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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Refusing PARCC

As spring approaches, so does the state testing in our public schools.  I shudder to imagine that weeks are devoted to tests that tell us so little about all of the students.  But most of us sat through it when we were in elementary school.  I actually remember enjoying getting the score reports (but I was/am a little weird).  But testing today has taken on a new name and has lost a lot of meaning.  I don't mind the MAP testing that most public schools in this area do.  In fact, I can entirely see how they can use it to help guide instruction.  Since MAP testing takes a total of 2 hours for the math and reading, including prep time to get the kids settled beforehand, I also don't see it as a huge intrusion.

PARCC testing is a whole different animal.  For starters, it is not nationally normed.  Therefore, the results mean basically nothing.  So the children sit through hours of testing to get a score that doesn't provide any real information.  It also is not tied to any state funding.  So why would schools spend these hours that might otherwise be used for actual instruction?  That's where the bureaucracy of public schools come in.  But the more of us that have our kids refuse to take this test, the quicker we can sweep PARCC out the door.

Tomorrow I will be sending my 3rd grader to school with a letter to the principal informing her of our family's decision, signed by both me and my husband.  I have sent an email tonight to her teacher as a heads up.  I have also stuck some small slips of paper into Carolyn's folder so that she does not have to verbally decline.  I have asked her teacher to let me know if she the school will require her to verbally decline in case we need to prepare for that.  As I was printing out the letter tonight and trying to explain this test to my kids, I could see their inner struggle.  And that is part of what is sad about all of this.  I am left to explain to my 8 year old that in this one instance, it's okay to refuse take a test (multiple tests, really).  I want her to continue to be a good citizen within her school and continue to be generally obedient to her teacher.  I had to try to explain to her why this test is different from all the others.  I hope I did a good enough job and I hope the school makes this easy on her.  I will update with more as this process continues.  Our school got a late start this year due to construction so testing is not scheduled until the second week of April.

For those looking for resources on how to help your child opt out, check here:
Facebook Opt out Group
Raise Your Hand IL

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