January 12, 2016 Salem-Keizer School Board

Parents worry about high-stakes testing at school and there’s something you can do about it – opt out.

This year, the Student Assessment Bill of Rights requires schools to notify parents about opting students out of statewide summative testing.

Administration, costs, name, type are to be included in the notification, along with the opt-out form and explanation.

I’m opting my kids out and I’d like to tell you why.

Standards and assessments were developed without parent or teacher input. Text materials from engageNY are loaded with errors. Pearson ReadyGen will be in every elementary school next year, tracking every keystroke to measure achievement.

Massive data collection systems exist to manage this information. Student Longitudinal Data Systems track each child from birth or preschool onwards, including medical information, survey data and data from many state agencies such as the criminal justice system, child services and health departments.

Parents opted out hundreds of thousands of students across the nation. Many states waived or postponed enforcement. Parent resistance to outside control over schools caused Congress to enact the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) last month, which loosens assessment requirements by shifting enforcement to states. This allows the opportunity for more local control. The result of compromise, the law opens the door for communities to develop their own standards.

Input from parents is crucial as education leaders develop state standards. Oregon needs to qualify for the ESSA pilot for teacher-driven assessments that include creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills. Performance-based standards should replace Common Core State Standards. Only conduct mandated ESSA assessments or stop annual testing all together. These issues bear discussion.

The facts are against annual testing. No other advanced country does this to their children. Annual assessments radically change the learning environment, creating test-centered schools. Stop the use of federal funding to finance online testing systems. Untie student performance from teacher evaluation and remove Student Learning Goals. Apply for Title II funding to research a teacher’s workplace condition. Keep our data local.

Please make sure that parents are notified about the February 1 deadline and tell them the costs of test-centered schools.

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