For our public school children, spring is an exciting time. It’s warmer and trees and flowers bloom. But it’s also a more stressful time for our kids because this year, like no other year before it, they’ll undergo so many more standardized tests.

As parents of public school children and leaders in a fight against these unnecessary standardized tests, we want to remind our public school administrators — and some of our teachers — that as educated parents, we know what we want for our children.

The dizzying array of unnecessary standardized tests forced upon our children by the NM Public Education Department and the school districts are not what we want.

So we will employ — and encourage other like-minded, caring parents — our right to opt our children out of these unnecessary tests. What tests do we refer to?

1. End of Course exams: In 4-8 grades, they are “optional” and only used to evaluate teachers, providing no new data to help drive instruction. We know that by scores of fall EOCs and by the PED’s Joslyn Overby, who stressed that they are optional at a recent teacher training.

2. PARCC field tests: These tests are not useful and waste class time. They will be given a week after spring break to some kids. Our kids are being used by a multi-million dollar corporation that will benefit monetarily by these tests, which came with the Common Core State Standards that New Mexico adopted. No thanks. Come up with a test on your own. Leave our kids out of it.

So as parents, we have some gentle reminders for teachers and principals who will get our opt-out forms this spring:

1. Don’t tell kids they are hurting their school or their teachers. They aren’t. This isn’t their fault. Blame those who are responsible for this mess.

2. Don’t tell kids or parents that their grades or chances at promotion or admission into advanced classes will suffer. You know better than that. Academic decisions don’t rely on one test score.

3. Don’t make kids who opt out “sit and stare.” Punishing a child for a decision that a family made is ridiculous and just mean-spirited. It’s also arguably illegal.

4. Don’t tell elementary and middle school opt-outers that refusing will affect their graduation from high school. That’s a flat out lie.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, have a private conversation with a child who has opted out. If you want to discuss it, contact the parents. Private meetings with kids to try to talk them out of refusing is bullying and intimidation.

6. And, finally, do not enact consequences that have nothing to do with testing. Denying a child’s participation in extra-curricular activities or school events is just plain mean and sends a poor message.

We parents are pivotal in the success of our children. We pay taxes that support our children’s schools. We are educated and know exactly what is going on with the new testing reforms forced on our schools and beleaguered teachers.

We want our children to learn. We want them to be supported at school like they are supported at home. We want them to be successful adults. No standardized testing will ensure any of this.

So to our schools, teachers, principals and district administrators: Honor our requests and support our opt-out decisions. After all, these decisions are being made by some of your most ardent community supporters.

(1) comment

Linda Bence

Just how would you quantify your child's development in school in relation to his peers if not for standardized testing? Sitting for tests is good practice for when your child has to sit for SATs for admission to university. Teaching your child to sit for an exam, follow directions and maintain a level of concentration is as important as seeing that your child attends every school day ON TIME! It is a problem here in Taos where children are not taught responsibility and therefore when the time comes for them to work, they are POOR employees, arriving late and failing to call to tell their employers of any sudden change in their work day (this excludes laziness or oversleeping).

Over the past few years, times have changed regarding sensitivity to students. We don't want to test them for fear that they won't measure up to their peers. We decide that scoring is unnecessary in team sports for fear that some children will lose. What is your problem in that you don't want to measure your child's achievements?

If you want to discuss a child's waste of time in school by testing, how do you feel about taking a whole Friday off for your children in K-12 to view the Homecoming Parade? Did you know that in many communities the Homecoming Parade precedes the game on the day of the game? It is time to cut the 1/2 days' of education and allow our children to learn and compete in the world arena with countries like Japan, China, India and most of Europe who hold education in higher esteem than hurting their children's feelings.

My daughter and son-in-law are both educators. My son-in-law is Asian Indian and brilliant, getting perfect 800's on both SATs the first time he took them in India. He holds two Ph.D.'s and 5 Masters; my daughter has two Masters. They often visit India in the summer when school is still in session. My daughter commented that while on a morning run, she would see young students lining up at tuturing centers at 6 in the morning PRIOR to going to school that morning. Classes lasted well into the afternoon. We don't have to be that hard, but shouldn't we be wanting to give our children the best start in life?

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