    Hmmm.....my oldest daughter (2nd grade) is no stranger to stress and deals with it very well. I think it is important that our kids learn to deal with difficult situations from a young age and they can develop those coping skills naturally. We don't make an overly huge deal of standardized testing, but she knows that it is important that she do her best (and that we will be proud of her no matter the outcome). I think we sometimes don't give our kids enough credit.

    mom3girls's picture
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    "Alana*sMommy" wrote:

    Hmmm.....my oldest daughter (2nd grade) is no stranger to stress and deals with it very well. I think it is important that our kids learn to deal with difficult situations from a young age and they can develop those coping skills naturally. We don't make an overly huge deal of standardized testing, but she knows that it is important that she do her best (and that we will be proud of her no matter the outcome). I think we sometimes don't give our kids enough credit.

    I am totally for teaching my kids how to deal with stress, I just dont think standardized testing is a good measure of knowledge. If it were then the stress could be worth it. I am also more concerned about how much time is spent teaching to the test before hand.

    Joined: 08/17/04
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    I hate them. Hate them so much. I'm in Mass. too and it is a negative thing for your child to not take them. Not graduating is huge so I wouldn't boycott them because it would hurt them so much.

    Right now there is a movement to push away from the MCAS I hope they are gone by the time my kids need them. I've never liked them and they've been around about 15 years I think?

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    "Alana*sMommy" wrote:

    Hmmm.....my oldest daughter (2nd grade) is no stranger to stress and deals with it very well. I think it is important that our kids learn to deal with difficult situations from a young age and they can develop those coping skills naturally. We don't make an overly huge deal of standardized testing, but she knows that it is important that she do her best (and that we will be proud of her no matter the outcome). I think we sometimes don't give our kids enough credit.

    I agree with you that children should learn to deal with difficult situations and handle stress. I'm not anti standardized testing as a way to shield my child from all of the hard things in the world. My kids will deal with plenty of real, age appropriate and oftentimes necessary stress ~ loss of loved ones, sports performance stress, navigating the miasma of peers/social stress, academic stress etc etc. Standardized testing? A billion dollar industry with zero proven benefit? An industry that in some school districts is eating up 25% of classroom time as teachers teach to the test? An industry rife with cheating and allegations of fraud? An industry which is making teachers, parents, and students stressed out and unhappy? And as Bonita showed, parents don't even understand it, and as Gloria showed, the tests are different state to state, how are they even showing any sort of national standard of educational achievement?

    I'm all for to let my kids feel stress for lots of things. For productive, good, healthy things. For things that are ruining creativity, narrowing our curriculum, and taking up valuable learning time? Nah. Why would that make me happy or feel like a good parent; "I'm helping build character through artificial stress by settling for a sub standard farce of an educational standard, little one!". Not for me. We can do that in plenty of constructive ways.

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    "Potter75" wrote:

    I agree with you that children should learn to deal with difficult situations and handle stress. I'm not anti standardized testing as a way to shield my child from all of the hard things in the world. My kids will deal with plenty of real, age appropriate and oftentimes necessary stress ~ loss of loved ones, sports performance stress, navigating the miasma of peers/social stress, academic stress etc etc. Standardized testing? A billion dollar industry with zero proven benefit? An industry that in some school districts is eating up 25% of classroom time as teachers teach to the test? An industry rife with cheating and allegations of fraud? An industry which is making teachers, parents, and students stressed out and unhappy? And as Bonita showed, parents don't even understand it, and as Gloria showed, the tests are different state to state, how are they even showing any sort of national standard of educational achievement?

    I'm all for to let my kids feel stress for lots of things. For productive, good, healthy things. For things that are ruining creativity, narrowing our curriculum, and taking up valuable learning time? Nah. Why would that make me happy or feel like a good parent; "I'm helping build character through artificial stress by settling for a sub standard farce of an educational standard, little one!". Not for me. We can do that in plenty of constructive ways.

