Opting Out: The Intermath

And so it came to pass that Little Bit refused to participate in the morally and educationally bankrupt practice of standardized testing. Because said testing goes on and on and on and still isn’t finished, LB has spent a fair amount of time in the last few weeks in “opt-out class.” This is the room where the opt-outers get sent to engage in alternative activities while their peers suffer through the Pearson Revenue Enhancement Exercise.

It turns out, opt-out class rocks.

During the English (or maybe Social Studies) test, for example, the opt-outers read part of Frederick Douglass’ autobiography and discussed it. LB reports that because they had a small group rather than a class of 35, they had an interesting and meaningful conversation about Frederick Douglass. The teacher, a substitute, had no need to engage in the defensive classroom management that makes all discussion stilted and overly directed. Instead, a bunch of kids talked about a book.

While not being tested on math concepts she learned years ago, LB examined the properties of Pascal’s Triangle and was excited by the many patterns there to discover.

Amusingly, the opt-outers were told by the authorities not to sound like they were having fun, lest the other children think that opting out might be a good idea.

Summing up: In the course of learning about standardized testing, the No Child Left Behind law, and the Constitution in order to successfully opt herself out of the SBAC, Little Bit had the most valuable educational experience of her middle school career. And the time spent not taking the tests also proved to be worthwhile. (My fears about being forced to scrub the hallways with a toothbrush were unfounded.)

And now just one month of 8th grade remains and she can stride off that campus forever. And since I have no more children coming up behind her, I’m done with it too. We might both raise a middle finger on our way out.


4 thoughts on “Opting Out: The Intermath

  1. What a wonderful educational experience but how frustrating that it only came about because of opting out of testing. Good luck to her in high school!

  2. You go, Little Bit!

    My kids will be in 6th and 8th grade next year in public middle school. They do have some testing, and complain about it, but our state is not a Common Core state, and they are doing an IB program that is mostly project and discussion based. I am very glad that we have that option here. It has been an amazing experience for our oldest, and I know the boy will love it, too.

  3. Oh, the irony! My husband says the only thing he really learned in school was how to resist authority – a similar lesson seems to apply here! I am sure neither of you will miss middle school!

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