N.G. asks from Arlington, TX on October 11, 2012
Refusing Standardized Testing... Thoughts?
My 8-year-old daughter is in 3rd grade this year, and for the first time will be subjected to these standardized tests. Here in TX, in the spring she will have the STAAR, which is reading & language arts, and the TAKS, which covers the other subjects. The STAAR is a THREE HOUR test (she's 8!) which consists of reading long passages and answering questions about it.
Her teachers told me at the beginning of the year (at the parent meeting) that they are not fans of the tests, but especially the STAAR test, which is newer, because 3 hours is way too long for 8-year-olds. They have seen some of their best readers fail because they didn't bubble answers in correctly or because they had so much anxiety over such a long test. The teachers have to spend a lot of time throughout the school year teaching the kids how to take the test (like, how to bubble the answers).
Anyway... my daughter is notorious for being anxious about test-taking. She does fine, she's on the A-honor roll. But she really beats herself up over wrong answers, and more importantly, she's EIGHT. I can't see making her sit through a test that lasts that long.
Anyway... on the one hand, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to go ahead and just let her take the tests, because these standardized tests will be a part of her education for the rest of her childhood. On the other hand, I know this won't be good for my daughter, and I don't need a standardized test to tell me where she stands. She's at the top of her class.
I'm aware that TX uses standardized testing for school accountability, funding, that kind of thing. What I'm not aware of, and can't find much info about, is repercussions of refusing to take the tests. The district has a policy that children cannot miss testing days "for any reason".
I will find the specifics of possible consequences related to our state/district on my own (unless you have experiences to share!)... what I'm really wanting is your thoughts. What do you think?
So What Happened?™
A couple more things-- the teachers absolutely cannot help the students during the test or answer any sort of questions about it whatsoever. They do get 1 break.
ETA: I was mistaken. It's actually FOUR hours, not three, and any breaks are considered part of the four hours. Her teachers told me that a lot of kids don't finish.
Theresa: That's insane!!! I am so against most forms of standardized testing, but THAT is just ridiculous.
Angela: Thanks for the encouragement. I wondered what teachers would think, but it sounds like my daughters' teachers think the same as you. They *hate* the test, they hate teaching kids to pass the test, it takes away from what they *COULD* be doing.
'B': I respectfully (but highly) disagree that this is 'senseless drama'. These tests are ridiculous, and the majority of educators believe so. You might be fine with your child being subjected to it just because a politician says so (No Child Left Behind Act is the precise thing that needs to go away), but I'm not. That doesn't make me any more melodramatic than it makes you a sheep.
ETA B: If you think the test being a 'bore' is the only issue, you're the one who misunderstands.
L.O. answers from Detroit on October 11, 2012
yes... it will be long for an 8 year old. but there will be standardized tests from now till she takes the act sat for college admission. the more practice she gets taking the tests the better.. so when the stakes are high.. (act and sat and which college will she be admitted to) she will be past the anxiety and do well.
I don't see how it will benefit her in any way to skip the test. It seems like a personal protest by you.
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R.M. answers from San Francisco on October 11, 2012
Don't overprotect her. Just tell her the test doesn't matter all that much, just go ahead and do her best but don't worry about it.
5 moms found this helpful
X.O. answers from Chicago on October 11, 2012
Is private school an option (and do TX private schools have to take the tests too?)
Private schools in MN (where I grew up) and here in IL aren't even allowed to take the same standardized tests, so they are not required at private schools. Most private schools seek out their own standardized tests, and take the Iowa tests instead, but they are nothing like what you described.
1 mom found this helpful
J.W. answers from St. Louis on October 11, 2012
Let her take the test. She is young enough that the score isn't important to her but learning how to deal with the test is important.
N., do you realize that you are being overprotective and that could hurt her in the long run? These tests used to take two days, all day, and I lived, we all lived. They make the test so no one can finish because they run past their grade level.
Do you really want colleges looking back at her records and seeing great student but why didn't she take these tests? Don't you think not getting in to her college of choice is worse than taking a test? I know it seems crazy because this is grade school but you would be amazed what carries on their record.
14 moms found this helpful
M.B. answers from Tampa on October 11, 2012
I think all this refusing to take the test is only going to teach your child to cause a fuss so she can get out of stuff that's hard. Are you planning on trying to refuse till she graduates?
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J.B. answers from Boston on October 11, 2012
Don't worry about the test, don't worry your child about the test, and don't try to get her out of it. It's just an assessment of whether or not the school district is effectively teaching curriculum standards. Nothing more, nothing less.
My state is widely touted for having some of the best schools in the nation. How did we get here? Standardized testing is a big part of the success story. "Teaching to the test" is not a bad thing if the test covers skills that are age- and grade-appropriate for students. If a teacher or district has a really progressive, interesting, engaging curriculum but the kids still can't read, write, spell, add or subtract then what good is all that creativity? Curricula should be expanded and stretched...AFTER the basics are covered. What we learned here in the earlier days of standardized tests (which have been in place for more than 10 years) is that across schools and districts, standards and performance varied widely. Some kids were being under-educated relative to their peers and that's not OK. With more consistent standards in place and measurement of progress, we see mroe students here who are mastering basic skills and are better prepared for life after high school.
Anyway...four hours isn't a long time, the kids get breaks, and shame on the teachers for being all Negative Nellies about this. What are they afraid of? Thousands of children your daughter's age take the exact same tests for the exact same amount of time and are fine. Yours will be too.
