Reposted from the Arkansas Times this morning:
There’s a dirty secret in the hallways of all public high schools in Arkansas this week—the state is giving a bogus test to all eleventh graders on Tuesday and Wednesday: The Arkansas Grade 11 Literacy Exam. That’s right, for parts of the day on Tuesday and Wednesday, your 11th grader is going to spend time under high stakes testing pressure, chained to a chair, unable to so much as use the bathroom for large chunks of time all for no good earthly reason. Subjecting your students—who by the way have been tested more than any students in American history—to another test is asinine and here’s why.
What’s transpired is that the state of Arkansas adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in 2010 and the teachers in the state are teaching to those standards. CCSS has replaced the previous standards, the Arkansas Frameworks, but there are holdover tests from the previous testing regime brought to us by No Child Left Behind (or untested). Rather than take a year off from testing until the new tests aligned with CCSS are introduced, the state is making its juniors first and then grades 3-8 later take batteries of meaningless tests. This is wrong.
I’d love to tell you more about why all of these tests are actually an awful idea, about the adverse physical and emotional reactions that students have to them, the mountains of research demonstrating that our culture’s obsession with testing is netting us next to nothing, and the fact that standardized tests have and are being used to punish schools and districts where economically disadvantaged and racially diverse students live. I could share with you the analysis I completed with a colleague in 2008 about how the Grade 11 Literacy Exam itself was and is actually a bogus test prior to this clear mismatch between standards and assessment. In short, about 60% of the Literacy Exam is made up of questions that are simple while the ACT, a much better test, is all about questions that require critical thinking. In other words, Arkansas’ own test—if we are to believe that teachers were or are teaching to it—could be holding back students who want to go to college.
If your child’s math teacher made your son study for a math test and then when he arrived, gave the class a test on an obscure detail of US History, wouldn’t you—dear parent– make that math teacher’s email, cell phone, and ears ring like Saturday night in Las Vegas?
Testing math students on their knowledge of history wouldn’t be fair. Giving an old test to students learning in new ways isn’t fair either. And if you agree with me, contact all of the 11th grade parents you know and share these simple steps to opt their daughter or son out of the Grade 11 Literacy Exam. Civil disobedience and challenging clear and unjust wrongdoings needs to be a lesson that the students in Arkansas learn firsthand this Tuesday and Wednesday.
I urge you to take a stand on behalf of your student but more importantly, on behalf of all students in this state and send a clear message to Little Rock and Washington D.C. that their obsession with testing, while wrongheaded, does not override your parental rights. Regardless of how you feel about this or any standardized test, I feel 100% confidence in saying that you, as a parent, should and do have the right to hold your students out of things at school that you deem to be inappropriate or harmful.
Act now by following these five steps:
- Talk to your student and ask whether or not this test is something meaningful to them.
- Familiarize yourself with resources available at Edusanity (: http://www.edusanity.com/2013/04/26/does-educational-testing-interfere-with-parental-rights/) and the United Opt-Out movement (http://unitedoptout.com)
- Discuss this with other parents of students at your local school; there is power in numbers.
- Contact the school and tell them that you plan to opt your student out of the exam.
- Complete the following form letter and send it, along with your 11th grade student, to school tomorrow.
Dear teacher, principal, or other test-administrator, please release my son/daughter from the Grade 11 Literacy Exam being given at __________________ school this week. It is my parental right to protect my child from dangerous, harmful, and senseless behavior and from my perspective, this test is not the best use of my child’s time. The U.S. Supreme Court supports a parent’s right to guide their child’s education as an ‘unwritten liberty’ protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Student Name _______________
Parent/Guardian Signature ___________
During the time that other less fortunate students are taking this test, please allow my daughter/son to perform any or all of the below-listed activities, any of which would be more educationally beneficial than sitting through another standardized test, especially this bogus assessment tied to old frameworks.
- Doodle on a piece of paper for the two days. One never knows, a new pattern or perspective might be gained free of the limits of bubble sheets.
- Read a book or two or three. Research actually supports this as educationally valuable as opposed to what the state is attempting to do to my son/daughter.
- Write a story about their friends whose parents didn’t get the message and are suffering through a pointless test. Creative, meaningful writing has been all but lost from the curriculum.
- Play video games on a phone or personal electronic device. Even that would be more educationally beneficial than taking this test.
- Help the secretarial or custodial staff complete safe tasks around the office or building.
- Be released to attend a lower grade and provide free tutoring for students.
- Catch up on homework.
- Shoot baskets in the gym.
If you attempt to use scare tactics to threaten my child, I’ve instructed him/her to audio record anything and everything you say to be used at a later date. Thank you for respecting my wishes for the well-being of my child.