What Parents Should Know About Standardized Tests

You may be familiar with the Opt Out movement by now. At this time of year, people begin talking about whether or not to opt their children out of the New York State Common Core testing protocol once again, or for some families to opt out for the very first time. Unfortunately many people are still confused about this movement. I will often hear people that don’t really understand what is at stake say something to the effect of, “We had to take tests as kids.” and other similar sentiments. Some people rationalize this experience as a necessary part of growing up that offers a benefit to children. As a veteran teacher with over 20 years of experience I disagree with this notion.

Let me try to give you some information about the Common Core exams and why they might not be in the best interests of your children.

There is a misunderstanding that often gets repeated that claims the United States is falling behind other countries in education, Education gets blamed for a faltering economy.  Usually the supporting detail that is quoted is, “Just look at the PISA scores.” So what exactly does PISA test?

PISA, as well as Common Core, focuses on reading and mathematics, however mastering these tests don’t correspond to mastering any truly important life skills. Does coming up with the right answer on a multiple choice question on a limited time assessment sound like any experience that you have encountered at work or while making life altering decisions for your family? Standardized tests have little relevance to real life. A big problem with these tests is that policy makers, and people who don’t really understand this issue, assign so much importance to information that is easy to test and correct. Just because it is easy to test, doesn’t mean that is is important.

So what is important for your child if they are to be successful in their lives? Unfortunately, none of these skills that will be necessary to your children throughout their lives will be tested on the New York State Common Core exams. I encourage you to assist your child in improving these essential skills because they will help make life a lot easier for them. State exams will not assess your child’s level of motivation, perseverance, resourcefulness, collaboration, communication, creative problem-solving, innovation, or ethics. Until they do, your child will spend their formative years preparing for tests, not life. Don’t accept this! Join the opt out movement which sends the message that we will not tolerate this way of thinking in our public schools any longer.

It is extremely expensive in terms of time, money, and opportunity to test our children on such a massive scale. The goal is to rank every student on a bell curve that doesn’t have anything to do with assessing whether students have mastered essential skills.

Not only have the Common Core tests been developmentally inappropriate each year, they are also a big waste of time and resources. They continue year after year due to the fact that the test prep industry is roughly a $4 billion dollar industry that actively lobbies Congress.

The Common Core exams do not benefit your children. They are actually harmful because education will not evolve as long as policy makers chase higher standardized test scores instead of educating our youth for a world of innovation and opportunity. There simply is no correlation between standardized test scores and how people perform in the real world.

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