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snowberry's avatar

Would you refuse for your child to take a government "required" standardized test? If so please explain how and why?

Asked by snowberry (22748points) October 11th, 2017

When I was a child, If I had known then what I know now about standardized testing, I think I would have refused to take the test!

I get that testing results determine how much money a public school receives. I get it.

But I believe the needs of the child trumps the needs of the government. I cannot see how standardized testing actually determines how much a person really knows. It’s just a benchmark and it often has nothing to do with reality.

Furthermore it’s so stressful that it’s detrimental to many children.

If you are going to mount a serious argument for standardized testing then please take the time to read through these articles and do more research on your own why people are choosing to opt out or refuse the test for their children.

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32 Answers

snowberry's avatar

And as a side note, as a homeschool parent in Oregon, I wasn’t given the option of not testing my daughter because the state required standardized testing of homeschoolers by a certified tester. We had to set up the test date months in advance, and it was very expensive!

The day of the test she was running a fever and had pneumonia There was no accommodation for illness, even with a doctor’s note. I was furious, and told her, “Honey, just fill in the boxes so we can go home. You don’t even have to read it!” I am sure she scored very poorly, but nobody from the school system bothered us about it. If they had, I would’ve waved my doctor’s note at them, and told them to screw it.

funkdaddy's avatar

Now that I’m actually facing standardized tests, I feel strongly that the best strategy is to do what’s best for your kid. There just isn’t any way for a school system to offer a customized experience for thousands, they’re overworked as it is.

With my oldest’s personality, I doubt she’s going to feel any stress about a test at this point, so I’m not too worried about it. I also think there’s some merit to learning to deal with that stress, and that’s part of her education, so I’d lean towards helping her prepare rather than pulling her out. That fits her unique situation and I’m not trying to raise anyone else.

So if she was more sensitive to that sort of stress, or my younger turns out to be, I’d certainly look at other options as part of a overall strategy to raise and prepare them for the world. I don’t think just refusing standardized testing will get that done, but it could be part of a plan for a different kind of preparation and education.

We had a good talk about school without grades or tests a while back. There were some good, informed, opinions there that might supplement a discussion here.

janbb's avatar

Just like @funkdaddy , I would have decided on a child by child basis. My children did have them and it didn’t particularly stress them out. I think they are given more frequently now and the curriculum is more based on teaching to the test which does bother me. I do object to much time being spent on testing but I would opt in or out based on my child’s needs, not to make a point.

snowberry's avatar

The Texas Staar test is a required test in the public schools. They are administering it today.

My granddaughter loves to write. She writes more than anybody I have ever seen. She is also exceedingly talented. But she writes for pleasure.

She went to bed last night angry, and she woke up angry because she had to spend most of the day taking this test. I doubt she will do very well. From what I understand if she fails, there will be grave repercussions. We will see.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, if I wanted him or her to graduate from school I would not refuse.

snowberry's avatar

Oops, it was a PSAT practice test, but she has no choice, and I doubt she’ll do well.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III There are standardized tests now for school evaluations that parents can opt out of. It has nothing to do with whether they graduate.

funkdaddy's avatar

PSAT is really just used for figuring out college admittance testing. (if I remember right)

If she does well it can help, but if she doesn’t, it gets dumped (for the most part) as soon as she gets a real SAT or ACT score. I believe the ACT favors writing in some ways, so that may be a better fit. Back in the olden days when I had to worry about things like that, most schools would take either.

I honestly think the PSAT is a good thing. It lets you realistically plan next steps before the real consequences are there while also figuring out the format for the SAT.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Testing days for me were fun.
It was like getting a big puzzle book for free. And, my brother never got at it with his crayons!

I think I too would look at it on a child by child basis.

janbb's avatar

Yeah, A PSAT practice test is different from the ones I was thinking the question referred to. The results are really for her benefit so she can start to see what she can improve and also what she can reasonably aspire to.

NomoreY_A's avatar

I hated them. I remember the Iowa Achievement Tests, a pain in the ass. “Don’t touch your pencil until I tell you to. Don’t mark outside the circle. Put you pencil down when I tell you to”. Screw that crap.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I loved the rules too.

snowberry's avatar

@janbb, @Dutchess_III That would be nice if everyone thinks the way you do, but this kid- and many kids- find it torture. I did, and my granddaughter absolutely does. It’s not helpful in the slightest.

janbb's avatar

@snowberry I’m not saying it can’t be torture for some. I’m also not saying that kids shouldn’t be able to opt out of some of them. You misread my remarks. I’m just saying that the PSATs have some use if she intends to go to college.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We all have to do stuff we don’t want to do.

NomoreY_A's avatar

All we really have to do is pay taxes and die. As my old pappy was fond of saying.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, yeah. Unless you want to be successful in a job and in relationships and stuff like that.

JLeslie's avatar

The vast majority of the time for most children I think standardized testing is necessary. I don’t feel it has to be every school year necessarily. I don’t think it should be attached to teacher pay or how much money a school gets. I do feel we somehow have to measure how well students are doing, and we can’t simply trust the teacher. You can’t simply trust a parent who homeschools either.

Standardized tests do not have to come with a lot of stress. When I took the tests in elementary school the teacher told us that the test wasn’t for a grade, and to just do our best. There was no stress attached to it. I don’t even remember knowing I was going to have a test that day.

