DECISION TO OPT CHILDREN OUT OF TESTING -- BY DONNA GARNER - 4.6.14
Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 04:05PM
City On A Hill

[4.6.14 -- Years ago, parents could trust Texas school teachers to teach Type #1. (Link to Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart: <http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional -vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/> http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional- vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/ )

However, as education schools, educator professional organizations, and state education agencies have moved from preparing teachers with a Type #1 to a Type #2 philosophy of education (including lots of group projects, group think, and subjectively assessed assignments), parents can no longer depend upon teachers to evaluate students' academic achievement based upon an objective standard. As a consequence, grade inflation is increasing as Type #2 rolls through our Texas schools.

Texas has the only Type #1 curriculum standards TEKS (Texas Knowledge and Skills) in the entire United States. This means that Texas' curriculum standards are grade-level-specific, knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, explicit, and measurable (ELAR, Science, Social Studies, and Math). Consequently, Texas also has the only Type #1 state-mandated tests - STAAR/End-of-Course. By law these tests have to be built upon the Type #1 TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.

The STAAR/EOC tests have mostly objectively scored questions (right-or-wrong answers tied to factual information) with a limited number of subjectively assessed questions (essays, open responses, etc.). Therefore, the STAAR/EOC's can serve as a valid way to measure students' academic achievement -- a sort of "measuring stick."

If Texas parents decide to opt out their students from the STAAR/EOC -- "measuring stick" -- how will parents know from an objective source that their child is academically prepared for the next school year based upon the grade-level-specific TEKS goals.

In the states that are committed to the Common Core Standards Initiative, both the curriculum and assessments there are Type #2; and I would definitely advise parents to opt out their students from all types of Common Core assessments (both formative and summative).

However in Texas where the STAAR/EOC's are Type #1 (as verified by trusted elected members of the SBOE who have seen and taken the STAAR/EOC's themselves), it would behoove parents NOT to opt out their students but to allow them to take the STAAR/EOC's to measure academic achievement from one grade level to the next. Besides, if Texas classroom teachers know their students are going to be evaluated on the STAAR/EOC's, teachers will pay more attention to the Type #1 TEKS and will make sure that their curriculum units reflect those Type #1 TEKS. Without "the measuring stick," many Texas teachers would teach their Type #2 curriculum units.

Bottom line: I would recommend that parents whose children are in Common Core-aligned school districts should opt out their children from any and all of the Common Core assessments. However, I would recommend that Texas parents not opt out their children from the STAAR/EOC's for the reasons given above. - Donna Garner]

4.6.14 - Waco Tribune-Herald

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/education/more-waco-midway-isd-families-refuse- staar-test/article_87be40d3-ac90-55e1-b578-c9df3c1ed975.html

More Waco, Midway ISD families refuse STAAR test

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Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014 12:01 am

By HOLLIE O'CONNOR hoconnor@wacotrib.com

At least two more families are keeping their children from state standardized test following widespread media coverage and social media posts about a Waco couple who oppose the test and refused it for their son.

Kyle and Jennifer Massey, parents of a fourth-grade Hillcrest Elementary School student, sent a letter to the Waco Independent School District two weeks ago telling school officials their son would not be participating in the test because they oppose it for moral and ethical reasons.

Since then, parents of a Midway ISD student and another WISD student have refused the test for their children.

WISD made it clear the state sets rules for testing, not school districts, and informed the Masseys their son's test would be scored whether he took it or not, according to Texas Education Agency rules.

Eventually, the district came up with a "refusal to test" form parents can sign to ensure their children are not directed to take the test, but reiterated the tests are mandated by the state. The Masseys touted this as a victory.

"We are happy to report that Waco ISD has finally bowed to public pressure and are choosing to uphold the rights of parents who choose not to subject their children to the STAAR tests," Kyle Massey wrote on his blog.

The Masseys have encouraged other parents to consider keeping their children from STAAR testing through blog posts, a Twitter account, a video of their children telling viewers why they don't want to take the test, multiple media interviews and a parents meeting at their house.

Additionally, they created an online petition asking the TEA to "uphold the parental rights of the Masseys and all parents in Waco and Texas to opt their children out of school activities they deem harmful, including state-mandated tests." As of late last week, nearly 700 people had signed the petition.

The TEA has not yet responded to the petition, or to their initial letter, which WISD forwarded to the agency last week.

The parents of a Midway ISD fifth-grader refused the STAAR for their child by sending a letter to school officials, said Midway ISD spokeswoman Traci Marlin. The child was directed to the library on testing day and given other activities to do, she said.

Grade promotion

Fifth- and eighth-grade students must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to the next grade, according to the Texas Administrative Code. The student could still be promoted, but will have to undergo mandatory tutoring, and a grade-placement committee would have to unanimously decide the student is ready for sixth grade, according to the code.

The mother of a Tennyson Middle School eighth-grader signed a refusal to test form for her child, so that student did not test last week. Testing continues through May, so there is a chance more parents will come forward.

The mother of the Tennyson student has two other children in the third and sixth grades who are subject to testing later this month, so they also are unlikely to test, WISD spokesman Dale Caffey said.

Article originally appeared on City on a Hill Radio Show (http://www.cityonahill.tv/).
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