By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: over the next several weeks, kids across the nation are going to be subjected to long, grueling, standardized tests to prove that they are learning and that teachers are doing their job.
In Louisiana, this is the schedule I indicated about a month ago:
PARCC Phase 1: (Grades 3-8) March 16-20 (English and Math)
iLeap/Leap: (Grades 3-8) April 14-15 (Science and Social Studies)
PARCC Phase 2: (Grades 3-8) May 4-8 (English and Math)
EOC for ELA and Math (Grades 6-12) begins in April and covers English, Science, Math, Social Studies. Most of these are two day tests. In some cases, three days.
Then, if you’re going to take the ACT, there are dates for that too, depending on which series you take: EXPLORE for Grades 8 and 9, PLAN for Grade 10, and ACT for grade 11. In most school districts, these tests are mandatory.
This schedule changes daily. In my particular school, they’ve also adding a WorkKeys test for grade 11 and the CLEP test, and students in AP classes will be taking various AP tests.
It’s a seriously insane amount of testing.
The Opt-out movement is growing across the nation; this could be in part due to growing frustration with Common Core but also frustration with the growing number of tests kids have to take. It is accountability run amok.
The New York Times took a look at the opt-out movement primarily as related to the New Jersey area, but parents are frustrated across the country.
In Louisiana the whole issue is a hot mess:
A new wrinkle for this year is that no one outside of Louisiana State Superintendent John White and his close circle know what test kids will be taking. White has claimed at different times our children will be taking a PARCC or PARCC-like test. (PARCC is one of two major testing Consortiums tapped and funded by US DOE to develop Common Core tests for the States.) However Governor Bobby Jindal and his DOA intervened in a contract dispute and declared the way it was approved invalid and have asserted they will not pay for PARCC with State funds. This has led to several lawsuits brought by education Reform proponents and parents groups as well as the Governor’s office and BESE.
Part of the objection to these tests is that Common Core was implemented across the board. Kids in Algebra I, for example, are going to be tested on Common Core style questions when that’s not the way they were taught. Even the EOC (End of Course test) which Louisiana uses has been redesigned to reflect PARCC – type questions and Common Core skills. So, given this, it’s easy for me to see why a parent might not want to subject a child to this.
I’ve been an educator for 18 years and I love teaching kids, but when I look at our testing schedule and I look at how many classroom hours are given over to testing, test prep, and holding time while other student groups test, it’s clear that something is out of sync.
At any rate, it’s-a-comin’, so as parents you must decide if your child is going to be subjected to that or if you’re going to opt-out.
Spring testing season is here.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.