12 Reasons to Opt Out of the STAAR test this year:
2.) The American Statistical Association has shown the tests to be invalid and unreliable measures, yet they continue to be used to make high stakes decisions about students (retention/promotion), teachers (retention/compensation), and schools (closure).
3.) Teachers are pressured or forced to teach test prep almost every single instructional day, and children spend countless hours taking benchmarks, snapshots, and practice tests to prepare for STAAR.
4.) A rich curriculum which includes the arts encourages creativity and analytical thinking. By contrast, a narrow test prep curriculum relies on multiple choice tests which elicit shallow, black and white thinking.
5.) STAAR tests are inappropriate for many special education students and English language learners, who are required to take the same tests as other students.
6.) STAAR tests are disproportionately damaging to Black and Brown children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Schools that primarily serve these students are pressured to spend inordinate amounts of time on test prep for fear that test scores will be used as an excuse to close these neighborhood schools down.
7.) Texas spent almost half a billion dollars from 2010–2015 on STAAR testing alone. Spending this much on testing takes away resources needed to ensure that our schools have nurses, counselors, librarians, social workers, and teachers.
8.) When your child takes a standardized test like STAAR or uses computer programs to prepare for it, there is a strong possibility that his or her personal data are sold to or accessed by companies without your knowledge or permission.
9.) For no solid pedagogical reason, this year's tests will have a higher passing threshold, meaning fewer children will pass. Read about the new state math standards which, for example, brought 6th grade standards down to the 4th grade over the course of a year.
10.) This year's STAAR tests are illegal. TEA will not follow new requirements in state law HB 743 for the 2015-2016 school year: TEA has refused to shorten the tests for grades 3-5 and grade 7 as the law requires. They are also refusing to have the assessments independently validated to assure that they are age-appropriate.
11.) The high stakes testing culture is stressful at some schools, toxic and dehumanizing at others. Neither is an ideal environment for learning.
12.) Opt Out works. It gives parents and communities a powerful bargaining tool when our voices are otherwise ignored. In New York State last spring, 20% of students (over 200,000) were opted out of their state test. That December, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was forced to establish a four-year moratorium on using student test scores to retain students or to evaluate teachers. Empowered by their victory, New York parents fight on.
Together, we can do the same. We are not opting out just to opt out. We are opting out to ensure that every child in every community has access to a safe, nurturing, high quality, free public education.
Opt Out. For your child, and for everyone's.