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Don’t penalize PARCC opt-outs

In recent weeks, many students across Albuquerque Public Schools were head deep into the infamous PARCC testing and the stress and pressure is readily felt across campuses and classrooms.

This year, as well as last year, our family made the decision to opt our elementary-aged children out of taking PARCC.

We made this decision not because we consider ourselves to be experts of any type on the matter of standardized testing, but we are reasonably informed regarding the impacts this phenomena has on the bodies and minds of all those impacted – students, families, teachers, administrators, staff, and others.

As a parent and educator I firmly state that I am not against all types of testing. This would be a contradiction to my own teaching over the years. I understand the importance of authentic assessment but disagree with monopolistic testing tendencies that are being forced upon us.

Regardless of the decision made by families on testing – to test or not to test, I believe that decision should be respected. In the same manner that I will not go out of my way to pressure, harass, or bully other parents to opt out, I feel that my decision should be respected as well and that my children should not be the bearers of any negative consequences including remarks and/or behaviors directed at them.

With that said, I have to say that I was quite disappointed and angered to hear one of my daughters’ PARCC-related experiences. Apparently students who took the PARCC were rewarded with special snacks at her school – something I do not disagree with.

But what I do wholeheartedly disagree with is that apparently this “special” snack – a bag of veggie straws – was passed out to the PARCC-taking students while the teacher stated that students who opted out of the test could not receive the snack.

Veggie straws were subsequently handed out to the PARCC takers while the opt-outers looked on with tear-filled eyes reflecting the shame they were made to feel.

Seriously? What is wrong with education today? What have our teachers been driven to do as a result of this test?

I can almost hear some of the die-hard testing proponents say that this was the correct thing for the teacher to do. What I say in response is how was this act of in essence punishing my child for a decision largely made by her parents ethically OK?

Did my child have to be present to witness this and what did the teacher’s decision to opt my child out of the snack teach her as she sat there confused, ashamed, excluded and simultaneously held up as the example for the rest of the class?

“See, children, this is what happens when you opt out of tests. No veggie straws for you!”

Although I hold a doctoral degree in education, I don’t claim to be an expert on the standardized testing madness; it’s not my field. But this experience my child has undergone highlights how we’ve hit rock bottom with this.

I end this by saying that I don’t blame the teacher, I blame the system and the horrible impacts it’s having on all of us.

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