Pros and Cons of opting out?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Aliceacc, Sep 8, 2013.

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  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm considering having one or all of my kids opt out of standardized testing this year.

    Could you guys give me your opinion? (We're in NY State in case it matters. My kids are in 5th, 8th and 10th grades. I imagine that my son will only be taking the Regents, and of course he would take them.)

    What are the pros and cons of opting out?
     
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  3. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    We're considering having our daughter opt out of the testing this year. She was a mess last year during the testing due to the high stress put on the tests and I'd really rather not put her through it again. As far as pros and cons, here are the thoughts hubby and I have had
    pros - the reduced stress on her part (she's definitely "proficient" or "advanced" so it's not as if taking these tests tells us anything we don't already know, and she's not such a super high advanced that taking the test is going to switch her to an advanced level in reading from the regular on-level that she's at now)
    - making a point that the test has way too much emphasis put on it and we don't care about the test

    cons
    - possible stigma among her teachers
    - we're not sure if her scores are used at all for future placements and if the lack of the test scores could somehow affect her

    As far as ds he will definitely take the Algebra keystone exam (they're new in PA but seem to be similar to Regent exams as far as what I know about both exams), and we don't foresee opting our kids out of the keystone exams. But we feel the PSSA tests are pretty stupid, very stressful, and won't serve as anything useful for our children. So, just like you we're thinking of opting out.
     
  4. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I don't see any pros for MY own family. Here, scores are a factor in class placement and magnet program admission, so that is a con.

    The biggest con is students have to pass exams in several subject areas in order to GRADUATE in our state. There are alternative assignments only in cases of repeated failure to pass the exams. So if we want our children to have high school diplomas, they have to take these exams.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    In NY, the subject area tests are known as Regents, I'm not considering touching them.

    I'm more thinking of the elementary and middle school standardized tests.
     
  6. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I see. I didn't know what Regents were!

    I would not have had my kids opt out of the tests: they showed no undue stress over them. The results were used in placement determinations. Teachers also used the data to see which "strands" showed the best and worst results and based reteaching and interventions on that AND other data.
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Are they used as promotion standards in your school? I know in ours they are. I don't know what would happen if a student didn't take them.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Here's my issue:

    In NY last year, 70% of the state failed the standardized testing that is used to determine course placement. So my 13 year old daughter, a B student who bounces on and off honor roll each year, was put into Academic Intervention. She lost her electives so they could put her into double math and double English classes... at the expense of taking any course she remotely enjoyed.

    When the schedules arrrived a week and a half ago, she was in tears-- positive that she was "stupid." And that all her grades up until that point in time had been inflated. And that college was off the table, because she wasn't smart enough to succeed.

    All because of a series of tests that 70% of the state failed.

    You know what??? She doesn't need the stress. If she's going to be placed into academic intervention, I would prefer it be because of my decision than because she is given the impression that she's too stupid to pass a test.

    I haven't made any decisions yet; this thread is the first time I've really verbalized it. I still have a lot of homework to do.But I've got to tell you: if I had to decide right now, she would be opting out.
     
  9. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    NY's failure rate seems unusually high. What do you an alicecc feel are the causes of this? Switch to common core, low socioeconomics in the high population areas?

    My own son failed his math standardized test in eighth grade and was given a double dose of algebra in ninth grade. I saw a vast improvement in his skills. Yes, he lost one elective, but I am ok with that because of the payoff in the end.
     
  10. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    (To add to that, he is also a B student. I feel grades are weighted poorly in that you can fail formative ans summative assessments but earn a B if you complete all of your work. I'm not saying that is your daughter's situation, but it was ours. )
     
  11. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I had no idea parents could opt out! I feel for your daughter. I'm dealing with kids that ARE made to feel stupid most of the year because of what they scored on one test from the previous year. I don't know what would happen if a parent tried to opt out here.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Honestly, I'm more concerned that she can do math than that she can do standardized test math.. and we all know that they're not the same thing.

    If she's been a B student for 8 years and is now in need of remediation, then my district has a lot of answering to do.

    Opting out is a growing movement. I hadn't paid much attention to it until my daughter's meltdown.

    As to the reasons, I have no idea.
     
