I propose education civil disobedience. We should just keep our children home on testing days. Or if we must send them to school so we can work, teach them to refuse to take the exams.
Yes, it can have a disastrous effect on a school’s AYP if not enough students take the exam. If it happens in one school no one will notice.
If it happens in all the schools in a district people will begin to notice.
And if it happens in a lot of districts our educational leaders will have a decision to make.
They can try to enforce the laws and punish parents, students and schools for the boycott.
Or they can take their ball of data and go away.
At least for a while.
Just wanted to share that next week while thousands of New Jersey school children will be subjected to the annual ASK standardized tests, my 12-year old son Tucker will not be among them. We made a formal request to opt out, which is our legal right in NJ, and he’ll be staying home during the…
Will, I understand what you are saying. And for the most part, I’m with you. Or at least with your overarching idea. But I have to wonder, why keep your child in a school that has this testing. I am from NJ (originally) and there are plenty of private schools that do not have the stress or emphasis of standardized testing that the public schools have. Unless your son is attending a private school that requires it anyway, could a different school atmosphere be a consideration?
Apologies if this is off base, but it was the first thought that popped into my head!
I think for some Opting out, is the best alternative to walking out of public education. Private education is not the answer for many and hopefully will never be the answer to changing education. While I think many independent and interdependent(schools that are tuition based, but have scholarships to support all income levels) schools are doing great things for children and families and helping to promote alternatives, my hope is that some day, we have a strong and healthy public system.
A system that has many alternatives, and support meaningful learning and teaching, that supports teachers and students and families. A system that is democratic and supports democracy.
Until then many parents and teachers are trying to make the system change by opting out of practices they believe are harmful to their students or children. While I am not currently active in the United Opt out movement, I think they are a good resource for understanding why some parents and teachers are using this course of action.
hope that helps…
-adventures in learning
“I want to know why after vacation I have to take test after test after test,” she asked. “I know what math I’m good at. My teacher knows the words I can’t spell. My mom knows I’m a fast reader…. So what’s the point?”
I punted and answered a question with a question: “Why do you think the tests are important?”
“No idea,” she said, “but my teacher says that we need to do good on them. She’s nervous about us taking the tests. Now here’s what I think. I am supposed to learn in school, right? But either you are test-taking or you are learning - can’t be doing both at the same time.”
This quote (my added bold) is great! Here is a 10-year-old child who knows more about education than Arne Duncan and Bill Gates combined!
I refuse to teach to a test! Bubble that in!
I am passing on this page, because as my followers will know, I do not believe standardized testing helps teaching, learning or accountability…. But I want to offer some push back to this group and others who promote the false idea that somehow if we remove the tests all will be fine in public education. This group claims that removing the test help return a “whole and equitable public education”.
When was there ever a whole and equitable public education, for some maybe, but for all, never. For a more Holistic view of US Education History, look to John Taylor Gatto, former Teacher of the Year, and Ron Miller, author of What are Schools?:Holistic Education in American Culture.
I believe in education by the public for the public, but the test is not the only thing keeping public education from being whole and equitable. We must be willing to question the whole of the system including age grouping, group pacing, desks, gaps in funding, passion-less learning, lack of community and teacher partnership, poverty, etc etc.
We must start envisioning a better system not just fighting againnst something. So while I support and encourage others to support this cause, I also believe we need to remember that we need to transform education systems not only because I believe they are broken, but because there are better ways.
Our children should not be burdened by a system that was created not with their lives or passions or talents or future in mind, but those of another generation by powerful white men with agendas that had nothing to do with learning or human growth or development.
So Stop Standardized Testing, but also envision a future where those tests are gone, what does that learning community look like! I hope it looks nothing like it does now!
Keep Dreaming, and Keep moving in the directions of those dreams!
Important side note I have posted two opt out groups today. This is not the one that is open to everyone being involved, they have rejected the voices of alternative educators, unschooling educators, and any one who differs from their agenda. I say support both, but if you decide to choose I would suggest the group led by Lisa Velmer Nielsen
I have received a thoughtful email from the United Opt out group ensuring me they need and welcome everyone to help in this campaign, be it public, private or alternative educators. I support those who reach out to everyone, because to find ourselves in a more just and sustainable future we need to put aside our disagreements and agree to work together!