    Could not agree more.

    AlyssaEimers's picture
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    "Potter75" wrote:

    And as Bonita showed, parents don't even understand it,

    In what way do you feel that I do not understand what standardised testing is? I believe this was very uncalled for.

    Joined: 05/31/06
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    You were not clear about what the testing laws or requirements were in your state. Many parents are not. I know I'm not. They vary greatly from state to state. That insults you? Really?

    AlyssaEimers's picture
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    "Potter75" wrote:

    You were not clear about what the testing laws or requirements were in your state. Many parents are not. I know I'm not. They vary greatly from state to state. That insults you? Really?

    Yes, your tone was insulting. That may not have been your intent, but that is how it came across. As a homeschooler, I am very educated in what the laws are that apply to homeschoolers. Just because there are loopholes, does not mean that is not what the law is. For example, it would also be correct to say that Vaccines are required by law in some States. There are exceptions (You can claim a religious and other exceptions), but I would still say it was required.

    Joined: 05/31/06
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    Okay.

    Joined: 11/28/06
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    "Potter75" wrote:

    I agree with you that children should learn to deal with difficult situations and handle stress. I'm not anti standardized testing as a way to shield my child from all of the hard things in the world. My kids will deal with plenty of real, age appropriate and oftentimes necessary stress ~ loss of loved ones, sports performance stress, navigating the miasma of peers/social stress, academic stress etc etc. Standardized testing? A billion dollar industry with zero proven benefit? An industry that in some school districts is eating up 25% of classroom time as teachers teach to the test? An industry rife with cheating and allegations of fraud? An industry which is making teachers, parents, and students stressed out and unhappy? And as Bonita showed, parents don't even understand it, and as Gloria showed, the tests are different state to state, how are they even showing any sort of national standard of educational achievement?

    I'm all for to let my kids feel stress for lots of things. For productive, good, healthy things. For things that are ruining creativity, narrowing our curriculum, and taking up valuable learning time? Nah. Why would that make me happy or feel like a good parent; "I'm helping build character through artificial stress by settling for a sub standard farce of an educational standard, little one!". Not for me. We can do that in plenty of constructive ways.

    I wasn't speaking specifically to you in my post but it seems as if you felt that way. I was speaking in general regarding these "stressed out kids" that some people seem so concerned about. If a child is freaking out and having a hard time functioning because of a standardized test then perhaps that child has been shielded from real life a little too much and needs to be taught some coping skills. Our kids aren't made of glass contrary to what some believe. That's the point I was making.

    As for whether or not standardized testing is useful or not....I think it has its time and place as I've said before. I really value the testing our district uses for K-2 and it helps me pinpoint weaknesses and monitor progress. Yes, my principal analyzes my data and growth, but her question to me always is, "What will you change to help your students learn?" I see that as a good thing.

    Joined: 05/31/06
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    Oh, I thought as a teacher you might be more concerned with the greater good. I'm not one of those ~ "lets teach them a lesson by making them puke' moms

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  • Standardized testing causes severe stress in younger students. According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek, anecdotes abound "illustrating how testing... produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both." [7] On Mar. 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that "test-related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it." [8]
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    mom2robbie's picture
    Joined: 01/20/07
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    we have two different types of standardized testing.

    HLATs - Highest Level of Achievement tests - which test what level the kids are at for reading and writing. The tests are marked by teachers from other schools. I know that they start in grade 1 and go through grade 6, not sure if they go farther. They are a little faulty as in Grade 1 Robbie was reading way higher then he scored - he was only tested up to grade 2 reading and he was reading at a grade 6 level. Not sure what the test will be like this year, they are in May/June.

    PATs - Provincial Achievement Tests - Grades 3, 6 & 9, these are tests in different subjects with the higher the grade the more subjects tested. These tests rank schools as well as making sure that provincial curriculum is being followed. Robbie's school is low but that is due to some kids in the Opportunity class (severe learning/physical disabilities) write the tests for experience. His school feels that there is a benefit for these kids to write the tests due to needing to write provincial exams in grade 12 to graduate from high school.

