Contributed by Dane County OptOut
- Currently, the focus on literacy and math Common Core Standards and testing for such standards is squeezing other subjects out of the daily curriculum.This encourages schools to give less time to social studies, music, art, world languages, physical education, and science. For example, in some schools in Madison, only 150 minutes per week are allotted for science and social studies combined, while in the pastthese subjects were allotted 150 minutes each per week. Furthermore, the concern of raising test scores is impinging considerably on recess time in many schools, which is a crucial component to children’s social, emotional, and physical wellbeing and growth.
- Thus far the tests have not been shown to be reliable measures of creativity, social justice, critical thinking, and cannot measure alternative understandings of any subjective content. They push learning into testable chunks of objective data that don’t allow for complexity or nuance, and certainly do not measure everything our children could or should be learning in school.
- Standardized tests continually perpetuate inequalities and have been shown to be particularly detrimental to poor students, students of color, students of differing abilities, and students with limited English proficiency. Though many of these tests purport to “illuminate” previously “hidden” achievement gaps between these students and better resourced middleclass and white students, in reality, these tests have never been solidly free of social biases, and it may be that the very culture of this sort of testing is inherently biased against certain groups of children.
- Standardized exams are loaded with poorly written, ambiguous questions, and the implementation of these computerbased tests has been fraught with problems all over the country. Schools in Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida have reported widespread problems with hacking and other issues in using computerbased tests.These tests are unlike any test your child has ever taken and often result in greater anxiety, thus invalidating the data. Check out sample items at http://www.smarterbalanced.org/sampleitemsandperformancetasks/
- The testing industry is basically the tail that is wagging the dog of the individual teacher.Forprofit companies like Pearson Education are making millions of dollars while Wisconsin public schools are getting hit with massive budget cuts. The tests have a price tag that includes the exam itself, the technology, as well as the scoring of the exam. This is a national trend: States cut funding to public schools while pouring millions into new computer systems designed for Common Core tests. Furthermore, collecting data on our children through these computerbased exams has created a “datapalooza” (as one Wisconsin school board member phrased it) for the government and for corporations. These companies are profiting on the backs of OUR children and teachers.
- In many places throughout the country, these tests are being used to evaluate and even influence teacher pay. In spite of the rhetoric of “valueadded measures” (i.e., collecting pre and post test data to evaluate “growth” that can allegedly be attributed to teacher effort), the statistical extrapolation from test score to teacher effectiveness is a dangerous road to tread. Teachers cannot control what students walk into any given exam day facing: homelessness, hunger, heartbreak – all of which can affect a students’ performance on an exam, and hence a teacher’s evaluation.
- Parents are leaving public schools for private or charter schools that don’t have the same testing mandates, or because of their belief that public schools are failing. A 2010 Gallup poll showed that Americans continue to believe their local schools are performing well, but the nation’s schools are performing poorly. 77% of public school parents give theIr child’s school an “A” or “B” while 18% of all Americans grade the nation’s public schools that high (http://www.gallup.com/poll/142658/americansviewspublicschoolsfarworseparents.aspx). It’s time to reframe the conversation, support our public schools, and help them to fulfill their promise of education ALL students.
Now is the time to challenge the standardized testing regime. Corporate driven education “reform” is DE-forming teaching and learning, and threatening the existence of public schools.
From the blog of the venerable Diane Ravitch, educational pundit and selfprofessed convert from pro testbased accountability supporter to antistandardized testing crusader:
“The Opt Out movement is spreading like wildfire. It is led by parents…Parents understand that the tests are designed to fail most children. They understand that test prep and testing are stealing time from instruction. They aren’t commanded by anyone. They are listening to their children”
… and we would add, to their teachers and a growing number of administrators across the country too!