State Assessment Opt Out: A mini act of civil disobedience

I have to admit, the first time that I had heard about parents opting their children out of the NYS tests, I kind of thought it was silly.

We took exams as kids.  They weren’t really a big deal.  They happened every so often.  I don’t think they were every year.

opt out state testing

Then I started to educate myself more closely about the specific tests that my children are taking.  Here in NY, these tests are administered every year from 3rd grade to 8th grade.  That affects 3 of my 4 children.

I saw more and more parents in my FB circles discussing the budget and our governor and shady dealings of big companies.  I have never been a conspiracy theorist but had to admit that the stories were compelling but I needed more facts.

Here in NY, tests are administered on 7 different dates.  I was not able to pick out exact timing of the test, but I believe each administration is somewhere around 60-90 minutes.  So, with quick mental math, you can see, even on the shorter end, that is 7 hours of examinations for my children.  My 13 year old will need to sit and take standardized tests for 7 hours.  As always, when you are finished, you are expected to read quietly.

To put this into perspective, the SAT has a total test time of 3 hours and 45 minutes.  Yes, roughly half of what my 6th grader is expected to sit through.

The MCAT, the Medical School examination, is a whopping 5 hours or so.  Yes.  That too is less than what my 8 year old is expected to sit through.

Now, with that much testing, one would expect to at least get some good juicy information about a student.  When I give a standardized test for children for occupational therapy, I can look at what they do and have a good comparison to same aged peers and through examination of the data, I can then adjust my plan for intervention accordingly.  Except with the NYS tests, my children’s teachers do not actually get the data.  The state does.  The state is data mining my children and not at all for their direct, educational benefit.  I do receive a report on how my children did and it takes a good 4 months to arrive at my door.  Typically the next school year has started when I receive it.  The information on it is simply a number, on a graph. The information is useless.  Its similar to looking at a growth chart at the pediatrician or at that horrible BMI number.  You are obese.  Great.  Thanks for that.  It took 7 hours for you to figure that out?  Excellent.

So, as our Governor pushed through the budget this year, he added a bunch of language about high stakes testing aka NYS Assessments without sort of, ya know, letting the voters know it was in there.  Money was freed up!  YAY and we got a bunch of stuff that we didn’t want too.  Sadly, as is often the case, the focus was on the cash.

Now, I am not a rebellious spirit for the most part but all of this information was starting to be too much.  I called the administrator at my children’s middle school.  We chatted about placement moving forward and receiving additional services to support math and reading.  In talking with him, I could find utterly no reason for my children to sit through 7 hours of examinations.  None.

So, after talking with my hubby, we decided to opt our children out of testing this year.  Basically, on the exam form, it shows as parental rights to refuse testing.  So many people in NY are now doing it that there is actually a bubble right on the test for it.  “Refused.”  Yup.  It was our mini act of civil disobedience.  It doesn’t hurt the school, they still get funding, regardless of participation.  It doesn’t hurt my children and any future placement.  Heck, when I told them, you would have thought I had just said “We are going to DISNEY!”  Their reaction was that strong, and that alone says enough.

What it hopefully does hurt is the agenda for mining my children for data so that they can push through a broken curriculum full of poor grammar and misspellings.  I get that we need education reform.  I do.  This is just not the way to go about it.  Our president and many high ranking officials and private sector bank-rollers don’t actually have their children taking this level of testing either.  Many private schools don’t require them.  If the President doesn’t need his children to take them, I don’t either.

I guess I am done feeling like my voice is silent and small.  This movement and each act is like a small pebble in the pond.  Hopefully if we all act together, we can create the tsunami of change for the positive in education.

For more information on the United OPT OUT movement, check this out.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

5 thoughts on “State Assessment Opt Out: A mini act of civil disobedience

    • I think that many many states are jumping on board Laura. If you take a look at the bottom of the article, I linked the United Opt Out Movement. Many state contacts are there 🙂

      • We have had the common core around for a while and the pendulum has swayed all the way to one side, totally goofed my daughters math. Now its swinging back. As I said, I have no problem with educational reform and having standards in place. Just don’t think we need 7 hours of tests and serious childhood stress to see how its doing :). There has to be a better way, especially since, at least for my kids, this is on top of the district specific standardized testing that also happens. Its certainly something that every parent needs to look into and understand I think :).

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