Why did they do it? One teacher tells why...
As a teacher, I made a decision for my own children, as their parent. I am most fortunate to be very involved in my children's education. I'm sure most parents feel the exact same way. Unless you are a teacher, you really aren't as involved as you think you are. I teach for the same system my children are educated in. I know things that I'm grateful to know, but at the same time the wind is often knocked clean out of me because of what I know. Because of what I know, I chose to opt my children out of unnecessary testing.
- I chose to opt my children out of computerized testing as a means of determining intervention needs.
- I opted my children out of tests that contain material they haven't been taught yet according to the curriculum maps teachers follow.
- I opted my children out of tests written for the sole purpose of assisting the developers of PARCC test which will replace TCAP next school year.
- I opted my children out of feelings of failure when material is placed in front of them that they haven't been exposed to yet, in the form of a test. I opted their teachers out of feelings of betrayal because that's how we feel when we do this to the children we teach.
- I opted my children out of the DEA, given three times per year as a predictive measure to determine how they might perform on TCAP. The DEA is also full of skills not introduced according to the curriculum maps. Test A - 18 of 32 skills not introduced yet. Test B - 19 of 32 skills not introduced yet.
- I opted my children out of the CRA which is an assessment used for the sole purpose of assisting the developers of PARCC, and is written in a form that children are not capable of being successful on.
- I opted my children out the practice writing assessment for the practice writing assessment which I opted them out of too. Really? Practice for practice? Not to mention, it is computerized and children as young as 8 are expected to sit at a computer for two hours to analyze informational texts and write an essay through typing their responses. Our children do not know how to type.
- I opted my children out of IStation computerized testing to determine if they have a need for intervention.
- I opted my children out of all computerized programs designed to determine their needs. I chose to leave that up to their highly qualified teachers.
- A teacher and mother in Shelby County
How did they do it?
It is simple. These brave parents simply sent letters and emails of refusal to their sons' and daughters' teachers and principals stating that they will not allow their child to take the tests. (Note the wording says "refusal" and not "opt-out" since TN does not have an "opt-out" law, yet, and the attorney general seems to be forcing parents into testing their children against their wishes by saying it is not "legal" to "opt-out")
Some states have laws and policies that allow parents to opt their children out. Tennessee does not. Yet...
There is currently a Bill in the Legislature that, if it passes, would allow parents to legally Opt-Out of testing for their children without penalties (HB 1841 / SB 2221) . The Bill's sponsor, Rep. Gloria Johnson, is also a teacher. (Unfortunately, a half a BILLION dollar fiscal note has been attached to the bill, and the bill has been rolled to the final calendar to prevent it from passing. Contact Governor Haslam if you're not happy about that. His phone # is 615-741-2001 and his email is: firstname.lastname@example.org).
What are the repercussions of REFUSING tests?
In TN, refusing or opting a child out of the TCAP test counts as a zero on the child's final report card (state mandated 15%-25%). In some districts, this means that 10% of a child's final English grade will be a zero, and 10% of a child's final Math grade will be a zero. (Check with your local school district to find out). Despite the lower report card grades, having to keep their children at home on testing days, and having unexcused absences on their child's records, parents feel strongly enough that the tests are inappropriate for their children to REFUSE the tests for their children.
(This could work: Parents in other states have gotten around the testing by un-enrolling their children from school to "homeschool" before the mandated test and then re-enrolling them after the testing window is completed. This method works to avoid hurting the child's report card grade and attendance, but, gosh, it sure is a hassle!)
Links to Opt-Out testing websites & groups:
United Opt-Out website
United Opt-Out in Tennessee website
Stop TN Testing website
Stop TN Testing Madness facebook group
Stop TN Testing facebook page
Knox County Parents Against Testing facebook page
Williamson County Parents Concerned about Common Core & Testing facebook group
These brave teachers and parents are sending a clear message that they do not agree with the tests and that their child is more than a test score.