Thursday, May 2, 2013

Are Children Being Used As Pawns In The Game Of High Stakes Testing?

Today marks the end of NJASK testing for 7th and 8th graders in New Jersey, with 5th and 6th graders in the hot seat next week. NJ parents across the state are opting their children out, and we are working together to find ways to make the experience as smooth as possible for our children.

NJ mom Lisa Grieco-Rodgers has chosen to have her 6th grade child opt out, but her 4th grade child will take the test. She explains that her daughter is a strong student and has taken the NJASK in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. This year her daughter has already sat through end of the marking period tests, district placement tests and now weeks of test prep.

Grieco-Rodgers asks, "when is enough, enough?"

Guest post from Lisa Grieco-Rodgers  


We can all appreciate the need for standards and guidelines and the people that must enforce them.  However, when the pendulum swings too far and these standards and guidelines become counterproductive, adversely affecting our children, then the constituents who voted in our representatives need to speak up.
We chose to keep our 6th grade daughter home during NJASK testing this week, because enough is enough.  Our daughter has taken the NJASK for 3 years now, and based on the NJ DoE changes that are coming in 2014, she along with her brother will be tested until 11th grade.  Our   daughter is a straight A student, in AP Math and in general actually finds testing to be a fun challenge – go figure. 
However, when NJ ASK prep started 2 weeks before the actual test, she came home saying.  “Mom, I just finished all the trimester tests and the district placement test.  Do I really need to go through 10 more hours of testing?”  Her father and I said “NO!”  Enough is enough.
As her parents we are actively involved in her and her brother’s education.  Each night we review their homework and weekly, we discuss their work to determine if they need more support. 
In her particular case, this year, NJASK proves no value to her.  In fact her placement into 7th grade will be decided on before the NJASK results are published in September 2013.
As for our son, we chose to allow him to take the NJASK in 4th grade for after discussing his abilities with his teacher and the principal we decided that since he has not gone through the battery of testing our daughter has the NJASK will help reinforce what he has learned and strengthen his test taking abilities.   
Many folks have said to me, aren’t you contradicting yourself?  No, it’s OUR CHOICE based on the needs of the individual child.  We are their parent’s, we decide what is best for our kids.
NJ DoE however, does not believe we have the right to decide and in the end could potentially penalize the school districts and our kids for OUR CHOICE!
We understand that the school district must follow State regulations – for they have NO CHOICE.  But it is time for each district to take a stand and speak out that the district should NOT be adversely affected financially or otherwise, because of a parental right.  The State is holding the district hostage.  Less than 95% participation could potentially impact district funding from the state.  The children also have to miss 10 hours of class during test make up week, because the State DoE has stated that they cannot attend class if they don’t take the make-up test.  How ridiculous is this! We have already decided that they NOT take the test!
Since when do we live in a communist state?  Please tell me we have not fallen into a dictatorship! Why should the state penalize the school district because of OUR CHOICE?
There is nothing wrong with assessment testing, when administered appropriately, but when is enough, enough?  Whether or not you believe the pendulum has swung too far already, wait…. NJASK currently tests kids for 10 hours per year from 3rd-8th grade.  When PARCC testing is implemented, it will bring this to a whole new level with FOUR new rounds of tests totaling 12 hours per year from K-11th grade.
We hear over and over from state regulators that parents are using their children as pawns.   Really?
When the State withholds money from the district if the district does not achieve 95% participation rate on the NJASK and when the State does not allow our children to attend class during test make up week – then who is REALLY holding our children as pawns?


  1. I would like to add that the testing Lisa describes does not replace the quizzes and exams given by the teachers regularly in class.

    And, here in New York, these tests provide little to no feedback on what my child has learned. I know my child best, and I know she would have spent a significant portion of the six 70-minute testing periods staring out the window. Also, our habit is to review with her every quiz or test she takes, and correctly answer anything she got wrong. With these NYS standardized tests, not only are the parents AND TEACHERS not allowed to see the test questions, but the tests are going to be destroyed after they are scored to "secure the questions for use on future exams". I would have received one numerical score for the exam with no information on which areas need improvement.

  2. High stakes testing is to education as earning reports are to a company. Education has become a business. All stakeholders will be slaves to the bottom line.

    enuf said