Thursday, April 28, 2016

Opt-Out 2016: Part the First

And so it begins.....

To Whom It May Concern:

    Our daughter Monkey will NOT be taking the PARCC assessments in the 2015/2016 school year. As we did last year, our family is once again refusing to participate in the PARCC testing of our children. We feel that we have much more complete and relevant information about how our children are doing from the reports their teachers give us, which comes on a timely basis and is specific to their educational needs, strengths, and weaknesses, unlike feedback from PARCC. We are primarily concerned (in academic terms) with how our daughter is learning; we are not interested in whether her education, as measured by test scores, is superior to that of children in any other jurisdiction, and we feel that the scores themselves are not likely to be indicative of the quality of her learning or of her teachers.

    We support our children’s schools and teachers, and we thank
Monkey's teachers for their teaching and support of her education thus far. However, we do not support the time and money that standardized testing takes from the school year, nor the unrealistic demands placed on students during the test (in how many real-life scenarios will they be expected to spend this many hours working at their seats in utter silence with no access to reference materials or to bathroom breaks at will, using only Chromebooks to do their work?), nor the (eventual) use of test scores to evaluate teachers and schools.

    We are aware that Maryland does not have an “opt-out” option for families. We are not “opting out;" we are declining to participate. There is no penalty to our children or to our family for this in any set of laws or codes that we can find. We are not averse to reasonable testing, nor to assessment that is ongoing and will be used to remediate academic shortcomings in our children’s learning, nor to testing that assesses what children have learned and what they can do in realistic environments and settings, nor to testing that does not turn a school’s schedule upside-down for several weeks of the school year, nor to end-of-year testing that actually takes place at the end of the school year; PARCC does not meet any of these criteria in our opinion. Additionally, in a letter from Congress clarifying ESSA policy: "Hundreds of thousands of parents have chosen to keep their children from taking state-mandated tests, and these parents have every right to determine what is in their child's best interests." (full letter attached)

    Last year during PARCC testing,
Monkey sat in the classroom and read silently while her classmates tested. (Mrs. B. & Ms. G. can fill you in on how that was handled.) While we don't object to a repeat of this activity (in fact we credit the sustained silent reading with giving her the opportunity to get focused on a book and series, and her reading has been voracious ever since), we assert once again that it would be a far better use of everyone's time for her to either have enrichment activities to complete or to have her assist in a classroom; she loves working with other kids and she loves helping teachers.

    Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about our position on PARCC testing.

Mr. & Mrs. Crunchy

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Please keep it clean. Differences of opinion aren't a problem for me. Rudeness is. Thankyouverymuch. :-)