In 8th grade we had a test that if you didn’t do well they didn’t pass you to high school. That had a little more stress, because I was aware of a consequence. We were taught to the test for a few weeks, and you know what, I still remember some of what I specifically learned in those weeks, and it has been useful. Teaching to a test helps level the field if the test isn’t perfect regarding cultural differences and experiences.

It’s like anything, when it’s taken to an extreme it’s bad. Too little testing and we don’t know where our kids stand. Too much with consequences that don’t make sense, and it can be detrimental.

Making a sick child take an important test is not a testing problem, it’s a problem of people in charge are being ridiculous.

snowberry's avatar

Even in states where there are serious repercussions threatened, ”...the possible penalties haven’t stopped students”

“Opt-out is an act of civil disobedience. The one way we have to vote for saving public schools is by refusing these tests,” Robertson says. “The truth is it doesn’t matter [what the state policy is]. It’s an act stating we reclaim our public schools. Opt-out allows us to vote in that way.” From

Study: High Standardized Test Scores Don’t Translate to Better Cognition

funkdaddy's avatar

@snowberry – What’s the solution? I’ve thought about this quite a bit, maybe you have as well.

What I see as the problem is a major lack of resources for schools in the US. Governments fund at a minimum level and then it’s up to the community to elevate their schools. That’s great if you live in a community with spare resources and an area that is well off. Well off communities have more money, more volunteers because of their lifestyle, attract better teachers, and generally perform better. Standardized testing is one of the few areas where everyone at least receives the same materials. Kids who wouldn’t otherwise go to college get scholarships because of the PSAT your granddaughter took. There has to be a way to find that aptitude. There needs to be a way to measure schools that are consistently failing their students.

How would you like student aptitude, learning, and achievement measured across thousands or millions of students fairly? How about effectiveness of curriculum and teaching styles?

It’s like the old quote

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

snowberry's avatar

I am thinking about your questions.

In the case of my granddaughter we sometimes feel like we will be thrilled if we can just get her a high school diploma. Our dreams of college for her feels like a world away right now.

Adding the stress of any kind of required standardized testing makes her own world- and therefore our lives- hell.

funkdaddy's avatar

Again, I think it has to be what fits your student, so I’m not arguing for her taking tests, just saying I can’t find a better way for a large school system to measure itself. And collectively we’ve decided the systems have to be held accountable, which trickles down.

Like you’ve pointed out, she’s definitely not the only one. Luckily that means there are a lot of resources for alternative schools.

Alt Ed Austin might be a jumping off point, if you’re interested.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I’m somehow missing the details about your granddaughter’s situation. Why does she have a problem taking tests?

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie She is allowed to take her tests with breaks (due to an IEP), but haaaates it. (I’m not going into details here.) Anyway, because she’s upset about it, everyone gets to suffer. IMO it’s simply not worth it, but I’m not calling the shots.

JLeslie's avatar

Does IEP mean she is delayed in some way? I don’t know if delayed is the PC way to put it, so my apologies if I should word it differently.

snowberry's avatar

I honestly don’t know. I don’t think so, but they must make accommodations for her. She’s got a lot of stuff going on.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry When you spend time with her does she seem behind for her age? Or, does she have ongoing behavioral problems? If she’s given exceptions she must have some sort of diagnosis I would think? Or, maybe it’s just anxiety specifically with test taking. I really have no specific guess.

I really have very little understanding regarding being so freaked out about test taking. It seems to me that the adults probably did something to make it so stressful. Either a teacher who writes tricky tests, or parents who put pressure on the child, etc. I guess some kids just put the pressure on themselves. Does she get great grades otherwise?

snowberry's avatar

It’s anxiety. She’s been through hell. Our goal is to major in love and minor in correction. It would be nice if she does well in school, but that’s not the goal here.

There is absolutely no point in trying to force her to learn. She will change when she’s ready, and not before!

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry I wasn’t asking about her grades to push her, I was asking to see if her grades match her test taking. Sometimes kids are great at learning and homework, and just have a test taking problem. If the kid is doing badly in school then it naked complete logical sense they hate tests, they probably don’t know the material and know they won’t be able to answer the questions.

If it’s just anxiety that’s one thing. If it’s literally a brain development problem, then having incorrect expectations for her can be the cause of some of the anxiety.

It sounds like she has been through much more than just school issues, I don’t know what hell she has been through, but I hope it’s over with now. I hate to hear anyone has suffered so much, especially someone so young.

I don’t know if not testing is the answer for her, we here on the Q don’t have enough info, but certainly if she has been through a very bad time the school system should be accommodating her. Maybe she should be held back? Are her parents fine with her getting low grades? Or, are they “worried” about her grades? I see you’re not worried, but if they are, the child probably picks up in it. Kids don’t like to have to tell their parents they didn’t do well.

Is she in therapy? Do they give her medication for her anxiety? Maybe a Xanax before a big test would help? Or, maybe if she is taking medication regularly it needs to be reevaluated.

snowberry's avatar

I’ll PM you. I don’t want to put more out in a public forum.

Dutchess_III's avatar

IEP is an Individual Education Plan. It’s drawn up in cooperation with the parents, teachers, and other professionals. Each one is different.

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