Monday, March 5, 2012

Mock Test Woes From a Teacher Who Opts Her Own Child Out of State Tests

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 If enough parents do this, the tests become meaningless and, theoretically, withdrawn.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.


  1. Rachel (John and Amber's Mommy)March 6, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    I agree completely. When I was in school having to take these tests it did nothing but stress me out and gave me sleepless nights with worry. The end result was I would score lower than I normally would on the same subject matters reviewed in school and thus becoming a statistic for the lower percentile in school which did not truely reflect my learning abilities. I feel that these test do not reflect accurately the students educational strengths and weaknesses. What truely reflects this is the weekly exams and homework given by the teachers who devote their time and effort to educate these kids everyday, not some test taken a few days out of the year. So why put the unnessesary pressure on kids? Let the teachers do their jobs and teach children and take the results from that. Teachers spend more time with these kids than anyone every single day so I believe they would know better than any standardized test about a child's abilities. Having two first graders myself I am encouraged to opt my children out of this test as well so they are not shown as another incorrect statistic to get the school more tax dollars to fill their greedy pockets and continue underpaying their teachers.

  2. Well said!

    As a parent, I am tempted to, as well.

  3. Is it legal for schools to grade students on these mock tests and have it negatively influence their grades or use the test a mid-terms and or final exams?

  4. Interesting question. Lots of teachers/schools include them as part of the grade. Others count them as extra credit.