Newton Teacher: Parents Need Authority to Opt-Out of Testing

Amy Moore is a 5th Grade teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Newton.  I had the chance to meet her at an event Ankeny for Student Achievement hosted on Saturday and am so appreciative of her willingness as a teacher to speak out.  She wrote on Thursday an excellent op/ed at The Des Moines Register that addresses a topic we’ve focused on this fall.

Parents should be able to opt their students out of assessments, period.

Here is an excerpt of Moore’s piece:

There is a very unsettling thing happening in our districts. The focus on meaningful instruction has been replaced with a focus on measurement. Where students used to spend days learning and being nurtured in an atmosphere of safe encouragement, they are now often spending days being judged, labeled and categorized by test after test. Where teachers were once collaborating about effective and creative teaching practices, they are now sifting through mountains of data.

Any parent who has been paying attention has seen this shift. I have not heard from one parent who is happy about it, but I hear from plenty who are frustrated and angry. They don’t like to learn that their child spent yet another day in front of a computer screen taking another test. (I challenge all administrators to share exactly how many instructional days your child will be assessed instead of taught).

They tell me that their children are depressed, anxious, bored and discouraged. They worry that all of the love and wonder of learning is being drowned and smothered in the relentless taking of these tests.

So why the change? Well if you ask, you’ll most likely be told that these constant checks are designed to make sure that no child is left behind.

You could hear that teachers need this data to better instruct your child on a personal level. You could be informed about the ability of schools to ready your babies for college and for the careers of their futures. And it would all be baloney.

If children are left behind it is because of a lack of good instruction or support, not because of the lack of test scores. (Read more)

Schools and the Iowa Department of Education have given parents a hard time about opting students out of assessments, but the simple fact of the matter is that Iowa law, U.S. law, the courts, and common sense are on the side of parents.

Also remember that your child is more than a test score!

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About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.

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