My Child Didn’t Take a Standardized Test Yesterday So Now He’s Basically Doomed

Across my great state yesterday, 4th and 5th graders gathered into hushed classrooms with bellies full of protein-packed breakfasts and sharpened pencils at the ready. Children in younger grades had their chairs removed from their desks so that the scraping sounds wouldn’t distract students rooms away, and parents were barred from visiting the campus: it was the first day of standardized testing in Texas.

My 10-year-old woke after a good night’s sleep, ate a big breakfast, and settled in with the book of his choosing. He played with his siblings, created with Legos, and even ASKED for veggies with his lunch. He had a great day… but was not at school. I opted him out of the test.

Being a 4th grader, he’s an old pro at the STAAR, the standardized test for Texas students. He’s taken the math and reading tests before (and totally crushed them, but that’s just the mom in me needing to brag on him). He wasn’t worried about the tests and he knew they didn’t define him as a student. He was proud of both his regular grades and his previous scores and shrugged off the idea that standardized testing was stressful.

Until it became stressful.

At the beginning of the school year his teacher bragged on his writing (insert proud mom puffing her chest out here). She was very excited by his ability, his creativity – he was a good writer. We began getting examples of what the STAAR test expected in a composition, and it was clear that my boy was doing well and would score high. He could use some tweaking to get the highest possible score, but that’s what school – and the next few months – were for, helping him grow as a writer and hone his skills.

To save you the novel it would require to share all the details, it became a nightmare right after winter break. The students – 9- and 10-year-olds – were writing a new paper every day to prepare for the writing portion of the standardized test. A paper a day. Each time with a new prompt that required new creativity yet had to follow the same formula. If a child didn’t finish they were made to miss recess to keep working on their paper. The paper that was just practice. If they still didn’t finish they would have to take it home and finish it, because a new prompt awaited the next day. It started taking longer and longer for him to finish. He’d come home exhausted, in tears, stressed over not finishing a paper that was just practice, a paper that’d be thrown out in the morning so he could start all over again with another. Despite our encouragement and praises – from his parents and teachers – his self esteem took a huge hit. He felt like a terrible student that he couldn’t finish quickly. He felt like he had no ideas because it took him so long to come up with yet ANOTHER creative paper. He allowed his worth to be dictated by this repetitive practicing and completely ignored the A’s he made in all of his regular schoolwork. He has a tic disorder that only appears when he’s stressed or ill, and his face was so overtaken by tics that he struggled to make it through a sentence at times. My boy was broken. His writing suffered. Where he’d started the year bringing home papers with high grades and excellent imagery, he began handing over papers that were not finished, that were pieced together according to a formula, that had no vision, and that weren’t even a shadow of what he’d been capable of before. He handed these to me with his head down, because he knew it, too. My 10-year-old was burned out. In the 4th grade. He was exhausted, spent, suffering. I felt like a failure as a mother for having allowed it to happen, for having bought into the “Suck it up, it’s just a test” line. Not all kids respond this way, but mine did, and I had to remind myself that I am his parent, not the school district, and not the businesspeople making millions off of the test.

So I opted him out.

We spent the day together like rebels – one homeschooled kid, one kid opted out of standardized testing, and one too young to be a part of any of it. We got stares. We got smiles. And we got a lot of questions. When it became clear just how very many parents were not aware that they could opt their children out of standardized testing, I took it upon myself to post on Facebook about it. The only city in Texas that has a formal opt-out policy also has the highest percentage of families who opt out, so I decided to get the word out, as it seems the more empowered parents are the more action they take. I don’t judge those who sent their kids to school, I don’t think all kids are being damaged by the process, I just wanted to make sure parents knew they had a choice.

And, apparently, I wanted to make sure my son never succeeded in life.

There were a few comments – and some surprising “likes” on those comments – that expressed concern over his college career and his character as an adult. Yes, my 10-year-old. Who is in 4th grade. Whether those comments came from a place of well-meaning, judgement, or just being wholly ignorant, I would like to address the sentiment and make a few things clear.

He is 10. He’ll only be 10 for 6 more months, and then he’ll be 11. He does not need to be prepared for college right now. Because he’s 10. He may not even choose to go to college. But whenever that decision comes, it’s the better part of a decade away.