    Grade 12 has diploma exams which in part with the regular grades make the final grades for high school graduates. Everyone in Alberta write the same exam for the same class.

    mom3girls's picture
    Joined: 01/09/07
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    "mom2robbie" wrote:

    we have two different types of standardized testing.

    HLATs - Highest Level of Achievement tests - which test what level the kids are at for reading and writing. The tests are marked by teachers from other schools. I know that they start in grade 1 and go through grade 6, not sure if they go farther. They are a little faulty as in Grade 1 Robbie was reading way higher then he scored - he was only tested up to grade 2 reading and he was reading at a grade 6 level. Not sure what the test will be like this year, they are in May/June.

    PATs - Provincial Achievement Tests - Grades 3, 6 & 9, these are tests in different subjects with the higher the grade the more subjects tested. These tests rank schools as well as making sure that provincial curriculum is being followed. Robbie's school is low but that is due to some kids in the Opportunity class (severe learning/physical disabilities) write the tests for experience. His school feels that there is a benefit for these kids to write the tests due to needing to write provincial exams in grade 12 to graduate from high school.

    Grade 12 has diploma exams which in part with the regular grades make the final grades for high school graduates. Everyone in Alberta write the same exam for the same class.

    IME tests that test for what grade level kids are reading at are very limited in their scope. My oldest DD was way ahead in reading but in first grade we stopped testing at 4.7 because the next level up books were subject matter that was not all the appropriate for a first grader. This year my kindergartener stopped at 3.2 because of the same thing. We were to the point of wondering what we would change as far as her education path if we knew where she tested. We dont want to bump her up a grade so knowing exactly where she tested was not going to matter

    Joined: 11/28/06
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    "Potter75" wrote:

    Oh, I thought as a teacher you might be more concerned with the greater good. I'm not one of those ~ "lets teach them a lesson by making them puke' moms

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  • Standardized testing causes severe stress in younger students. According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek, anecdotes abound "illustrating how testing... produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both." [7] On Mar. 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that "test-related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it." [8]
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    And I am? Why all the insults Melissa? I gave several instances that standardized testing can be helpful to teachers if used correctly. I've never had a student puke or cry because of a standardized test. Seriously.

    mom2robbie's picture
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    "mom3girls" wrote:

    IME tests that test for what grade level kids are reading at are very limited in their scope. My oldest DD was way ahead in reading but in first grade we stopped testing at 4.7 because the next level up books were subject matter that was not all the appropriate for a first grader. This year my kindergartener stopped at 3.2 because of the same thing. We were to the point of wondering what we would change as far as her education path if we knew where she tested. We dont want to bump her up a grade so knowing exactly where she tested was not going to matter

    Very true. Just surprised that they stopped testing at grade 2. During his IQ testing he was reading at end of grade 6 level, at his psychiatrist appointment the doctor handed him a text book that he was studying, other then a few words which he mispronounced he could read it...

    Joined: 05/31/06
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    "Alana*sMommy" wrote:

    And I am? Why all the insults Melissa? I gave several instances that standardized testing can be helpful to teachers if used correctly. I've never had a student puke or cry because of a standardized test. Seriously.

    I'm not insulting you in any way. You imply that these tests give your children stress that you are okay with. You personally may not have had a child puke but clearly you are not the only teacher in the world, and clearly children do puke due to stress from these tests. That is sad, would you not agree? I'm arguing that for many children the stress is a lot ~ but beyond that ~ that the stress, whether a little or a lot, is unproductive. I don't care about the stress, frankly, I care about the results.

    Joined: 11/28/06
    Posts: 848

    "Potter75" wrote:

    I'm not insulting you in any way. You imply that these tests give your children stress that you are okay with. You personally may not have had a child puke but clearly you are not the only teacher in the world, and clearly children do puke due to stress from these tests. That is sad, would you not agree? I'm arguing that for many children the stress is a lot ~ but beyond that ~ that the stress, whether a little or a lot, is unproductive. I don't care about the stress, frankly, I care about the results.

