Opting Out

Posted by Debby on 8th May and posted in Educational Politics

We homeschool through a puclic school charter, which means that we are asked to participate in the annual state standardized testing debacal every year. This is the letter I submitted for one of our children last month. I will be using a similar one for the other children this week. I cannot claim originality as I modified it from another parent’s letter, but I fully stand behind what it says. From what I understand, it was read in a school wide staff meeting and caused quite a stir.

The mental dissonance that comes from seeing thousands of teacher laid off over the past several years, many of whom I know personally, juxtaposed with the billions being spent nationwide to support the testing industry is overwhelming. If the tests made a difference in student learning or helped individual classroom teachers work better with their students, I might feel differently, but the results don’t ever come until a student has moved on to the next class. The only purpose for these tests are to CYA for a school/district/state/nation so that they can point to a number and say “look, we’ve done something”. Can’t we find anything better to spend our money on… like, oh, I don’t know, maybe teaching and learning?

April 12, 2012

Please accept this letter as our request to excuse our son, Gabriel, from participation in standardized achievement testing as is allowed in §60615 of the California Education Code. This request includes the state mandated assessments of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment program (STAR/CAT 6), which will begin for our son in the 2011-2012 school year.

We believe such testing to be unjust, counter-productive, and harmful to the education and development of our son; we do not see any intrinsic value in our eleven-year old spending time transcribing his answers from a test sheet to a Scantron. Timed, one-chance tests do not show regard to variables in context or circumstance affecting student performance on the days of testing.

In addition, we do not wish to participate in mandated programs that coerce school districts into compliance with punishments that adversely affect the resources, standing, and operations of our locally controlled pubic schools. The state oversteps its bounds and does a disservice to the public when it ignores professionals in local schools, arbitrarily making educational decisions (funding, status, and otherwise) based solely upon these one-chance tests.

As parents, we resent being held hostage to tests—which cannot be cheap to administer—while simultaneously suffering absurd cuts to our school, cuts that continue to decimate our staff and much-needed resources.

We understand that it is an educator’s professional duty to assess the learning of each student in the classroom and we fully support our teacher, our principal and our staff. This request is not intended to restrict professional assessment (formative or summative) by the teacher to which our child is assigned. On the contrary, we believe our talented teacher is our child’s benchmark, and that he has the skills and training to do what standardized tests cannot.

Best regards,

Dr. and Mrs. R. Steven Kurti, Jr.

cc: Mr. Joseph B. Andreasen, Superintendent, Oro Grande School District; Mr. Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction

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