Op-Ed: Stand up for your children. Refuse the test.

It’s clear that the legislature will not act to address the many concerns parents and educators have about the Common Core standards, the SBAC test, and student privacy. The more than 40 Common Core bills that state legislators initiated are all dead with no possible action.

The only way to get the attention of legislators is for thousands of parents to refuse to allow their children to take the tests.  This is happening in New York where more than 60,000 student refused the tests last year, with many more expected to do so this year.

Op-ed submit bugSchool district officials will say the law says students must take the tests, but according to the law firm Pullman and Comley, there is little officials can do to compel students to take the test. Here is what Zach Schurin and Michael McKeon, two lawyers from the firm, write in their blog:

“ In short, simply saying that parent opt-out is ‘against the law’ is not dispositive, for if a law is on the books, but it does not carry any real consequences, then questions of legality become little more than abstract academic exercises.”

Carol Burris, New York’s 2013 principal of the year, said in a recent Washington Post article “there comes a time when rules must be broken — when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now.”

Maybe a look at the SBAC practice test for the English Language Arts information task will open parents’ eyes to how developmentally inappropriate and complicated these Common Core tests are.

Part 1 has a page of wordy instructions directing students to read two articles, answer questions, and take notes on paper or in the global notes section on screen.  Another page of even wordier instructions for Part 2 directs students to write an article on the computer that is several paragraphs long, using their notes, and citing the sources.  Students are reminded to develop a main idea, use supporting details, and use transitions.

These are the instructions for the third grade test!

I taught third grade for 18 years and cannot imagine subjecting 8-year-olds to sitting still for a complicated two-hour test and expecting them to type a multi-paragraph article on computer.

Too often we stand by and think that we can’t fight city hall (or education officials).  Tens of thousands of parents in other states are standing up for their children by refusing the tests and more Connecticut parents are realizing they can refuse the tests, too.  Be one of those parents.

Kathy Cordone is a retired teacher, former Wolcott Board of Education member, and former semifinalist for Connecticut Teacher of the Year.

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