State Testing WDYT

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
State Testing WDYT
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Fri, 01-11-2013 - 12:26pm

Would you/can you request your child not take these tests?  I have a friend who told me it is totally legal to request your child opt out of testing and I never really thought about it until she brought it up.  Do state tests really count towards individual progress and promotion or are they really just a school thing, A way to measure the school against other schools and for state purposes?  My friend is a school teacher and I trust her knowledge on the subject, Her own children are on IEPs but I am skeptical too, I mean test scores do matter and are we instilling in our kids that your handicap can excuse you from standards and expectations if we fight against school norms like this? 

Thoughts?  Thanks! 

 

 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sat, 01-12-2013 - 10:27pm

It depends on what state you are in if you can opt out or not.  CA you can write a letter and opt out - be sure to mention the educational code that allows you to do so. 

State testing is not about the kids.  (Not really, anyhow.)  It is about No Child Left Behind, and teachers getting ALL kids up to grade level in reading and math.  Yep, ALL kids.  There is no exception for kids with disabilities.  My grandmother used to teach kids who couldn't feed themselves or do anything else for themselves, and those kids would be expected to be grade level.  The way it was supposed to work was that schools would have time to get all the kids up to grade level.  I think it was 2014.   Progress was supposed to be made each year, if it wasn't made, the school would be on probation, and then taken over by the state.   The kicker of it is, that this formula is designe to fail.  A school were I was got 98% at grade level.  (Special ed kids were sent to the largely minority schools that were failing anyhow.)   But the next year, they scored 98% - and got dinged because they didn't make progress.   They didn't make that progress because probably some new kid moved in part way through the year, or some parent opted their child out.   When the parent opts out, that kid is counted as a zero.

Here in WA the state tests are all written (some on the computer) which really makes it seem like my bright son with writing issues is not as smart as he is.   They have to show their work in math, and in some cases explain.  He scores very poorly, usually right below proficient.   But, the schools also do MAP testing in the classroom which is multiple choice.  When my son does these, he scores right up in the very top.   I have the these scores put in his permanent file because it shows that the testing format is the issue, not what my son knows.  

MAP tests are only supposed to be for the teacher, to see if their kids are making progress and where issues are, but in my son's case, should we ever change schools, I would want both scores to prove that he doesn't need to be in low level classes, instead he needs accomidations to help with his writing.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Sun, 01-13-2013 - 12:02am

So, I have my son do it, but I put no stock in what it means as to what he has learned.  Our tests only measure writing levels which we already know is an issue. 

At some grades in high school the tests become part of graduation requirements.   Usually the kids can take them more than one year. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Mon, 01-14-2013 - 7:09am

I am in MA and I don't think we can opt out. At this point the test mainly measures the school. Funding is tied to how well or poorly your school does on this test. Schools are given ratings based on them too and parents in low performing schools have the option to send kids to other schools at the city expense. Also teachers are rated based on kids scores. For me as a parent I don't put much weight in them AT ALL. DS passed and I was happy. He just barely passed the reading but missed the next level up in math but the same margin; to me those results were good but at his IEP they were hung up because he fell in the "needs improvement" I bit my tongue. I missed these tests by 2 years, it was something they enacted shortly after I graduated high school and I was VERY happy. They have to take them every year from 3rd grade through high school and cannot graduate high school unless the pass it. Now we opted out of NCLB and also adopted the new national standards so we won't be taking this test for long but another but I'm not a fan of standard tests.

I will say without these test looming, we wouldn't have gotten on an IEP so fast. I've been hearing since half way through kindy, at this pace he will never finish the MCAS test. We are in a low income school district plus have a top performing charter school in town too that constantly draw critism to the public schools, so lots of pressure on the schools. I have a new respect for the test because if it wasn't in place and there was this pressure for the school to perform, DS may have slipped through some cracks but to me passing is passing. All he needs is a passing grade to graduate and thats fine.

We get modifications to the test, which I am ok with. I teeter back and forth on exceptions and what message it sends or are we setting him to fail later in the real world. Come college he won't get the same hand holding. Professors will expect you to do the same work load but I think this is also were its my job as his parent to be up front with his limitations. Not everyone is meant to be rocket scientist and doctors and such and thats ok. For him to be sucessful in life he needs to find what works for him. For now if the school wants to make it easier on him to fit their norm then fine as long as at home we help him discover his path in life that fits his capabilities.

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Avatar for jamblessedthree
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Registered: 10-23-2001
Mon, 01-14-2013 - 10:38am

I don't place much weight on these tests either, I mean we don't even get the results (NY state) until the following school year! I understand that they are a part of nclb but I am confused whether or not the "pass" is a valid one. My DD has been on an IEP for one reason or another since kindergarten too but the testing that qualified services came from the sources the diagnostician/psychologist used not these state things and her scores weren't even compared to her classmates but rather her "age" which I find fascinating.  Thanks for your feedback, These tests do prepare kids for the college entrance exams like SATs and ACTs but community colleges don't even require that testing to get in if I'm not mistaken and that's the direction my kid will probably start (thinking 4 years ahead, Lol!)