    I think it is sad that children have not learned coping skills to deal with the stress of standardized testing. I also think it is sad that you refuse to acknowledge that the results of standardized testing can be useful.

    Joined: 03/08/03
    Posts: 3179

    I think tests are useful. I think standardized testing is not, and wastes valuable classroom time as teachers are forced to teach to the test because of the consequences for the teacher, students, and school of low scores. I don't think those tests accurately measure the students' abilities or knowledge.

    The SATs are a great example. They're ridiculous. The reason they have all those classes you can take isn't because you need knowledge about English and Math, it's to teach kids how the test is structured and how it works so they can do better on it. It's an industry unto itself.

    Joined: 05/31/06
    Posts: 4780

    "Alana*sMommy" wrote:

    I think it is sad that children have not learned coping skills to deal with the stress of standardized testing. I also think it is sad that you refuse to acknowledge that the results of standardized testing can be useful.

    I was someone who liked test taking, personally. I actually liked taking the SAT's and whatnot, and I would agree with you that it IS sad that a child would get so worked up to vomit or something on a test. I would agree that parents should work harder to help their children not take things like this SO seriously and let things like this upset them so much.

    As to this latter part ~ Don't waste one moment of your wild and precious life being sad for me! Please! That would be so silly! If your position is that standardized testing is useful, prove it! I truly believe that teachers have a myriad of other ways to assess childrens strengths and weaknesses. This is a debate, Tanya, ~ you saying that you personally have never seen a child vomit is not enough proof that these tests are improving the quality of education in America, or cranking out a better calibre student. I'm way open to having my mind changed, but you feeling sad about my opinion is not going to change it! You presenting facts and/or data showing me how standardized testing has improved the depth and quality of education in america would. That is how debates work. Sadness shouldn't really play a part.

    Joined: 11/28/06
    Posts: 848

    "Potter75" wrote:

    I was someone who liked test taking, personally. I actually liked taking the SAT's and whatnot, and I would agree with you that it IS sad that a child would get so worked up to vomit or something on a test. I would agree that parents should work harder to help their children not take things like this SO seriously and let things like this upset them so much.

    As to this latter part ~ Don't waste one moment of your wild and precious life being sad for me! Please! That would be so silly! If your position is that standardized testing is useful, prove it! I truly believe that teachers have a myriad of other ways to assess childrens strengths and weaknesses. This is a debate, Tanya, ~ you saying that you personally have never seen a child vomit is not enough proof that these tests are improving the quality of education in America, or cranking out a better calibre student. I'm way open to having my mind changed, but you feeling sad about my opinion is not going to change it! You presenting facts and/or data showing me how standardized testing has improved the depth and quality of education in america would. That is how debates work. Sadness shouldn't really play a part.

    Perhaps you aren't reading my posts clearly. I'm not claiming that standardized testing is ALWAYS helpful in EVERY circumstance. I am claiming that it CAN be helpful IF used correctly. No study or research has been done on my teaching style or my practices in my classroom. I'd be willing to participate if you'd be willing to do the research though Melissa. You'd see that I don't teach to the test because I don't find that to be in my or my students' best interest. Instead I teach the standards that are given to me as guidelines because I know that all of those standards are fair game on the test. I do teach test taking strategies but it certainly doesn't monopolize our time and I consider those strategies to be very practical and useful throughout life. I help my students set realistic goals for themselves as well as make plans to achieve those goals. I make them aware of their weaknesses (based on previous standardized tests) and provide them with small group and one on one instruction in those areas. I teach them coping skills to deal with stress, not only for standardized testing but for any event in their life they may consider stressful. I build up their self esteem, not in a generic way, but in a personal and loving way because my students are my pride and joy and I care about their futures. And I celebrate with them when they achieve, grieve with them when they fail. When a student doesn't reach a goal we both must determine what we are going to do differently next time. My students know that the standardized testing window opens May 1st and they've been begging me for the last 2 weeks to let them take the test early. They are pumped up and excited about their final test because throughout the year it has been a positive experience for them.

