I have received a few calls from parents concerned about PARCC testing and the choice to opt out. PAPA’s stand on this issue is clear that there will be no opting out of the test. Taking required State and Federally mandated tests is the law. PAPA will follow this law.
That being said, I would like to clarify the reasons behind our stand:
- PARCC is simply the required test that is replacing the NM Standards-Based Assessment (NMSBA) that was taken over the past several years.
- The test is a reflection of the Common Core Standards teachers have been working diligently to implement over the past few years. We need this baseline data from all students to gauge our curriculum effectiveness.
- We use the data to assess individual skills (strengths, weaknesses, gaps, etc.). It helps us when individualizing student education plans and drives teacher instructional plans.
- Opting out of the testing is like telling students it is OK to avoid what “may” be difficult in life. Testing is a common necessity in the professional world. For example, high school students will take the ACT and/or the SAT for college placement and scholarships. In addition to an education degree, I had to take the National Teacher Exam to become a teacher. Another standardized test is a requirement of becoming an educational administrator. Many, many jobs require testing.
- Our students are here for the performing arts and rigorous academics. In the performing arts, students practice to perform. The PARCC test is their academic performance.
- Students must participate in all PARCC attempts before using the alternative demonstration of competency to receive a high school diploma. Otherwise, students receive a certificate of completion which can affect their ability to enter certain colleges or earn scholarships.
I don’t believe the “test” is the issue. I believe that issues surrounding the test are like a bunch of huge snowballs rolling recklessly down the hill, increasing in momentum as we get closer to the test date….Here’s why I believe this is happening. Here are some of the issues:
- PARCC results effect the overall school grade on the annual School Grade Report.
- Participation in PARCC also directly effects each school’s grade on the annual School Grade Report.
- PARCC results will be tied to teacher evaluation (50% of a teacher’s evaluation), which is now connected to the ability to renew a license.
- The cost of implementing the technology just to administer the test has been astronomical.
- Testing interferes with instructional time!
These are all legitimate issues. If one wants to resolve the issues, there are more productive means of social change than protest and refusal. Instead of negatively impacting your children and their school:
- Write a letter or e-mail to your legislator or other elected official;
- Register to vote and exercise that right;
- Organize a petition drive;
- Write a letter to Secretary Hannah Skandera;
- Create a piece of art to express your concerns…
We’re willing to swim upstream at PAPA when it comes to challenges in education. PARCC is a challenge! We’ve never seen the test. It tests new standards. We may have a disaster with the technology. It is timed, which was not true of the NMSBA. The entire PAPA staff is not going to support any opting out or walk-outs. PAPA staff is committed to making this as painless as possible for students. We want students to simply do their best with no fear of failure. We have worked hard in preparation for staff and students, so we’ll let the chips fall where they may! Please minimize the controversy at home, decreasing your children’s stress over testing and increasing their chances of success.
Our hope is that you understand our position and respect the necessity to test. If you choose to keep your children at home, the absences will be unexcused. Your children will surpass the 10 day rule which will put them in danger of losing high school credits. Any walking out will be considered a disruption of the education process at PAPA and be treated as a discipline issue.
I am thankful every day that I get to work in this community – at this wonderful school! Thanks to the rights of parents to choose schools, our parents chose PAPA for their children’s education. With that choice comes responsibility. At PAPA, we follow the law. If you chose to have your child attend PAPA, you chose to test.
Doreen A. Winn
Public Academy for Performing Arts