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mother cites religious exemption to opt kids out of standardized testing

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Very interesting.

 

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/20/pennsylvania.school.testing/index.html

 

I wonder how this movement might catch on, and what the repercussions would be.

post #2 of 14

In the article, it is clear she, and the other parents, opted out NOT due to any religion, but because this was the only legal way they could opt out. Many thought that because of the two week long test every year, teachers were not able to really teach; they had to spend all their time teaching to the test. 

 

I am not in the states, but I think 2 weeks a year of not learning, but just filling in bubbles, to come up with some statistic, is beyond moronic. 

post #3 of 14

My kids do this test at the local Montessori school. They actually like doing it. Maybe becasue they get to chew gum the whole time,lol.

 

I had my kids do this test to wrap up homeschooling each year instead of a portfolio interview with a teacher. If they just do the test fine,but I can see people annoyed if the school has the kids doing pre-tests and weeks of work leading up to the actual test.

 

We just did the test. At the M school they just do the test.

post #4 of 14

Hopefully the reprecussions would be that the effectiveness, necessity and reasoning behind present testing be reevaluated.  I think these tests are employed more to test schools than children.  My big problem with standardized testing is that a portion of the kids are going to do well on standardized testing simply because they are good test takers.  I always did very well in school and was advanced in a lot of the creative areas, but I was a terrible test taker.  It wasn't until I spent three months studying how to take a test (for the bar exam) where I truly begin to grasp 'how' to take a test. 

 

While I think that testing has its merits, I also think there needs to be a major overhaul.

post #5 of 14

I think there needs to be an overhaul too. I don't know if parents pulling their kids out from the tests is going to do it though. If this lady's chilren are usually doing quite well on the tests, wouldn't that just end up lowering the school's overall "report card" score and making the situation worse? I guess if you could get a critical mass, maybe it would cause some notice. I suppose someone has to start somewhere!

 

I don't believe there is any school that has two solid weeks of testing. In Ohio, 3rd, 4th & 6th graders take two tests, reading and math, 5th grade does those 2 and a science test. My 7th grader is just taking reading and math too. I don't know beyond that, she is my oldest. It's a couple hours each day of two days. The school does spread these out so there is a 2 week period where kids are taking tests but it's more like in the first week, 3rd and 4th graders taking reading on Tues and math on Thurs. Then 5th and 6th graders have their tests a couple days the next week.

post #6 of 14

While I don't approve of the weight put on testing, opting out tends to hurt good schools and I hate to see that too. Part of the requirement of a school making their required API is the percentage of kids who take the test. I know a couple years, my DD's school was published in the county newspaper as one that was "not meeting requirements" because they were 2 kids away from making the percentage neccessary. Doesn't matter that the kids that actually took the test did really well. Too many years of that an the individual school starts getting penalized financially and enrollement drops causing further financial hits. I get what these parents are trying to do and they have a right to do it but it's sorta shooting the messenger.

 

Personally, my kids enjoy the testing period. The schools make it fun. They have games, they get to wear their jammies on last testing day, some teachers let them chew sugarless gum, they usually get extra recesses and there is a general change of schedule which is nice.

 

 

 

 

post #7 of 14

I'm a public high school teacher in California.  Our testing takes about a week out of instructional time.  In my subject area, I find the test to be of especially poor quality and incongruent with the scope and sequence of the state approved curricular standards.  The individual students are not graded but the school is.  If fewer than 90% (or whatever the percentage is set at now) of the students are tested then the school loses funds.  Of course parents can opt their kids out of the testing but it hurts the school in the long run especially in terms of the courses and enrichment options that the school can offer.  This system sucks but as of now there is no way around it.  The powers that be don't care why kids don't take the test; whether the parents opted them out or they were absent or the school would rather they not take the test because they have learning disabilities or are ELL and drive the collective score down.  So, if parents think that getting together and opting their kids out is going to have an effect on whether or not the testing regimen is reformed, they are mistaken.  I encourage parents to express their points of view to their county and state education administrators though.

post #8 of 14

TCAP tests are very important to us because DD's test scores allow her to get into an academic magnet school (she's in 5th grade).  Well, at least get in the lottery for a spot in an academic magnet.  Each year we get stuck on the wait list.  Plus TCAP allows me to see how well the school is doing.  If the school does bad, I can pull DD and put her in a school that does better.  However, most of the schools that get bad grades are because sub-groups did poorly.... special needs, english language learners, poor children.  And DD loves to see her test scores because she works so hard to get good ones.

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post
The schools make it fun. They have games, they get to wear their jammies on last testing day, some teachers let them chew sugarless gum, they usually get extra recesses and there is a general change of schedule which is nice.\

 

 

Unless you have a child with special needs, in which case all of these "fun" things, combined with the testing, is a recipe for disaster. All in the eyes of the beholder ;)
 

 

post #10 of 14


The special needs population is relatively small. I know the special needs classes do tend to not do things that break the routine. Certainly that is an option. I also know that the parents of some more extreme cases opt out of testing for their children all together. There is room in the API scoring that allow for those that need to opt out without penalizing the whole school. The problems occur when kids totally capable opt out.

 

I don't think the whole school should have to forgo the "fun" for the few. It relaxes most of the kids and when our district started taking this approach, their scores when up about 80 points a school. To me, that's a much nicer way to improve scores than scaring the kids.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephandOwen View Post



 

Unless you have a child with special needs, in which case all of these "fun" things, combined with the testing, is a recipe for disaster. All in the eyes of the beholder ;)
 

 



 

post #11 of 14

Testing isn't accurate..my master's is in education and there is no scientific proof that testing helps kids or schools to improve.

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

The special needs population is relatively small. I know the special needs classes do tend to not do things that break the routine. Certainly that is an option. I also know that the parents of some more extreme cases opt out of testing for their children all together. There is room in the API scoring that allow for those that need to opt out without penalizing the whole school. The problems occur when kids totally capable opt out.

 


The special needs population in self-contained classrooms in probably relatively small--most special needs children are likely in regular classrooms. Also, "special needs" does not just mean those with learning disabilities or those who struggle with academics.

Quote:
View PostI don't think the whole school should have to forgo the "fun" for the few. It relaxes most of the kids and when our district started taking this approach, their scores when up about 80 points a school. To me, that's a much nicer way to improve scores than scaring the kids.

 

What StephandOwen  said was that whether or not this is "fun" is in the eye of the beholder -- in any case the testing itself is disruptive, not just the "fun."


Edited by Emmeline II - 9/14/11 at 8:16pm
post #13 of 14

If the movement catches on, it's likely that the schools where it's popular will lose a lot of funding, be blacklisted, and have principals/teachers fired for a long time before the greater bureaucracy thinks "Hmmm, maybe the tests aren't so great."  Most exemptions don't remove a student from the testing statistics--what it does is enter a score of 0 into the averages for the whole school.

 

Do I think that's fair or right or just?  Nope.  Is it the reality in many states?  Yep.

 

I work for the elimination of the tests through political advocacy on the local, state, and national level.  Opting out pretty much accomplishes nothing.  Big bureaucracy doesn't give a crap--and the people who fund and decide these things are NOT educators.  Advocacy works better.  IMO.  But it's easier to just keep your kid home for a few days vs. spending some time letter writing or calling legislators, I get that.

post #14 of 14

I hate it when people misuse religous exemptions. Stand up for what you lbelieve but don't teach your kids it is okay to weasel out of requirements with a fraudulent excuse because it is easier. It is clear that her objections weren't "religous."   I think the school should litigate it and I hope they win.

 

Which is nothing to do with my beliefs about school testing....

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