    Debates don't have to be merely statistics and studies. Actually, it can be refreshing and practical to hear someone's personal account of things and their real life experiences. You can choose to ignore what I'm saying because I don't have hard data to back it up, but then you'd be denying what is really going on in many classrooms across America. What I think is sad is your snarky tone and blatant disrespect for others lately. I don't feel sorry for you, I just think it is sad that you take debates to that level. Teaching is something I'm passionate about and I'd love to debate education on a mature level.

    Joined: 05/31/06
    Posts: 4780

    Okay. I am truly sorry that you are sad. I'd give you a head pat if it would make you feel better. Smile

    i think you are looking for insult where is isn't intended, so I'm sorry but i can't apologize for your being overly sensitive/ looking for insult when it isn't there. And while you truly like a wonderful, committed teacher I do agree with you- I'd prefer to debate the bigger picture of what these tests are doing to students and classrooms as a generality across our nation. Those stats exist and they arent positive. Thank you for your offer to do a study of you personally- while that sounds fascinating I'm a little busy right now Smile

    Joined: 11/28/06
    Posts: 848

    "Potter75" wrote:

    Okay. I am truly sorry that you are sad. I'd give you a head pat if it would make you feel better. Smile

    i think you are looking for insult where is isn't intended, so I'm sorry but i can't apologize for your being overly sensitive/ looking for insult when it isn't there. And while you truly like a wonderful, committed teacher I do agree with you- I'd prefer to debate the bigger picture of what these tests are doing to students and classrooms as a generality across our nation. Those stats exist and they arent positive. Thank you for your offer to do a study of you personally- while that sounds fascinating I'm a little busy right now Smile

    My point exactly......

    Your posts are rude and condescending. I don't have the motivation nor energy to continue debating with you.

    Joined: 05/31/06
    Posts: 4780

    You also don't seem to have any stats or data to defend your position so you result to name calling and sarcasm. An offer to come study you! All this faux sadness as a way to try to insult me? Come on Tanya. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

    AlyssaEimers's picture
    Joined: 08/22/06
    Posts: 6545

    With the recent explosion in Texas, we have seen that standards vary greatly across the country. I am surprised that so many do not think there should be a universal bar of what is acceptable in education. Don't get me wrong, I do not want there to be a stifling amount of regulations. I do think there are kids though that are completely getting passed by however, and the testing is one way to pick up on those kids that are getting passed by. Testing is not perfect, but I would be interested in other ideas of how to pick up on these kids.

    Joined: 05/31/06
    Posts: 4780

    "AlyssaEimers" wrote:

    With the recent explosion in Texas, we have seen that standards vary greatly across the country. I am surprised that so many do not think there should be a universal bar of what is acceptable in education. Don't get me wrong, I do not want there to be a stifling amount of regulations. I do think there are kids though that are completely getting passed by however, and the testing is one way to pick up on those kids that are getting passed by. Testing is not perfect, but I would be interested in other ideas of how to pick up on these kids.

    I'm unclear as to what you mean. Currently ST'ing is EXACTLY like these safety standards that you dislike ~ they vary widely across the country. There is NO "Universal Bar". For instance, from the article I linked, students in TX and TN were consistently performing poorly ~ so admin simply made the tests EASIER, now you suddenly have "smarter" students! You (and TX) also have the easiest testing in the country. Is that using the tests to make better students? Or course not.

