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  • Marge McCarthy

    Liz, we didn't broadcast our opt-out decision to other parents. Some heard about it because schools are small societies and staff talk to their favorite parents. As might be assumed, we weren't favorite parents, but there were a few teachers that quietly expressed their support. I think most teachers would like to do away with standardized testing. SadieBaker9 said it 3 days ago "it's part of a teacher's job in PUBLIC schools, and refusing could very well mean losing their job." Some private schools participate in some form of standardized testing, but not the progressive schools. We should all be ashamed of a system that holds our teachers accountable based on test results of a group of students' on a particular day, let alone what it does to pigeonhole our students. I still believe that the administration, up to the school board and superintendent, must take the tests the same day as the students, whether they are on their game, sick or whatever, they should take the test that very day, and their scores should be shared with the media. Some might do well, and I would guess others will opt-out.

    • Liz Dwyer

      Thanks, for replying, Marge. I know many parents who are trying to figure out how to opt out without the teachers/schools suffering the penalties. I didn't opt my sons out last year and saw them become completely demoralized and full of anxiety the closer we got to testing season. The teachers were clearly anxious, too--the pressure is crazy. And, here in Los Angeles there are now district assessments that I've seen pretty much become a student's entire grade on a the report card.

      • Marge McCarthy

        Opt-out. They cannot assess a grade for your students if they don't take the test. It will not hurt their chances to get into a college. Your taxes are paid by you, or the property owner where you live, and those taxes pay for the schools and teachers. How the decision makers decide to penalize one another should not be the problem of the children or the families. Change begins with you.

  • Lisa Wain

    I'd like to see an "opt out of money" campaign, remove the need for money removes the need to get a "good" job, therefore removes the need for standardised testing (and comparing). It would leave us to simply create who were born to be!

  • Marge McCarthy

    Chasmine, we all have to conform in our lifetimes, but as individuals we do have the power to create change. My husband and I took a stand many years ago, but it really didn't do anything but upset that school administration for a brief moment in time. Even though we opted-out of standardized tests for our children, we don't believe we will see the public school system change in our lifetime. Either way, we must stand-up for what we believe in, and get involved. You cannot create change if you don't get involved. Run for public office. Serve your community. Volunteer your time, even if it is only a little bit, but get involved. Don't live your life, allowing others to make your decisions for you. You may not always be as effective as you hope to be, but be a participant. There are great opportunities to learn and grow when we participate. And remember, take care of your own personal maintenance or a maintenance window will be provided for you. That's a fact!

    • Chasmine Villalobos

      I actually do. Throughout my years I was always put down, neglected and ostracized by my parents, hence the adopt me comment. I am the eldest of eleven children, born into poverty and violence. I was born into a home where my time studying was labeled as a waste, so I didn't. I was never, ever, involved in school. On the contrary I continuously ditched and went out with my "older friends" since the age of thirteen. I was a dissident by dictionary definition. I never took advantage of the free education. But I always read books in secrecy. At times I remember ditching only to go alone to the library or Barnes and Noble just to get away from it all, from the shitty home I had to the fake society, bunched up into a small area of under aged, infested, desperate teen facility. On my sixteenth birthday I decided to move out. I had a job at Pizza Hut and made it. I've done so much with my life in such little time. I'm only seventeen now but I have lived in Argentina, San Francisco and might graduate early. I attend a charter school now to fit my schedule. But beyond that it is the best school I have ever attended and I would have to type an entire separate page to explain how great it is and how it has changed my life. I'm sure if I would have taken advantage of all the other eleven years of education I would have been much smarter. I have big views, opinions, and ideas I simply need to better my English and strengthen my diction so I can be heard. I have volunteered in a retirement home, homeless shelter, hospitals, and currently an elementary school. In the most recent school, I managed to bring the community together and have a celebration/fair to fund raise for the school, it was amazing.
      I'm not really sure where I was going with this post. I guess I just needed to let it all out and let someone see a glimpse of all the things I've done, sometimes living on my own becomes a little lonely.
      However, it is superfluous to say that I am happy and grateful for it all. I have yet to become oblivious, and I tend to keep it that way.

      • Marge McCarthy

        I read this quote by Charles R Swindoll in an article on lifehacker and thought it fitting to reply to your posting: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes." And to this I might add my own quote: We all have stories, but we are all authors of our own lives, and it is up to us to decide how our stories play out, and how they will end.