  13. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    I really don't think the state did their homework with the cc test, therefore, if I had a child they would not be taking the test. When we saw the test last year, I think there was a big gasp heard throughout the whole building. For me it was primarily the length. I honestly believe there are going to be a few trial runs before they get to the norm in which the questions are somewhat reasonable but of course the trial Runs will count. Unfortunately, in th city, our evaluations are also tied to these tests which creates not only anxious students but teachers!
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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  15. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I know it is not allowed to opt-out in North Carolina. It is (supposed to be) used as a gateway to pass on to the next grade. As a matter of fact, as of this school year, a third grader CANNOT go to 4th grade without passing the test. They can take it up to four times from May-October. If they still don't pass, they will be held in third grade again.

    As for opting out, I see both sides. Personally, I'm a data and numbers person, so I like getting my results back. I don't like the pressure put on the kids and how much we teach to it.
    I wouldn't be too upset if parent's could start a testing reform by opting out.
     
  16. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    What would the ramifications be as far as academic intervention, I wonder? If she doesn't take the test would she be required to do the same academic intervention next year?
     
  17. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    As a teacher I understand test scores can be helpful to help us improve our teaching, blah, blah, blah.

    As a mother, no single test score is going to break my child's heart and soul. I would hire a tutor for my child before I would allow my child to be crushed in this manner.

    I know some people will attack me for saying that, but when it comes to my child things are different. We have lost our sanity if we think testing should be sending the message that Alice' s daughter is receiving.
     
  18. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    With the emotional state she is in now, I would probably opt out of the test. I can't imagine that she would do well if she suffers from any kind of test anxiety.
     
  19. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Exactly - I don't really give a hoot about my daughter's ability to do standardized test math and reading. I care that she has the skills needed to succeed and to be able to do age appropriate math and to comprehend and analyze a text. I don't need a standardized test full of trick questions to find that out.

    In PA you can opt out for "no reason" so we'll see if that's what we decide to do. I haven't gotten her scores from last year yet but she must have done fine this past year as she was kept in advanced math and on-level reading. The funny thing is, the three years she was in reading support (1st through 3rd) were all years when she didn't take a standardized tests. Clearly we can identify needs without the test.
     
  20. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I don't have the time right now to post some pros/cons, but I wanted to share this article I read yesterday. A board member takes the FCAT and shares his results.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs...orced-on-kids/2011/12/05/gIQApTDuUO_blog.html

    Favorite quote from article: “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had."

    Gotta run....
     
  21. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Thoughts:

    In order to teach, I took the required ACT in high school and then four Praxis exams and GRE while in college. Exams are part of the education system.

    I don't like that your daughter has been pulled from electives.

    If you opted out, how would they determine her class placement?

    We test over several days. Would you keep your children home during testing as unexcused absences? I know every nook and adult is used in our school for testing except for the office, so I truly think that is the only place for students who might opt out to stay.

    I've been told, though I don't know if it's accurate, that students who don't take the test automatically score essentially a zero towards the school's grade. I'm curious if this is true.

    I am also curious about what opting out may mean for teachers whose evaluations (and even pay) are in part based on test scores
     
  22. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    During state testing last spring, my daughter had a competition. We decided as a family she would go to the contest. Her counselor was upset that she was going to have to arrange for test make up for her. I told her that I would just opt her out. The school threw a fit..why? Because my daughter is in the top 90% and the needed her score. So then she missed class time to retake a test we didn't agree with...this year we will opt out if she has a contest that day.
     
  23. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Not to sidetrack....
    I read the article and was quite surprised at the fact that the man struggled so much on the math. I went and took both sample tests. I received a 6/7 on the reading, and the one I missed I had narrowed down to the answer I chose and the right one. I got 7/7 on the math and some of the questions were incredibly simple. As in I could answer them in my head simple.
    Personally, I would love the opportunity to take the test my kids take, but that will never happened.

    I trained to be an assessment item writer for Class Scape- which is a web based assessment system in North Carolina. It parallels the state tests (EOGs). My numbers may be off a bit since I do not have the paperwork in front of me, but 70% of students are expected to get 'easy' questions correct. That I'm sure of. Medium questions I think were 40%. And hard questions were only 20%, I think. So for all the hard questions, they are expecting 80% of kids to get them wrong. It was a very eye opening experience.
     
  24. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    That opens a whole can of worms I didn't think of. If opting out is an option, I'm sure it will become suggested that lower performing students opt out. Now we will be just like the Asian countries where they only assess their higher performing kids.
     
