Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Comment of the Day: Opting Your Children Out of the PARCC Assessment is Legal!

As we continue to work on our blog post of the 3/9/15 board meeting, today we received 2 lengthy comments from a D181 parent who has chosen to opt his/her child out of the PARCC Assessments.  In light of the national controversy surrounding this test, and the fact that Illinois is one of only 10 states left using this test, we thought it appropriate to highlight the parents concerns as our Comments of the Day.

Please sound off!


Anonymous said...

"I am a parent who opted her children out of the ISAT testing last year in this district, and who will opt one of my children out of the last few days of the PARCC test this year. Since I went through this last year, I can personally tell you that although the district lied and threatened that I was breaking the law, legally and ethcally they had no right to say those things. Nothing bad every happened to me or my children. The school did not lose any money. The only thing that is required by law is that the school OFFER the test to my child. My child does NOT have to take it. A school cannot FORCE a child to do anything.

My children proudly say the Pledge of Allegiance with their hands on their hearts, and celebrate St. Valentine's and St. Patrick's day. They celebrate WWII day while learning about history. Thousands of D181 Christian children participate in Halloween, St. Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's day activities at school, though, even though the law says you are not supposed to celebrate religious holidays. We all make exceptions because to me, and many others, its not THAT big of a deal. I understand that parents don't want to make their children uncomfortable by standing up for their own religous convictions, so parents let it slide. My children are Christian and participate because they need a break every now and then even though our church tells us not to celebrate Halloween. Do I think its weird that our High School is named after the devil and there are depictions of satan everywhere? Yes. Its creepy, but that is a battle I don't feel like taking on in this town. And if I were HIndu, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, or Muslim, I would wonder why the schools don't celebrate any of those holidays. However, I understand and sympathize that these are events that provide fun and motivation for kids.

But with PARCC testing, the schools are clearly distorting the law and are trying to pressure our kids to do things that are educationally very controversial and criticized. We parents have every right to stand up for these facts. Forcing all children to take an experimental test that our superintendent still has no idea of when or what kind of data will be collected from the PARCC is silly and not beneficial in any way for our kids or our teachers. I make my children take the MAP tests, school tests, try to get them to do all of thier homework, and participate in after school activies. The MAP tests are enough. This last month, after the Map, my child took the Algebra readiness test and 2 other tests that I didn't even know existed. That's fine. They are well respected tests that provide excellent results - granted someone in the district looks at them. But this is why I refuse to let my child waste 5 days of practice testing, and then testing for the questionable PARCC test. Illinois is only onoe of the last 10 states still using this test - and we know where Illinois ranks in school achievemment. Below average.

I am all for follwing the law, and for encouraging my children to folllow the rules, but when the law is misunderstood, and children are losing out on valuable instruction time that they are owed, that's when it is time for parents to advocate for their children.
If some parents like their children sitting in a chair for 5 days practicing how to use headphones and and how to answer practice questions on a laptop, it makes me wonder why. Our children have been using headphones and laptops since they were 3 years old. It is a terribly redundant and wasteful way to make our children spend their time in school. I resent the fact that I went through this last year, even though I provided all the necessary facts and data, yet they still disrespect the law and my wishes. Standing up for our country's laws is our civic duty. If our schools are now teaching our children that it is wrong to follow the law, and does not really support democracy, then why are we teaching history and social studies?"
Anonymous said...
"Legal references showing that opt out of PARCC is legal:

November 10, 2014

Deptford Township School District
2022 Good Intent Road
Deptford, NJ 08096

Attention: Paul Spaventa – Interim Superintendent

Reference: xxxxx and xxxxx Carr - Refusal of all State Standardized Tests

Dear Mr. Spaventa:

We have read your response letter, numerous times in fact, and we are a little taken aback by it. We are in no way asking for your permission to REFUSE these standardized tests, assessments, questionnaires and surveys for our children. The Constitution and Supreme Court rulings supersede any authority you think you may have over our decision as taxpaying parents within this district. It is our right as parents to refuse to allow our children to take the state standardized tests because our parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children” and the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).