Not taking a standardized test does not teach a child not to take tests. They take tests all year long. They have homework and projects and book reports and quizzes, too. They must complete those and show mastery of the content. Not taking this one standardized test didn’t teach him that it’s okay to wimp out on something that’s too hard and it didn’t create a habit of avoiding tests. It was a standardized test that, at his current grade level, does not affect his grades. He’ll continue to take tests over the material he is presented throughout his school career despite having missed this one.

The idea that a single test is an indicator of future character is absurd. My job as his parent goes a lot deeper and longer than a single test. Me standing up for him when something gets to be too much does not teach him he doesn’t have to deal with hard things – it teaches him that his parents support him. It teaches him that it’s okay to say “no” to something that isn’t good for you. It teaches him that sometimes when everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t mean you should, too. It teaches him that he can come to us when he’s faced with another hard issue, and it teaches him that he can trust us to help him through it. Not taking one test out of hundreds will not make him a flake, it will not relegate him to a lifetime of looking to mommy to fix his problems, and it does not render him powerless against difficulty. Character is an ongoing education in our home, one that gets a lot more time and attention than a single standardized test.

It’s “just a test” to you, but your experience only counts with one person – you. There really are children with anxiety disorders. There really are children with the inability to write what their brains tell them. There really are kids who can’t sit still for 4 hours. There really are kids who don’t understand the instructions. There really are kids who can’t see the instructions. There really are kids whose stomachs growl with hunger. There really are kids who have failed to meet the requirements multiple times and are terrified they’ll be held back a grade. There are countless children – identified and otherwise – who have an entirely different experience when it comes to standardized testing, who approach the packet with hurdles already placed before them. Your great fortune in overcoming nerves or never knowing them at all does not dismiss their very real experiences.

This is not 1997. The tests aren’t what they were when I took them. They’ve gotten harder, are riddled with grammatical and grading issues, and come with millions of unseen strings that tie teachers’ jobs and salaries to students’ performance… on ONE test. The stakes are higher, the tests are harder, the prep is more intense, and it is comparing apples to dragonfruit when we try to compare our own standardized testing experiences to those of children today.

Nobody really asked you. That was harsh, wasn’t it? Sorry about that, but it’s true. At the end of the day, no parent needs the permission of another or the blessing of your opinion to decide if they want to opt their child out of a test. Really. You don’t have to like it – they didn’t ask you to. You don’t have to agree with it – you’re welcome to send your kids with their number two pencils to take any test you wish. You’re more than free to feel passionately – and I pray you DO! But your passions are not my guide, and I’ll raise my child how I see fit, thankyouverymuch.

Standardized testing has nothing to do with college. Nothing. Colleges don’t request STAAR scores. To my knowledge there are no scholarships offered based on STAAR scores (especially to 4th graders). Are there tests in college? Sure. There are also tests in elementary, middle, and high school, all covering the material that was taught… like college. In fact, those tests are much more like the ones college students will face than a STAAR test. Valedictorians aren’t chosen from STAAR scores, standardized test scores don’t get you extra cords at graduation, and I really hope there are no fraternities that base membership on a 4th grade writing test. I don’t even think Jostens has a STAAR logo you can put on your senior ring…

The same people who are saying it’s only a test are the ones making dark predictions about the weight of the test. If it’s only a test, then what’s the big deal about missing it? If it’s only a test, it can’t possibly determine what type of adult he’ll be, right? If it’s only a test, then there’s no way his college career will be completely derailed by it, right? If it’s only a test, then it’s nowhere near as important as my SON, and I choose him every time. And if you think that “just a test” dictates the entire academic future of a child, then what is the purpose of school? It can’t be something that’s both easily shrugged off and fatefully guiding us at the same time.

At the end of this very long post, he’s still only 10. He loves his Rubik’s cubes, drawing on graph paper, playing board games, wrestling with his brother, laughing at movies. He’s growing taller by the day and thinks the little blonde hairs on his legs are very manly. He snuggles me on the couch, his table manners are questionable, and farts are the funniest thing in the world to him (though I’m pretty sure that’s not age-specific). He’s 10. He’s still a boy. There is no need to prepare him for adulthood, for college, right now. There is no need to push him beyond where is healthy for him to go. There IS a need to stand up for him and protect him from what’s not okay, from what’s harmful to him. He has the rest of his life to be an adult, I don’t need to push him towards it when he’s just barely reached double digits. Not that standardized testing has anything to do with being a functional adult, only that there is no need to push him towards something that will happen eventually, anyway. Missing this one test does not disqualify him from future success or doom him to a lifetime of watching old 90’s FOX reruns in the dark while eating potted meat from the can. He’s 10. We live in a developed society that allows him to be 10 and not worry about tilling fields or getting the black lung down in the coal mines. He’s not being prepared for adulthood, he’s being allowed a childhood.

