Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mom: Why I won’t let my son take high-stakes standardized test #uoodc13

Mom: Why I won’t let my son take high-stakes standardized test:

Mom: Why I won’t let my son take high-stakes standardized test

test1Here’s a Q & A with a Pennsylvania mother about why she decided not to let her 9-year-old son take the state’sstandardized test. Kathy Newman is part of a growing movement of parents who are choosing to “opt out” of the state’s test-based accountability system — at least in states that give families that option. (In Florida, for example, it is very hard to opt out; you can see that by reading this post about a severely disabled, blind boy forced to take the state’s standardized accountability test.) Newman wrote a piece for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about her decision. Following is a Q & A I did with her by e-mail.
Q) Why did you decide to opt your child out of testing?
A) The decision was difficult and slow. I’m part of a grassroots education movement here in Pittsburgh that started as a response to a billion dollar cut to the PA education budget in 2011. Our most active leader, Jessie Ramey (author of the education blog, Yinzercation), was blogging about the opt out movement. I was skeptical at first, because I knew that my children’s school, Pittsburgh Linden, could be hurt by my decision to opt out. I had been to school meetings at which we had looked at testing data, and I knew how important that data was to teachers and administrators.
At the same time, reading homework had become a nightly battle. My son Jacob, who turned 9 in January, was bringing home these long non-fiction reading passages, often very boring. He had to read the passage, identify the main idea, and make inferences about the material in order to answer the questions. The questions were often opaque, oddly worded, and frequently depended on outside knowledge. Sometimes when I was helping him I would figure out the answer, and I’ve have a moment of excitement, and then I would think, “Oh, yeah, I’m 46 and I have a PhD from Yale and I’m excited because I just figured out the answer to my 9-year-old’s reading homework?”
As test prep ramped up in February and March I had another revelation: Jacob does not love to read. Based on what he was bringing home from school, how could he? I realized