Please see additional rulings:

It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. . . . It is in recognition of this that these decisions have respected the private realm of family life which the state cannot enter.
- Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944)

This Court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, 414 U.S. 632 (1974)

In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the "liberty" specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the rights . . . to direct the education and upbringing of one's children.
The Fourteenth Amendment "forbids the government to infringe ... 'fundamental' liberty interests of all, no matter what process is provided, unless the infringement is narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest."
- Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997)

The liberty interest at issue in this case-the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children-is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.
In light of this extensive precedent, it cannot now be doubted that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.
The problem here is not that the Washington Superior Court intervened, but that when it did so, it gave no special weight at all to Granville's determination of her daughters' best interests. More importantly, it appears that the Superior Court applied exactly the opposite presumption.

The Due Process Clause does not permit a State to infringe on the fundamental right of parents to make childrearing decisions simply because a state judge believes a 'better' decision could be made.
- Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000)
Furthermore, there is no “federal law” that requires the state or district to “implement” anything you referred to, or you would have included that paperwork as well. The state implemented common core standards and standardized tests voluntarily, to obtain Race to the Top federal funds. Period. It’s bad enough that the Federal Government has resorted to blackmailing the states to receive their own money, we will not allow the District to visit the States’ burden of obligation on our children. Your own paperwork on Title 6A:8-4.1 states that the District “SHALL” administer the tests; it does not say that our children have to TAKE these tests. We understand that neither of our children are of the age to be subjected to the PARCC test yet, but we REFUSE any and all state assessments that are common core aligned, up to and including it and the MAP tests.

You did not have to make this adversarial; you could have just accepted our refusal as many reasonable districts around the state and country have done. As we’ve stated in our original letter, we have the utmost confidence in the teaching skills of our son’s teachers and their ability to determine and calculate their grades from daily class participation, class work, home work, quizzes and tests. We believe these standardized tests to be developmentally inappropriate and contain questionable and often inaccurate material, and will not subject xxxxx and xxxxx to the inevitable anxiety and stress that children all over the country are feeling.

We are prepared to go to the media, the ACLU and to obtain legal counsel if you do not comply, and our parental rights or the rights of our children are violated. That includes carrying out the “sit and stare” policy that some districts are enforcing, as this is psychological child abuse and will not be tolerated. We do not expect our children to be retaliated against or treated any differently due to our position on this subject. It is by no fault of their own that they are in this situation. Nor do we expect to have to repeat this every time a standardized test is administered. This refusal should go into both of our children’s files.

To reiterate: Deptford School District does not have our permission to compel our children to take any state / district standardized test or assessment. Under our guardianship, our minor children will refuse same. In addition, various tests / assessments will be properly scored as a “refusal,” will be considered “invalid,” and will not be included in the participation rate. Any attempt by your school district to otherwise code, score, or deviate from these instructions would constitute a due process violation of governmental procedure. Furthermore, during the administration of any and all make-up tests, my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his regular classroom environment, alongside the rest of his classmates. You are hereby on notice that any state agent who ignores my parental instruction, and/or who compels, harasses, intimidates, or otherwise forces my minor child, or attempts same, in any way, to participate in any standardized test or assessment, and/or who takes any action that causes my child emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against these express instructions, will be in violation of federal and state constitutional law, statutory law, and common law.

I trust there will be no further need for clarification.


Kevin W. Carr

Stacy L. Carr

cc: Mr. David Hespe, Acting Commissioner of the NJDOE
Ms. xxxxx, President, Deptford BOE
Mrs. xxxxx, Principal
Mr. xxxxx, Principal
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher
Mrs. xxxxx, Teacher"
jay_wick said...

When our BOE first started trying to get their heads around Common Core I made it a point to tell them this was first and foremost a POLTICAL movement. I believe this more strongly now than ever.

As I have said before, the TESTS of PARCC clearly do seek out a specific kind of response that is highly convoluted and literally will punish students who get the correct numeric answer without the silliness of making tally marks. It is quite simply not worth wasting the time of our students with such nonsense for many trivial questions but that is EXACTLY what is expected on too many items.

The sad reality is that these sort of test items are in fact a covert effort of the supporters of Common Core to impose specific methods of instruction upon teachers. This is a dangerous precedent and one that steps over a line that devalues the skills of teachers; instead of merely suggesting a range of techniques for teachers to have "in their toolbox" it artificially locks teachers into using only "approved tools" in the way that a totalitarian regime would limit logical uses of resources. There is widely retold quote that is relevant here: Why use shovels if spoons involve more laborers?