  25. kab164

    kab164 Companion

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    Where I live, it's not an option. As an educator, no I would not do this. One local school got in trouble because they had a student who didn't have a score due to an extended trip out of state. I don't remember what happened but it was an issue.
     
  26. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    I agree with this post; the inability of some teachers to weight grades properly to reflect mastery is one of the major reasons standardized testing has become a staple of modern education.
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Agreed.
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    They've said that about 3rd to 4th for years. And it has never been true. I've never known a student who passed classwork but failed the EOG to be held back. And I've known a lot of kids that failed the EOG. I am not too concerned about this new line they've drawn in the sand.
     
  29. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I read somewhere, wish I could remember where, that it goes against our (NC teachers) ethics standard to suggest opting out for anyone. Our students or even students in other grades. If we go this route in our own family, my husband will initiate the opt out process.

    Ridiculous.
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    All good questions. I figured I would start my research here... you guys are giving me lots to think about and lots of good questions to ask.

    I'm not going to make any decision capriciously. But obviously, my first concern is doing what's best for my kids.
     
  31. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    And ultimately that's what you have to do, Alice.
     
  32. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Does the school/district actually tell the parent (and child) that they have failed? Here in MD, the MSA (grades 3 through 8) gives students a score which places them in a category of Advanced, Proficient, or Basic. Now as teachers, we know Basic means low/under performing but we do not tell the child they failed even though their score can get a school labeled as a failing school. Only at the HS level can you fail/not pass the HSAs.

    No, I would not opt out for my child. Life is tough, full of unnecessary stress, don't see the need to sugarcoat it especially since the test is once a year and not a daily/weekly occurrence. I feel we already do a lot of babying for our kids. Also, the test is often used to group kids academically. Just my opinion.
     
  33. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Agreed.
     
  34. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I can't believe here school took such action after one year of the test. Most other schools I've heard suburbs and inner city are treating it as a baseline year and understanding that students scored much lower than they ever have before.
     
  35. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    In NC you retest if you fail it. So parents know within days. Some districts know the same day.
     
  36. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I don't think in Michigan you are allowed to opt out, any more.

    Years ago, I think too many parents were not allowing their child to take the test and the schools had to have a certain percentage take the test. You also use to be able to have your child opt out of parts of the test.

    I know that when my daughter was in elementary we could opt her out of part of the test, but not all. If I remember right, she couldn't opt out of the reading part, even though that is where she struggled & had her IEP. We did have her opt out on a part, either science or social studies because it had a lot of reading. No need to add to her stress. I don't remember what she did while her class was taking that part.
     
  37. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I would be concerned about the ramifications for your daughter's teachers. As a teacher, I just don't think I could do that to other teachers. In my state, the percentage of kids who actually take the test is one of the areas schools have to "pass." Last year there was a big opt-out movement at the high school, and they failed the entire state report card because of it and are now in serious trouble. If it keeps happening, they'll be taken over by the state. This year, scores will also be tied to evaluations and pay, and students who don't take the test are an automatic 0. According to state law, teachers who don't have an appropriate number of passing students MUST be fired after 3 years (this is a state law, and the school is not able to make any decision otherwise). So the teacher's very livelihood rests on those scores.
     
  38. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    I'm almost positives non takers are taken into consideration with the school scores, just as absent students were
     
  39. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I think you're right. But...(and I mean this in general not pertaining to Alice specifically) I feel like the parents that are informed enough and active enough if their child's education to have them opt-out are the kids who will most likely do okay on the tests. At least in my school. If I only have a handful of kids that are going to get 3's and 4's and three of them end up opting out it's going to hurt me just not having them factored in to the rest of the scores.

    I would be most conscious of how its going to impact the teachers as a teacher myself but I guess in the long run you have to do what's right for your family and your child. It's unfortunate that Alice's daughters school is letting her score on a test that obviously wasn't a great representation of students' knowledge have such an impact on her schedule as well as her self esteem.
     
  40. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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  41. Jem

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    I always said we would pull Henry the week the tests were given.

    But the new common core standards and the Smarter Balance test give me hope. If the test will start to look at the levels of knowledge, instead of the the first level, then I will consider leaving him in to take it. If it's just going to be a week of multiple choice, then no. But if it's a week of deeper level thinking, high thought process and showing what he really knows, then yes. I'll see what CA has come up with by then!
     
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