    • Liz Dwyer

      This is great advice not just for the situation regarding testing, but for life in general. Thanks for sharing.

  • graceadams830

    I did MUCH BETTER at standardized multiple-choice tests than I did on anything as creative as an essay test! I really wish I could have found a decent job in which my skill at taking multiple choice tests would have been sufficient for me to land and hold the job. My life would have been much better if there had been a job available to me that matched my talents better--not to mention my lack of talent in anything creative.

    On the other hand, children whose talents are more toward the creative than the good little parrot echoing the party line, also should have the opportunity to land and hold a job matching their talents.

  • Marge McCarthy

    Our children are 27 and 22 now. I think we were the only parents that opted-out when our kids were in school. I wrote our own letters. It wasn't easy, because they don't want us to opt-out. They tried to guilt us with the same stories and even punished our kids, but we all lived through it. As parents, we chose not to allow our children to be marginalized. Our children were bright, and there are times we were told they were gifted and talented, or AP students, but we still don't believe in standardized tests, or teacher teaching to them!!! We stand by our decision and would do it again.

    • Liz Dwyer

      What did other parents say to you when they found that you weren't opting out?

  • sadiebaker9

    I would love to see some different options for educators here. Refusing to test simply isn't plausible- it's part of a teacher's job in public schools, and refusing could very well mean losing their job, and then no one benefits- not the now-unemployed teacher, not the student who could benefit from having a teacher who thinks broadly. Most teachers have to administer the tests- end of story. Opting out is a choice for parents, but teachers having students play, paint, or sing instead? Not an actual choice, and it's not helpful for Good to act like it is.

    • Shaun Johnson

      I disagree that the choice is testing or playing. That is incorrect.

      • sadiebaker9

        Yet, those are the options that the post gives educators, erroneously.

  • mst900

    Standardized testing is a measure of how much money well- to-do students are willing to spend on cheating; everything from getting the test ahead of time, engaging well-paid tutors, having schools artificially inflating scores and teaching to the test, to having some paid test- taker do the job for you. A TV special recently showed how ubiquitous and profitable cheating scandals are, and even when students who paid someone else to take the SAT for them were found out, no action was taken at all. A straight A student admits he never read a single book. Grammar, writing skills, lack of knowledge about history, geography, science, the world and other cultures have been demonstrated on Jay Leno, global comparison tests, media exposure, as well as poorly written journalists' pieces and poorly speaking commentators. This false and heavy reliance on standardized testing has not improved education in US. schools at all. Vulnerable students have not been helped , but purposely left behind as those that count in this society have been preferentially given the very best there is and no real concern except to point out ad infinitum the inferiority of those groups to elevate the sociopolitical status of the chosen few who will continue to the oligarchy that runs this country. Ignorance is essentiial to maintaining the status quo and provides the few with the ability to steal and pillage this country's resources with propaganda, subliminal messages, and the all-purpose cry of national security . The denial of global warming, the pathetic and scary lack of basic scientific knowledge, coupled with the lack of job skills that then allows employers to legitimately outsource employment or import foreign labor will continue until Americans wake up. Yes, we need accountability. First, we need real education that fosters thinking, analysis, computer skills for something other than games, creative arts(then hopefuly movies and fine arts will foster tastes in adults-old and young- that do not include the Hobbit and other childish nonsense so prevalent today). Tests should be a measure of what was taught, how well it was taught, whether basic skills are mastered, and how well the student can think in and out of the box.This requires exams to be more relevant and more creative, as well making them less prone to cheating and rote memorization.

  • Mike Brooks

    This approach doesn't leave a whole lot of room for nuance. Sure, tests can be over-emphasized and used in bad ways, but there are benefits to them. How can a district, state, or the nation compare one school to another (in order to provide additional support to those in need, in order to determine whether the most vulnerable children are being served) if we reflexively say that all standardized evaluation is bad? Ending testing won't make creative quality education suddenly appear.

    • Lisa Wain

      Why do we have to compare at all?? What are we comparing anyway?? I'd like to see an "opt out of money" campaign, remove the need for money removes the need to get a "good" job, therefore removes the need for standardised testing (and comparing). It would leave us to just be who we were born to be!

