Posts Tagged ‘ standardized testing ’

Parents Across the U.S. Are Saying NO to Standardized Testing

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Standardized TestA growing number of states are adopting Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) standardized testing, and as a response, many parents are refusing to allow their children to take them.

New Jersey and Ohio were the first states to administer these exams, which align closely with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) exams created in 2009, and this year, eight more states will be following their lead.

Many parents argue that these exams focus too strongly on math, reading, and critical thinking skills, and don’t leave room for other important subjects, like science and history. Others, like Parents blogger Lisa Milbrand, believe the exams put an unnecessary amount of stress on their children.

Supporters, though, believe standardized testing is the best way to track a student’s performance, and to assess whether or not the school district is up to par. PARCC is “a valuable tool to know with confidence how their children are doing academically and how best to support their learning,” says Ellen Hur, a spokesperson for the New Mexico state education department.

But some New Jersey school districts have reported that more than 25 percent of their students have opted out of the exam. And these parents are not alone in this battle—hundreds of high school students in New Mexico recently staged walkouts during PARCC testing this year.

Although the kids are not penalized for opting out of exams, federal law states that 95 percent of the student body must complete the exam. If the quota is not met, the school risks losing their federal funding. “The rule is meant to keep administrators from quietly discouraging low performers to stay home on exam day, something that could skew performance upward and hide racial or socio-economic inequities,” reports the Washington Post. However, it’s unlikely that schools will be penalized for the opt-out portion of students.

As always, social media is helping to spread these displays of civil disobedience to an even wider audience, which may lead more parents and students to join the opt-out movement.

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School

Image: Standardized exam via Shutterstock

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Teacher Quits Due to Frustration with Standardized Testing

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Standardized TestingOne teacher in Massachusetts has taken a bold stand against standardized tests. Susan Sluyter was a teacher for more than 25 years before she quit last month due to the school system’s growing emphasis on standardized testing. Sluyter stated in her resignation letter that teaching for the tests was taking away from developing a healthy learning environment for her students. More from the Today show:

A teacher in Massachusetts who has spent more than a quarter century in the classroom is drawing attention after she quit her job over her growing frustration with the school system’s emphasis on standardized testing.

Because of “so many things that pulled me away from the classroom and fractured my time with the children,” kindergarten teacher Susan Sluyter quit last month.

“It takes the joy out of learning for the children,” she told TODAY. “It takes the joy out of teaching.”

In her resignation letter to Cambridge Public Schools, where she has taught for nearly 20 years, Sluyter said she was leaving “with deep love and a broken heart” but felt her job required her to focus too much on teaching to standardized tests rather than to the needs of her students.

“In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children,” she wrote in the letter, which was published by the Washington Post.

The “No Child Left Behind” set of education reforms signed into law in 2002 by President George W. Bush brought sweeping changes for schools and teachers, holding them accountable in new ways for the academic performance of students. But complaints quickly followed that too much focus was being placed on test preparation, rather than actual learning.

Sluyter said she has seen that emphasis has resulted in the suffering of students, whose confusion in the classroom often gets mistaken for disruptive conduct.

“I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, ‘I can’t do this! Look at me! Know me! Help me! See me!” she said in her letter.

Sluyter told TODAY her decision to quit was not an easy one to make.

“When I think about all of the children that I know in the school that I have been in for years who I never get to see anymore,” she said tearfully. “And they don’t even all know why I left.”

Jeffrey Young, the schools superintendent in Cambridge, Mass., said educators are working to finding a solution to the problems Sluyter addressed.

“I suspect that in time we will find the right way to achieve that balance between strong academic instruction and high-quality learning,” he said.

Michelle Rhee, president and CEO of, agreed the nation places “an overemphasis on testing” but said that doesn’t discount its usefulness in the education system.

“We can use standardized testing to measure whether or not kids are actually learning what they need to learn,” she said.

She pointed to a recent international survey that ranked the United States 26th in student math scores out of 34 developed countries.

“The bottom line is that the kids who are in school today in America are going to be competing for jobs against the kids in India and China, not against the kids in the state next door, so we really do have to make sure that our kids can compete in the global marketplace,” she said.

TODAY viewers expressed sympathy for Sluyter’s stance. They overwhelmingly voted against the idea in a Facebook survey that asked whether standardized tests were the best way for kids to learn. Only 43 agreed it was, while more than 6,000 voted against it.

“As a parent, I have to say no. Schools are simply “teaching to the test” as so much rides on students scores. There is so much creative, “outside the box” learning that is sacrificed in the process,” said Michelle Swart Neely.

Kerry Murphy tried to compare it testing adults at work: “Can you imagine if we scored employees on how well they performed on their job throughout the year on a test taken in 2 days? Adults would be having nervous breakdowns left and right. But for some reason it’s totally ok to do it to kids?”

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What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School
What Kids Like (And Don't Like) About School

Image: Yellow pencil on multiple choice test computerized answer sheet via Shutterstock.

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