Refusing Standardized Testing... Thoughts?

Updated on October 12, 2012
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
43 answers

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?

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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.

Featured Answers



answers from Detroit on

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.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

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


answers from Chicago on

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

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answers from Tampa on

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?

14 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

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


answers from Boston on

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


answers from New York on

Hey N.,

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?

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

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


answers from Los Angeles on

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.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

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.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I don't think anyone wants their kids to have to take these tests. I don't remember liking them - though I didn't hate them either as I found them pretty easy. Since your daughter is top of her class, they should be easy for her too. Let her shine. And she needs to learn to accept mistakes etc. It's part of life. Both tests and mistakes are part of life. She won't know instantly when she made a mistake anyway and maybe she won't make any. These tests may not be the best system but until someone comes up with a better one, I think it's kind of arrogant to think your daughter should be excluded. Then everyone will want their child excluded and if your daughter can be, then everyone should get to skip it. Maybe that's the goal but people want teacher accountability and this was the method chosen. Prove there's a better one and I bet everyone would be happy. So it seems more appropriate to work to change the system than pick and choose for your child. I know I won't like everything our public system does but either I work to change the system or I can exercise my right and option of private school or homeschooling. Not like anyone is forcing you to send her to public schools. So if you chose public schools, I think you have to play by their rules just like everyone else.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

The sooner she gets used to testing the better off she will be. Let her take them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I hate to say it but I strongly disagree with trying to get your child exempted from the test. There are A LOT of things in life that we don't WANT to do but HAVE to do. Teaching her to suck it up and to do her best might be a better way to teach her coping skills than to teach her to run from things that make her uncomfortable.

My read of your post was that YOU are trying to project your objections of the test onto your daughter. Kids are more perceptive thatn you give them credit for and if she catches wind of your feelings she will view these tests in a negative light and may not do as well as she would have otherwise.

Even though these tests are part of something much larger they can expose your child's weaknesses. Even though she does very well and is in the top of her class she still may do better in some areas and struggle in others. You will learn which areas of reading (comprehension, open ended questions) or math (geometry, algebraic concepts..) you can work on to improve to make her even better.

Don't see these tests as a negative but as a tool to optomize her learning so she can continue to be successful throughout her school career.

Allay your fears, allay her fears, and let your daughter shine.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm a special ed teacher in TX. There isn't an opt out for STAAR/TAKS testing. Even my significantly cogitively delayed children must take a version of it. There are parent movements to have their kids stay home to "miss" the test and letter writing campaigns to the State Congress. If you keep your child home on test days to avoid the test, there are multiple opportunity for make ups. If the child does not take the test, there is a possibilty that the child will not be promoted to the next grade. There are three grade levels from 3rd-12th that passing the test is a requirement for promotion.
The best option is letter writing or going to the Capitol in person to advocate for the stopping of the testing.
And yes, every teacher hates the testing. It does take away for a lot of learning that could take place if we were "teaching to the test".

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We have STARR testing in CA and I want to tell you an unintended bit of information I received from them. The first year my daughter took the test she did VERY well. The second time, not so much and it reflected the classroom situation. The last two time her scores were back up to the original levels. At this point it is validating of the fact there was a prolbem so don't know really how useful this is, but just thoguht I'd share so you can add to your list of pros and cons.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

N., I don't have the answer to your question, but you'll LOVE this.

Here in NYS, we now test students at the START of the year on subject matter they haven't even LEARNED yet, so that when they're tested AGAIN at the END of the year, we can use the scores to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum! Fantastic!

This in addition to all the other state/fed standardized testing already required.

Furthermore, my high schoolers in AP/UHS classes are tested THREE TIMES at the end of the class for the SAME CLASS. A local final exam, a Regents exam, then the national AP or UHS test. Geez.