    • Jeremiah Henderson

      Hi Mike! I think you bring up a good point. Accountability is important, we need to make sure our children are retaining what they are being taught, and we need to be able to measure progress. Great measures of assessment include in class project based assessments, portfolios, and measuring progress over the year. There are plenty of better options than using a standardized test. I say this having experience watching children having to cram terms, lessons, all related to the test in hopes they would pass. It was awful. We can find better solutions!
      To address creativity. I think you are right, ending testing will be like a major surgery, we won't be better right away, but over time things will return to normal, and creativity will begin to flourish. Ending testing will also allow (one would hope) for teachers to be creative and develop new ways of assessing students and progress. So glad you brought up this point!

      • Mike Brooks

        @Jeremiah Henderson, Thank you for your reply and the positive spirit of discourse I hear in it. I appreciate the broader options for evaluation you offer. I think they are great approaches. I worry that limitations of time, money, and talent make their wide application very difficult, at the expense of kids. But they would be ideal approaches if we could take care of those practical concerns. Most importantly, I hope people passionately committed to kids and education remain open-minded about how we can best serve them. I worry people fall into reform/corporate or anti-reform/public camps and miss the important points available in both. But I could be wrong and am only beginning to learn.

    • Elizabeth Rubenstein

      quality education might have a chance with the hours and weeks that would be freed up by eliminating testing. Art, PE and music could return to our schools, and teachers could use qualitative assessment and portfolios to measure each student's progress...
      Children are not standard, we should not treat them like they are.

      • Mike Brooks

        @Elizabeth Rubenstein, I agree with you that children are not standard. That's an important point to keep in mind. I am not certain, however, that testing and art/PE/music are incompatible if both are done well. I believe I've seen districts do it. I did not mean to say in my original post that testing as it presently exists in the US is perfect. I meant to say that the issue of evaluation is more complex and requires more nuance than a blanket "opt out of all standardized testing."

    • Shaun Johnson

      Many industrialized nations with effective systems do not use testing and trust the educators to make the decisions.

      • Mike Brooks

        @Shaun Johnson, thanks for your helpful perspective. I think the US has a lot to learn from other educational systems. But there may be a variety of factors confounding the relationship between testing/not testing and effective ed systems, including size and scale of population, pay for teachers, etc.

  • Douglas Jack

    'Education' (Latin 'to lead forth from within') is originally designed around the vision-quest process of youth as well as lifelong progressive ownership in the Production Societies / Guilds. School was never meant to be a linear industrial training process until aristocrats returned from plundering the middle-east & then America. In order to further their violence, aristocrats needed to break the distributed universal ownership of the guilds. Aristocrats instituted schools to advantage their own children & take control. Youth have wonderful gifts for all of us when they are re-integrated into our lives & work. When we place youth in situations of individualized adult mentorship & helping out, they bring important insight to reinvigorate adult imagination & real productivity for essential goods & services which matter. The test is for what we co-create together as whole communities. The test is our relationship. Artificial testing related to memorization is only the mark of a subservient individual.

  • Stephen Lehtonen

    Nice. While testing can give us important data and a benchmark, it's clearly not the purpose of education and we have lost sight of what passionate education looks like. I gave a TED talk at UCLA last year on this very topic and started Breakaway Education to bring passion to schools. You can check the TED talk on our web site:

    • Warren Huska

      Agree with benchmarking. People seem to lose sight that testing is as much about effectiveness of the instructors and institutions, as 'judging' any individual student. With no measure, there can be no evaluation. It's not the tests, it's what you do with it. Rather like any religion ;-)

    • DebbieR

      To coin a phrase, "AWESOME!" I'm not a bouncing baby 64-year-old girl, who is just now beginning to know my own passions and what I'd like to do for the rest of my life. Having passed every test imaginable in high school, I was accepted at UCSB and from there it was all catastrophic! Education itself, all the opportunities for learning the mass of information available at college, was by itself a passion. But I became caught up in a fishnet of not passing tests up to my expected caliber, labeled myself a failure, and in the beginning of my sophomore year dropped out of school to flounder, dabble in whatever could bring in some money and was of some interest, to a point where I'm now retired and looking for my future!

      GREAT speech. Too short - but, right on, Bubba! Right On!