What happens when you opt your kids out of standardized tests


Best sentence you’ll read on the Internetz today!

Despite the fact that the best-performing educational systems in the world don’t treat teachers as assembly line workers and kids as standardized injection molds to be squirted full of learning, the west continues to pursue this approach, scapegoating teachers’ unions and pitting parents against them when the real enemy is the doomed idea that schools are a specialized kind of industrial plant – and the project of selling off public schools to privatized educational corporations that collect public funds to educate kids, but only to the extent that this can be done without undermining their shareholders’ interests.


If the kid doesn’t take one of the big standardized tests, what are they going to put on their college application in the "your standardized test score: " spot?

At best an admissions officer is going to call and have a long talk about why they didn’t take it, and in the more likely case, they’re going to reject the form outright unless the kids are straight A students with every honor possible and already on a scholarship.

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This is a really difficult situation. I’ve had parents make persuasive arguments about why I should opt-out of testing for my son. But now we’re trying to get him into a decent NYC middle school and test scores are a HUGE part of that process. If he hadn’t taken, and performed well, on those tests, his options would be much more limited than they already are. I am against testing, but I don’t think pulling my kid from the tests is the best way to express that becaue it makes him pay a price.


Despite the fact that the best-performing educational systems in the world don’t treat teachers as assembly line workers and kids as standardized injection molds to be squirted full of learning.


I don’t have any first-hand knowledge about how the top performing countries’ K12 schools are run. Movies and TV have thought me that Japanese, Chinese and Korean schools do kind of treat teachers as assembly line workers and kids as rote-learning machines.


If I remember correctly, all that college admissions officers care about is SAT and / or ACT. This opt out was for state-mandated testing.


What we are really talking about is the selling off public assets and selling out of citizens. If you and others around you can see their plan coming and identify the people fueling these plans then we have a chance to stop it.


What followed was a total educational freakout, as the principal, vice-principal and administration alternately cajoled and guilted her over her kids’ non-participation in pedagogically suspect, meaningless, destructive high-stakes testing.

Of course they did. Everything from funding to whether a school is even accredited is based on standardized testing.

No, really. It was bad before, got worse after No Child Left Behind passed, and will continue to go downhill now that Core Curriculum is being passed. What, learn from Finnish success? No! Let’s make PE, art, and music teachers teach Math and English (so why do we have Math and English teachers, again?)

Meanwhile, China reduced the amount of standardized testing.

McElroy’s story is a snapshot of an educational system in the process of implosion, driven by the ridiculous idea that schools are factories whose product is educated kids, and whose employees must be made “accountable” by measuring anything we can put a number on – attendance and test-scores – at the expense of actual educational outcomes.

And that’s why the school administrators had a come-apart. I’m guessing these kids were some of the better students; if the school can’t show improvement through standardized testing, they’re going to have a bad time.


In Colorado at least, in-state colleges only require ACT scores - which is the better of the two IMHO.

Here is an interesting comparison of Japanese v American schools. http://sitemaker.umich.edu/arun.356/home
It seems one of the major differences is the curriculum. Japan has a state curriculum which dictates what is to be taught and from what books. This gives all Japanese students and even playing field. In the US each state decides the curriculum largely decided by available resources and funding. According to the linked paper, “when US teachers use a curricula that parallels that of Japan, US achievement is similar to that of Japan”.

Hang on a sec…you need competitive test scores to get in to Middle School!! What ever happened to just finishing primary school?


/drags mouse across “best-performing educational systems”, right-clicks, selects "Search Google for “best-performing educational systems”.
/scrolls down to the link for the NCEE, reads…seems like a fairly neutral source…

See, it’s not so hard.


Is this really a problem of “the west” or of the US and the UK?

Our problem may actually be rather the opposite of what is claimed here. Factories don’t endlessly switch from one free-lunch plan to the next in order to become more efficient. That’s what we do in education.

We basically know a bunch of things that will work, just one problem. They all cost money. As there isn’t political will to raise taxes and spend money on (other peoples) kids we instead chase one free-lunch after another.


And there are some parents who are opting out of the SAT and ACT.

Knowing a lot of admissions officers what typically happens is a conversation about it. No school I know of just uses the SAT/ACT as the only arbiter, and seeing that section blank is actually going to provide for a more interesting conversation about that when the time comes, they’re not just going to outright not interview a decent student because of it.

You might find that students whose parents are opting them out of either of the big tests already have an idea of how their child is doing and that additional testing might not be warranted. You don’t necessarily want a school of straight A students who know nothing about subjects they never challenged themselves in. What if you have a great art student who got average scores in English? Some schools might want to mix that kid in and see how they do.

Most of the time passion and interest are more appealing to admissions officers than most of the things in the packet. Most students aren’t willing to even put that sort of thing down in their essay, so those that do typically get more attention than you would think.


I visited the NCEE site. It doesn’t really give a detailed picture of how much freedom teachers are given or how much customization is done on a per student basis.

In fact what I learned most is that a good number of top counties segment their student populations rather early into vocational and university tracks which is the biggest obvious difference compared to the US.

Already I have a problem - ‘curricula’ is the plural.

I love a non-standard plural as much or more than the next person, but if the person being quoted can’t keep track, they should just add an ‘s’ and avoid confusion. So this quote illustrates two mistakes: first, using the wrong number, and two, being pompous by using the Latin plural, and two-A, compounding mistake 2 by doing it wrong.

I wish we would see more interesting plurals (used correctly, of course), such as ‘penes’ for the plural of ‘penis’.

New York is different. You test into middle school. Then high school. It’s because you don’t necessarily go to the middle or high school closest to you because some are well known for one thing or another. Think of it as college junior for people who know what they want to major in.

The High School for Performing Arts is a very good example of how the system can work well at times. The poorly performing schools with no financial support are examples of how the system doesn’t always. It’s a pretty weird system and the reason that a lot of people just move to New Jersey or Connecticut to avoid it entirely.

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While I can appreciate the pushback against the unwarranted import being placed on such testing, I find myself a little conflicted, as I friggin’ LOVED standardized tests.

You get out of real classes for a day, they’re easy as shit, and you can cross your eyes to make the Scantron bubbles overlap and create 3D depth effects.


The flip side of this issue are students with average grades who score really high on standardized tests.

My son is just an example…his grades in high school were not great (he’s very bright but was lazy when it came to his assignments) but he scored in the 99th percentile on both the ACT and SAT. I really think this was a key contributor to him being accepted into college.


I didn’t mind them either and did very well on them. However, I also only took two or three in high school.

As a parent today knowing that there will be one in fourth grade to determine if the kids know long division I’d rather my kid just spent the day actually learning something useful and that the curriculum leading up to the test wasn’t spent teaching the test so they could pass it well and ensure that their teacher had a job next year. Using standardized tests to grade teachers is the dumbest move.

You and I both know standardized testing days are blow off days where nothing is learned, do you seriously want that for your own kid? Let alone all the days leading up to the test where they make sure they know the material? It’s like studying to go to study hall.

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