Listen to Dr. MacTavish:
So, as a parent and teacher, I implore you to ask yourself...."why is my child taking these tests?" If you cannot come up with an answer beyond "because the state says he has to take it," then I ask you to consider my reasons. And, then, I ask you to reflect on your role as a voice and an advocate for your child. You have every right to REFUSE testing for your child. Your child also has every right to attend school and be treated respectfully if your family chooses to refuse testing.
As I reminded my husband this morning, sometimes doing the right thing is uncomfortable. But, if we as parents, continue to accept what is presented to us at face value, then politicians will continue to make decisions about our children's education.
I will invite you to ask me questions, privately or publicly. Admittedly, it has taken a few years of reading research....lots of it...before I felt comfortable making the right decision. But, it's important to remember, the problem is not that people are uneducated. The problem is that people are just educated enough to believe what is being said, but not educated enough to question what is being said.
For those of you wondering what's the harm in having your children take these tests? I applaud you for asking. So, I feel like it is my role to provide you with my reasons.
8 Reasons to OPT OUT:
As taxpayers, you should be very upset that your taxes are used for the above mentioned radio ads and fancy tri-folds. Your tax dollars have been promised to test companies to write and manufacture tests (and I mean millions of dollars here in TN alone) that may not even align with the curriculum being taught. Just think of how those dollars could be spent if used in our classrooms.
If you said no, then it's time to invest in a quick Google search to see that the tests are not being designed by educators. As a matter of fact, TN teachers' expertise is not being used to create these assessments because we have outsourced test questions from other states and at the hands of people who have never stepped foot in a classroom.
Our legislatures are quick to "sell" the public with the thought that the results of these tests are used to help teachers improve their teaching. According to the Knox County Schools website, this year's assessment results will not be disclosed to teachers until mid-fall semester of next school year. That's 9 weeks into a school year.
Ironically, the current teacher evaluation program in TN (TEAM) requires that teachers provide frequent and immediate feedback to students. It's unfortunate the same idea does not apply regarding feedback for teachers.
Differentiation is a component of effective teaching. As teachers, it is an expectation that we approach each student individually by adjusting our teaching to meet the student's needs.
But, at the end of the school year, we are being required to assess each student with the same (standardized) tests. The same tests that fail to assess students' creativity, diversity, and socio-economic status.
Politicians approach this as a method of ensuring accountability, and while I certainly believe that accountability measures are appropriate in education, this is not the responsible approach. Teachers still have to teach the kid who goes home to an empty house, the kid who did not have a meal all weekend, the kid who stays up most the night hearing his parents fight, the kid who is the product of an environment that does not value education. To think, that is it fair that we assess the quality of our teachers based on the results of tests taken by children whose lives outside of the classroom we cannot control, is an avoidance of the very problems our children face day in and out. These tests put a bull's eye on our teachers and teachers are expected to take responsibility for every minute of the child's day. I propose that we refocus our priorities and invest in our children's lives, not just their test scores.
An additional caveat that lends itself to a quick Google search— teacher attrition is being fed by this testing culture. Should our focus not be on keeping the ones who are invested in the classroom with our children? Instead, we are pushing effective teachers out and having a difficult time of recruiting future teachers.
How is it fair for an elementary school child to take a test that results in 10% of their semester grade? This is a more realistic expectation for a high school student earning college credits, but not an 8 year old.
The use of scores for grades is punitive and irresponsible. Our children are exceedingly more than data points of a graph. They have so much more to offer than can be deemed from bubbles filled in on a score sheet.
Over the next two weeks, our elementary students will spend 195 minutes taking five tests. While 3.25 hours may not seem like a lot, remember, you are an adult.
These kids are placed in an articifical "learning" environment where they are timed, banned from talking with peers, and not allowed to ask questions. These are the very practices that teachers avoid and now teachers are forced to subject our children to this environment.
As the spouse of a band director, I have had the pleasure of watching students mentally and emotionally grow as a result of exposure to music. With the current focus on subject specific tests, courses such as music, art, physical education, health, technology, etc. are limited.
Too often, it is those class times that are used to prepare students for test, hold assemblies to discuss testing procedures, and make room for additional time in testing subject classes. As a parent, I can truthfully say that having a well-rounded child who excels in both math and music is my goal.