My only advice is it does not effect her grade in anyway, so you can really tell her to RELAX, it just DOES NOT matter how she does on the test.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I am only a parent of a young toddler but my opinion for what it is worth is to have your daughter take the test while encouraging her to maintain proper perspective (no impact on grades, no punishment, school/teacher assessment NOT assessment of her, etc.) and to reign in the anxiety. She's only 8 but it is practice for what is to come. The testing and course requirements only grow in demand with time. If she can learn to tame some of her (test) anxiety now, it will stand her in good stead in the long run. I know in college I took some ferocious tests which even at twenty-something were flipping ridiculous. I managed and survived well enough to get my degree, though. I think each phase of schooling is preparation for higher level schooling and eventually for your job. Who hasn’t been asked to do something at work which was a bit of a reach for whatever reason? I like to think all that practice which came before helped get me through that challenging work, though. Good luck to your daughter. Test anxiety is a bear but does need to be controlled for overall success.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

emmy took standardized test in kindergarten. she had a 2 hour long test at 5 years old..only diference the teacher read the questions since 5 year olds cant read that well.

let her take it. it will prepare her for tests in the future

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answers from Boca Raton on

I'm not sure how our founding fathers ever managed to function in life, much less start this great nation, without standardized tests.

I personally find it all ridiculous, and I myself am a GREAT test taker. My husband is terrible. Guess which one of us makes the most money (by far?). And my husband is a polished, highly effective professional.

This is yet another reason why we homeschool, though we have taken standardized tests of our own accord for evaluation purposes.

I'm not sure how or if you can opt out. To me it seems like one of those things where it's their game, their rules (unfortunately).

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm not a big fan of these tests either, but your daughter will face testing in one form or another for the rest of her life, so I would concentrate on getting her used to it. Even though she's only 8 she's old enough to understand that 1) it doesn't affect her grade at ALL and 2) the test is there to see how well the teachers are teaching the subject matter.
Even though I don't necessarily agree with my second point (we could start a whole other thread about that!) I think by helping your daughter see it that way it should take some of the pressure off of her.
Some battles are worth fighting, but I don't think this is one.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well, in California, if a child is absent on STAR test day they do not require the child to make up the missed test. So, if you are adamit about your daughter not taking the test, keep her home and take the unexcused absence.

I understand why states use standardized testing, but I feel no moral obligation to participate.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I don't think you have much option on your child taking the tests. If you take your child out of school during that time, truancy laws could haunt you. I don't believe the "for any reason" line that all the states feed on this, as we all know that if a kid were really sick, they would not be there (or SHOULD not be there if they have a parent who will stand up for what's best for the child).

Personally, I dislike all these standardized tests because it forces the teachers to spend the year teaching to the tests versus teaching the skills that kids need to know and learn to be successful in life. I have friends who are teachers who complain that if a kid doesn't pick up what they're teaching they cannot slow down to help a kid falling behind because they have to teach to the tests...there's no time to teach to a child's needs. To me, that's utterly ridiculous. At the same time, the laws requiring all these tests are being made by politicians, not educators or people skilled in child devlopment. I think standardized testing hinders education in a lot of ways. That said, I wouldn't stress about your child taking the tests. The schools must do them to get their funding, and you want your school to get its funding so that your child can receive the best possible educational experience at your school. Reduced funding would hurt your child more than taking a test will. You don't even have to open the results if you don't want to do so. Someday your child will take ACT and/or SAT tests, so just consider that over time this gets her used to that format of testing so that she won't be so nervous then.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I'm not a huge fan of those tests either, and I don't have any information to give you about whether you can opt out of taking them.

What I tell my kids every year is this: "First of all, you are perfectly prepared for those tests. And in any case, the results of those tests don't affect you one tiny bit. You won't get a bad grade, you won't get in trouble at home. Obviously, as with anything, I expect you to do your best. But don't be nervous, because those tests are not a true measure of your abilities. You show us every year through your grades and effort how smart and hard-working you are. And we're proud of you regardless of how you do on these tests."

So every year, I do what the school asks: I make sure they get a good night of sleep before test day and a good breakfast the morning of the tests. And actually, my kids LOVE the weeks that the tests are given because they're guaranteed NO HOMEWORK or excessive schoolwork. It's like a mini-vacation for them. "What did you do today, sweetie?" "We took the PSSAs for a few hours then watched movies." Seriously? Not only do they have to take meaningless tests, they're wasting a couple of weeks NOT learning anything new either. Ugh!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

N., our daughter was part of the first group of kids to begin taking these state tests.. Thanks a lot "W"...All the way through her school career she took these tests.. She thought they were easy and boring, but she loved that at the time.. they were allowed to read books, once they were finished. We used to load her up with new books for that week of testing.

Anyway at our daughters schools. All of them through High School. We knew the students were good students.

The teachers helped students prepare by showing them how to follow the questions with a guide.. so they did not get lost on the page.

How to go back every other question to make sure they were on the right line of the test.

