The following is a letter written by a teacher suddenly confronted with top down mandate from her principal to give a 114 question practice test to her 6th graders, to be followed by remediation and then the actual high stakes CST test.
|Exam Burnout (Image from Flickr, by Jixar)
Help! My principal (new to the school) wants us to give the students a mock test to prepare for the CST. It’s supposed to show us which standards students are struggling with. The tests are the released test questions. The 6th grade Language Arts mock test has 114 questions and is 26 pages, front to back. The 6th grade math mock test has 96 questions and is 12 pages, front to back. The 3rd grade tests each have 96 questions with 13 reading passages on the Language Arts test. I was literally speechless when I saw the tests, though choice words quickly followed. If I found out that my own children were forced to take a mock test like this, I would be furious. I opt my oldest out of the CSTs every year (youngest is only in 1st grade) but I wouldn’t know about something like this until it was too late to do anything about it.
It is my opinion that these tests are abusive to children, a waste of money and instructional time, and a violation of test prep guidelines.
To read the rest, go to United Opt Out
United Opt Out encourages mass civil disobedience against the abusive, destructive, and pedagogically questionable high stakes tests being imposed on children nationally and at the state level.
While teachers overwhelmingly oppose the tests, they risk losing their jobs for refusing to administer them. Parents, on the other hand, have the legal right to opt their children out. If enough parents do this, the tests become meaningless and, theoretically, withdrawn. However, even before a critical mass is reached, there are benefits to opting one’s children out of the tests. The tests are stressful and anxiety-provoking for many children. They are a waste of instructional time. Children who opt out can use the time they would have been testing for independent study or research, quality family time or simply reading or playing, each of which being psychologically and pedagogically more beneficial than spending hours bubbling in answer sheets.