Similarly John Dewey, the noted American advocate for education, wrote in 1915:“What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.”
The School and Society, Dewey, University of Chicago Press Instead excellence and opportunity what we get with the Common Core is very different. Bill Gates, one of the major financial backers of Common Core went to the elite private school, Lakeside, near Seattle, he and his wife Melinda send their children there now. There you'll find nothing like Common Core -- Lakeside contrasted with Common Core 

We must not allow our schools to be dragged down through this silliness. Yes, take the tests. Heck, do what we must to mollify the bureaucrats that are pushing this latest fad, but DO NOT impose a regimented and small-minded orthodoxy upon the whole range of learners. This is not mere "malpractice" but true villainy -- if we abide this foolish punishment of students that are able to quickly and accurately solve problems without crutches how long before we also see to it that swift swimming athletes carry along added ballast so they may flounder at the bottom of the pool along with poor swimmers?
Anonymous said...
Just to piggy back on what Jill said, PARCC scores are not being reported b/c most schools are not equipped right now even to take the PARCC. Since it's a computerized test, many districts do not have the capabilities b/c they don't have enough computers for students. I completely agree with Wick in that Common Core is a politically corrupt movement. Pearson is heavily in the mix.

PARCC will be a disaster.

Our district should not be eliminating the MAP test. And it is going to happen.

Anonymous said...
D181 kids have been taking the MAP for at least 6 years now.

Seriously parents-we can't let them discontinue its use because it is the ONLY stable (yet just one data point) that we have.

PARCC is going to be a disaster-and I hope with all my heart that the movement towards Common Core encounters more resistance-because it is PURELY POLITICAL! Just look at Obama Care-many of the arcitects of Common Core are buddies of this administration that just flats out LIES to the public.

The word "political" should always be attached to the PARCC test and Common Core.

We should be stalling the race towards Common Core, and PARCC because there's no guarentee that is going to be fully implemented. States are pulling out-and quick frankly-all district don't have the money for it. It's beyond ridiculous! Extreme left/right pipe dream. Please understand I'm not ripping on Democrates-because I think Reublicans came up with their own version-I disgusted by the extremests on both sides that want to destroy our children's education.
Yvonne Mayer said...
A friend of mine just posted the following article on FaceBook:

For those of you with students in D181, this deals with the Winnetka school district's superintendent warning parents about the PARRC assessment. Have parents in D181 gotten anything similar this year?
Anonymous said...
Thank you Ms. Mayer for posting the article.

No, we have not gotten anything similar. In fact, my principal, as well as Dr. White, keep talking about how fantastic common core is. This is troubling indeed.

Sounds like integrated classrooms are the norm now in this district. How are we going to tackle this huge controversial shift in the midst of the huge controversy of common core? It seems so reckless and irresponsible on the part of the administration!

I was just looking at correspondence from the district from last year. Everything was about Learning for all being about acceleration. But now there is no acceleration at all. I'm confused. I am new to the district so perhaps I am missing something but it seems like we have done a 180 flip with no notice to the public. What gives?

My children have been in a few school districts yet this is the most disorganized disfunctional one that I have encountered. I thought this was supposed to be such a good school district? I can tell you from experience that it is not. The Chicago public schools - which we moved here to get away from - are FAR FAR better! 
Anonymous said...
Everyone needs to read the article in the Washington Post that Yvonne Mayer has mentioned. Trisha Kocanda, the Winnetka District 36 Superintendent, has done an excellent job of pointing out the issues with the PARCC test. Ohio just opted out of the PARCC. As a former teacher, my main concern is the extreme loss of teacher-student contact time. It is huge with the PARCC. All of Dr. Kocanda's other concerns about the PARCC are very valid, too.