UPdated 2: I was recently banned for this group for speaking up to bullying and respectfulness by the people who run the group, most of the group is pretty awesome. So make your own choice, mine was made for me. On a lighter note… I had some amazing corn harvested from my garden. It was kind of a eye opening experience… so good!
-Adventures in Learning
This site was created to collect and share information on state by state rules for opting out of standardized tests.
Table of ContentsWhat you can do here? Opt Out Groups on Facebook State Opt Out Groups National Resources Blogs Addressing Opting Out
What you can do here?
- Click the link with your state name to see what is there.
- Add information on a page by “joining” the wiki then selecting “edit,” adding the information then “save.”
- Don’t worry if you make a mistake. You can always revert to an older version using the history tab.
- Use the discussion tab on the each page to discuss issues specific to your state.
- Use the discussion tab on the All States page to discuss general opt out issues.
- Tweet people a link to this page with the hashtag #optout and #standardizedtests
- Sample Tweet: Find out how to #optout of #standardizedtests in your state at http://optoutofstandardizedtests.wikispaces.com
One glaring example of this is the standardized testing movement. Though school funding, teacher jobs, and even student advancement rides on these tests, research has failed to show that these tests are a good measure of what students actually know, or that they accurately predict future success. Many decry the deep roots the testing industry has in its profitability for the test makers. John Taylor Gatto, author and former New York state Teacher of the Year, writes:
The frequent ceremonies of useless testing–preparation, administration, recovery–convert forced schooling into a travesty of what education should be; they drain hundreds of millions of days yearly from what might otherwise be productive pursuits; they divert tens of billions of cash resources into private pockets. The next effect of standardized testing is to reduce our national wealth in future generations, by suffocating imagination and intellect, while enhancing wealth for a few in the present. This as a byproduct of “scientifically” ranking the tested so they can be, supposedly, classified efficiently as human resources.
Because Gatto feels that standardized tests pervert education he started the Bartleby Project that encourages students to peacefully refuse to take part in preparing for or taking the tests. You can read his full statement on the Bartelby Project here.
Given the high place of standardized tests in the education today, what can one classroom teacher do to preserve the integrity of education for her students? Or what can a simple parent do to improve education for children across the country, or even in his own city for that matter?
To answer such questions we must recount the examples from history I shared at the beginning of this post. Firstly, I think these examples tell us that, when necessary, be a little subversive (or sometimes a lot subversive). John Taylor Gatto has often written about breaking the rules, bending the rules, and finding ways around the rules in order to foster authentic learning in his students.
The second thing we learn from these examples, is that while it is great to work for change on a grand scale, it’s important to remember that when it comes to the future, those of us who spend our days with children have a greater influence over that future than the superintendents, the rich and powerful test-makers, the politicians, and the policy-makers. So have some hope. And try to remember the potential of each simple, every-day interaction with a child.
I never saw a multiple choice test until I decided to become a teacher in America. Having gone through the Danish school system, of course, there were tests but they happened at the end of the year and were written and oral exams, not just fill in the bubble and the machine will take care of the rest. The first time I took a multiple choice test was for placement exams for my education degree, at first I thought it was fun, after all, all you had to do was fill in a bubble? I didn’t have to explain or even comprehend, I could just guess? Breeze through and forget about it all afterwards. Throughout college I studied, after all, I am an overachiever and yet whenever I came across the multiple choice test my spirit instantly died. I was glad that it didn’t affect my teacher, only myself and my grade, because I would doubt myself so much on some of the answers, meant to be tricky, that often I wouldn’t even know what to put down even though I knew the material.
We forget to think about how it must feel for kids to be solely responsible for teacher’s pay and jobs. How must it feel for students that if they do poorly on a test it will directly affect the teacher that they love? Kids are not stupid, they are aware of what is happening around us, how politicians and “reformers” are asking their test scores be part of something bigger. For this text-anxious child that knowledge would have been the nail in the coffin. People say that with this knowledge students will do even better because they will want to protect their teacher, to show off what they know. No child goes into a test trying to deliberately fail, at least not most, and yet placing that pressure of someone else’s livelihood and dream is just too much for children to bear.
