April 1, 2014
It has been far too long; my humble apologies. Although quite a bit has happened to me, I write today because I must speak out. Today is about opting out.
I have calculated and done the math. By the end of this school year, my 8th grade language arts students will have spent 64% of their time in my class either preparing and/or taking a standardized test that has absolutely no bearing on their grades, their futures, or their abilities. Yesterday was one such day.
My first hour class was chosen to field test a new high stakes, standardized test. It was a disaster. We had been on spring break for the two weeks prior, the students were not informed and I was given the testing instructions only 30 minutes before I was to administer the test. In addition, the computers with which the students had to test, were not charged. Subsequently, we had to switch to a computer lab that did not have the proper software downloaded. And that was just the start.
I was flying blind, as were my students. By the end of the period, 80 minutes later, my students had still not been able to log onto the computers to start their tests. This did not deter the powers that be. I was told to go to my next class while my students stayed in the lab and waited until the bugs were worked out and then they would test. By lunchtime, they still had not taken their tests.
Truth be told, I was not informed of the outcome of this fiasco until this morning. Most of my students patiently waited and tried their best on the test because as one student put it, “I wanted you to be proud of me, Miss.”. And of course I was proud of them. However, I couldn’t help but shed tears of joy when one of my students told me he refused to take the test. He informed the principal who then called his father. My student informed his father what the test was for and that it would not have any effect on his grade. His father backed-up his decision. Unfortunately, the principal had expected my student’s father to back her up. Needless to say, my student was reprimanded by the principal even after the phone call home. Really?
I was in for an even bigger surprise. My student wanted to know how he could, “opt out” of the AIMS (Arizona’s high stakes test that is obsolete for my students). I printed off an opt out letter for him to take home to his parents and I included my home phone number in case they had any questions. With any luck, this will start a trend. I truly hope so. Peace, ~v.