Since I attended this Monday's D181 BOE meeting and witnessed Kurt Schneider's "cry baby behavior, " I have to comment that I have never in my 40 years of involvement in education ever seen such unprofessional behavior by an educator. For Schneider to whine IN PUBLIC about how mistreated he and his bunch of believers have been was so incredibly inappropriate and, if I had been Dr. White, I would have stopped Schneider from continuing with his statement. I was so embarrassed for D181 when I witnessed a D181 administrator moaning about how picked on he has been by the parents and community. UNBELIEVABLE! It's bad enough that the inappropriate Learning For All program exists in D181, but to then have Schneider complain IN PUBLIC about how horribly he has been treated...well, my solution to his problem is GET OUT OF D181!!!! Go with your so special colleagues to some other school district or back to Wisconsin. I thought Janet Stutz was horrible but she was just clueless as far as curriculum. Schneider is so misguided as far as what needs to be happening in D181 it is an abomination. His "social justice" crap might be appropriate in Bolingbrook or West Chicago, but it has absolutely no place in D181. Parents and, above all, our teachers must make Dr. White and the BOE aware now that you will not put up with this misguided approach. It may have to wait until the April 7 BOE election, but every single parent and community member had better get out and vote in the election so D181 can turn this situation around. Everyone, get educated on the issues and the candidates and then VOTE! Please let us have learned something from the awful debacle that ocurred in the last D86 election. 
Anonymous said...
I was thinking about opting out of the PARCC test as well. It seems a little radical to do so but, honestly, I think my student will be upset by the whole thing and I would rather have her reading a book in the library for 13 hours than testing. 3 MAP tests this year tells me everything I need to know about her growth. Who knows if they will even be using PARCC next year so the results could be worthless and our students are not going to do well because they are not prepared. How does one go about opting out?
Anonymous said...
I was thinking about opting out of the PARCC test as well. It seems a little radical to do so but, honestly, I think my student will be upset by the whole thing and I would rather have her reading a book in the library for 13 hours than testing. 3 MAP tests this year tells me everything I need to know about her growth. Who knows if they will even be using PARCC next year so the results could be worthless and our students are not going to do well because they are not prepared. How does one go about opting out?
Anonymous said...
The students at HMS will have their education disrupted for 15 days--yes, three weeks--in March and then again in May for an additional three weeks in order to take the new Common Core test. What??
Anonymous said...
There was a pilot "test" of PARCC last year, remember?! Sounds like another waste of time. I hope our district is giving feedback to the state about this.
Anonymous said...

This article answers the question concerning opt out of the PARCC.
Also take a look at the online practice test questions before deciding if you want your child subjected to this unnecessary assessment.
Why is this test being given in March and then again in May? 
Anonymous said...
The March test is called a "Performance Based Assessment" (or PBA) for when 75% of the school year completed, while the May test is an "End of Year" assessment (or EOY) to be tested at the 90% mark. I find this stupid, since that leaves only a month in between for additional instruction. That's not much. To add insult to injury, we have MAP testing in between, thereby losing even more precious instruction time. To make matters worse, the PBA can be taken up to 3 times a year, for 4 total tests. I don't know who decides how many times we take this test. I don't know if the state may say we have to test exactly this many times, or if districts can choose to take the PBA additional times.

I also heard some of the regulations on testing, to prevent cheating. Some make sense, like not allowed to have cell phones/computers since a kid could just look up the answers. However, some are idiotic and makes you wonder if the test creators have ever stepped inside a classroom. Examples include that in math, you get scratch paper and a pencil. The pencil must be a #2 wooden pencil. WOODEN?!? Why can't mechanical pencils? Plus, some LA tests provide audio portions of a question. Students can NOT change the volume in the middle of a test. I guess the program that provides the test can't differentiate between a student opening a new web browser window looking for answers, and the little volume level thing that pops up. This does begin to express how I feel about this test:
Anonymous said...
Our kids already had 1 snow day this month. We have no school on President's day, and then no school on Friday, Feb. 27 for teacher inservice day. That's 3 days off. They don't need to lose 5 days to learn how to take an experimental test. That is what paid focus groups are for.

Besides field trip days, don't forget no class time for SELAS training so our children can learn that it's bad to lie and bully. Really? Then why do our administrators lie and bully us into taking the PARCC. We already make our kids take practice SATS and ACTS. All they really need is more time with their teachers.
Anonymous said...
One month between these two tests?
Are they the same test?
Will we receive results from each?
What is the purpose of two week long tests?
Anonymous said...
I think it is a good idea to do these tests at the beginning and the end of summer, and have proctors administer them. It would save wasting teaxher's salaries on something that teachers aides can do. Also, I'd these tests are so new and unknown, kids should be offered extra credit or a reduction of student fees for making our students do this. It sounds like Pearson, the state, and our district are using our kids as free child labor and taking away their valuable instructional time. 
Anonymous said...
Our kids have gone through k-5 being prepped for tests. They take perfectly good nationally recognized MAP tests 3 times a year. If the PARCC people couldn't figure out how to make a test simple enough for 6th, 7th, & 8th graders to to figure out how to take right away, then why are they taking it? If the kids weren't orepared during the year to take it, what is the point? This is supposed to be a snapshot, not a project!
Sounds like the computerized PARCC is too complex and our district should have only signed up for the paper and pencil version. Or better yet, scrap it like CPS did. I don't want my children missing any more instructional days. Let the kids take it over the summer with proctors, not teachers. Our children's time in school is valuable. It shouldn't be wasted on practicing for a PARCC test that month after month, more and more states are abandoning. Missouri just dropped PARCC and now only 10!states are left holding the bag.  
Anonymous said...
So, if there are only 10 states taking the test and CPS is not going to administer the test, what good is it? Who are we comparing these faulty results with anyway and what sort of feedback are the teachers and the district even getting? Waste of instructional time.
Kim Notaro said...
I just sent this "CHALLENGE: Take the PARCC Assessment and post your scores" to a number of parents, admin & the BOE. I think the scores will tell a lot about the test our kids will be taking this week. WE SHOULD BE THE GUINEA PIGS!