They taught the students should read the questions before reading the passages,. so they will know what to look for in the story.. they could underline the answer on the page of the test.

And for the student to just do their best.. Not to worry. this was not a graded test, this was just to see what the children already know and what the teachers need to go back and help them with..

It makes a huge difference when the campus and the parents, keep the attitude, that these children will do fine. No stress on the students.. Everyone needs to hold it together.

One of the funniest things that happened on the first test was that in the 4th grade test, there was a passage about Shakespeare.. The students had a very tough time answering the question, because NONE of the answers were correct. The students learn about Shakespeare in 3rd grade.. so the students knew there was no correct answer on this test..

All the teachers could say, was, "Just answer the best with what you have.."

Of course they let the testing company know the test was incorrect. They ended up dropping that question for the points..

Cracked us up and it let the students know right there and then.. The test was not perfect.. Even though these people had put it together..

Your daughter will be taking lots of tests all through school and college. The best thing to do is teach her coping skills. Teach her some testing skills.. and let her know that as long as she does HER best, you are going to be happy with that..

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answers from Springfield on

There has been such a dramatic increase in the number of standardized tests and in the standards for each grade level, and it's all a result of "No Child Left Behind." I want the schools to be able to do more for kids and help more to succeed, but for the most part it has just become a heavier burden for the teachers.

Personally, I look at it as, this is part of what school is. You don't have to like it, and you don't have to be great at it but you do have to do it.

My parents never placed pressure on us, especially about standardize tests. They just told us that the tests are there to help the teachers figure out what we learned so that they can do an even better job next year. I realize it's not that simple, but that's what I would tell a third grader.

My fear, if you are able to successfully opt out, is that she might think she shouldn't have to follow the rules and that it would just make it more difficult the next time you're faced with this.

It's not going to hurt her to take the test. She might be exhausted at the end of the day, but it's not going to hurt her. Just let her know that you're proud of her for giving it her all!

Graduating from high school and college is kind of a right of passage. It lets people know that you studied certain classes and were successful. It also let's them know that you followed the rules, you completed the tasks (whether your thought the class should be required or not) and that you can see something through from start to finish. Not everyone loves the math requirement or the science classes, but if you want the degree, this is part of the deal.

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answers from Dallas on

N., as a teacher (high school), I wish all parents would refuse testing for their students. I know nothing about this, as I've never had a student/parent refuse testing, but I am not a fan of all the testing we do through the years.

I also have a third grader who is an A student who suffers from all kinds of anxiety issues, test anxiety being one of them. It's ridiculous the number of days our kids will spend taking benchmark tests in addition to the regular six weeks tests and unit tests before they even get to the STAAR test this year. I will have my son take the STAAR test. Otherwise he won't be prepared for it when he eventually HAS to take it, but if I thought there was any hope for it going away if enough people actually rebelled, I would be opposing it. Good luck!

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answers from Boise on

I have really mixed feelings about state testing. On one hand I like knowing where my children are at, especially now that I am homeschooling. However, I think the test are to long and sometimes set up in a way that a lot of children will fail.

Take my 6th grader, he has ADD and those test are pure hell. It takes hours for him to complete one, and he just get's to the point that he just answers it, to answer it. Yet, by the time he hits high school he has to reach a certain score or he can't graduate?? Really, his grades should determine his graduation. Not state testing that's bases is to make sure a child is getting a proper education.

Then I have my 3rd grader, who I knew could read a little more advanced then her age. However, a school mandated test (done through our homeschooling program) which checks a students level of understanding, shows that her comprehension/reading level is 8th-9th grade. This meant she wasn't being challenged enough, so we are adjusting her curriculum.

So, as I stated, I have mixed feelings. I do think that these test are to long. They can get the same info with a smaller number of questions.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Typically if you miss the test, you take it on the make-up days. If you miss those, I believe they pull you out to take on other days. Most states have their standardized tests as part of their promotion requirements. Not sure about TX specifically.

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answers from San Antonio on

The tests are ridiculous. This year there is no TAKS test, it's only the STAAR test. I have two straight A students who are in all honors and AP/Pre-AP classes. They both failed it the first time. Half of the teachers failed it the first time they took it.

Sadly, from everything I've been told, there is no opting out. It's not an optional test. If they don't take the test, they don't move on to the next grade. If they fail the test, they have other chances to take the test and pass it. (Including over the summer) Our schools also offer tutoring.

