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High Stakes Testing: What Every Parent Needs to Know

High Stakes Testing: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Now that summer is behind us and the school year is in full swing, it is time again to confront some of the educational issues facing parents and students in the public school system. The common core curriculum remains a mysterious subject for many parents of school-aged children. For those who have tried to stay informed, the subject of ‘common core’ has proved to be extremely controversial among parents, teachers, and administrators.

What is PARCC?

The state mandated testing that goes hand-in-hand with the common core curriculum is what has many teachers and parents at odds with principals and other district administrators. The test at the heart of the controversy is the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career) test. PARCC is being administered nation-wide to students in the nine states still participating in the common core initiative.

The test covers two broad subject areas, English Language Arts and Mathematics. According to the official website for the PARCC test, the goal of the assessment is ‘to raise the bar for students and measure critical thinking and problem solving.’ Sounds very ‘educational’, right? Just a few of the problems with the PARCC test include:

  • Large chunks of class time needed to familiarize students with the technology used to take the computerized test, a common complaint of teachers administering the test as discussed in this article from the Chicago Tribune.
  • A high concentration of ambiguous test questions (see the National FairTest website.
  • Widespread suspicions regarding the reliability of the data obtained since low scores may indicate a lack of knowledge in the subject area or simple a deficiency in computer operating skills, a concern raised on the Arkansas against common core website.
  • Increased anxiety on the part of students due to the length and nature of the exam as discussed in an article from the Detroit Free Press.
  • Pressure on educators to ‘teach to the test’ since a low score may reflect negatively on the teacher, a concern raised by the Chicago Teacher’s Union.

What Parents are Hearing

Because of the issues discussed above and many more, a growing number of parents are choosing to ‘opt’ their child out of taking the PARCC test. However, a common misconception among parents, teachers and administrators is that by law every student MUST take this test. Principals are even leading parents to believe that by opting their child out the school may lose its funding or that if a child does not take the test than the principal’s job is at stake and that both the parents and school may face legal action.

Other schools are telling parents who want to opt out of PARCC that their child is required to sit in the classroom during the entire time allotted for the test and do nothing but stare into space. These are just a few examples of some of the erroneous ideas that schools, parents and administrators are led to believe. For more information that compares the myths surrounding the PARCC exam with federal and state laws, check out this list on the Illinois Raise Your Hand website.

What You Can Do About the Testing

Michelle Malkin from the National Review writes, “Don’t let the bureaucratic smoke screens fool you. A federal No Child Left Behind mandate on states to administer assessments is not a mandate on you and your kids to submit to the testing diktats. And the absence of an opt-out law or regulation is not a prohibition on your choice to refuse.”

In other words, there are no regulations in place regarding opting out, and it is well within your constitutional rights not to subject your child to this experimental, high stakes standardized test.

If you have made the decision to opt your child out state-mandated tests such as PARCC, be prepared to stand up for your rights as a parent and your child’s rights as a student. Included below is a link to a sample letter that you can customize and use to communicate your wishes to the personnel at your child’s school.

Sample letter:
For a sample letter provided by United Opt Out, please see: GENERIC OPT OUT LETTER GUIDELINES

Armed for Opposition

The grand majority of objecting parents will be met with some degree of educational ‘bullying’ that will require resolve to stand your ground. Know the facts and do what you feel is best for your child. In the event that you find yourself at an impasse with your district administrators and in need of legal representation, call our office for competent, personalized legal assistance. We can help you stand behind your rights as a concerned, well-informed parent.

Over to You

What are you thoughts about the state mandated testing? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

This article was published on: September 9, 2015 and was last modified September 9, 2015