Friday, April 12, 2013

Common Core Exams: Don't Opt out!

Next week, schools will test grades 3-8 on the new common core curriculum for math & language arts skills. This new set of standards is meant to ensure that students are learning at grade level and will succeed in school. Student performance will also be used as one component in the new state teacher evaluations.

I'm hearing & reading a lot of discussion about parents opting their children out of these exams. Some say the tests are "too rigorous" and that teachers haven't had enough time to prepare their classes. Others say the kids are tested too often, or that their kids are becoming overly stressed-out by teachers attitudes related to the tests. (If your child is showing undue stress about it, YOU need to be asking your child's teacher WHAT THEY ARE SAYING/DOING TO COMMUNICATE THEIR OWN NEGATIVE FEELINGS TO THE KIDS AND GET IT TO STOP!) Yet, when I dig deeper into the issue, I find a number of teacher union-backed websites promoting and instructing parents on how to "opt out" their children.

While I can see clearly how this will benefit teachers, I'm completely failing to see how it will benefit the students to not take the tests. The exams are designed to measure WHETHER OR NOT STUDENTS ARE AT GRADE LEVEL IN VARIOUS AREAS OF MATH & ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS!

If your child can not comprehend what he/she reads at grade level, don't you want to know? Wouldn't you want to find a way to help boost their skill level with that so that they stay on track as they head towards graduation?

Would you REALLY want to help take the teacher's accountability away? Do you want teachers retained who can't "measure up" despite professional development opportunities paid for by you, me and the rest of the school community?

As a parent, I would consider opting my kids out only after I see their teachers show-up at MY workplace during my next performance evaluation and try to convince MY employer to not hold me accountable for what I've done, or not done related to that evaluation! Since I know that will NEVER HAPPEN, my children would be testing next week. Period!!

Talk to your kids. Tell them you expect them to do their best, that's ALL anyone is asking of them. Tell them you took similar tests when you were in school! (Most of us did and we survived!) Then send them to school rested and with a good breakfast in their tummy on test days next week! Don't forget those #2 pencils :)


Anonymous said...

Seriously? These tests don't give parents any insight beyond a number grade 1, 2 , 3 , or 4. Parents don't receive the scores until the following school year. Parents aren't told which questions their child struggled with. Parents aren't allowed to see the test. The only people benefiting from these tests is the company the state is paying millions of dollars to create.

SCATS said...

To 11:06AM ~~ Oh please! That is the same lame union bellyache I've heard about ALL standardized tests.

Besides, the insight into grade level is extremely important!

And the exams CAN/DO show if a teacher isn't doing well in teaching specific areas of the curriculum. That's something administration needs to know and get fixed. It also shows which teachers are DOING THEIR JOB WELL.

Anonymous said...

The kids have only been learning this new curriculum since Sept. Just throwing that out there.

In many cases, the multiple choice answers are ALL correct, but the kids need to pick which is *mostly correct*. That's confusing for a younger kid.

My child told me they spent a lot of time this week ..... learning how to fill in those little bubbles. That's insane! They're losing valuable classroom time on this.

SCATS said...

To 12:09PM ~~ CORRECTION to your rant: This "new curriculum" is NOT entirely new! It is not as if everything that's being taught this year was never taught previously. More accurately, the curriculun has been revamped, realigned.

If it takes your child's teacher more than 30 minutes to "teach them how to fill in a bubble" then that teacher should be fired on the spot for incompetence! Taking such tests was something even I did EVERY SCHOOL YEAR. If they don't learn to do this, they will fail miserably when they need to take the test to learn to drive, or the SATs for college!

As a parent, I would consider opting my kids out only after I see their teachers show-up at MY workplace during my next performance evaluation and try to convince MY employer to not hold me accountable for what I've done, or not done related to that evaluation! Since I know that will NEVER HAPPEN, my children would be testing next week. Period!!

Anonymous said...

Glypnar's teacher did a song & dance number to teach the kids how to fill the little circle in with the pencil.

Glipnar tells us she's a very good teacher, she tells the class that at least three times a day.

Glipnar and Louigi are sponsoring a class project to get the teacher a brass pole for the classroom. They think they can sell tickets to watch Ms Bimbett dance.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you approved that nonsense for posting, Scats. (Now I suppose you'll come back with something snarky like "Hey, I approved YOUR posting, didn't I?)

Anonymous said...

My kids??? Surely thou jests!!!!

Anonymous said...

The problem is that so much time is spent on test prep that it takes away from the real learning. The other issue is that it also does not take into account inclusive instruction. The test is the end-all but how students get there is quite different. I once saw a cartoon picture in which there are 7 different animals and they are all given the same test to assess thier ability to climb a tree. Well, obviously the monkey can perform the test but the elephant is sure going to have a hard time. Standardize testing does not account for this and therefore is really a misguided attempt at deciphering who is ready or not and to hold teachers accountable for thier students' success. So, as a parent I will opt out of this testing for my child and spend the time at home specifically teaching my kid something worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I do not think that parents/students should opt out of the NYS testing. I do not think that the NYS test is the problem. The common core does require deeper thinking and students to explain. However, we have had these standards in our hands for 2 years. Last year, we started to use the common core standards in order to prepare our students for this year's expectations. We do not know exactly what the test will be like, but we do know there will be significant changes from previous years.

The problem with the testing is with the District and the evaluation system. In addition to the NYS tests this week, the students are tested other ways, multiple times through the year with the sole purpose to prove growth through the year. These tests were hastiy thrown together. Some of the tests from BOCES were poorly written and had incorrect answers on the scoring guides. At times it seems it our students have been tested as much as they have been taught this year.

