Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Colorado Teacher Refuses to Give PARCC Test to Students

As the nation heads into election season, and schools go deeper into the year, the issue of standardized testing - notably PARCC tests aligned to Common Core standards - continues to rile up communities as parents begin to question the value and validity of the standards and more notably the standardized tests. Many parents nationwide are considering joining a grown "Opt Out" movement, in which parents refuse to have their kids tested by the state. And, some bold and principled teachers are now supporting that movement as they "refuse to administer the PARCC test." Peggy Robertson, of Aurora, Colorado, has published an open letter to the people of Colorado in which she explains why she cannot in good conscience administer a test that in her mind "has no credibility" and which serves no purpose other than to harm instruction in schools and increase the achievement gap.

I also refuse to administer the PARCC because I believe that participation in such testing gives the test credibility – of which it has none. The PARCC test was designed to assess the Common Core standards, which are not grounded in research, nor are they internationally benchmarked. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Common Core standards, Common Core curriculum and Common Core testing, will in any way close the achievement gap. It will do the opposite. By funneling all of our tax dollars to corporations for curriculum, tests and technology to implement the test, we have ignored the elephant standing in the middle of the room – the number of homeless school children in Colorado, which has more than tripled in the last decade.  The poverty rate of black children stands at approximately 40 percent while the poverty rate of  Latino children is approximately 30 percent. Colorado also has the third fastest growing rate of childhood poverty in the nation. We know quite clearly that children who have quality nutrition, healthcare, as well as access to books via libraries with certified librarians, and all the other resources provided to children in particular zip codes, actually, have done quite well on standardized tests in the past. Yet, we continue to ignore this fact, and we continue to feed our children living in poverty only tests. In order to pay for these tests, technology, and curriculum, we strip our schools of much needed resources such as books, small class size, librarians, nurses, counselors and more. Closing the achievement gap requires closing the resource gap.

Peggy is not the first teacher to refuse to give the tests, as a kindergarten teacher in Florida also recently refused to give the test and made public her intentions. And that teacher refusal movement may continue to grow as more teachers are realizing this massive increase in the number and importance of standardized tests is putting the system of public education on the wrong path

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