At the end of the day, he went to bed. He wasn’t fearful about his future, I didn’t get any recruiters calling to cancel their visits, and knowledge didn’t tumble out of his head. He didn’t take a test. A very expensive stack of paper sits in a box, leftover because he wasn’t there to break the seal on it. The world will keep spinning, he will keep learning, and everything will be okay. I don’t regret our decision – in fact, I feel more sure of it than ever. We will face tomorrow – and any other tests, academic or otherwise – how we faced today: together.

Author: Jen

I am the wife of an insanely hot husband and the momma of three precious and exhausting kiddos. I have been given way more than I could ever deserve and I really love naps.

48 thoughts on “My Child Didn’t Take a Standardized Test Yesterday So Now He’s Basically Doomed”

  1. Rebecca Underwood says:

    Did he only miss one day? I was told that my son would basically miss a week of school because they would retest him the day he returned for 4 days after the test ??

    1. He missed yesterday and returned today. We were told he’d legally have to be presented a test today, but that he could write “decline” on his test after the instructions were read to him, then he could go back to class. I’ve been in communication with his teacher and principal the whole time so they know what we want and what we’re trying to accomplish by opting out.

    2. Even if a child goes to school… you can either option him out or, if no formal process in your state for that, he can refuse to take the test. He is to be given quiet activities while others are testing. (Ie: reading) my thought is in line with above… if taking a test is that stressful, what’s 4 days of missed school in the long run. You know what’s best for your child.

  2. I LOVE THIS!! This describes my boy, and made me tear up. He’s never taken the actual STAAR though. We just found out this year he has dysgraphia and discalculia so all the testing (the mock STAAR and benchmarks) were making him feel so bad about himself. I couldn’t let him take them. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Bless his heart! Those are very real struggles, I’m so glad they’ve been identified so he can stop feeling bad about himself! Way to go, mama!!!

    2. My son also has dysgraphia. These tests are difficult for him and therefore he has never taken one. I love this article.

  3. Thank you for this! I have a nine year old 4th grader and this is exactly how I feel, yet have not taken the time to put it all in words. So, thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading, Rhonda!

  4. How do you opt out without getting counted absent. My principle said opting out is not an option and he had never heard of this.

    1. It absolutely is an option, but you will likely have to take an absence. If you have Facebook, check out Texas Parents Opt Out of State Tests. If you are not in Texas, then I’d suggest first, moving here as fast as you can, haha, then searching for similar groups.

      1. Mary Barela says:

        You can also look for United Opt Out. They have a Facebook page and a website.

    2. Tracy Olson says:

      I live in Wisconsin. I have a 2nd grader. I have opted her out of all standardized tests both last year and this year. I was unaware of these tests to be honest. When I was in school, we took the Iowa Basic test ( I believe that is what it was called) in grades 3, 5 and 7. I do not recall taking any in High school. (I am either showing my age or this is because I spent time in both private and public schools.) We were at teacher conferences in K5 and it just so happened to be the day they took some standardized tests. The teacher told me my daughter was very distraught, cried, got very pale etc. Once the teacher sat with her through a few she was okay. My daughter scored very high on these tests but the fact that she had so much anxiety/fear over it I vowed to never have her go through that again. I mean, the teacher even said that there were kids who scored well on these tests but when in class they can not demonstrate that they have a grasp on this knowledge. She admitted they were flawed and do not give an accurate depiction of what a child knows. So why praise my child for scoring good when its flawed? Why base so much on the outcomes of these tests when they are flawed? So every year on the first day of school I write a letter to my daughters teacher and the principal stating that she will be opted out of all standardized tests. I also said that she is free to do other assignments, projects, reading etc. during this testing time. They have accommodated her with no issues. The teachers have actually commended me for opting her out.
      I have run into one instance where her not taking these tests may have a negative affect for her. We are trying to get her into a specialty school for the gifted and talented. They score applicants based on an application that is filled out, teacher letter recommendations, and examples of works. In that application they ask about the test scores. I spoke to people on the committee who essentially says yes or no to applicants and told them about opting our daughter out. They did say it will take some points away when they make their determinations but if I supplied some additional examples of her work it should be okay. They also said they understood a 100% why we opt our child out and wished all parents would opt their kids out of it so they could go back to actually teaching for knowledge in the classroom versus teaching for a test. We shall see I suppose. I advise anyone in any state to look up any opt out groups. If you can’t find one, start one. Check out the documentary ” STANDARDIZED Lies, Money, & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education”. Hold viewing parties and start rallying parents.

