posted on Apr, 2 2019 @ 10:37 AM
We live in NYS, I hate it, but I grew up here. It is a fairly rural and conservative area, not one of the big cities.
Several years ago NYS started doing assessment testing in the grade and middle schools. At the time there was a big stink about it, as it was mostly
for school and teacher ranking, and funding. It was all over the news media at the time, and since the tests were optional many parents decided this
put undue stress on the children, and had them opted out of taking them. We opted not to have our children take the tests, as well as close to 50% of
parents in our area. The schools spend a lot of time getting the kids ready for the tests, so they can rank higher, and get more funding, than they
do actually teaching the courses they should be. I feel it is a waste of time, money and resources, let alone the pressure and anxiety to do well put
on the kids.
You may or may not agree with me, and that is fine. What I have a problem with is the way in which things are being done this year. The school
district is being sneaky, and not forthcoming about it as they have in years past. If this is a local thing, or pressure from the state to get more
kids to take the exams, I am not sure. I suspect it is the state, however.
In previous years a simple note sent with the child was sufficient to opt them out. Last year if I recalled, they wanted a signed letter emailed or
sent in. This year however things have changed.
About a week ago we got a letter in the mail about the tests. In previous years it was clear that the tests were optional. This year the letter
talked about how important it was for these tests, and how it would help the students who will be taking computerized tests in future grates, and so
on. Nowhere in the letter did it inform the parents that these tests were optional, nor what was required to opt out, if these were the optional
tests. It was all very confusing as to if these were the required state tests or the optional ones.
I wrote a standard "opt out" email to the principal asking if these were the optional ones that my child be opted out. I never got a reply.
This morning my son woke up all in a panic as to rather he had to take the test or not, he has not slept well for a couple of nights as well. I did
not put the two together till this morning. I assured him that we had opted him out, and he would not have to take them.
Out of caution, I sent an email to his guidance counselor. We have a very good relationship with the counselor and teachers. We are in contact with
most of them almost on a weekly basis. He immediately called me, but it was after my son had gotten on the bus.
The counselor told me that things had changed this year, and if we wanted him opted out, we had to come in to the school in person to sign and date a
form. News to me. Why did they not let us know before this? The school is about 7 miles out of the way, but no big deal.
We went down to the school to sign the papers. The receptionist told us the tests were "different" this year, and they were focused on finding the
kids that needed extra help, etc. I explained to her that I did not think that was the case, as the letters referred to the testing being anonymous,
and used as a collective data set for the state. That is what kind of tipped me off that these might be the non-required tests in the first place.
She stuck to her guns that they were different but that she had not seen the letter sent to parents. I pointed out that regular testing should
determine who needs help, and who is doing well, but it made no difference. I asked her to have an administrator call me when they had a chance, and
I would also be logging a complaint with the district.
Now, I don't think she was purposely lying, I believe that she was told this. After coming home and looking for information on line, I don't find
anything as to the tests changing this year. So I am not sure.
My biggest gripe is that the school never informed the parents that these were indeed the optional tests, or that they are now making it more
difficult to opt out of. I have a sneaky suspicion that the state has told the schools to keep it on the "down low" that these tests are optional,
and to make it more difficult to opt out of, and it may be working. My youngest son told me last week he has been getting hassled because he is the
only one in a class of 22 that is opting out. The first year of testing it was close to 50%.
If they want to do optional tests for data points, fine, but don't be so sneaky and difficult about it!