Ok…I changed the names, but otherwise, this is the letter that my 8th grader will be handing to the principal today. Several of her revolutionary pals will be doing the same, and they plan to march into the office together. Peaceful protest in action!
Dear Middle School Principal,
As indicated on the attached form, titled “State Assessment Refusal Documentation Form,” I am opting my child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and the MSP. My daughter, Little Bit, has expressed serious and well thought out objections to the overwhelmingly time consuming and pointless battery of tests to which she is subjected, year after year. I find her reasons sound and am supporting her decision to refuse.
I asked LB to give me a list of her objections. She provided fourteen, which are as follows, exactly as she wrote them:
- Standardized testing is not an accurate measure of achievement because the state can simply set low standards in order to obtain high test scores.
- It is a huge waste of money that could be used on valuable things such as art and music programs, gifted programs, special ed programs, textbooks, computers, athletic equipment, and many more.
- The standardized testing encourages teachers to “teach to the test” instead of helping students gain a deep understanding of the curriculum.
- The testing is not fair to schools that are already behind other schools in their states, because even if the students are improving they still might not meet the state standards, which could result in punishment for their school.
- It is a huge waste of my time that could be spent actually learning something.
- My high test scores are of no use to me; they only benefit the school. The school should not be able to take full credit for those scores, because I learned most of what’s on the tests before middle school, and taking the tests only once during the year is not proof that my skills have progressed over the course of that year.
- The content of the standardized tests is usually completely unrelated to what I am doing in my classes, so the tests are not an accurate measure of how much I’ve learned over the school year.
- The standardized testing causes gifted children to be neglected by soaking up time and money that could be used to help gifted children reach their full potential. Furthermore, No Child Left Behind provides no incentive or funds to teach beyond minimum standards.
- Even if students are in advanced classes, they still have to take the standardized tests at their grade level. Last year, even though I was in Algebra (the 9th grade class), I had to take the 7th grade math MSP. I took 7th grade math in elementary school, so the test did not say anything about what I learned in middle school.
- Since the testing only addresses a small number of “core subjects,” students are given the mistaken impression from a young age that other subjects such as art, music and foreign language are not important. Students who pursue these subjects receive little or no recognition for their efforts, and teaching a narrow set of skills instead of providing a well-rounded education is detrimental to students for their entire lives.
- Testing is very stressful to many students, and some receive low test scores even if they are very intelligent and achieve good grades. This year, the testing is spread out over a period of a month and a half, which means that it will be a distraction for a ridiculously long stretch of time, and many students will be subjected to a prolonged state of stress, which can negatively affect regular schoolwork as well as test scores.
- Not only are an obscene number of class periods used to take the assessments, but hours of class time are wasted prior to the tests in order to practice using the unnecessarily complicated computer program.
- Not all states have the same standards or tests, so it is pointless to compare test scores nationwide.
- It is a violation of the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution to require states to give standardized tests. The federal government oversteps this barrier by not technically requiring the states to administer the tests, but refusing to provide funding for schools if they don’t. This tactic is despicable, and given the fact that schools need federal funding to operate, the states are still being forced to give these tests.
I understand that LB may be required to engage in an alternative academic activity during the many class periods devoted to testing. Before the assessment begins, please let me know what the alternative activity will be so that I can feel sure it will be constructive in nature.
I recognize that standardized testing is a contentious topic and that having students refuse is problematic for the school. However, my child is taking a principled stand and I support and applaud her. Thank you for your understanding.
Little Bit’s Mom