Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams wrote an opinion piece in the News Journal on parent opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, and she said the words so many parents need to hear.
This spring, thousands of schoolchildren across Delaware will take yet another brand-new standardized test devised to assess the competence and progress of students and their teachers.
My son, a Conrad Schools of Science junior, will not be one of them.
My husband and I, after carefully weighing the benefits against the drawbacks, decided that it isn’t in his best interests to take another standardized test – the third statewide system we have implemented in six years – at the same time he has to prepare for and take the SATs, a number of Advanced Placement exams, Component V post-tests, DCAS end of course U.S. History and final exams. Instead of primarily preparing for college, which is already stressful, he and his peers will also be preparing for the state assessments.
To say that we are over-testing our children is an understatement. Look at the above list of exams a high school junior would be taking this time of year. Now throw in that this same junior took DSTP through sixth grade, DCAS until last year and now Smarter Balanced. How are students, parents and teachers supposed to have faith in a system that is constantly changing the high-stakes tests we administer?
That is why I and a growing number of parents, legislators and teachers are supporting a movement to opt our children out of Smarter Balanced. It is why I am co-sponsoring legislation that would allow parents or guardians to opt their children out of the test. House Bill 50 will be heard in the House Education Committee on Wednesday.
Let me make it clear that although I sharply disagree with the Department of Education, I believe we all want our children to succeed both in school and in life. We simply have very different views on how we should prepare and evaluate students.
That, however, does not change my frustration at last week’s announcement that four Delaware colleges will accept the yet-unproven Smarter Balanced test results in lieu of other placement tests. The fact that this news came just a week before our committee hearing on the opt-out bill – and with nearly no notice to legislators – feels almost forced.
I cannot imagine a scenario in which an organization would accept the results of a never-administered test before the results have even been tabulated. A doctor would not accept the results of an unproven cancer test in place of tried-and-true exams. A police officer would not base an arrest on an unheard-of field test that wouldn’t stand up in a court of law. Why are we rushing to accept this new assessment, especially in the face of mounting questions about how it’s structured and how it evaluates our children?
Recently, the Delaware State Education Association (DSEA) and Delaware PTA have come out in favor of a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. DSEA stated that it “believes that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness” and that the “over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools.”
Opting their children out of these exams is growing in popularity among parents because they are becoming increasingly frustrated with how these standardized tests are being relied upon more and more even while the tests themselves are clearly unreliable – three different tests in six years is a clear sign of a problem. Local school boards such as Capital, Christina and Red Clay have recognized the issue and passed resolutions supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the test.
The parents who are opting their children out of Smarter Balanced and the teachers who support the movement are not anti-assessment. We acknowledge that we need to properly assess how our students are performing so that we can better craft our education curriculum. But we also believe there already are existing metrics that can be effectively used to measure a student’s progress. One of the best means of assessment we have are the teachers who are in the classroom every day working with our children.
I firmly believe that there is a solution to this issue that does not involve more testing. But for that effort to move forward, we need to change the conversation. Opting our children out of this test will help shift the debate.
The original opinion piece can be found here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/20/best-choice-children-opt-test/26102977/?fb_ref=%5B%27Default%27%5D
For the distorted and pro-corporate education reform opposing view, you can go here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/04/20/test-boycott-will-obscure-student-progress/26102579/?fb_action_ids=10206755433550741&fb_action_types=og.comments but beware, this is from the Rodel guy, a charter school board President and the head of a group heavily backed by Governor Markell… and you might want to bring a bag in case you need to throw up.