Testing is necessary. We do need to ensure that students are learning. We also must ensure the competence of teachers. The evaluation system is a step in the right direction, however, there must be a better way than ALL the testing that has happened this year.

SCATS said...

To 9:14PM ~~ TY for doing my job for me!

To 10:41AM ~~ I'm NOT laughing.

To 12:23PM ~~ There is NO REASON for all of this wasted time on test prep! This activity began a number of years ago when teachers were first told that standardized tests were going to be looked at in evaluating their teaching performance for the year. That is NOT what should be happening! Perhaps the day before the exam, students should be instructed and given the chance to practice filling in a bubble sheet. Other than that, the teacher should be spending class time on teaching (drum roll) the CURRICULUM!!

Your example with the animals isn't even similar to the reality, so it's not applicable.

You are correct that these tests could be used to hold teachers accountable ... and so they squirm.

By the way, don't look now but most Greece teachers think Greece parents are inept, dumb as rocks ... so any attempt at teaching your kid anything without possession of a Master's Degree, teaching certificate and union card will be wasted time in their eyes ;)

SCATS said...

To 12:36PM ~~ I agree that there is such a thing as too much testing. What I find interesting is that Greece teachers weren't worried about that until it became linked to their evaluations! One example ... a number of years ago, Greece 8th graders who took Course I math in 8th grade were REQUIRED to take the regular state math exam for 8th grade, the Greece School District's math exam for 8th grade AND the Regents exam for Course I ! Students HATED it, and who wouldn't? They were told they were "accelerated" in math only to be required to test on math topics they hadn't seen for a whole year!

Of course there was a reason why this was done ... having accelerated students take the regular 8th grade exams tended to give a sizeable boost to the scores of those not in Course I.

SCATS said...

To 12:23PM ~~ I'm told you won't be able to avoid testing by keeping your child home for a day. There are lots of make-up opportunities depending upon the timing.

What "good" does it do for your child to not test??

Anonymous said...

Scats, the good it does is that it sends a message to NY State ED that my kid is not going to be used to dictate their agenda. There are many movements out there that will provide the guidance needed to opt out. One is United Opt Out National, specifically this link for NY State.

I willbe sending the "opt out letter" letter to the administrators when the testing begins and I urge parents to do the same. The tests do nothing to a student's overall academic performance or grade. Why would I continue the insanity?

SCATS said...

To 6:55PM ~~ I laughed reading your comment! Do you REALLY think NYSED is going to "get" your message? Just like you don't "get" the idea is to HOLD TEACHER'S ACCOUNTABLE, I think not!

Most, if not all, of these "opt out" sites are union inspired. They hope to get enough parents to go along to make a difference. I doubt they will. In fact, it reminds me a lot of people who don't vaccinate their children, then expose the rest of us to your preventable diseases.

Anonymous said...

Representative test questions are available here:

If your child needs to prepare for one of these tests, then something is wrong. This is material that children at these grade levels should be able to do with no warning or prep time (which is how standardized testing was when I was a kid).

SCATS said...

To 2:31AM ~~ You are correct! By their nature, test preparation should entail rest, a decent breakfast & a "can do" attitude. Sadly, I'm thinking that maybe the questions on the tests are too challenging for the TEACHERS who sailed through their liberal arts degrees without having to perform above a 5th grade level. Maybe THAT'S the issue ... hmmm ...

TY for sharing that link!

Anonymous said...

I’d love to come to your performance review and have your boss hold you accountable for things that are NOT WITHIN YOUR CONTROL! I get it....... there are some lousy teachers.......... but there are some good and even great ones too and these tests aren’t a valid way to measure teacher performance. You seem like a bright person...... but when it comes to the testing “movement” you haven’t done your homework. You’re under the mistaken assumption that these tests are reliable and valid and represent a level of quality. Newsflash - NONE OF THE ABOVE is true. The multi million dollar for profit PEARSON company produces these less than mediocre tests and all the bells and whistles districts buy to prepare for them. Do some more research. Then bring on the accountability for teachers for the things that they actually have any power over!

SCATS said...

To 11:15PM ~~ I've already been there, done it, many times. In a past job where I was supervisory, I often had to train new people (I think that's called "teaching" in some circles, but I digress) but still keep my own productivity up while meeting multiple recurring deadlines. Because I was on salary, it didn't matter if I was ill, injured, grieving, etc. As long as I wasn't dead, the job was expected to get done in a timely fashion because our customers demanded it.

As for the new tests, how can you or anyone declare them invalid, unreliable, yada, yada, yada when they haven't been administered yet?? I think your wishful thinking is getting in the way of your ability to reason.

The comment made by 4/16/2013 2:31 AM is onpoint.

Anonymous said...

4/17/2013 11:15 PM AGAIN- just some links for you to check out..... I agree with so many of your posts. I just can't stand the politics that is screwing over our kids in regards to education!

Just to get you started!

SCATS said...

To 2:55PM ~~ TY for the links. I scanned through them. Again, it appears that those who oppose this testing are MOSTLY PEOPLE WITH TEACHING (i.e. union-inspired) backgrounds!

Again, until the new system is in place for a couple of years, I think there's way too much criticism from the people who are paid to teach the curriculum involved and who will potentially be held accountable.

Standardized testing isn't new! Corporate profit from producing them isn't new either. What IS NEW is using them as a measure of teacher performance. I've yet to see or hear teachers or their unions agree with ANY SORT OF MEASURABLE EVALUATION OF THEIR SKILLS!

Perhaps the answer to this is to force the teachers to take & pass these tests, so that we have some insight into their fitness to retain their jobs ;)