10 moms found this helpful
M.O. answers from New York on October 11, 2012
I agree with you, 110%, on all your feelings about these tests. Agree with the teachers too. Hell, I agree with your daughter on the anxiety thing too.
But, here's the thing. My mom (who was wonderful and inspired, and whom I love with all my heart) was very influenced by the Romantic view of childhood that was prevalent during the early to mid-70s. If I didn't want to do something (i.e., homework), then I was expressing my heart's desire as a magical child of the earth (I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea), so no homework for me. This did NOT go over well w/ my 3rd-grade teacher, or any teacher thereafter, and it took me far longer than it should have to get with the program on my own.
Which has made me something of a "get with the program," "get your chin up and deal" kind of a person. And mom. I struggle with it with my first-grader, since he's a very advanced reader. Almost every night, I look at his homework and say, "the kid started reading Harry Potter in kindergarten. And the teacher knows it. Does he really, really, really have to sit here and demonstrate that he can spell 'cat'?" But almost every night, I think: What's the message if I tell him he doesn't. I mean, I don't want to send him the message that he's so special and brilliant that he doesn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Every once in a while, even the biggest genius in the world has to stand in line at the Motor Vehicles Department.
You might try thinking along similar lines with your daughter. Tell her, "the results of this test are not that important. This is just a test that the government needs. Your school doesn't care. But for you, it's a test of bravery. You need to slay the dragon of sitting down and taking it, even if it's dumb."
Wasn't it somebody, Yogi Berra or Groucho Marx or whoever, who said 90% of life is just showing up?
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E.A. answers from Erie on October 11, 2012
We took standardized tests every year growing up, and I am 42. I don't understand why parents now think it's some kind of "new" thing. The only thing new about it is that school funding is attached to the results, whereas before it was simply to gauge your child's aptitude. They also prepared us well for the ACT and SAT testing to get into college.
Sure, you can refuse to let your daughter take them, which will affect the results and possibly put the school at risk of losing funding. But then, I don't think these tests are useless, as much as I was against them when NCLB was instituted. They have been very helpful to us to gauge where our own children are in regards to what their strengths and weaknesses are, especially for my two that have reading disabilities. So many countries are doing so much better than us in every subject area, we have to start somewhere to figure out how to educate our kids better.
You asked what I think, and I think you are being overly dramatic because your daughter "doesn't like to" take them. Well, phooey for her. I hated the physical fitness tests when I was in school, but I took them, as uncomfortable and embarrassing as it was for me, and it was good for me in the long run. They will never be able to alter the tests without parent input and test results consistantly not matching actual grades or aptitude, so by denying your child the testing, you are doing a disservice to your entire district.
Talk to the school board, contact one of the members directly, to find out the consequences of not taking the test. But if I were in their shoes, I'd tell you to suck it up or send her to a private school.
9 moms found this helpful
K.I. answers from Los Angeles on October 11, 2012
You can throw in 'No Child left behind' all you like but the fact of the matter is standardized testing has been around for a very long time! I am 35 y/o and I remember taking the huge tests in elementary school. At the time, the tests took all day and actually lasted 3 days. We got good breaks, and ice cream after we were done...the teachers tried hard to make it fun for all and as relaxed as can be. And yes, even back then the teachers had to 'teach' us to fill in the bubbles correctly.
I am sorry that your daughter has anxiety about taking tests, but it is *my* opinion that opting her out of it will not teach her a very good lesson. How about trying to help her by letting her know that all she has to do is do her best and try to help her get over her anxiety instead of teaching her to run away from her fears. I mean, after all, she will be required to take many, many tests during her school career.
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B.C. answers from Norfolk on October 11, 2012
I didn't think it was an opt out thing.
My son's been taking standardized tests since first grade.
When in private school it was Stamford 10.
In public school it's SOL.
The tests are easy for most students.
Even though he was very nervous the first time he took one, he's aced every one.
I don't know the specifics of the STARR test, but I wouldn't worry about it.
She'll sense your feelings about it and feed off you.
The kids get through these things - they gets breaks when they need to - they bond over it.
The teachers should be going over the proper way to mark the forms (color in the little circle completed with a number 2 pencil) and giving them a little practice on it.
It all becomes very routine (and somewhat boring).
To have your daughter boycott taking the test won't help her with test taking in the future.
In some states, if a student does not take (or pass) the test - they fail the grade and have to take summer school to make it up or they repeat a grade.
They want to be sure 'no child is left behind' without the skills they'll need in upper grades and these tests are a major way of assessing that.
Actually I'm a bit surprised the teachers are shooting themselves in the foot with this thing.
Passing on the info they did (and their attitude about it) merely is feeding into your sense of dread and there is no need for it.
Shame on them for the needless drama.
You misunderstand me.
The shame is not on you - it's on the teachers for bad mouthing the test and the process.
Sure these things are a bore and a bit of a chore but it's nothing to over throw the government about.
You are not so interested in your daughter learning to deal with test taking as you are interested in rallying a movement against tests in general.
Good luck with that.
And I mean that sincerely.
I feel schools tend to limit the learning experience due to these tests and the necessary 'teaching to' them.
However- kids learn so much about life and education outside of school - I never let any school limit what my child learns.
If he has an interest - we pursue it on our own - no test required.
I don't waste my energy tilting at windmills.
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P.K. answers from New York on October 11, 2012
The sooner she gets used to testing the better off she will be. Let her take them.
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