As one of the parents who decided to have their children “opt-out ” of this year’s standardized high-stakes testing, I am most struck by the lack of empowerment that parents have in the education of their own children. When we try to explain the reasons behind our protest, we are met with bland bureaucratic platitudes, and even attempts at subtle intimidation.
On the first day of the English Language Arts exams, I brought my son into his elementary school in Astoria, Queens, after the testing period was finished.
I was told that, “according to Legal,” if he entered the building at any time at all he was “required” to take the test.
Never mind that I was in contact with other opt-out parents from different districts whose principals had tried to accommodate the parents’ wishes while their official response was sorted out (the city’s chief academic officer, Shael Polakow-Suransky, told one parent at a Brooklyn meeting he did not have a “clear answer” as to the consequences of a child not taking the test).
Our principal seemed confused by my opposition to the test, wondering if I was simply against all testing.
To be clear, I’m not against my kid taking tests; he takes a lot of them.
What I am against is taking a test that is used as a partial determinant in the future careers of the adults who are responsible for teaching and administering the test. Doesn’t that fundamentally change the relationship between a teacher and the children she teaches?
Or what about the fact that if enough children score poorly, their very school might be in jeopardy? ...