Why my kids won’t opt out of standardized tests

Today the Giant will be participating with his peers on the annual STAAR test given to the ninth graders. Other grades are testing as well and the interwebs will be filled with angry, frustrated or upset parents who are opting out of the standardized tests or want to.

And yet I have what I think is a fairly unpopular opinion…
Standardized Tests and why I won't opt out

Like many, I do not agree with the current state of public education whereby teachers are hamstrung to “Teach to the Test” instead of fostering a love of learning. I despise a system that puts all of our unique snowflakes into a box and tells them that either they are or are not “good enough.”

Unlike many however, I will NOT now or ever opt my kids out from the tests.

You see… here’s the thing. I have a choice. We always have a choice. It may not be a choice we like, but we still have one.

I choose to enroll my children in public school. Part of that choice means that I am fully aware that they will have to take the STAAR test.

For those unaware, the STAAR test – also known as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness – replaced the TAKS Test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) and is used to assess a student’s achievements and knowledge learned in the grade level. It’s a test to see if the students have learned the curriculum designed for their current grade…. These tests replaced the tests I took in school. Way back then it was the CAT- California Achievement Test. So for as long as I’ve been around, we’ve had standardized testing in one form or another.

Do I think that a standardized test encompasses all of a student’s acheivements? Nope. I don’t. Do I think that filling in a page of bubbles is an accurate measure of a student’s abilities or knowledge? Nope. I don’t.

But as I said – I have a choice.

If I don’t want my child taking these standardized tests, I could choose to Homeschool or enroll in a private or charter school. As those institutions do not receive state funding, they are not required to take these tests.

I am using stated provided resources to educate my child and you know what? That means, like it or not, I have to play by their rules.

Period.

If I were to opt my kids out of the standardized tests, what kind of message does that send?

It doesn’t hurt the school or the teachers to my knowledge. Instead, it simply tells my child that if they don’t like the rules, mommy will fix it so that they don’t have to follow them. It sends the message that when I disagree with something, we can ignore that piece and go on with life as it were.

How’s that work in real life?

You know, the life beyond school…

In my college classes, I’m often required to take an end of the year final that encompasses ALL of the material I was supposed to learn in the course. Can I opt out of that?

How about at work where part of my job is to analyze the data and produce a report for a quarter’s worth of activity to measure effectiveness… Can I opt out of that with a note from my mom?

The schools do not create these tests to my knowledge but if they want to continue to receive funding for such frivolous items as textbooks and teachers, they have to follow the rules. They can’t opt out no matter how much they might want to.

We always have measurements and accountability in school and in life. How can a school as a whole be held accountable without a standardized test to determine how many of the students are truly learning vs. how many are just getting passed ahead? Do you have a better idea? …because I’m sure people would love to hear it. Through the proper channels of course.

I even know that the schools will work with parents and students when there is a barrier to taking tests – ADHD, Dyslexia, Etc. – providing alternative environments and circumstances to the traditional test format.

Again, we have choices. It may not be a choice you like but there are choices. I’d rather remind my kids to eat a good breakfast and to do their best than to send the message that if something is hard mommy will get them out of it. So like it or not, that is why I will NOT opt my kid out of standardized tests.

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Comments

  1. Cthulhu Is My Savior says

    I plan on telling Ash the Destroyer that the test is a pain in the ass but you have to suck it up and do it. Life has plenty of shitty things you have to do. It’s nothing to lose any amount of sleep over though. Give it your best as you would do with anything. Your academic worth and ability are defined by more than the test. What tanks most people is the fear and stress the schools create because they unfortunately have so much riding on it. So my strategy is to tell her to do her best and not to let anyone scare her into thinking it’s the equivalent of a monster in the closet. Which is good because she doesn’t believe in monsters in her closet or under the bed. She is Ash the Destroyer, monsters fear HER.

  2. I’m not sure what we do this year if we weren’t homeschooling, frankly. I don’t know about opting-out. We didn’t the last two years but after Sonny-Bunny having a complete panic attack and needing meds for his stomach, we considered it. I am not anti-testing but I am against the elementary version of the STAAR test. I can’t speak to the high school version but I don’t think that the 3-5 tests reflect accurately age appropriate knowledge base. It is long and tricky, especially for students that have attention issues. There are no straight math problems, only word problems and therefore doesn’t necessarily reflect a student’s strength in math if they have comprehension issues. I have two master’s degrees but I got some answers wrong for 3rd and 4th grade tests. I think the state needs to look carefully at how we are testing and on what, not necessarily not test. That’s my long winded answer. I respect your decision even if I’m not sure it would be mine.
    And as always, I love you.

    • I attempted to opt my kids out of homework one year because I felt the amount of homework was excessive. I totally get you are homeschooling but the easiest way to find out how to do something is to start by sending a note in saying, “My kid won’t be doing X for the remainder of the school year.” You get all KINDS of phone calls letting you know not only how you have to go about doing it officially but offers of accommodations. Sure they start OUT with, “You can’t do that.” But you keep saying, “Thank you, but that won’t work for me.” … and viola! Things happen. I tend to think if the tests are too hard physically/emotionally/etc. for a child the public school environment might not be the right fit. I homeschooled once for a few months because I thought my kid might not be the right fit for that environment. We both realized it was far better than me being her teacher =) *high five* to you, homeschooling mama because it’s a huge commitment and you are amazing.

      • Right?!? I have SOOOOO much respect for those who do take on the challenge of homeschooling as I was never meant to be that mom. I am in awe of those who are.

    • You know what Traci? I love and respect your decision. I’m not in a position to judge other parent’s choices and never shall. I can only speak for my own kiddos ya’ know?

      • I totally hear you. It is tough being a parent, isn’t it? But that’s why I love having a tribe of mommas where we don’t always do the same thing but we always respect each other. I don’t know what we’ll do when we start re-entry. Homeschooling is HARD. We’ll see when the time comes. My kid may react totally differently in a year but I do hear you on choices and expectations based on those choices. Wishing Giant the best. I’m sure he’ll crush it!
        <3

  3. โ€œWhenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.โ€ โ€• Mark Twain ……. I’m no fan of Mark Twain but this quote is pretty much my everything. I don’t pull my kids out of their testing, either, because part of school/work/life is doing the shitty stuff you don’t want to do and think is pointless. Refusing to take a test that allows the school they use every day to get funding? Pfffft. I’d love to walk into denny’s and have a coffee and leave without paying, but, you can’t do that either. Everything has a price and public school’s price is standardized tests. So you might have an unpopular opinion but damn, you can’t always be in line with the crowd, even if the crowd is mostly comprised of “your people”!

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