ODE’s 2016-17 opt-out form, beyond the parts you fill out, contains ill-informed and patronizing editorializing by people at the state who clearly don’t understand testing or what’s going on in general. Use the official form anyway. It’s not clear from the law if the form is required, or if it’s sufficient to simply notify the school of your opting-out.
The informational side of the form contains four questions. Our comments:
1.) How much time do the tests take?
ODE’s response is to look at the test administration manual. Sure. Bet parents will get right on that. The truth is that the test-taking requires usually several hours. However, the test prep often takes days or weeks away from regular classroom instruction. The better answer to ODE’s own question is: “Too much time and expense.”
2.) What do the results mean and how do I get the results?
Here is where ODE gets shady. The tests give you a number (1-4, with 4 high) in 6 broad categories. How a 3 in reading can tell you a child’s strengths and areas for improvement is absurd, unless “areas of improvement” mean that your child needs to improve in reading. Hardly helpful information to anyone. These results do not help classroom instruction. The main thing standardized test scores indicate is the student’s family income level. We’ve known that for decades. We don’t need to spend millions each year on the testing system and lose countless weeks and months on test prep to learn it.
3.) Why does participation matter?
ODE claims: “having your child take the statewide tests provides educators and administrators with information about what educational approaches are working and where additional resources are needed.”
No. N-O. And one more time: No.
Standardized test results provide a generalized idea of how well a whole school is doing in a category. That’s what they were made for decades ago. The results say nothing about what education approaches are working – you can’t tell that because you can’t look at what questions individual students missed or even what questions your school students missed in general.
4.) When will my child take the test?
ODE provides a neutral answer, that it will be determined by the school and set after the 2/3 point of the school year.
Oregon Save Our Schools encourages parents and students to opt-out of high-stakes testing. For more students and families, the answer has become “Not now”. And that’s a good thing.
You may be amused & educated by our recent posts from last year: “ODE sniffs at the law and thinks you’re stupid for opting-out” and another post about how some Oregon parents altered it to make witty & effective points.