Insert the acronym for your state’s standardized test. I’m sure it’s the same everywhere!
First of all, to the parents out there, I bet you didn’t know you could do that. You can. All it takes is a letter to your child’s principal saying your child will not participate in the testing and you would like the school to provide your child with alternate activities during testing time. That’s it. No meetings or forms to sign are required. Principals may tell you differently, but it’s not true. You are the parent, you get to decide. It’s your choice. No, the choice will not hurt your child. Colleges do not take state testing into account.
Now, why would you, I, or anyone else make the decision? What purpose will it serve? The short answer is it sends a message to state and federal government that you do not approve of high stakes testing, the fear of punitive consequences imparted by those entities on local school districts, and the loss of local control that goes hand in hand with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Here are some of the reasons my family has decided not to take part in CSAP: Locally, it’s the children who are made to sacrifice for not meeting the government standards. Our elementary students are not given the time for lunch, recess, and hands on creative learning that they need. A scripted ( you better believe it’s scripted! I’ve seen it in action and have heard from many teachers that it’s the wrong way to teach reading), mind numbing reading program. From what I can tell the program is designed with standardized tests in mind, not with showing a child how enjoyable reading is. Children in kindergarten are left with little free play time. Also, very little emphasis on science and social studies because those areas are not tested heavily on CSAP. Then there are all the other standardized assessments kids have to take. These assessments take up a ton of time and the only purpose they serve is to gauge how students will do on CSAP.
I know this sounds like an attack on our local school officials. It’s not. I think they could easily make some changes in policy regarding recess, creative learning time, and I disagree with other decisions they make, but the fact is they are under enormous pressure from the state to raise CSAP scores. If the scores aren’t high enough, the state threatens to take control over the district. The threat is there, the fear is real, and that’s what I’m standing against. Actions based on fear are rarely the wisest ones, but that is how the state and federal government encourages school districts to operate.
The faults of the CSAP test itself: Did you know that students are given poetry to analyze and are expected fill in a right answer? It’s poetry, not math! Poetry by definition is open to interpretation. How can there be one answer? Are you aware that the portions of the test not graded by computer are graded by non-teachers who have been given one session of training? They may grade several hundred tests during a shift. Not to mention the pressure children are under to do well on the CSAP and how heavily it’s promoted within our district. As a 9 year old, I would be stressed out about it!
Have you heard about the wealthy school district that’s been taken over by the state for low scores? No, neither have I. Because it doesn’t happen. Zip codes that have high poverty levels tend to do poorly on the CSAP. Maybe we should worry less about test scores and more about children living in poverty in our society. The test is unfair to districts that serve children whose lives are unstable due to the effects of poverty. I oppose CSAP for this reason.
People in Greeley are generally politically conservative, small government types. Do you realize how little control we have over our schools? Are you really willing to let the federal government dictate how our schools are run, due to No Child Left Behind, when the feds supply only a small percentage of the funds we use to operate? It’s the opposite of the small government mind set. Why can’t we, as a community develop our own standards and curriculum? Why can’t we have the say in how we educate our population? Why do we train our children to report to the federal and state government? It goes against everything this community politically believes in. Why do we allow it?
The first step in getting back some local power is by shouting loudly, NO MORE! We will not be held hostage by government agencies that have no stake in our community. By refusing your childrens’ participation in the CSAP, you are making your voice heard. Let’s all demand a locally controlled, community driven model of education and see where it takes us. After all these years of federal mandates, it’s worth the risk, as things are obviously not improving. Please join me in the not so revolutionary concept of demanding local control. I hear there was a tea party way back when that had some success with that. Say no to CSAP!
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