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Tue, 01-15-2013 - 7:53pm

I would just add similar thoughts to treadle . . . I think there probably is a way to opt out in some states.  I've never heard of it in my state, but also I doubt that's something they share with too many parents, lol.  I think the tests are stupid too--they are to measure schools, but I don't think they do a good job.  For the students here with handicaps who cannot feed themselves etc . . . they do not get the same test as the rest of the students.  There are alternate assessments for those students.  

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-02-2004
Wed, 01-16-2013 - 8:55pm
I haven't looked into the tests in my current state, but when I was in CA, I did. The alternate tests are not much different from the standard tests. And yes, you have to be very disabled to be able to take them. I know in CA the fact that you could opt out was not supposed to be mentioned by the teachers to the parents. We were doing a charter school there, and if you didn't show up for testing, they pestered and pestered to get you to do a make up test. But if you did the opt out, they would stop. My daughter's friend, with high functioning autism, had great anxiety about tests. The mom thought at 5th grade he should be able to take them, and met teacher at the library so she could administer the test in an area he was comfortable. The boy said hi to the teacher, reached over, grabbed the tests and tore them in half. Then walked out. The teacher was frantic - they have to turn in the tests, which made some issues for her. The following years she basically told the mother to opt out! (On the side, with no paper trail!)
Avatar for jamblessedthree
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Registered: 10-23-2001
Thu, 01-17-2013 - 4:59am

I doubt opting out of testing is some big dark secret, Google it and you'll find people are talking about it and protesting it, There are even state appeals some parents go as far as to remove their children from them..  I just never gave it much thought untl friend mentioned it!  Schools do place way too much emphasis on them, general.  It's nice that child even got a special room to test b/c my daughter couldn't (although she gets special accomodations and "testing rooms" for regular tests throughout the year!)...  DS experienced his first state test last year in 3rd grade, The kids can't even take a bathroom break untl the whole class is finished - absolutely ridiculous, There's got to be a better way!

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 6:16pm

schools bank on parents ignorance, think the point being made was schools aren't going make public if you can opt out especially if they need the scores. In MA not only do scores count but attendance counts. The school gets deucted for make ups. My SIL is a reading coach in a public school during test week she has in the past had to call absent students even offer to pick them up to take the test eventhough they can have a retake and they don't need to pass to graduate until high school and she was in a middle school. Its the same test given to all kids in that grade through state so guess there is a fear of cheating or something to. Anyway I checked in my state you cannot opt out but they can't force you to take it per say. There are on line sites explaining how parents and kids can refuse to take it but bottom line you don't take and pass your 10th grade mcas you don't get a diplomia. If you miss or fail in 10th grade you are expected to tke in 11th and 12th. Some colleges will admit you without a high school diplomia but you are banking you kid getting into one of those schools when in reality all you need is a passing grade. I am not a fan of the test but if it comes to my kid barely passing but getting that diplomia I will take vs him not getting one. And to be honest good schools will do everything in their power to get them to pass. The main driving point for the school with his IEP was to get him these accomidations for that test.

Like I said before school bank on parents ignorance. Another example from SIL, state law requires if a kid needs speech it doesn't stop in elementary school but she is in a poorer school district and they don't have one on staff so take advantange of under educated parents and tell them they don't have to supply that service. Schools and districts aren't going to make it easy for parents if there is money involved and sad reality is many parents don't have the resources or know how to discover these things

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Fri, 01-18-2013 - 7:58pm

Yes that's what I was saying Liamsmom--that school districts don't come out and tell parents about how to have your student not to take the test.  I was never saying that parents couldn't find out about it anywhere.

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Sat, 01-19-2013 - 9:41am

Tests to promote students start in 9th grade here and there are a number of credits kids need to graduate high school, Its not only these tests kids must pass but scores in the classes themselves they must maintain, I'm not familiar with a college that admits a student without a high school diploma.. My only point for discussion was the alarming notion that it's ok to pass by these tests for our special ed kids and with all due respect I think you're avoiding that.  I don't know if accomodations will be different next year when my own SPED child is in high school but if there's one thing that gets parents riled up it is that we should sit back and let schools play on vulnerability, Yes, I've heard that the kind of parents a special ed team likes are the ignorant and vulnerable ones, That's somehow ok to you?  The blessing is that many of us are not! 

I wish there was a sped teacher who could weigh in here, Thank you in advance:-)

 

 

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