    How do we pick up on these kids who are getting passed by? Oh, don't know ~ better teaching? More parental involvement? For instance, if a child can't read, don't you think that an actual living, breathing PERSON could be better qualified to pick up on that than a test? Or if it isn't an issue of being able to read, but simply horrible nerves, couldn't that be better identified by a teacher or reading specialist than a test? Can you imagine how much more actual instruction a child would be receiving if 25% of their time wasn't spent learning how to prepare for these tests, and instead was spent learning in ways specific to and geared towards their particular learning style? Can you imagine if instead of paying ~ what was it~ 90 million? In texas alone for these tests we were hiring more classroom support, updating more technology, or offering more specials in the arts or sciences?

    I'm no expert on education, but I'm a little shocked to see a homeschooler, preaching the necessity of standardized testing. It seems to be the absolute farthest thing from what I would think that a homeschooler would support.

    AlyssaEimers's picture
    Joined: 08/22/06
    Posts: 6545

    You can not lump all homeschoolers into one large lump. Not all homeschoolers homeschool for the same reasons.

    I said I was surprised that so many people on here were against testing. I just expected the response to be different. I do not think the test itself is all bad. It can be a great tool to know where to place a child, to pick up on what areas they need extra work. It is the pressure that people put on the tests that is bad. If a teacher is devoting all their time teaching only to the test, that is the problem. I remember when I went to school, we had one week of testing at the end of the year. There was nothing said about the testing outside of that week. It was a fun time, we had a few hours of tests, then movies for the rest of the day. The teachers stressed that the tests would not affect our grades in any way and they were just a tool. They used the tests to pick out which kids needed remedial classes and to determine where we ranked in the State. I do not believe that kind of Standardised testing is bad. It is how many schools pressure the kids and the teachers that is bad.

    Danifo's picture
    Joined: 09/07/10
    Posts: 1377

    "Potter75" wrote:

    How do we pick up on these kids who are getting passed by? Oh, don't know ~ better teaching? More parental involvement? For instance, if a child can't read, don't you think that an actual living, breathing PERSON could be better qualified to pick up on that than a test? Or if it isn't an issue of being able to read, but simply horrible nerves, couldn't that be better identified by a teacher or reading specialist than a test? Can you imagine how much more actual instruction a child would be receiving if 25% of their time wasn't spent learning how to prepare for these tests, and instead was spent learning in ways specific to and geared towards their particular learning style? Can you imagine if instead of paying ~ what was it~ 90 million? In texas alone for these tests we were hiring more classroom support, updating more technology, or offering more specials in the arts or sciences?

    Why do you assume that all kids have the same access to a person to teach them? When my mom taught kindergarten, over half of her kids had never been read to. Parents were irritated that their homework was to either read a short story to their child or be read to. They thought it was a waste of their time. I like the idea that these tests can indicate schools that need more help. It bothers me that that doesn't happen.

    Do kids find out their results? When I took them as a kid all we found out was that "60% of grade 3 students are at or above grade level at math".

    Joined: 05/31/06
    Posts: 4780

    "Danifo" wrote:

    Why do you assume that all kids have the same access to a person to teach them? When my mom taught kindergarten, over half of her kids had never been read to. Parents were irritated that their homework was to either read a short story to their child or be read to. They thought it was a waste of their time. I like the idea that these tests can indicate schools that need more help. It bothers me that that doesn't happen.

    Do kids find out their results? When I took them as a kid all we found out was that "60% of grade 3 students are at or above grade level at math".

    Is your argument that the tests then give the children parents who do read to them? I'd argue that the money wasted on testing could be used to put more 1:1 people IN the classroom to help those students.

    Spacers's picture
    Joined: 12/29/03
    Posts: 4087

    "Potter75" wrote:

    I'm unclear as to what you mean. Currently ST'ing is EXACTLY like these safety standards that you dislike ~ they vary widely across the country. There is NO "Universal Bar". For instance, from the article I linked, students in TX and TN were consistently performing poorly ~ so admin simply made the tests EASIER, now you suddenly have "smarter" students! You (and TX) also have the easiest testing in the country. Is that using the tests to make better students? Or course not.

