Life. Love. Family. Our Perfect Imperfection. Living life as a Catholic, homeschooling family with three amazing, unique boys, a too-oft serious, frustrated and anxious but also loving momma, and a fun-loving, hardworking dad.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Why we are choosing to opt out

Paraphrasing one of our favorite teachers, "I'm a tester, not a teacher."

My sentiments exactly.

Mind you, the truth behind this statement is not by choice but by necessity, forced by the state and federal governments due to the near-constant standardized, or otherwise, testing.

My sons do have *some* amazing teachers, who are unable to do what they should be able to do (truly TEACH our kids) because they have to focus so much on testing, whether it be 30-day/monthly assessments in multiple subjects, or the THREE (I believe it was even 4 when the state of Michigan was still using MEAP) yearly standardized tests they have to give, and our kids have to take - Scantron in the Fall and Spring, and the replacement for the MEAP test, M-Step.

My boys will not be taking this new test for numerous reasons, that many others have written about in ways better than I can - just do a quick internet search and I'm sure you'll find many such articles which I won't link to here for my own reasons. However, my number 2 reason is the above: too many "tests" and not enough learning.

That brings me to my number one reason. My oldest child, you know my Aspie who has anxiety and is constantly worried about getting it trouble and what not? Well, about a month ago, one of his teacher's said something to the class in a "discussion" about the M-step. He just told me earlier this week, and while he couldn't recall which teacher it was, he very adamantly remembered what was said. I can see why he remembers, because of the fear it made him feel.

"If a student is out for the test, it's basically illegal, because it is technically stealing from the school, because the state won't give money to the school then." In other words, if a student doesn't take the test, they won't be counted for funding, and the school will receive less money from the state of Michigan. While the part about the school receiving money depending on student count is true, it does NOT mean my (or any child) is 'basically stealing' from anyone, and it's not illegal to opt out or not ensure the school gets funding because of it.

Let me restate that: My child was told, along with classmates, that if they opt out of the test, they ARE DOING SOMETHING ILLEGAL AND STEALING FROM THE SCHOOL. For all intents and purposes, this is what my TWELVE YEAR OLD son was told and understood it to mean. Indeed, he was so upset, that he at first didn't tell me, but planned to just take the test. When I told him and his brother that their dad and I would be opting them out, and they didn't need to worry too much about the test, he became upset and told me what he was told. He became visibly upset, on the verge of tears, telling me how he would be screwing up his entire life and go to jail then. Seriously??

He will, of course, not be stealing, nor doing anything illegal (nor go to jail) for NOT TAKING A TEST. He will also not be taking the test, and neither will his brother.

I have to go into the school with the opt-out form, and am unsure of the response I will be given. I also don't know what alternative activities they will be doing the days of the test - which may be as many as 5 days!! - but I am prepared to find out. If I am told that there is no plan, or they will be stuck in the office all day, some other action may be taken.

We are in the process of determining our course of action for next school year, as we may be moving, and if not, probably won't be continuing at our current school. Jason and I are considering every option, and about 80/20 on what that decision will be. This particular issue is only one of many that are causing us to make a change.

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