I won't go into my thoughts on these tests and how the teachers teach to these tests and not what the kids need to know. That's a whole other post.

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answers from Hartford on

I understand your worry and anxiety over this. I really, truly do. I come at this from two perspectives: one as a mom to a 7th grader that is an honor roll student like yours. My daughter actually enjoys taking tests, though, and uses them as a chance to show off to her teachers. She always scores in the very top percentiles for her class, the school, and the state. She's also the one in the class that breaks the curve. ;-) This is my ADHD daughter. I don't have any anxiety and never have with her taking the standardized tests or any other type of tests. She did have a lot of anxiety about it her first year because her teacher that year had never given the tests before, and HE was extremely anxious, but she did so well she hasn't been anxious since.

My middle daughter took the tests for the first time last year. Because she has Autism, learning delays because of it, and other issues all addressed in an IEP she takes a modified version of the test. All that means is she gets accommodations on time and breaks as needed. If she doesn't understand a question the teacher is allowed to read the question out loud to her but not help her formulate an answer nor phrase the question any differently. She has zero anxiety about tests because, well, they just don't make any difference to her as of right now. Grades and results of grades and how they compare to her classmates are only just now in fourth grade starting to matter to her. She's only just now starting to notice differences.

When it comes to my autistic daughter, I have much stronger feelings about these standardized tests because even with accommodations these tests are not made for special needs students that have learning delays or learning differences or other neurological differences. Those students are still expected to take the tests, and their scores count the same way typical students' scores count. The questions are all exactly the same. So if a special needs student scores poorly because of how the questions were stated/written, and the teacher isn't allowed to rephrase the question or there isn't a simpler version of the same question available, then that reflects poorly on the teacher and the school as well as the student because all the state sees is numbers.

My approach with my girls has ALWAYS been, "Do your best. Your best is always good enough. These tests are not about how smart you are or how well you take a test. The state is just trying to measure how high a fish can climb a tree and grade the fish on how well it does climbing that tree." ;-)

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answers from Houston on

The school can lose backlash from the federal gov't if they do not meet the requirement rate. I don't know what happens to the child. In the long run though, it can hurt her by not taking the tests, since colleges look at those, and many require them.

I love this article, British teachers refused as a group to give the tests:

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answers from Charlotte on

Hey N.,

No, it's not senseless drama, but it's not something you can shield her from. Standardized tests are here to stay. They start in first grade and go on and on. I know from friends in Texas that they are pretty intense in your state.

Truthfully, I never worried about standardized testing with my kids. What I always did was talk to the teacher in advance and ask if the test was one that the child needed to answer all the questions or leave out questions they don't know. It's different with different tests. I'd help my kid learn about how to take tests, and then I'd trust them to test to the best of their abilities.

These kind of tests are important for children to learn. It's a shame they are so pervasive, but short of homeschooling (though a homeschooler still needs to be able to take a college bound standardized test), there's nothing to be done.

If you are very upbeat and don't show you are worried about your daughter taking the test, maybe it won't be so bad with her.

Good luck!!!

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answers from Dallas on

I didn't know you could refuse to take the tests ? I know in our district - not sure about Arlington - that in order to graduate you have to pass the tests (TAKKS previously and now STARR). Right or wrong - and I disagree with it - if you didn't pass the tests (even if your grades were all passing) you could not walk the stage or get your diploma until you passed those tests. If that is the case, I would have her take the test to start getting used to it.

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answers from Williamsport on

I don't know. While the test might be the most awesome thing that ever happened to my child, I also don't think it would hurt them all that much. If EVERYONE is doing it, so can my child. My oldest is 6, we homeschool, she's already very advanced in reading etc. I plan on having her take all the tests. I don't see the negative ramifications really unless it's soo traumatic it damages her in some way. Will failing in third grade hurt her college chances (I'd want to know)? Are other kids having negative ramifications for failing (I'd want to know) or brain trauma from having to sit and do something for so long (I'd want to know)?

It seems like if it was completely impossible for kids to navigate they would change it....and being a rebel, all the teachers moaning to me about hating it would make me want my kids to take it that much more personally since education in general is so much more lacking than it was in the 70's when I was in third grade. If my daughter has to sit through a test that long I'll probably gradually prep her for doing something like that. I'd just feel wimpy if we punked out I guess. But I can see your reasons for not wanting to do it, so hopefully you can find a way to dodge it. If the impossibility of this is real, then that's all our nation needs...a way to bring DOWN our test scores even more compared to the rest of the developed world by offering impossible tests....weird.