Hi all!
Last year Lyndsey debated the value of standardized testing. In the process, her English 2 Honors teacher (with a Masters in education) shared that she got less than 50% on the Sophomore PARCC. So I am not afraid to share my humble scores.

Matt & I just took the 5th Grade LAE PARCC & got 33/40. We went back, checked our reasoning and stand by our answers. Then we went on to take the 5th Grade Math PARCC. Once we hit equations Matt QUIT, because he could not get the equations in without blank boxes popping up. The process is not purely intuitive - the technology is way behind - and falls short of testing knowledge. I have a 1988 BS & BA from Purdue University plus a 1991 MFA from Rutgers - and I was so FRUSTRATED that if I had been on a laptop I might have thrown it! Matt & I scored 9/9 on the math for the simple answers - but I could not enter any equations in the order I processed them. Only by writing it out, then transferring could I get the equations in.

I found "Technology is not up to the task at hand!" So I challenge all of you to take whatever grade level test you choose - and share your successes and failures. Here's the link: Sample tests can be found by clicking on the scrolling slideshow - then go down to grade level tests, pick a grade and enjoy! Let's see who takes the challenge - maybe we should post our official PARCC results.

Kim Notaro
The Parents said...
Can parents whose kids took the PARCC assessment today let the blog know how the testing went? Were there any technology problems? What did the students think of the test? Did teachers give the students homework?
Anonymous said...
Lots of tears and computer glitches at my kid's school yesterday. One kid got 3/4 through test , computer glitched and erased and the kid had to retake the whole test. The rest of the group had thirty minutes of glitches on a timed test. My child came home anxious and upset. Very few kids finished the test. 
Anonymous said...
ISBE said that the PARCC test results will not available until late fall at the earliest (much later than ISAT results).

And yes, Ms. Quinones is correct in saying that they haven't determined the cut scores. They also haven't figured out what data will be reported and what the reports will look like. A significant waste of effort...
Anonymous said...
I realize this test is a state mandate. But I wish White has taken a page from the Winnetka's super and been a little more honest about the test. The rosy glossy picture things insults our intelligence as parents.
Anonymous said...
I don't understand the use of the term "cut score" in this context. Usually if you don't score above the cut score, you're not eligible for something. Admission to MENSA would be an example.

What does it mean here? What happens if one falls below the cut score?

Anonymous said...
Just because it is a state mandate does NOT mean your children have to take it. Federal law clearly states that our children are not subjects of the state. And if our district claims that they will lose funding if our kids don't take the test, what about the instructional time our children lose? That is worth money, too. The superintendents in IL need to speak up and DEMAND shorter tests with quicker, meaningful results! 
Jill Quinones said...
8:46: PARCC Cut scores refers to what score means Exceeds State Standards, Meets State Standards, Below State Standards, or Academic Warning.
(those are ISAT terms, don't know if PARCC will be the same)

At the school where I teach (not D181), today was Day 2 of PARCC ELA for 6th Grade. I did not administer it, but it seemed to go pretty smoothly. Heard student chatter about the small number of questions on the test. No significant technology gaps - I was kind of surprised!

Also surprised to read on this blog that they knew of a child who had a completed most of the test and had to retake. When we trained we were told that if such glitches occurred at most 3 answers would be lost as the PARCC system swept the answers in onto the server every 3 questions. Depending on the question a child was on and when the last sweep was, they would lose 1, 2 or 3 answers at most. Not that the loss of even 1 answer is good, but it was interesting to hear that maybe that is not so. 
Anonymous said...
What do the children do when you opt them out? Can they read at their desks or do they just have to sit there? I am thinking of opting out in May. If our administration won't stand up for us maybe parents need to take things in our own hands to make a statement. Next year we are scheduled to take the PARCC test 3 times. That is just too much.


