Photo Credit: Alberto G./Flickr
Meg Norris, founder and resident expert in standardized testing for Opt Out Georgia, came to Athens Wednesday evening to meet with parents interested in the possibility of having their children forego the upcoming Georgia Milestones assessments.
An hour of discussion ensued, with Norris explaining the policy backdrop for the current tests and some of the politics involved in helping pass Senate Bill 355, the state law giving parents the right to control the education of their children, including opting them out of assessments without penalty. And on the pressing question of “Should I opt my kid(s) out of these tests, and what will happen if I do?” Norris’ answer, not unexpectedly, was “It’s complicated.”
Norris said people around the state are showing interest in the subject due to the doubts about the benefits to be gained by submitting to hours of statewide tests that have no direct instructional value. Many see the tests as having nothing to do with teachers who know their students and their work from an entire year. And she pointed out that the results came back from last April’s tests in November, more than half a year later, when the students had moved on to the next grade and to different teachers. Many also see the only real use of the tests being to rate and rank teachers and schools based on the test results.
Those factors, and the fact that the cut score is set up so that most students and schools “fail,” are enough for a growing number of parents to push back and say “Not my child; not this test.” But it is not an easy decision, and some people at the meeting planned to talk with their children’s teachers and communicate directly with their principals to discuss their family’s options.
Norris stressed that it is a discussion worth having as people try to navigate the best course for their children’s education and whether it should include the upcoming statewide testing or not.
Norris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Concerned parents can also join the Georgia Opt Out Facebook page. For more information, see PublicEducationMattersGa.org, go to FairTest.org or see this from the Network for Public Education: bit.ly/1oEsm2L Or live-stream NPE’s session on testing resistance next Saturday, Apr. 16: https://events.bizzabo.com/NPEConference/agenda/session/127269
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