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answers from Redding on

These tests can be a pain in the rump, but then again....aren't all tests?

The results won't affect your daughter's grades. If she's already an anxious test taker, these type of tests might actually help her with getting more used to them. Of course, she should be encouraged to do her best, but pressure. She's not getting graded on it.

My son is an anxious test taker too. And, he says he hates math with an absolute passion. Guess what he always tests really high in. Go figure.

My son is a senior in high school. They got their standardized testing out of the way already. Even as seniors, kids aren't allowed off campus during testing and if they have something like a medical appointment, etc, the parents have to physically go in to sign their kid out. It's school policy. Over the years, I believe there have been a few parents who have "opted out", but the kids end up in the office or library reading a book and doing a book report or some other project and are permitted to take breaks as the other kids take them. Neither one is exactly fun. Why not just take the test?

In California, you have to pass competency exams in order to graduate high school. It's kind of shameful because they aren't that difficult. But, you have to pass with a certain percentage regardless. They give you four years to pass them, but the sooner you get it out of the way, the sooner you're done.

My kids' classes usually had some kind of little celebration after the standardized testing was over. It wasn't fun, but they all got through it together and hip-hip-hooray when they were done. I don't know any kids who were scarred for life by taking the tests.

Tests are a part of life. You can't get a driver's license without taking a test. Lord knows the DMV is no trip to Disneyland. You may feel this specific test isn't relevant, but in the scheme of things, it could help your daughter learn to prepare for tests in the future without psyching herself out.

Just my opinion.

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answers from Omaha on

Here we have the ITBS test. It is time consuming but our teachers break up the tests really well... Even for high schoolers.

This is however on the whole education. math science ext. I know asking a child to sit that long is ridiculous especially on one subject. Will they be allowed to take breaks? If this is at the schools discretion I would say a recess would raise the scores as by the time the test is done the child is bored.

Here the ITBS is required. You cannot, not take it.

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answers from Dallas on

I don't think you can refuse them if she misses the day of the test they have a make up day for them. I understand you not wanting her to feel the anxiety of the tests. Last year was my son's first STAAR test and he struggles with school and he did not do well on it. The three hours is what the struggle with cause before they were given as much time as they needed. When my oldest was younger they would have us send a number and name to school for them to contact in case they went over past the end of school. My oldest took it last year and he usually got commented on the TAKS but he would not have on the STAAR. I think these test are ridiculous but don't know of a way to get your child out of them. At some point if they don't pass they will be held back. I don't know what grade it is that effects. If you do find a way that you can get around them short of pulling them out and homeschooling PLEASE share!!!!!!!

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Our kids have been taking the tests since they were in 1st grade. If they don't make the desired scores the teacher is fired. That's all there is to it. In Oklahoma if the class does not improve over the year then the teacher is blamed and terminated. It scares the hell out of them too.

Our girl tested in the 97% for reading, where's she supposed to go from there???? There are only 3% of the kids in the USA that test above her. She was over 80% in every subject.

This year they are wanting her to improve by 9% in reading and 11% in math. She'll be at almost 100%. No kids needs that....

But this testing is how they set standards for what our nation is teaching the kids. The world has changed in case we didn't notice. We are far behind many other nations and it is showing. We spend so much time on homework and stuff when these things should be taught during class. They don't need homework for another 3-4 hours after putting in a long day already. They need simple instruction and time to do the work in class.

I had a hard time realizing that for her high scores there are just as many kids that are in the lower end of this score card. What about the ones that test below 10% or even as low as 5%. They need this testing to see what is going on. If a certain school is testing consistently low that school needs a revamping and if different teachers don't make a difference then they need to find out what is going on in the dynamics of that neighborhood or social status area. Some of our lowest scoring kids in our district come from the reservations around here, or they are from low income census area's. The test scores help the school district get more money to make higher paying jobs available for better teachers and for tutors, or other special needed staff.

When it comes down to it the test scores that are set by national standards are the only way they can see where the kids are falling behind and find ways to help them better achieve a better education.

She is going to be taking tests for the rest of her life in school so I don't think a 4 hour test is going to mess her up in any way. She needs to hear positive things about it though, from the teacher and you both.