Anonymous said...

I'm opting out in May for sure. Bloggers can you please repost all of the PARCC comments under this post?

The Parents said...

We have now copied all comments we previously received on the PARCC test to this post.

Anonymous said...

I kept my children at home for ISATS and PARCC and then dropped them back off at school when testing was over. While they were home, I made sure they did school work or read a book. I told them that the only reason I wasn't them making them take the test was because our schools have better tests like MAP.

This letter from a principal should be applauded. He is a true hero:

Chicago principal supports opt out of

I am writing to make it clear that the Blaine administration fully supports the PTA’s effort to maximize Blaine students’ instructional time. As a result we will respect and honor all parent requests to opt-out their students from the PARCC. Students whose parents opt them out will receive a full day of instruction. Teachers are developing plans that will provide enriched learning experiences for non-testing students during the testing window. I want to clearly state that whether you opt-out or not, Blaine’s administration and teachers will respect and support your wishes for your child…..

Opting out will not affect your child’s promotion and selective enrollment status for Fall 2015. There is also a belief that opting out will affect Blaine’s funding. There is no evidence for this belief. In fact, the test itself is decreasing resources that could have otherwise been targeted for school improvement. Each year, states and school districts spend billions of dollars on testing, while at the same time cutting budgets for instruction and learning. Our PTA believes it is time for parents to say “enough.” For more on the issue of funding, please see the statement released by the parent education advocacy organization, More Than a Score, at the following link:


Anonymous said...

Part II of Principal's Opt Out Letter:

For more on the PTA’s opt-out initiative, please see
In closing, our PTA’s focus on teaching your children rather than over-testing them is commendable, and we applaud their efforts on behalf of Blaine students.

Very Respectfully,
Troy LaRaviere, Principal

But then, READ THIS!
Since releasing the above letter, I’ve been asked questions like, “Since the PARCC might count for something next year, do you think the kids should just take it this year so they can get used to it?” My response is as follows: If the schools announced that next year they were going expose your children to exhaust fumes for five minutes per day, would you be resigned to that inevitability and submit your child, starting his or her exposure this year so he or she can “get used to it”? That analogy may seem harsh and over-the-top, but it is my lived experience that this massive over-testing has been as toxic to education in Chicago as breathing exhaust fumes would be to a living organism. Over-testing–and the punitive measures that have come with it–has narrowed our curriculum; it has led to massive cheating scandals across the country; it has led to the shutting down of good schools in low-income neighborhoods; and it has led to a reduction in practices that would actually improve schools, like collaboration and increased professional development time.

Over-testing has also given politicians a way to blame public schools for things that are clearly a result of the actions and inactions of the failed politicians themselves. When students in a low-income neighborhood show up on day-one of kindergarten three years behind their counterparts in a high-income community, that is not the result of the failure of public schools; it is the result of failed public policies; it is a result of a political system that has failed to deliver critical human services to the people who need them most. From Rahm Emanuel to most local aldermen, our city’s politicians have failed low-income children from conception to kindergarten, and they use attainment based test scores to chastise public schools for picking up the pieces of their monumental failures.

So no. We don’t need to get used to this. We need to stop this.

My son is in second grade. Next year he will be among thousands of 3rd graders who are scheduled to take the PARCC for the first time. He will not take it. He will not take it in 3rd grade to get used to it by 4th grade; and he will not take it in 4th grade to get used to it by 5th grade.

We do not want our children–or our schools in general–to continue to have to get used to unproven backward education policy ideas like the theory that testing our children is going to somehow magically improve our education system. It’s time to end the PARCC; not just opt-out of it. It’s time to implement real evidence-based strategies for enhancing our education system. We’ve been blindly following the testing theory for 14 years now. The No Child Left Behind law launched this era of testing and accountability in 2001. Remember? The massive testing and accountability the law called for was supposed to lead to 100% of children meeting standards by 2014. Those years have come and gone with no appreciable difference in outcomes for our children. Testing and accountability did not work in the last 14 years and it won’t work in the next 14. It’s time to call a failure, a failure.

