Well, the time has come for me to unleash the beast inside and ask you to look at, for yourself, your kids and your community the idea of opting out of High Stakes Testing. Up until last week I have steered clear of writing about The Common Core State Standards and the test that will follow and how I have seen the rise of testing in our schools over the past 11 years (thank you No Child Left Behind) has actually undermined and even damaged the education students are receiving by attempting to create a “one size fits all” mentality and leaving systems, professionals and teachers feeling they “MUST” teach to the test. Period.
Recently Frontline asked three educational reform leaders including Diane Ravitch, Margaret Spellings and Geoffrey Canada to watch and then speak back to The Education of Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the DC public schools and a highly controversial figure in educational reform.
Margaret Spellings, former US Secretary of Education under George W. Bush and one of the architects of No Child Left Behind writes in response to Rhee’s work and the upcoming onslaught of the Common Core,
“But I still argue that NCLB’s ambition remains pretty modest – all children performing at grade level in reading and mathematics – the bare minimum any of us would want for our own children or grandchildren. And while having every student meet the new Common Core standards is a laudable goal for DCPS and all the states now pursuing “college and career readiness,” it is an empty promise if they’ve yet to meet NCLB’s more modest goals.”
And I shudder to think that if a proponent of No Child Left Behind believes that even those goals were moderate then perhaps what lies ahead may be more daunting that we even realize.
The question is do we dare? Do we dare go against the norm or is the fear of change and going against the norm too much to risk? Do we fear that by taking our own kids out of the testing world that it will somehow put them in a place of less importance than those who do test? Will it limit their options in terms of lifelong goals, colleges and careers? Without “measuring” our kids and putting them into little boxes will they become less significant in this world? Without their numbers pasted on their backs will they matter as much as those with numbers or even more importantly those with the highest numbers?
What does it mean to opt out? Opting out is defined by United Opt Out National, in three phases, the first of which is to change the public narrative that testing is good. These are the questions I am attempting to raise here. The second is to break the cycle of complicity, isolation, coercion and the third is to support alternatives through knowledge, collaboration and trust in the power of collaboration. I do believe that if we come together we can make a difference. For more details about opting out…
Check out this site that talks about what it means to opt out and how we can band together to do so. http://unitedoptout.com/flyers/what-does-it-mean-to-opt-out-2/
Or watch this video by Peggy Robertson, one of the founders of opt out, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bJlbkxnDVU where she and her two boys reach out to Diane Ravitch,historian of education at New York University and expert on school reform to join them in the national opt out campaign in DC this coming April 4 – 7 where we will unite to protest against testing. I am considering making this journey and would love to have others I know come with me or meet me there!! You interested? Here are more details.
So it is time for action. Enough kavetching about it…it is time for action and trusting in the process of collaboration and the idea that if we band together we can make change happen. REAL change for all of our kids.
What do you think?
Do we dare?