Guest Post: Opt-Out Ends The Madness Of High-Stakes Testing

Filed in Delaware by on September 17, 2015

Kevin from Exceptional Delaware asked if we could share his post. The State Board of Education is having their monthly meeting at 1:00pm today. The Parent Strike press conference will begin prior to the meeting at 12:30pm in front of Legislative Hall in Dover. If any of our readers attend, let us know in the comments.

As a proud advocate of parent opt out, I watched in horror as Governor Markell vetoed legislation created for parents and their fundamental rights.  The News Journal  refers to House Bill 50 as giving parents the right to opt out.  This is wrong.  It’s about honoring a parental right that already exists, an attempt to codify that right and stop schools and the Delaware Department of Education from punishing schools over parent opt-out.

Today, the State Board of Education will have their monthly meeting, and they will discuss Regulation 103.  To give some quick back-story here, Regulation 103 covers school accountability.  Born out of Race To The Top, Delaware won in the first round partly because we already had this regulation in place.  Race To The Top was an abject failure.  But the DOE and the State Board are attempting to further legitimize this program under the guise of the Delaware School Success Framework.  This “school report card” is nothing more than Federal mandate PLUS the many layers of complexity the DOE added to it.  This regulation will put any Title I school in jeopardy if the students don’t perform well on Smarter Balanced.  This week, we will hear about the creation of 10 new so-called “Focus Schools” and 4 “Focus Plus Schools”.  The DOE will attempt to sell this as yet another way of “fixing” these high-need schools.  The truth is, these labels are punitive in nature and are just another step before they become “Priority Schools”.  We all know how that went a year ago.

The transparency around Regulation 103 and the “school report card” is suspect at best.  I filed a large complaint with the Delaware Department of Justice over several issues last week.  As well, for the second time this year, I filed a complaint over FOIA violations with the DOE.  The first complaint showed the DOE overcharging me nearly $7,000.00.  It seems the DOE wants accountability for everyone but themselves.  Yesterday, I filed a complaint with the US DOE Office.

In conjunction with Delaware Liberal and my own blog, Exceptional Delaware, we have been writing articles on the true impact of high-stakes testing in Delaware.  The schools with very small populations of low-income students do great on Smarter Balanced, whereas the opposite occurs in high populations of poverty.  The DOE would have us blame the teachers in these schools.  How about we blame the DOE and Governor Markell?  Instead of focusing on the true needs of students, such as smaller classrooms and more special education training, our schools continue the failed experiment of Smarter Balanced.

When House Bill 50 appeared, I was contacted by parents throughout the state asking me about opt out.  I told them it was their decision and choice.  I didn’t push it on any parent, but I did advise them to do research and do what is best for their child.  When the Governor vetoed House Bill 50, I was upset and launched a Refuse The Test campaign.  Today a coordinated effort across the country called Parent Strike will occur.  For Delaware, I strongly encourage every single parent in the state to opt their child out of Smarter Balanced if they have not already.  The misuse and abuse inflicted upon our schools because of this test needs to stop.  The only way to stop the insanity is to effectively shut it down.  The federal funding threats self-destructed when Arne Duncan backed off.  The scores in our highest need schools show how much minorities do not need this test.  If every single parent opts out, we are essentially calling the DOE’s bluff and pulling the plug on Smarter Balanced.  Our legislators acted, our PTA acted, and now we must act as parents.  Whether your child attends a traditional school or a charter, we ALL need to do this.  We need to act now for our children and say NO MORE! We don’t need the business community telling us how to run our schools.  Opt your child out and let’s take back education.

For Parent Strike on 9/17, Delaware parents will have a brief press conference at 12:30pm in front of Legislative Hall in Dover, followed by an invitation for every single parent in the state to give public comment at the State Board of Education meeting at 1pm in opposition to Regulation 103.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (4)

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  1. Bane says:

    Not sure if I quite understand how the test itself hurts minorities. I get how adults’ (on both sides of the debate) reaction to the test scores effect students. However, is the argument that because these low performing schools’ test scores are low, the idea of testing itself is the problem? That sounds like saying that since my mammogram came back and said I have cancer I should opt out of mammograms because the results hurt my feelings and didn’t cure the disease. Seems that the real debate should be more about the treatment, or lack there of, which comes after the mammogram rather than the mammogram itself. I just find it difficult to understand how this line of debate over something that we already have the right to do helps kids or teachers. That’s not an attack, its just a question.

  2. The test hurts low-income minorities quite a bit. Their schools are labeled and shamed based on a false ideology where all children “must be proficient”. It is a failed experiment, and the blinders are coming off. DOE needs to be held accountable, not our most vulnerable schools.

  3. kavips says:

    Bane. Thank you for asking an intelligent question… When your mammogram comes back positive, you know you have cancer. But what if the resolution was very vague and what you got back was a faint smudge. it might be a cancerous bulge, or fat, or swollen blood vessel or clogged milk duct, or infection in the secretion gland.. Yes… it could be cancer; but it could be harmless. I’m sorry but since we just don’t know, but we are going to remove both your breasts so your insurers pay us lots of money. Sorry ma’am, It’s not your choice; it’s ours…

    That is the better assessment using your analogy. The Smarter Balanced ELA and diction on the math, is solidly biased to the North Central Midwestern dialect… In fact, most of the educational standards today are all are based on the average of the North Central Midwestern section of the country. This means that when you are taking a reading, and then asked to determine which or 5 grammatically questions is the “best” if you think like a North Central Midwesterner, your natural inclination will be correct… It’s what you’ve always heard since your ears started working… But… city dwellers of all races don’t pick that one. Another one sounds better and more natural because that is what they always hear… The South, historically does poorly on standardized test because of their accent and both French and Old English wordings still play prominent roles in the structure of their diction. The answer that sounds most correct to a Southerner, is so wrong when judged by the mealy mouths of Minnesota. As a human being we can make these distinctions. Why yes. You understand the contents of what you read, and your accents sounds so lovely too.. But a machine says no… you got that one wrong. Scores are low … the North Central Midwestern bias has made its effect known…

    Now if tests were done in Bayou diction, with long drawn out vowels and large pauses between thoughts, our high scores of the North Central Midwestern states would disappear… The further south you go, the better would be ones state scores…

    In England we had the king’s English.. Who decided what was right? Why the king, of course. But in a melting pot… how do you decide which accent, which tone, which of a multi-plural set of rules, is the one we shall deem right?

    Have you ever spoken to a black person? I have. I can understand them very well. Because it is one human versus another… If I don’t catch something, I re-ask. They can function very well in society… Even become the best president we’ve seen in our lifetimes. But, they certainly don’t speak North Central Midwestern…. because it is an alien language never heard in the heart of either East or West Coast cities.

    So the short answer to your question is this.. That when you put 15 High School English teachers in a room and make them take the 11th Grade English test and then go over the answers with them… you get an assortment and vociferous discussions back and forth and no consensus on which is the right answer…. So how on earthcan you tell a kid he’s wrong?


    And by now, you will have gotten the idea why this test is very, very, very bad for minorities, for the poor, and for anyone not familiar with North Central Midwestern accents.