    How do we pick up on these kids who are getting passed by? Oh, don't know ~ better teaching? More parental involvement? For instance, if a child can't read, don't you think that an actual living, breathing PERSON could be better qualified to pick up on that than a test? Or if it isn't an issue of being able to read, but simply horrible nerves, couldn't that be better identified by a teacher or reading specialist than a test? Can you imagine how much more actual instruction a child would be receiving if 25% of their time wasn't spent learning how to prepare for these tests, and instead was spent learning in ways specific to and geared towards their particular learning style? Can you imagine if instead of paying ~ what was it~ 90 million? In texas alone for these tests we were hiring more classroom support, updating more technology, or offering more specials in the arts or sciences?

    I'm no expert on education, but I'm a little shocked to see a homeschooler, preaching the necessity of standardized testing. It seems to be the absolute farthest thing from what I would think that a homeschooler would support.

    :clappy: I don't think I've chimed in on this one yet, but this sums up what I would have said. I'm not against *testing* but I am against "standardized" testing because kids are not standardized. They are human, they are each different, they will have different strengths & weaknesses, and they develop at different paces. Most schools test first thing in the morning, which hurts the poor kids who don't get breakfast until they get to school & their brains literally don't have fuel for the test until later in the day. There is no test in the world that can properly assess every single child in the U.S. And as Melis pointed out, the tests aren't even standardized among the states. It's a ridiculous system that is gobbling insane amounts of money every year, not to mention the amount of school-day time that it is wasting for all the teachers & students. If I thought boycotting would work, I'd do it, but sadly I don't think enough parents understand the issue, or care about what their kids do all day at school, to make it work.

    Danifo's picture
    Joined: 09/07/10
    Posts: 1377

    "Potter75" wrote:

    Is your argument that the tests then give the children parents who do read to them? I'd argue that the money wasted on testing could be used to put more 1:1 people IN the classroom to help those students.

    I'm saying that in theory the tests could target schools where the kids need more help and more intervention is required to bring the kids up to grade level. No testing will give kids parents who are more involved in their academics. Without any kind of testing, how do you determine which school gets more help? I don't feel like the test results are used effectively to justify the time and expense.

    We are moving to another city and I am totally looking at the school's results on the tests. I know there are lots of factors that lead to their results but when I see that only 20% of the kids perform at grade level, I don't want my daughter going there. I don't know if it reflects neighbourhood issues, the teachers, poor test taking or a lack of resources but a rank like that makes me feel it isn't the best environment.

    Spacers's picture
    Joined: 12/29/03
    Posts: 4087

    How do you tell from standardized testing reports that only 20% of the kids are performing at grade level? In CA, all we get to see is the school's total API score and the school's trend from year to year. Or maybe I just don't know where to look...

    And we do get to see our student's actual score, but we don't get to see the test itself to determine if the answers were marked correctly or not. I actually found two mistakes on the "practice" tests, which are supposedly the exact tests that were taken a few years ago! Just imagine a few years ago all the third-graders who were marked incorrectly when they marked the diagram that correctly showed 1/3 of nine squares shaded. But I'll never know if her test is correct or not because we can't see it.

    Joined: 04/12/03
    Posts: 1683

    "Spacers" wrote:

    How do you tell from standardized testing reports that only 20% of the kids are performing at grade level? In CA, all we get to see is the school's total API score and the school's trend from year to year. Or maybe I just don't know where to look...

    And we do get to see our student's actual score, but we don't get to see the test itself to determine if the answers were marked correctly or not. I actually found two mistakes on the "practice" tests, which are supposedly the exact tests that were taken a few years ago! Just imagine a few years ago all the third-graders who were marked incorrectly when they marked the diagram that correctly showed 1/3 of nine squares shaded. But I'll never know if her test is correct or not because we can't see it.

    Test Results Search - 2012 STAR Test Results (CA Dept of Education)

    You should be able to see the percentage of students in each band (far below basic, below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced.

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