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answers from Dallas on

The tests are a pain.
It is a way to evaluate schools. To schools with bad curriculum and bad teachers and bad administration I would hope it would be a death knoll to terrible schools.
To good schools it ends up being an impediment to learning. They have teachers with good ideas and creativity and excellence tied to a hated, slow, ridiculously low standard. It creates anxiety for kids and parents.
Maybe the better the kids do one year let them skip, at least, the next year.

The tests are not made up by politicians but by educators, for content, start there. The politicians wanted a way to evaluate the schools because people complained about unequal education. Is there a better way?
To me, this is just another way government stepping into things just screws things up. They gave me digital signal for my tv. Now I have to have a $75 box on top of my oold tv to bring in the signal and it fuzzes up every time I move around it. Do you really think they are not going to screw up health care??? Wait till they make doctors have to take tests and hospitals make their people take tests to get financing from the government. So much fun on the way.

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answers from San Francisco on

Teachers hate the test because it's their "report card."

I considered opting my GD out of the testing last year because of a very heavy-handed note sent home by her teacher. I actually posted the text of the note here and asked for thoughts.

I ultimately let her take the test, but I DID NOT put any pressure on her about it; I specifically told the teacher SHE was not to put any pressure on GD about the test; and I did not make my GD do weekend homework to prepare for the test.

The way I saw/see it is if the teacher is doing her job and teaching the subjects so that the kids understand and grasp the concept, there shouldn't be any problem with the test. If, on the other hand, they have not done their job well, the kids will fail = teacher's failure.

I don't think there is any downside for the student if you opt them out of the test. Again, these test are designed to test the teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. Your daughter's grades are not affected in any way, shape or form due to these tests. And like you, I am very involved so I know where my GD stands; I don't need this stupid test to tell me.

If it's going to cause your daughter anxiety, opt her out. In the future if she gets a handle on her test-taking anxiety, then she can take it. If she doesn't, then opt her out every year.

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answers from Portland on

Wow.... my son has it on his 504 plan that he gets extra time for tests.... I guess if he had this test, it would run 4 hours plus.

That said, I would dig my heels in and not allow him to test for such a punishing length of time. (No kid should be made to sit at a desk and focus like that for three hours at that age.What child would choose to do anything for three hours sitting still?) I don't care how 'standard' this is supposed to be, a three hour test is disrespectful to an eight year old child. Beyond- belief disrespectful. Just because 'that's the way it is', taking an SAT at 17 or 18 years old does not mean that a child ten years younger should be subjected to this nonsense.

Makes me want to string up the bureaucrats and legislators who supposedly decide what's best for education and yet have no inkling of reality when it comes to children or HOW they learn. Patooey! Who the hell thinks this is appropriate testing for an eight year old? An idiot, that's who.

Maybe these lovely people who have chosen this test for kids could stand a little testing themselves. What a waste of teachers and children's time and energy. It's been shown time and again that standardized tests are not an accurate way to measure improvement and efficacy of teaching, nor does it well-represent a teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. Funny, that this administrators are so freaked out about math and science... and yet, they continue to ignore the science.
(ETA: my son has issues with his eyes, which cause fatigue and double vision. I see this after he is actively studying a page for about five minutes or so. So, yes, we may refuse the test if it's a long one where we live.)

A few other links (as to why I find this a waste of our teachers time and taxpayers money):

There's plenty more out there: just Google "effectiveness of standardized tests"....

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answers from Washington DC on

I would have my child take the test and tell her to just do her best and not stress out about it. It was good for us to see where the sks were in their overall scores but it didn't keep them from advancing. If the district refused to allow her to pass or put 15% of her grade on this "final" then I'd be very angry. We do have HSAs (high school assessment exams) where the students must pass several core subjects before they can graduate. Students are allowed to take the test more than once and most kids pass the requirements by sophomore or jr year.

Now, in your case, you should follow up on your concerns with the school itself to find out what could happen pro/con with skipping the test.

I have taken standardized tests all my life - be it for GT evaluation or the school district or the SATs. I think there's more emphasis on them now but they've been around and been just as boring for decades.



answers from Dallas on

Here's a link with example of letters parents sent to principals to "opt our of testing". I know there are issues with this is high school. I may be mistaken, but it is my understanding that the STAAR test will count as 15% of a final grade in high school. Which means this could affect GPA and class ranking.

Here's a news story of a another mother who opted out of the test.

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