What are we doing to the children of America? What pressure are we placing them under? How can we force them through more rigorous assessment to get them ready for the future when that could mean that their teachers no longer get to teach. We worry that America is too anxious, too many kids are being diagnosed with anxiety and panic attacks, depression, and other pill-needing maladies. And then we wonder what happened? Why are all these children feeling so pressured? Why can they not cope with “kid stuff” – well look at our schools and what we do to them. Education is no longer for the kids, it is for the politicians.
Cross posted on my blog
This is worth reading, thank you!
‘I think you’re awesome!”
I flew overnight from Vancouver to be with you today. I landed in New York a few hours ago and caught a flight down here because I needed to tell you all in person that I think you’re awesome.
I was raised by a teacher. My mother is a professor of early childhood education. And from the time I went to Kindergarten through my senior year in high school I went to Public Schools. I wouldn’t trade that education and experience for anything.
I had incredible teachers. As I look at my life today, the things I value most about myself— my imagination, my love of acting, my passion for writing, my love of learning, my curiosity— all come from how I was parented and taught.
And none of these qualities that I’ve just mentioned— none of these qualities that I prize so deeply, that have brought me so much joy, that have brought me so much professional success— none of these qualities that make me who I am… can be tested.
I said before that I had incredible teachers. And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep— this silly drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning. No, my teachers were free to approach me and every other kid in that classroom like an individual puzzle. They took so much care in figuring out who we were and how to best make the lessons resonate with each of us. They were empowered to unlock our potential. They were allowed to be teachers.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did have a brush with standardized tests at one point. I remember because my mom went to the principal’s office and said, “My kid ain’t taking that. It’s stupid, it won’t tell you anything and it’ll just make him nervous.”
I shudder to think that these tests are being used today to control where funding goes.
I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based not on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the “right” bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.
I honestly don’t know where I’d be today if that was the type of education I had. I sure as hell wouldn’t be here, I do know that.
This has been a horrible decade for teachers. I can’t imagine how demoralized you must feel. But I came here today to deliver an important message to you: as I get older, I appreciate more and more the teachers that I had growing up. And I’m not alone. There are millions of people just like me.
So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “over-paid”; the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything…
Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you, and we will always have your back.
(:title Matt Damon Speech at the SOS rally)
How do we raise expectations?
How do we get beyond the insult of ‘the basics’?
How do we wean ourselves away from our addiction to more and more standardized testing?
The floor is open for suggestions (I’ve done the ranting).
If memory serves, years ago a group of students at a California high school deliberately filled in incorrect answers on a test the state used to evaluate its schools, thereby guaranteeing that the school would sink in the rankings. They were upset because the principal failed to bow to their demand for a smoking area or some similar privilege.
Whether the principal was right or wrong is immaterial. What matters is that the state had put him in that position by creating a test whose results meant nothing to those being tested — but could lead to cash bonuses for schools doing well.
New entry to the Stop Standardized Testing and Standardized Testing Stories page.
Share the impact Standardized Testing has had on your Personal life, be it as a teacher, or taking one yourself. Share stories of your class or how they have changed your teaching or the impact on your students or own children. The more stories the harder it is for policy people to hide behind numbers and data.
Please either post the link to your blog or your story below… I will put together a list. and repost on Tumblr and probably the Cooperative Catalyst as often as I can! We should start to speak up about standardized testing from a personal level and share the stories of the damage these tests are doing to our children and our teaching.
Remember to use the #standardizedtestingstories or #stopstandardizedtesting and #education…
Add your name or web site, the name of the article/post and the website
- John t spencer: 10-ways-to-fight-standardization
- Miss Brave Teaches NYC: i-aint-taking-no-deep-breaths
- Youth Voices: Students: Too many tests given; no pay for performance
- Gabe Pressman Testing: A Poor Excuse for Education
- Two Teachers and a Microphone: “More Than A Test Score.”
More Than a Test Score - Two Teachers and a Microphone (by pedagogyforyourhead)