Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Opting Out is not just in the spring anymore.

The spring 3-8 state assessments get a great deal of attention, but there are other mandated tests that could be used to evaluate teachers.  These additional tests cause our children to lose more instruction time and impact all grade levels- preK-12.  Families need to say enough is enough and boycott any tests that are used in the evaluation of teachers. 

Student Learning Objective
"A Student Learning Objective is an academic goal for a teacher’s students that is set at the start of a course" according to NYSED's EngageNY website.

Depending on grade level and scheduled special area subjects, your child may take an SLO pre-test very early in the school year.  Teachers that do not have a state assessment (3-8 or Regents) may have to give an SLO test early in the school year or semester.  The SLO process has been confusing for schools and each district may chose different methods to implement SLOs.

Rating teachers without a state assessment tied to their course/grade level may be accomplished using these methods to get the mandated state 20% of their evaluation:

1.  *SLO pre-test. Given very early in the school year or semester(for half-year secondary courses)

2.  Teacher uses "historical data".  Educators may use past state assessment scores, final exam numbers, or previous grades to determine an academic goal for the year. This method does allow for less testing of your child.

3. School-wide use of ELA scores. Some teacher APPR evaluation agreements will use the ELA State Assessment scores as the 20% for teachers without state assessments tied to their course.  This does reduce amount of testing for our children.

Which method(s) does your child's school use?  Contact teachers and principals to find out. Most districts have their APPR teacher evaluation agreements posted on their websites, but the documents are lengthy and complex. 

Other types of standardized testing.                                        

There are other standardized tests that your children may take that your child's teacher is forced to administer.  These could be used for teacher evaluation or progress monitoring. These mandated assessments take away more instruction and add to the amount of time lost to testing.

Last year I submitted this letter for my elementary children which was honored by our school. My children did not take any tests that we used for evaluation of their teachers except one that slipped by our watch.

Later in the year the school told us that our oldest child could not "opt out" of the state assessments, but we used the "refusal" process to successfully justify our boycott.

If you plan to opt out your child from all mandated testing I would suggest a blanket statement such as "any assessment used to evaluate a teacher". Parents are the key to ending the over-testing of our children.  If we take action: boycotts, letters to editor, speaking at PTA meetings, and contacting our elected leaders we can save our children's education.

*If your child's teacher(s) will be use a SLO test for evaluation is it important to boycott the pre-test.  For students at upper levels, especially high and middle school, the post-exam could be used as a final exam so boycotting the end of year assessment will be more difficult.  If we refuse the pre-test, a student who takes the post-test will not be part of evaluating their teacher.