Should parents protest testing by refusing to let their kids take exams?

crcted.0920 (Medium)Interesting CNN story on parents refusing to allow their children to take state exams in protest of the testing mania in schools. The pro-test side in the story is represented by Michael Lomax, a former Fulton County Commission chair who went on to become a college president and now United Negro College Fund president and CEO.

Lomax is a longtime educator. He once spoke to a GSU class that I was teaching and was very candid with the students about Georgia politics. I thought he was an unlikely politician, which may be why he didn’t make it a lifelong career.

I understand the growing concerns about testing, but have not personally seen test prep taken to the extreme. I am still not sure why some teachers are at ease with the CRCT and others are frantic. While many of you will suggest that the nervous teachers are those teaching in the toughest schools, I haven’t found that to be the case. I know teachers in schools with high numbers of poor kids who are not all panicked about the Georgia CRCT. And I know teachers in upscale suburban schools who are sick with worry about the April tests.

Here is part of the CNN story:

A Pennsylvania mother has decided she does not want her two children to take the two-week-long standardized tests given by her state as part of the federal No Child Left Behind law. And she hopes other parents will do the same.

Michele Gray’s sons — Ted Rosenblum, 11, and John Michael Rosenblum, 9 — did independent study the week of March 14 while their classmates were filling in hundreds of bubbles in classrooms with doors marked, “Quiet. Testing in Progress.”

Gray says the only legal exemption that would allow her kids to sit out the tests was a religious objection. So that’s what she did.

But Gray says her concerns go well beyond religion. “The more I look at standardized tests, the more I realize that we have, as parents, been kind of sold a bill of goods.”

She says the tests are not accurate measures of accomplishment, create undue anxiety for students and are used to punish schools.

Dr. Timothy Slekar, an associate professor of education at Penn State Altoona, agrees. It was his op-ed piece on the Huffington Post website that inspired Gray to take action.

Slekar is also a father and this year chose not to allow his 11-year-old son Luke to take the tests. He says schools are narrowing their curricula in an effort to boost test scores and wasting too much time preparing for, and then taking, the tests.

He says the tests aren’t an accurate indicator of a child’s — or a school’s — performance. “I’m a father and an educator who’s finally said, ‘This is it. I’m done.’ Something has to give. Something has to change,” Slekar said.

Testing proponents, such as United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax, say parents who opt out “are doing their own children a disservice.” He added, “Testing is a parent’s ally” and that in order to compete with countries such as China and India, U.S. schools need to be held to a higher standard. And testing, he says, is the way to do it.

“The testing isn’t the reason the schools are failing. The instruction is the reason the schools are failing,” Lomax insisted.

President Barack Obama, at a March speech at a Virginia school, acknowledged testing reform is needed. But he says testing isn’t going away.

“There will be testing,” he said. “We can have accountability without rigidity — accountability that still encourages creativity inside the classroom, and empowers teachers and students and administrators.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

67 comments Add your comment

www.honeyfern.org

March 21st, 2011
5:11 am

Yes, parents should be able to opt out, but that still won’t change the fact that all instruction is geared towards success on the test. I agree that assessment is necessary to measure a student’s progress, but the current tests are ridiculous, and the current cut scores are even more so (and the state has lowered them from initial levels, I believe). As for not witnessing “test prep,” that depends on what you are looking for. Most schools are including CRCT all year, from warm-ups to reminders to benchmark testing.

I would opt out

March 21st, 2011
5:39 am

I hadn’t checked your column this morning before sending an email asking this question LOL. Any idea whether GA students can opt out? I might consider this option for our children.

Cobb History Teacher

March 21st, 2011
5:53 am

The mere fact that we give the CRCT 5 weeks before the school year ends should tell you “something’s rotten in Denmark.” We end up rushing through the curriculum in order to ensure we have addressed every standard before the test date. That’s hard when you are teaching from the peopling of the America’s all the way until the modern day. This is a daunting task when you consider that not all students come to you equally prepared. Now add to this that that the social studies test is the last test of the week and many students don’t believe this test counts because failure won’t lead to retention. Bottom line I don’t like the testing process because not all subjects are treated equally.

d

March 21st, 2011
6:16 am

I see the parents who hold their children out – and then the school fails to make AYP – being the first to opt for a transfer from the “failing” school. Frankly, how many other countries that we like to compare ourselves to use testing in the manner that we do? How many of these same countries aren’t testing every single student? We are losing a week of instruction this week for Grad testing and most of the juniors (and seniors too for some reason) feel that once they’re done on Thursday, they can skip school Friday (never mind the fact Spring Break will be just one week later).

No faith in politicians

March 21st, 2011
6:17 am

The GHSGT (Georgia High School Graduation Tests) start today. I guess if any parent wanted to opt out of these high stakes tests for their student they would basically be saying that they don’t want their child to graduate from high school since you have to pass all 5 and take all the necessary courses to graduate with a diploma.

EduPoli

March 21st, 2011
6:20 am

Testing isn’t the problem. Assessments are necessary to show what objectives a child has mastered; and those not mastered. The problem, as I observe it from a board member’s perspective, is the test has become the focus of schools instead of instruction and learning. Teachers are being forced to complete 180 days of instruction in about 120 days. To cover all of the GPS requirements, curriculum maps were created to ensure students are “presented” the material. Then, 2 weeks before the CRCTs, practice for the tests begin (more wasted instruction time). The tests are administered in April leaving nearly 2 full months of instruction time wasted before the school calendar ends. I know, in theory, teachers are to use this time to reteach or even begin the next year’s materials, but in reality this is rare. Students shut down, teachers collapse in exhaustion, and everyone waits for summer break.

CRCT should be moved to the end of the school year. This would allow almost 2 full months more of instruction time.

2 cents

March 21st, 2011
6:27 am

testing companies and politicans have figured out just another way to milk the system…

why else test first graders; i mean really we were testing first graders

Jesse Ventura put it best that the two parties are like pro wrestling; the crowds show up and witness a lot of yelling and posing then when the crowds leave the politicans all get in the same car and go out to eat together.

teacher&mom

March 21st, 2011
6:45 am

My son will take the GHSGT this week. Last night I was talking with another parent and mentioned that by the end of May, he will have taken 8 standardized test this year. Crazy.

I’ve said this before on this blog… we (parents) have lulled ourselves into believing the only true measure of our child’s academic progress is through standardized tests. Common sense has been replaced with a test score. We’ve been told to not consider the reading level of books coming home…that’s not a true measure. We can’t trust our own judgement when we read our children’s writing, or look over their math homework. At some point, we all need to get off this testing “hamster wheel” and say ENOUGH.

The CRCT’s and EOCT’s tell me nothing as a teacher. I’ve already formatively and summatively assessed my students in class. I know who is struggling and who’s mastered the curriculum. My grades reflect those assessments. I don’t need an EOCT score to show me whether or not learning took place in my classroom. What I really need is more time and resources to help the students who are struggling.

MS Man

March 21st, 2011
6:48 am

I have noticed that as the AMOs go up as we get closer to 2014 when 100% of students will be “above average” there is more and more concern about the value of testing. It seems most parents are only concerned when their school is marked “failing.” This year, I anticipate a 25% increase in the number of schools not making AYP in Georgia with the higher AMOs. Mostly, this will be because of the students with disabilities subgroup. Even with the new-fangled CRCT-M that is given to a magical 2%of SWD students, you will see dozens of “great” schools not making AYP and being labeled failing because of one subgroup. Wait and see how parents react to that…..

teacher&mom

March 21st, 2011
6:52 am

btw — Spend some time researching Pearson (test publishers). Look at how deeply entrenched they are in the testing business. Look at how many “services” they offer schools to improve test scores.

What too many fail to realize is the financial boom that testing has become. Many are warning that testing and education “reforms” are quietly being sold as the next big thing on Wall Street.

Marcus Valdes

March 21st, 2011
6:57 am

I’m thankful for the CRCT. It was what alerted me that our school was not doing it’s job and led us to homeschooling……

Deb

March 21st, 2011
7:08 am

On the one hand, testing is helpful because if we only rely on grades for example, an “A’ in one area of the state is not necessarily the same as an “A” in other areas of the state and therefore not necessarily a precise indicator of learning. Testing also helps with student placement – we discover which students need math and reading support, remediation, who perhaps should be placed in gifted classes, etc.

On the other hand, at my school testing has become a monster. When we test, the entire school is literally consumed in testing and nothing else seems to matter: We have the week-long CRCT testing, the 3-days of ITBS, the week of midterms, the week of finals, the county benchmark exams, the GA writing exam, the 3 practice writing exams beforehand … ad nauseum! The stress level on teachers is tremendous: we have to keep students absolutely silent in classrooms and halls for overly long periods of time, teachers fear being written-up or fired due to testing discrepencies, the hours consumed in pre-test meetings on testing-norms and scheduling … blah, blah, blah. Most teachers at my school (and students too!) actually hate the annual testing periods.

Jordan Kohanim

March 21st, 2011
7:31 am

teacher&mom- You have eloquently expressed my biggest fears, that is that public schools are becoming nothing more than testing mills.
Private schools don’t subject their students to this base-level thinking and therefore, can concentrate on more critical thinking/ innovative creativity. It is this innovation that will be most required in the newly developing job market. Private schools don’t force their kids to participate in testing insanity because they know that it is bad for business. That doesn’t mean their kids don’t take tests (SAT/ ACT etc), it means that they don’t do as many and they don’t center their entire curriculum around testing.
Sadly, it is the lower income schools that suffer the most from this data-obsessive mindset. The lower income schools are forced to institute a laser-focus on these tests, and the lower income population loses out on some of the most important type of instruction: ingenuity and imagination. The result? Test mills create a permanent underclass of citizens who are unable to innovate. Doesn’t this defeat one the implied purposes of education—to offer all children, regardless of income or background, the opportunity to realize the American dream of success?
One of the greatest injustices of this testing frenzy is that it offers false data of progress (or lack of progress). Tax payers pay for their students to “learn.” If the see the failing test scores, they often assume their child has not learned. Nevermind that child can now speak eloquently, analyze literature on multiple levels, write an essay, and knows not to drop out of school. Conversely, if a child scores well on the CRCT, a parent thinks (s)he has learned a proficient amount of knowledge to move on to the next grade level. Still, the cut scores for “meeting expectations” on these tests can be as low as 50% (as seen in the CRCT 8th Math for example). The easiest explanation I have found for this is here: http://www.barrow.k12.ga.us/Testing/What_Do_My_Child.pdf So, with such low standards for who “meets,” do parents get a realistic view of how much a child has mastered?
The bottom line? Testing cheats kids out of their future when schools use the tests to categorize learning, rate school/ teacher achievement, or dictate curriculum. Like the parent in this article said, “’The more I look at standardized tests, the more I realize that we have, as parents, been kind of sold a bill of goods.’” I further that and say parents and all tax payers have been swindled—and continue to be swindled each testing season.

JW

March 21st, 2011
7:38 am

It’s not necessarily testing that is the problem. It is the way test scores are used. Just see MS Man’s post at 6:48 for a great example. There will be schools labeled Failures (AKA Needs Improvement) based on one subgroup of students that realistically will never be “on grade level.”
Diane Ravitch has a great article in Newsweek regarding NCLB (”Obama’s War on Schools” March 20, 2011). Here is a great quote that nicely sums up the misuse of test results:
“Standardized-test scores can provide useful information about how students are doing. But as soon as the scores are tied to firing staff, giving bonuses, and closing schools, the measures become the goal of education, rather than an indicator.”

I would submit that whether or not you observe “test prep taken to the extreme” depends on school and county administration. If administrators truly understand what education is all about and care about the students, they will not push test prep mania. Those that care only about the scores will push test prep and finishing the 180-day curriculum in 150 days.

http://www.newsweek.com/2011/03/20/obama-s-war-on-schools.html

special ed teacher 2

March 21st, 2011
7:58 am

The teachers who are panicked are those of us in “must pass” grades 3,5, and 8. When second grade teachers tell you that they don’t worry if their students get the material and they just guess at their reading level because they don’t have to answer for student test scores in their grade, it is infuriating. I have students this year that came to me reading on first grade or kindergarten level, I teach third grade. At no point in these children’s history have they had interventions or special education services, until now. I did the weeks of intervention and paperwork and all three have qualified for special education. Meanwhile, they have missed two years of services because teachers who don’t have to worry about test scores did nothing.

Jordan Kohanim

March 21st, 2011
8:00 am

typo: Doesn’t this defeat one the implied purposes of education—to offer all children, regardless of income or background, the opportunity to realize the American dream of success?

should read

Doesn’t this defeat one OF the implied purposes of education—to offer all children, regardless of income or background, the opportunity to realize the American dream of success?

Sorry. I need coffee before we start GHSGT today.

GNGS

March 21st, 2011
8:11 am

This event happened in State College Area School District in Pennsylvania. State College is the home of the Pennsylvania State University. It is a college town and college town only. Most kids in school are from families associated with the university. The rate of kids going to college is somewhere close to 100 percent of graduating senior and the worst a kid can do is going to the Pennsylvania State University.

the prof

March 21st, 2011
8:27 am

@Special Ed Teacher……thank you for all of your hard work. It does mean something to parents of special needs children!!!

Jordan Kohanim

March 21st, 2011
8:28 am

“Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of non-combustible data, chock them so damned full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change. Don’t give them any slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy.” ~ Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451

Cobbteacher

March 21st, 2011
8:35 am

FYI….the testing schedule has come out for Cobb for next year and GUESS WHAT…ITBS is the week that we used to have in September….So families that already made plans will have to pull their kids out and miss the testinig and for teachers who made plans…That week becomes critial days that we are not allowed to take off….GREAT JOB BOARD….really stick it to all of us!

BehindEnemyLines

March 21st, 2011
8:39 am

Lomax is a pretty unlikely voice of reason but I’m happy to see that there’s still at least a few of them out there in the vast wilderness.

Cindy Lutenbacher

March 21st, 2011
8:42 am

I am grateful to see that most respondents today understand that the test scores DO NOT tell us anything about learning, ability, or achievement. They tell us two things: economic class of students and amount of intensive test prep. Independent research (that is not funded by vested interests, such as ETS, Pearson, etc.) has shown these truths over and over and over again.
When will we listen to those who seek truth rather than profits? When?

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
8:51 am

School reform is certainly needed, Maureen…

I am of the opinion that NCLB took a needed step…but in the wrong direction. As a future educator (I was recently accepted into a Masters of Arts in Teaching program), I have a plethora of ideas for reform, but almost all of them have to do with DE-centralizing our school systems to allow for more LOCAL control.

Whatever your opinions, I think almost all of us believe that our children are being over-tested.

frustrated parent

March 21st, 2011
8:53 am

There are some really laughable things in this idea that testing is beneficial and lets us know how we rank with other countries…. creativity in a classroom has become non- existent. There is NO time for it unless it is a state standard and it’s not!!! CRCT testing does nothing except to let us know who has made the MINIMUM requirement in GA – there is no way to compare our students to other states who have their own version of a test. The nationally normed tests have taken a back seat here in GA and very little is even discussed about them. The stickers are put into the perm records and that’s the extent of it. Our education system will never improve or be competitive until the ones making the decisions have actually been educators/spent time in the classroom and are not worried about making money for a business or have a political career.

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
8:54 am

Although I will say one thing to Cindy (and others who share your opinion): I do agree that the testing has become overkill, but you yourself have gone too far in YOUR assessment of the assessments (snicker).

While socioeconomic status and test prep CAN (and often DO) influence test results, well-designed and un-biased tests (there are such things) also are very much capable of testing learning, ability, and achievement.

Allen

March 21st, 2011
9:11 am

That’s just the point Ramble On. CRCT is neither well-designed nor unbiased. What does it measure?

Student achievement? The questions would have to be MUCH better written: an example from the 4th grade practice CRCT “In which region was shipbuilding most prevalent?” This is meant as a history question, not an English language question, yet the simpler “In what part of the country did they build the most ships?” is not used, yielding, as it were, false negative results. That’s only one example. A more concerning one asks which gegraphical features are west of the Mississippi, and included “the” Continental Divide. As any kid who has read the road signson I-40 or I-26 from North Carolina into Tennessee can tell you, there’s an Eastern Continental Divide as well. In other words, the contractors writing the test are not smarter than a fifth grader.

As for well-designed, the concept of the CRCT is all wrong–it’s simply not valid in that it does not measure what it purports to measure. Consider this common scenario: in 2010 4th grade teacher Mrs. B had an exceptional group of kids. In 2011 she had, maybe not a bad group, but maybe a group that included one kid who immigrated from Burma in January and another with severe family problems. As one poster points out above “There will be schools labeled Failures (AKA Needs Improvement) based on one subgroup of students that realistically will never be “on grade level.” If Mrs. B’s class “fails” CRCT in 2011 do we believe the measure that tells us she is a worse teacher in 2011, that the school is going downhill, or that the other kids in Mrs. B’s class are not as smart as their counterpart 2010 cohort? Or do we acknowledge that what the CRCT really ‘caught” was just what Ms. Lutenbacher posited, SES issues?

As administered, and particularly as interpreted, CRCT is not valid. As written, the instrument itself is very poorly done.

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
9:19 am

Agreed, Allen…if Cindy was referring to these particular tests I completely agree with her as well.

I just wanted to clarify because I know some people think that ALL tests are evil and useless.

Ernest

March 21st, 2011
9:24 am

Cindy’s answer is a reminder of why I don’t like the results of the SAT being tied to HOPE eligibility. When will we acknowledge that truth?

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
9:26 am

The SAT is about as fair and unbiased as you can get, Ernest. Now kids DO study for it, and that may not seem fair; but free SAT study guides can be found anywhere.

Reality Check

March 21st, 2011
9:30 am

You had your chance to protest before you handed your children over to the government to raise and educate them. You failed the test. You gave them to the government and now you want to complain. You have a choice again. You can pull them out of the government system or you can deal. The government doesn’t care about your opinion. They take your money whether you like it or not and the rest is your problem. If you actually care about your children, get them out of the government system ANY WAY YOU CAN.

We're out!

March 21st, 2011
9:31 am

My daughter is going to a private school next year. She is going to draw Christmas tree patterns on her CRCT test in 8th Grade this year. What an absolute waste of time these tests are!

joe

March 21st, 2011
9:31 am

Our country is getting dumber and dumber by the day…first, deciding not to teach cursive writing, now this. Most kids can’t get basic math right, properly form a complete sentence or use proper grammar and punctuation. Don’t even get me started on spelling…

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
9:37 am

Congratulations, “We’re out!”

Unfortunately, many of us are not financially stable enough to afford to do the same. The children hurt most are the exceptionally gifted, but really all students are hurt by this excessive testing. I hope your daughter excels in her new school.

teacher&mom

March 21st, 2011
9:41 am

@Jordan K….the Bradbury quote is priceless.

This year’s junior class represents the culmination of the NCLB movement that began in 2002. We have tested these students to death. Georgia wasn’t content to simply follow the NCLB testing mandates. Instead of only testing in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades in math and reading, Georgia chose to extend testing to the primary school and test every academic subject in grades 3-8. We implemented 8-EOCT’s and 5 graduation tests at the high school level. We placed NCLB on steroids and spent an obscene amount of money on testing.

In some schools you will see pep rallies and reward parties for CRCT scores. There are data rooms where student scores are posted on the wall and tracked with a level of scrutiny that would make the CIA blush.

The result: more and more students are showing up at my high school classroom door unprepared, unable to take ownership of their own learning, and lacking critical thinking skills. The percentage of students who fall into this group is growing every single year. In our country’s quest for higher test scores and more accountability, we have managed to produce a generation of students who are physically present, but have mentally checked out.

Dang gummit

March 21st, 2011
9:49 am

Reality Check

If it is automatic that ‘government’ schools are to avoided, how about the ‘government’ military?
Should our sons and daughters sign up for private militia to keep our country safe?

teacher

March 21st, 2011
9:58 am

Since the graduation test and now the EOCT are state law requirements for graduation, you are not giving your child hope of graduating from high school. I agree that testing is out of control, but I am not sure this protest will help.

High School SS Teacher

March 21st, 2011
10:18 am

I believe they need to test these kids even more!!!!!! Everyday of my adult life is a test and I can’t fail. I have to not go off on people, obey all laws and do what’s hard in order to get ahead. I know that Im accountable for my decisions and Im responsible for the consequences. What are we showing our children if we take it easy on them. Testing isnt physical labor. It’s not brainwashing. It’s not right wing or left wing. It’s holding students accountable for what they are SUPPOSED TO KNOW!!!!

They sit in school for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year….and you dont want to make sure they learned anything? The GHSGT…10.5 years of learning…5 days worth of test…That’s getting off easy!!! If we tested them getting out of K-5, we would be more confident they would pass the HSGT in 11th grade.

To all of the “Dont test them so much,” and “Schools are testing mills,” I’d like you to explain how a kid entering the 9th grade is on a 3rd grade reading level? There should not be a student leaving the 4th grade on a 3rd grade reading level. Unless we test, they will just keep passing the buck to the high schools. That’s why more high schools miss AYP than any other level. Testing issues start long before kids get there. Testing success however begins in Elementary school and carries on through college. Kids now should have to pass all EOCTs and the HSGT also. Then, seniors should be allowed to take the Regents’ exam before they graduate high school.We have to start holding students accountable or we will see a whole new level of laziness and lack of productivity. Do what’s best for the kids, not what’s easiest for the adults!!!!

Concerned & Disgusted

March 21st, 2011
10:19 am

As parents of a failing school system that ALWAYS teaches to these grand test, WE DID OPT OUT last year. Took child out of 8th grade for week of testing and the following week (used to retest) and then re-enrolled child after two weeks of HOMESCHOOLING. School tried to make her take test and summer class, we refused and told them of their own cheating scandal we had learned of several years ago, reported to the Professional Standards Commission and they have been lying to the students all along. We don’t send test to state to be scored, we (along with a few other Ga counties) have our very own SCAN TRON to grade all test and we are still failing. Our Middle School alone, was “flagged” for “erasure marks”, meaning changed from incorrect, to correct answers!!! We finally bit the bullet and took our child out of public school, as she was concerned that if this continues, she will not be adequately prepared for college. Hoping School Choice and Vouchers will soon be allowed. Thank God for private education, and it cost less than the state allocates for each child in the public school.

Ed Johnson

March 21st, 2011
10:41 am

“The testing isn’t the reason the schools are failing. The instruction is the reason the schools are failing,” Lomax insisted.

This is much The Broad Foundation’s mantra — blame the teachers. It can be informative to investigate Michael Lomax’s and United Negro College Fund’s involvement with The Broad Foundation and similar others.

Ernest

March 21st, 2011
11:10 am

RambleOn84, I’m not sure I can agree that the SAT is about as fair and unbiased as you can get. It does tell you something however it is debatable what that something is.

Time permitting, take a look at these interesting interviews with various authorities on the Intelligence and Testing. Did you know the SAT was based on an Army IQ test and the person that developed it was a racist? Interesting history behind this test. You can see this series of interviews at:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sats/test/views.html

madaboutmath

March 21st, 2011
11:38 am

Thanks to many of you posters for your comments today, especially Jordan K for your Bradbury quote, JW for your link, and teacher&mom for sharing your experience and knowledge. After reading the article in Newsweek, I think having Democrats and Republicans in agreement over the direction of education is dangerous. Maybe their usual bickering would be more healthy in this case.

Atlanta Mom

March 21st, 2011
11:44 am

The focus and time spent on getting ready for these tests is so very wasteful. When my child was in 7th grade (a non-critical test year), she started organizing a protest for all her friends to “christmas tree” the CRCTs. Frustrate the smart kids long enough and they will take matters into their own hands.

RambleOn84

March 21st, 2011
12:01 pm

Ernest,
Many people believe that Henry Ford was an anti-Semite. He developed the first affordable automobile. Does his supposed anti-Semitism keep you from buying Fords or other affordable automobiles?

We're out!

March 21st, 2011
1:45 pm

@rambleon there are options out there that are no where nearly as expensive as a traditional private school. They are hybrid homeschools. They allow kids to have the teacher and classroom experience a few hours a day and then the extracurricular’s are as the kid wants or parents can supplement. These are a fraction of the cost of private schools. It will work for us as my daughter will be at an activity she has a passion for in the afternoons when she is not in school. More and more are popping up all over Atlanta and are a viable option for many without breaking the bank.

East Cobb Parent

March 21st, 2011
1:50 pm

Well, in my area the ES starts test prep for CRCT the week the kids return from winter break. For homework there are practice tests to be completed each night. You would think homework would be more meaningful and cover topics taught during the day. My personal thought is that CRCT should be eliminated. The cut scores are so low and often give parents a false sense of how their child is performing. I’ve heard many parent brag about their child “meets”. I do not see as much CRCT prep for MS. I find that public school didn’t care that my one child missed the same type of Science question each year on the CRCT. I tried to get more information as I felt she was missing something, but never received a response to my questions.Of course, the private school only gives the ITBS during the last week of school (the one my children attend). It is explained to parents the test is used to see if there are gaps in the curriculum and gaps in your child’s learning. A better approach IMHO.

Booklover

March 21st, 2011
2:28 pm

Two problems with all this testing:
1. The tests themselves are frequently invalid–that is, they do not accurately measure what they purport to measure, and/or they only measure a fraction of skills that they are supposed to measure.
2. The test results are used in inappropriate ways. Here’s a frequently given example: when a economically disadvantaged special education student who is an English language learner fails the graduation tests, his failure counts against the school multiple times because of the population sub-sets that he falls into. Does this mean that his school is failing? Because of the way that NCLB calculates AYP (adequate yearly progress), some schools are “failing” based on the test failures of a few students who fall into key groups.

Teacher Reader

March 21st, 2011
2:32 pm

ITBS is s a better measure of where your child stands with other children in the nation. CRCT scores are do dumbed down that a child can get 50% and get a pass/meet expectations. CRCT scores can be played with from year to year.

Too much time is wasted on prepping for the test. Those in charge don’t realize that great teaching and high expectations gets children good test scores. Test prep is a waste of time.

Booklover

March 21st, 2011
2:39 pm

@Teacher Reader–
Agreed, ITBS is a much better indicator of actual skills and learning. All of the Georgia tests and completely dumbed down.

I teach near a military base and I socialize with military families, so I talk to a lot of parents who have recently moved from other states and who will move again soon. The more aware parents, particularly the mothers, are very cognizant of the fact that Georgia’s tests are junk, that student norms for achievement are low, and that the level of student and parent involvement in school leaves much to be desired. Many worry, rightfully so, that their kids will be behind when they move to Washington state, Colorado, Virginia, etc…

Ashley

March 21st, 2011
2:40 pm

NCLB…Funny wasn’t this fiasco started under Bush Jr.”s administration ? He was only a mediorce student himself. I find it amazing that kids today don’t know any student who had to repeat a grade. If you were to take a poll today any person 50 years or older can tell you they know someone who failed a grade or was left behind. Didn’t need all those test back. To sum it all up social promotion is the main culprit. Schools are so worried about little Johnny’s feelings and they want to keep him with his peers even though he didn’t make the grade. So once again students are bombarded with all these test, which from the looks of some graduation rates really didn’t accomplish a thing, just a bunch of fraud and cheating by the school administration. Aren’t you all proud?

high school teacher

March 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

YES, Georgia students can opt out of the standardized tests; it’s through a process called home school.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 21st, 2011
5:27 pm

As a teacher, I loath the CRCT, and yet I have to encourage my students to do their best. I must use precious teaching time to make sure they know how to “bubble” properly, that they can recognize testing formats, that they know a variety of test taking skills. I am expected to spend time using “testing practice” activities and websites, going over their benchmark skills, collecting data and determining “target areas” for remedial work. The focus is upon discrete skills, rather than expanding critical thinking with real world problems. I must rush to complete nine months of curriculum in less than eight months, so it will all be covered by testing time. I must ignore many “teachable moments” and creative projects in order to cover the required curriculum within the time limits. I must sacrifice hours of class time to take ITBS, benchmark, AIMS and CRCT tests. I must assess my early elementary students on four types of writing throughout the year, taking them through the entire writing process while being unable to offer them any support. Thus, solid instruction in the process of writing takes a back seat to assessment.

Everyday, I struggle to balance what I know to be best teaching practices with the mandates required by the growing emphasis on “testing.” I see my administration struggle with the same dilemma. They don’t want to sacrifice learning for the test, yet they feel they must jump through the hoops. I do everything I can to make the testing practice beneficial to my students, but I know my time could be better spent. It frustrates me to no end to put so much effort into something I do not agree with philosophically – not to mention the pressure it puts on students! Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I cry.

Yet, as long as my job security, my principal’s job security, my school’s reputation, and my district’s access to federal money continues to be tied to testing, I will continue to “teach” to the test. It is no game. It is high stakes and big money. The pressure on teachers, administration and districts is intense. Those of you so casually discussing “Christmas Treeing” need to understand, teachers are evaluated on those test scores. In faculty meetings and in front of BOE meetings, our scores are dissected down to the nth degree. We are compared to our colleagues within the school, and across schools – and when it comes time to cut someone, those with lower scores are first on the chopping block! Your child’s protest may cost their teacher his/her job.

Furthermore, some of you have expressed the view that these tests are necessary to determine who should be “held back. I would argue that is actually much harder to retain a child since the implementation of NCLB. It used to be, the teacher’s professional judgment was worth something. Now, unless the child “fails” the CRCT (which is rather difficult to do) you have very little chance of retaining a child. Those children who do fail are often English Language learners, or fall within the Special Education category, which allows them to advance anyway.

NCLB had some positive effects in terms of more accountability for schools, but the benefits have been overshadowed by the increasing emphasis on high stakes testing at the expense of good, solid teaching.

Can you imagine what will happen if teacher salaries are also tied to test scores?

Ashley

March 21st, 2011
5:28 pm

It always amazes me when said students are on the “honor roll” but, flunk parts of the GHSGT. There is something very wrong with this scenario. What really galls me; is that students can take it several times if they don’t pass the first time. This is a pattern that won’t wash in college or the real world. I guess thats why we have 19 and 20 year olds in high-school, when does the madness stop.

East Cobb Parent

March 21st, 2011
6:04 pm

@ Ashley, my niece – 14 – was held back in K then in 5th they (administration) decided they made the wrong decision and skipped her a grade. Child has always struggled with school, continues to do so – does not know her multiplication tables. She is labeled dyslexic yet struggles with math. Her IEP allows her to only do half the problems on a test, homework etc. She makes C’s and D’s and continues to be promoted to each grade.
As to the topic of this blog, I think the purpose of the CRCT is junk. Use the ITBS, look for areas to improve curriculum, let parent’s know what the results actually mean and move on.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

March 21st, 2011
7:53 pm

All state standardized tests are controlled by the global elite. There are embedded strands that measure affective domain. I would look for an ETS connection. The ghost of Bloom’s Taxonomy: AFFECTIVE domain still rules. It’s top down control. This documents the history:
http://www.amazon.com/Educating-New-World-Order-Eakman/dp/0894202782

Now, time for a little comic relief, brought to you by the banksters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjVCdPwE7XA

@cobbteacher

March 21st, 2011
8:16 pm

How did the Cobb School Board set the dates for the ITBS? Wouldn’t that be the district that set the dates in accordance with the state of GA requirements?

Active Voter (Teacher&Mom)

March 21st, 2011
9:33 pm

I have been teaching for 8 years & don’t like the CRCT because of the stress placed on us as teachers & previously as a parent and now I’m on both ends of the spectrum. Now, I don’t mind testing to evaluate what a student knows. Fortunately, my own children are usually not stressed for the test. As a parent, I began early to teach them that if we do what we suppose to do everyday, then testing is just another day. Over the years, my own children have “exceeded” on most parts since they were in the second grade especially the reading, language arts, & math. I take these numbers with a grain of salt and expose my children to other things to make them that well-rounded child. The tests can be easy IF we had more time with students who are under-performing; more support and accountability from parents & students; more flexibility and respect as a professional teacher vs being “tapped” on the hand like a child for going outside the box of the reform models; less stress about the test that is the end all to be all; etc.

Active Voter (Teacher&Mom)

March 21st, 2011
9:42 pm

By the way, there’s the coming of new standards or so we have been told. Georgia intends to move forward with what’s called the Common Core Standards. Apparently, these standards are to be taught more across the states.

ITBS Comments: I’m in my 40s & I remember the ITBS test. I was able to pass this test better than the kids I teach today because I came from a rural area & I read a lot at home.

I must reiterate that my own children do better because of what I do & what I did BEFORE I became a teacher. When the foundation is not set, the struggle will continue.

I would like to see if some questions can be answered as well..
Does Japan choose their students and decide who goes to school & who goes to the factories to work?
What about some schools in England…Do they just measure where you are during your pre-high school years to determine what type of high school that child would attend?
What age does children in Canada start?
Why does Georgia have the beginning age of school at 6 and not at 5?

Ms. Downey, can you help with finding out the answers to these questions?

Patricia - 34 year Veteran

March 21st, 2011
10:20 pm

@ EduPoli – I am total agreement with your comments.
@ Jordan Kohanium – I agree with your statements regarding lower income population losing out on the most important types of instruction: ingenuity and imagination…many of the students who need to develop a love for learning as well as excitement are often pulled into intervention classes focused on preparing students for the CRCT at the elementary levels where I have taught the past several years…It is absolutely an injustice.
@Sp. Ed Teacher 2 – The CRCT is nothing but a reading test focusing on content…I have taught third grade throughout my career several times and every single time I have had at least one student who did not learn to read until that year. I don’t find that to be unusual because often students learn to read at different paces. The problem of course is the CRCT and its creators do not recognize that all students do not learn to read at the same time in the same way as each other. I mean really who actually knows what a particular reading level truly is? I agree there are students who struggle with reading, but is it a majority or a minority? I think when I began teaching it seemed much more clear-cut than it does today.
I absolutely believe parents should have the option to opt out of the CRCT. If I were a parent knowing what I know occurs in our schools today I would say no and keep my child home. My experience since NCLB has been nothing preparing for a Test from August through February then Test Prep throughout March for the assessment in April. In elementary school that is ridiculous. Having first and second graders take a standardized test that is primarily read to them is nutty. Talk about stress. The rules and regulations for the CRCT are so stressful. NO TALKING during the mini break…I am so sorry NO BATHROOM breaks…It is just crazy. I mean really do they really think third graders are asking each other the answers to questions on the CRCT? No way…mine want to draw or just chill. I think the ITBS is much more meaningful if such a test should be given.

Until we come to grips with the reading issue and realize students do not become proficient readers if they do not actually read then this cycle will continue. My brothers pretty much hated the academics of school but our entire family read every night…all of Louis L’Amore’s books back in the 80s…I still read two or three novels every month if not more. We do not give our children the opportunity to develop a love for reading or to develop real mathematical understandings in school…just how to take a test.

Debbie Morgan

March 21st, 2011
10:39 pm

Can Georgia Students opt out of CRCT if it is a promotion year?

Private School Guy

March 22nd, 2011
6:41 am

The entire testing business has been a sham and political payoff from the start. The test makers are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of children and taxpayers. Throw down your no. 2 pencils now! If grades given by teachers were valid testing would be redundant. Random testing of a sample of students for quality control purposes is all that’s needed.

Concerned & Disgusted

March 22nd, 2011
7:56 am

@Debbie Morgan, YES, they can. All that is required is that you withdraw them from school and homeschool them through the two week window of testing. As long as the student had done well in all core subjects the entire year, there is no way for a school to justify holding a child back. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. If there are problems, there is an appeal board that usually consist of the Parents, Teacher, Principal and where they have to justify. Another factor that is considered in Middle School is that they do not like to have returning students that are 16 or near the age of and have them driving to school. Read up on Family Educational Rights Act.

catlady

March 22nd, 2011
9:10 am

I wouldn’t object to testing that actually measures something significant–testing that is reliable and valid. CRCT is NOT, has never been, valid or reliable. It is worse than an absolute joke.

As a teacher, I like the ITBS. Some skills are universal. I don’t think you have to know the state bird of Georgia (CRCT) to be successful, but a basic understanding of the writing conventions ARe helpful. Of course, the ITBS IS NOt the same kind of test the CRCT is, but do we really need the CRCt if children are learning the basic things tested on the ITBS (which are not so subject to political manipulation, by the way.)?

My own children told me the GHSGT was a joke–6th grade level.

I know the AP exams are pretty tough, but of course were not written in Georgia by our ham-fisted “education experts.” A 4 or 5 MEANS some MASTERY.

Another view

March 22nd, 2011
10:31 am

Hm – a great argument for private schools – given there is no “accountability” on them, they don’t have to put up with the state’s standardized tests, and can spend much more time actually teaching. So why is it private school kids are so far behind when they come back to Gwinnett high schools to graduate?
The PROBLEM is that by any other name the state tests are still nothing more than MINIMUM COMPETENCY. The level of passing difficulty on any given test – and it varies radically because of the way the cut difficulties are set – is roughly equivalent to the 10th (and less) to maybe the 30th percentile on a nationally normed achievement test like the ITBS. “Standards” work pretty well for assembling cars – such as “the gap between the door and the fender shall not be greater than 3mm.” When put in terms of student performance, if we were to put “standards” in real terms that people understood, they’d have to SAY “10th percentile.” When they say “we’re going to raise the standards” we’d know they thought of “high standards” as what, the 12th percentile? “High standards” in actual terms only mean they’re raising the bar from ground level to an inch above the ground. Those of you with high performing kids SHOULD be livid, as these tests do NOTHING but take resources from YOUR kids. For the first time in at least 20 years, there’s a state superintendent who actually understands this. Let’s hope he can figure a way to unload some of the insanity.

Top School

March 22nd, 2011
4:35 pm

I think APS officials already made this decision. Their option was fail and keep on failing or…raise the roof with a lie. The lie of fake test scores helped fill the pockets of a number of businesses in the big ATL…

The business community helped to fuel the fire…and since fudging those test scores probably qualified some of those affluent children entrance to local private schools…

most are willing to hush their mouth …and will not tell.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

GHSGT

March 23rd, 2011
6:14 pm

@Maureen or anyone else on this blog who may know….
Does the state reveal the cut scores for the various GHSG tests? They are being administered this week…..

Maureen Downey

March 23rd, 2011
7:09 pm

@GHSGT, I have a DOE chart that I can’t reproduce here, but I found one similar to it at this site and it lists cut scores for the tests. I believe a new cut score was set for math and will check with DOE tomorrow.

hhttp://old.sccpss.com/District/Data+and+Communications/Accountability+and+Research/Executive+Summary/Graduation+Tests/GHSGT+Spring+2010.htm

And here is a Powerpoint from DOE presented last year

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:BCA-LZRSXekJ:www.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/GHSGT%2520Pre-administration%2520Presentation%2520v3%25201_31_10.ppt%3Fp%3D6CC6799F8C1371F67F5C9C23A7127AE46D82F245D5206E293EE41E49C6FA80E4%26Type%3DD+cut+scores+for+georgia+high+school+graduation+test&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjBEl7d_Dqkgb9aetaR8q18GHxex3AwegHVRYKYu80uJXo3f3bQL1nfLgxiiMGsKwTQhXB3yw7l5X1e3vmgzusUtfpBodMU4taVej_by2G2Z8n8vNJaCpriDBjFFMjXqG-TtRmi&sig=AHIEtbSD1rQB8nfYMwq5tqp7vnafwAjFaw

GUSD

March 27th, 2011
4:44 am

My 5th grader has been under a tremendous amount of stress this school year, his Glendale public school placed him in an after school learning program because he did not score proficient in last year’s CST Tests in English Language Arts. My son was subjected to continuous bullying at school last year, he was also under a lot of stress and I felt he was not prepared to take the exam. Unfortunately, my son continues to be bullied at school, he was assaulted by the bullies on his way home from the after school program three times this school year, and he is having a hard time concentrating at school. I informed the school that I would report the assaults to the police department if it occurs again. Based on the information I’ve learned about bullying and my right to have my son opt out of taking the CST, I am planning on opting out this year.