Wednesday, March 30, 2016

PARCC, Opting In

My children are taking the PARCC test.

Not because we are making a political statement or because I really believe in standardized testing, but simply because it is offered, the expectation is to test, and I believe the more you do something the better and more comfortable with it you become.

The reality is that testing is now a part of my daughters' lives, and right or wrong evaluating through testing is the standard. I wish it wasn't. I also wish they would never fall down, be disappointed or find out that I'm not as smart as they think.

There are many questions regarding the validity of this test, whether or not it is a good evaluator of either teachers or students. There are uncertainties as to how the information gained from the test will be used and if the test has been properly vetted. There are concerns that I share about the time allotted to testing, meaning less instruction time in the classroom. The reality is that my children will test for a total of 12 hours over two weeks. It is not a weeks long all day test, as it has been represented in some information. I'd rather that time be used for instruction but given a choice between taking a test, and becoming more comfortable with standardized testing, or sitting in a study hall environment, I chose the test.

My children do not have great anxiety with regard to testing, and perhaps I would feel differently if they did. We have made it very clear to them that these tests will not in any way determine where they go to college or what career they will chose or whether or not they will live in Istanbul as adults. As with any test they take our mantra is to go in and show what you know, and what you don't. The discovery of what you don't know is, in my opinion, just as valuable as finding out what you do. That said I have no idea how they scored on PARCC last year, nor can I recite their MAP scores, which is perhaps indicative of the significance I place on testing.

We opt in, not because I am compliant but because I find value in taking the test, and I feel strongly that facing the challenge is an important lesson. Taking action, voicing your opinion and standing up for what you believe also matters, but we don't all wear the same size shoe, nor should we.

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