Let’s all say it together:

“The theory of testing and accountability has failed our children.”

Opt Out Chicago
Opt Out Illinois.
Opt Out America.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a powerful letter. A true leader in education.

Anonymous said...

This is in response to a PARCC commment that someone posted under the Turek posts.

The problem is, our children are being tested on Common Core concepts, but our administrators only this year started to realize that they misinterpreted what the Commmon Core was. In my opinion, when Kevin Russell was in charge of curriculum 2 years ago, he, Ms. Benaitis, and Dr. Schneider advocated accelelerating all of the 3rd graders to finish all of 3rd and 4th grade math in one year because they thought that's what Common Core wanted. It was their faulty attempt to try and blend total inclusion (Learning for All), the eliminination of gifted programming, and the new Common Core requirements into one swift action. These were completely separate concepts that could not be implemented into one swift movement called Learning for All. Especially when there was no written plan or successful model to follow. When they saw their terrible action wasn't working, they tried to blame it all on the requirements of the State of Illinois to follow Commmon Core. They thought they could kill 3 birds with one stone, but they couldn't.

Two years ago, the administration should have:

1) Given teachers professional development in commmon core teaching methods.
2) Provided the updated CC teacher's editions of common core math books.
3) Provided updated to Commmon Core books and workbooks to children - 2 years ago.

Common Core wanted schools top slow down and go more in depth for the basic concepts in math, especially in elementary school. Add to this fact that those same children never had real Common Core aligned books, yet they will still be tested on commmon core subjects? If children were never taught common core, why were schools wasting their time testing them in common core? It's like testing kids in French when they only have taken Spanish. It makes no sense.

The commmon core aligned books were just piloted this year. The 5th graders this year never received or even used the common core updates to the Everyday Math materials when they were in 3rd, 4th or 5th grade. They only recieved our district's faulty interpretation of materials and teaching methods. Teachers never had a book or teachers guide - they had a district created binder supplement for the 5th grade teachers to use. Not sure why the district would even want the public to see how terrible the Parcc results are going to be.

If anyone reads the letter from the Chicago principal they will realize how useless these tests are. However, the real point is, if you want your child to take the test, fine. But don't pretend that it is against the law for parents to opt out. And don't deny our children instructional time in school because the school is pretending that children must take these tests.

Anonymous said...

My children attend school in neighboring district D107. Our children were not forced to stand and refuse, parents simply had to send in a letter saying they did not want their child tested. Those that do not test go to an alternate location to read and work on homework. Fortunately, my children are not the only ones opting out; there are quite a few in various grade levels. We will do it again in May. According to our school calendar, there are only 9 days in the month of May that are not marked as testing days. How sad.

Anonymous said...

If other districts are being truthful and understanding the laws correctly, why isn't ours? This indicates a problem.

And to whoever thinks that parents are simply being reactive by not letting their children take the PARCC tests, it seems to me that you are not understanding that there is a limited amount of time in school for kids. No extra time was added to our school calendar when these PARCC tests were added. Schools had to spend a great amount of time trying to figure out how they were going to rotate all of the computers throughout the school so that they could take these tests. Not sure why 181 didn't just use paper and pencil tests since our kids never received keyboarding training anyway. Seriously - does it make sense to you that our 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade children have to answer essay questions on a keyboard if they have never been taught how to keyboard at school? Nor were we told to prepare them with a keyboard at home because they would be taking tests on computers.

If you take away instructional time so you can spend time preparing for and then, taking the test, that is time that the teachers could have used to teach. If the Chicago principal who wrote the above letter, the North Shore superintendent, and other school districts are realizing that kids lose learning time when they waste time on too many tests.

D181 Staff Member said...

Parents, can you make this a free standing post, please?

Just got a district-wide e-mail from Sean Walsh, Director of Learning. He says he will resign at the end of the school year as he got a principal job in his old district (200).

I wonder if Dr. White will find a new Director of Learning or will just replace it with the Director of Assessments position? Will Dr. White make this decision with the current board, or the new board elected on April 7th?

I've read this blog for over a year now, and have seen many comments about how various administrators are unqualified. I'd like to know how you, the parents, define "qualified"? What experience should the applicant have in teaching? Do you want just general ed? Just gifted? Just SpEd? A combination? If a combination, how much experience in each area? What experience in an administrative role? Experience as a principal? Besides an endorsement in administration, what else? I'd like to see at least a master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction.