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Refuse the test? Not my kids
April 5, 2014 - John Stack
Some of the big brouhaha recently has centered around parents who are choosing to not let their children take the standardized tests for Common Core. The amount of negativity has reached an unbelievable high. People I have great respect for are posting incendiary remarks and videos. It seems to have hit the heights of hysteria and misinformation normally associated with Sarah Palin and the Affordable Care Act.
Why are people against the testing? Well, I'm not so sure. Some teachers and taxpayers are against Common Core because of the test scores ranking teachers. Others say the curriculum isn't age appropriate. Additional people talk about how the tests are causing vomiting, crying and sickness because of the tests. Others claim that some of the curriculum is invalid, as it teaches evolution and climate change.
The tests are there for a number of good reasons. The results of the tests are used in multiple areas. The scores are used to help review teacher's performance, the school's performance, and how well the children are progressing. Now, at least on the surface these are noble goals. There can be arguments about HOW these goals are met, met the goals themselves are good, seemingly with little dissent.
Right off the bat, what happens when you keep your child from taking the tests? Unless your child is one of the low performers in the class, this is what happens: Your teacher get rated lower. The average of the class is brought down because of the absence of the grades of an adequately performing student. fewer of the students are deemed at proficiency. With he lowered rating of the teacher and lower class grades this is aggregated by lowering the ranking of the school. Add back in the lower performer, and remove any child from the test and the children cannot have his year to year progress compared. If you change schools - there would be no measurement as to where to place your children, as you have chosen to opt out of anything standard that another school may use. And, more than half of children do change schools during K-12. I can't find an argument claiming any of these effects are positive.
Some of the more hurtful claims are ones that say the kids are being ABUSED. Yes, many claim the kids are being abused by "subjecting" them to a test that is a maximum of 70 minutes long. I really think if this is your main beef with Common Core, maybe you should really consider what you think abuse really is.
There are reports of kids crying, getting sick and vomiting during the tests. I believe this is true. It sure is not a learning environment if the children are scared to death of the test. but, why are they scared? I can posit why 90 percent or more have such violent reactions - none to do with the children. A non-supportive or ignorant parent who puts incredible pressure on the child to do well has nothing to do with Common Core, but has everything to do with the parent. Parents who worry about the test and foist those concerns upon their children is not the fault of Common Core, but parents who don't know how to keep adult things away from children, and are the problem, not the test. Teachers and administrators who are not supportive also cause the children to be much more apprehensive and scared of the test causing negative health and educational results. If a child has test phobia, just because it is in their makeup, again, is not caused by common core's standardized tests.
My children took the tests this week. They were fine. They were not apprehensive. They had supportive teachers and supportive administrators and parents. I heard no reports of the terrible vomiting, screaming, crying at my children's school. My son hardly even registered that these tests were anything different than any other school day.
Then we have politicians, especially sacrificial gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He and his wife, a special education teacher, have chosen to "opt out" f having their children take the tests. But, he has offered literally no concrete reason for this. His reasons (from the ADE article 3/31/2014) are "my kids aren't guinea pigs" to " schools essentially become centralized organs of the federal government" and " refusing to take the Cuomo Common Core test." In other words, the sacrificial GOP candidate is using his own children as a political stunt to further his own ambitions. He sees no problem using his 3 kids as props, and sees no problem hurting his own kids teachers, schools and his own children. With even little anecdotal evidence to support him, he will sell his own children down the road to make political points.
I've commented on this topic on Facebook and other sites. Close friends have said that people should arm themselves with information about Common Core. I have done this. My children will continue to take these tests for the rest of their school careers and I hope, after more people cut through the incendiary knee jerk reactions, they will find that they too should be condoning the use of Common Core.
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