    3. Your principal is a liar. All educators know about opting out.

    4. Your state website should have the info. In mass there is no formal opting out but the parents send a letter stating he will not take it and the child will then refuse the test. Principles have anterior motives for saying they can’t opt out. Again, in mass, on the gov’t site, it states number of children taking test direct affects accountability rates in the school and that directly affects funding.

  5. If a student opts out will they allow him/her to move on to the next grade? I have heard they would not but it sounds like you know a lot about this. We did not opt out yesterday but I have considered it.

    1. There’s no one answer to that, unfortunately. The higher the grade, the more difficult it is to opt out without it affecting grades or advancement. It also varies by school district because the law is so open to interpretation. But as a 4th grader with excellent grades and attendance, there would be no reason for my son to be held back. Many schools will convene a committee to discuss whether a student can advance, and will base their decision on grades and attendance. Like it should be to begin with, haha!

    2. I can tell you that we opted out in both 5th and 8th grades. They listened to the instructions, waited a little while and politely handed in the booklet without breaking the seal and essentially got a no test score. They both brought a book to read while others took their tests. We had told their teachers prior so they knew about it and every single teacher said they wished more families would do it so that administration would take notice. I will say we did have to meet with the counselor over the summer since both kids had a no test score. They look at their grades and basically said you are promoted, in fact our son was promoted to accelerated math after not taking 5th grade STAAR without us even asking, and his electives were not even questioned. When our daughter didn’t take it in 8th grade we met with counselor and HS principal and after seeing her grades she asked ” why are we even having this discussion, she is clearly and exceptional student and will be promoted, still in TAG no electives questioned”. Now as a high schooler I will say she does take the tests because they are all EOC (end of course) exams and they are very different from the tests in elementary and middle school.

      But you can opt out pretty successfully, just do your homework, go to that Texas Opt Out FB page and you can find any letter you need to write, and wording you can give your principal and administration that they need. We are lucky to be in a great district that doesn’t put nearly as much emphasis on the test as others, even thought there is a hefty amount some stories I see from other area of Texas horrify me! Both of our elementary and middle school principals are great and just listened to my reasons and have agreed with me, they really have no choice but to abide by the rules, but they have done everything they can to help those of us opting out to do it easily for our students. In fact my 7th grader is still at home with me this morning, he is about to head into school late so he can finish up the actual school part of his day after lunch when testing is over.

    3. If you are in Texas, check out; created and updated by Texas attorney, Scott Placek. The first page includes step by step instructions for opting out. This is our second year opting out, with no repercussions to either of my children last year, and I’m expecting none this time either.

    4. Stephanie says:

      In some grades, they will not be allowed to be “promoted” to the next grade, but, as the parent, you can request a committee be convened that would “place” your child in the next grade. However, I think this may affect their ability to participate in extra-curricular activities, which is not a huge concern at the lower grades, but is at the Junior High level and above.

  6. I LOVE this! We have 4 kids (3rd, 4th, 7th and 10th) and we have successfully opted out for the past 3 years with all of them…even in 5th and 8th grades. Both of them were still promoted, both still stayed in the accelerated and TAG programs without any consequences or electives taken away. None of them have been threatened with not passing or failing a grade and they all understand the reasoning behind not taking it. I too have had ones in the past take and master (as in 100%) the test…but they have also said things like “I know other kids in my class wouldn’t have understood some of the questions because we have not even seen those math problems before” and “my friend almost threw up because there is so much pressure from teachers on how we do on the test”. When our 10th grader was in 8th grade she wrote a letter to our TEA board letting them know some of the things her peers were going through on the test and how she could see that it was affecting them mentally and academically.

    I can promise you that not one college application or essay asks about any of your standardized test scores. Your class rank has nothing to do with a STAAR test and all about the hard work you do in class. Many scholarships rely heavily not only on your rank, but your extracurriculars like volunteering and what kind of work ethic that you have, so none of these have any bearing whatsoever on college entry. In fact, I have read a few articles written by college professors who are seeing that students are not ready for their classes because they have been taught to the test so much that they cannot think independently for themselves and can’t do work without being told exactly what to do…no more real creativity and out of the box thinking anymore.

