Array of unnecessary standardized tests not helping school children

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By Kris Nielsen and Kathy Korte

For our public school children, spring is an exciting time. It’s warmer and trees and flowers bloom. But it’s also a more stressful time for our kids because this year, like no other year before it, they’ll undergo so many more standardized tests.
As parents of public school children and leaders in a fight against these unnecessary standardized tests, we want to remind our public school administrators — and some of our teachers — that as educated parents, we know what we want for our children.
The dizzying array of unnecessary standardized tests forced upon our children by the New Mexico Public Education Department and the school districts are not what we want.
So we will employ — and encourage other like-minded, caring parents — our right to opt our children out of these unnecessary tests. What tests do we refer to?
End of Course exams: In 4-8 grades, they are “optional” and only used to evaluate teachers, providing no new data to help drive instruction. We know that by scores of fall EOCs and by the PED’s Joslyn Overby, who stressed that they are optional at a recent teacher training.
PARCC field tests: These tests are not useful and waste class time. They will be given a week after spring break to some kids. Our kids are being used by a multimillion-dollar corporation that will benefit monetarily by these tests, which came with the Common Core State Standards that New Mexico adopted. No thanks. Come up with a test on your own. Leave our kids out of it.
So as parents, we have some gentle reminders for teachers and principals who will get our opt-out forms this spring:
Don’t tell kids they are hurting their school or their teachers. They aren’t. This isn’t their fault. Blame those who are responsible for this mess.
Don’t tell kids or parents that their grades or chances at promotion or admission into advanced classes will suffer. You know better than that. Academic decisions don’t rely on one test score.
Don’t make kids who opt out “sit and stare.” Punishing a child for a decision that a family made is ridiculous and just mean-spirited. It’s also arguably illegal.
Don’t tell elementary and middle school opt outers that refusing will affect their graduation from high school. That’s a flat out lie.
Do not, under any circumstances, have a private conversation with a child who has opted out. If you want to discuss it, contact the parents. Private meetings with kids to try to talk them out of refusing is bullying and intimidation.
And, finally, do not enact consequences that have nothing to do with testing. Denying a child’s participation in extra-curricular activities or school events is just plain mean and sends a poor message.
We parents are pivotal in the success of our children. We pay taxes that support our children’s schools. We are educated and know exactly what is going on with the new testing reforms forced on our schools and beleaguered teachers.
We want our children to learn. We want them to be supported at school like they are supported at home. We want them to be successful adults. No standardized testing will ensure any of this.
So to our schools, teachers, principals and district administrators: Honor our requests and support our opt-out decisions. After all, these decisions are being made by some of your most ardent community supporters.