Monday, November 3, 2014

Opt Out / Testing Refusal Letter (2014-2015)

August 27, 2014
Dear Mr. Hood,
I am against the current testing culture in American education. From my own education, I recall few tests and never worried about a test until the SAT. I had pride in my abilities and education, so I did my best on tests, but never felt they had consequences for me personally, my teachers, or my school. If the testing climate was still like this, I would not feel the need to refuse testing for my child. But, the climate has changed. Accountability reigns and testing is the measure.
Below are my reasons for refusing testing for my child, who would otherwise likely face her first computerized, corporation manufactured, standardized test before turning five years old.
  1. I trust teachers. Education was my child's teacher's calling, and thus she sought training through her degrees, peers, administrators, and professional development. She spends hours each week with my child. My child's teacher will always be a better judge of my child, both academically and as a whole person, than any test score. I trust a person I can have a conversation with far more than a corporation selling a product.
  2. I trust administrators. Administrators were once classroom teachers. They evaluate our local teachers' performances better through utilizing their experiences and education than reading a print out of test scores.
  3. Our money for education should be invested locally on personnel, facilities, and other programs and resources. Tests cost millions of dollars. Investing this money locally would return miraculous outcomes. Why send our money to large corporations who are interested in profits not our local children?
  4. If you want your child to grow taller, you don't simply measure her more often. Students should be reading, writing, and creating to learn, not to demonstrate what they have learned. Time and resources should be spent teaching and learning. The most meaningful assessments are seamlessly woven into daily activities by teachers.
  5. Children are not vessels to be filled. Education contains a huge human component through both the students and teachers. Standardized tests disregard this element; teaching to such tests devalues the inherent individuality of humans. Over-reliance on testing devalues any growth that cannot be measured statistically with a bubble answer sheet including curiosity, creativity, relationships, and metacognition.
  6. Standardized test scores represent the socioeconomic status of the test takers. Districts already know this information and the tests provide no solutions. Consequences for schools that rate poorly on evaluations composed of mostly test score data are discriminatory. The accreditation process is a superior way to assess a school.
  7. Early education research states Kindergarteners should learn through play. Only a child's naivete would equate a standardized test with play. Kindergarten is too young for standardized testing and thus it is inappropriate to use the testing scores for evaluating students, teachers, or schools.
For these reasons, I refuse the NWEA test for my child, Natalie Boyd of Mrs Trider's Kindergarten. I also refuse her participation in any field testing, computerized surveys, or new standardized testing adopted during the 2014-2015 school year. The only standardized assessments I allow permission for are the AimsWeb tests of early literacy and numeracy and the Fontas and Pinnell Benchmark System.

Jaclyn Boyd

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