    When the test material is guarded more heavily than our actual national security information and teachers are threatened with losing their jobs over a slip up on testing day, when teachers have to record what time and how long a students goes to use the bathroom, when you have to cover up every single poster on the class walls and hallways of the school, when you tell kinders that they can’t go to recess because they might be too loud…then there is definitely something wrong in our society. We hear everyday that we need to have transparency in everything…but isn’t our children’s education one of the most important things that should be completely transparent, yet this isn’t at all. And those of us opting out are made to feel like we are doing something wrong by taking a stand to try to change it.

    I can go on and on…I love your article…super well written and I really hope that those in charge actually start listening and paying attention to what teachers and educators and parents are saying and try to make this crazy situation right again.

    1. Whew, Jenn, preach! And kudos to your daughter for writing that letter – way to work for change!!!

  7. I am a former teacher. The STAAR is not just a test. It is 2 – 4 days a year – used to dictate not only what but how things are taught from August (Texas starts school in August for out of state people) to mid April. When I taught 4th and 5th (and some of that was with TAKS the previous test), after the final test we would say now I can teach for real.

    Now my former colleagues say that isn’t even true. K-2 spend the whole year giving STAAR formatted test to get kids ready for 3rd grade test prep. In 3 – 5 no more end of the year cool projects, got to get started on test prep for the next grade.

    BTW your child’s school may have been violating the law by keeping him in at recess. Texas requires 135 minutes of moderate or vigorous structured physical activity per week. In some school districts PE is frequent enough to fullfill this, but that is achieved by eliminating or greatly reducing Music and Art. If your child has PE less than 3 times a week, pulling recess can put him below 135 minutes and the school is breaking the law. (I’m assuming PE and Music/Art if he has those are 45 min to give the teacher their required planning period).

    As a teacher I beg you don’t stop at opting out of the test. Opt in to changing the damage Bush and H Ross Perot started and Abbott, Patrick, and Paxton have continued. At the local level demand the school board prohibit schools administrators for forcing teachers to keep kids in from recess to complete work. (I don’t know a teacher that wants to do this because it increase behavior problems). Demand at least 1 30 min recess a day that can not be used for academics or punishment. Demand that the local board refuse to retain children based on 1 test in 5th and 8th grades.

    At the state level demand your representative and senator stop worrying about who is in the bathroom and support HB 1333 Teaching Over Testing Act that would eliminate Writing (4th and 7th), Science (5th and 8th) and Social Studies Test (8th). Leaving only the Reading and Math tests required by federal law. On the federal level eliminate all testing. If we have to have one have a Nationally administered and federally paid for test for Juniors in HS that can be used in part for University Admissions – eliminating the need for families to pay for SAT.

    1. Thank you for all the practical advice! NCLB also really hurt gifted education… it’s a mess. You’d think legislators would have learned by now not to meddle with what they don’t know. Thank you again for your very practical, very DOABLE points of action!

  8. I wonder what you did to address the daily writing assignments that were the real stressors in your story. The test was just the impetus to the daily prompts the students had to address. The focus on daily test preparation that caused your son such stress to bring on the tics are what we should be fighting against. It’s not so much the test I oppose as the ridiculousness that leads to the test. Opting out of the one day test doesn’t stop the real problem.

    1. I was in almost daily contact with his teacher about it. Once we realized how bad it was we discussed it with her and made it known that if he didn’t finish a prompt we were okay with it. We talked with him, as well, to relieve the pressure of writing a new paper every day. We still expected him to respect his teachers and obey in class, but the pressure of needing to churn so much out was relieved. His teachers are amazing and I don’t blame them one bit. They’re doing their best to deal with top-down marching orders.

    2. But you’re absolutely right that more needs to be done before testing day. This was my first experience with opting out and seeing how damaging the whole preparation process is. I plan on being an advocate daily now, as opposed to just the day of the test. Further up there are some excellent suggestions in a comment on how to get involved!

  9. Carma Morgan says:

    THANK you for your post!!!

  10. A standardized test in general is not the problem. The issue is the importance placed on the scores, and the amount of instructional time lost to prepare students for the “uber” important test. We’re not talking about minutes lost, we are talking DAYS and WEEKS. So much valuable time lost in the classroom? Combine that with the teacher’s planning time that is wasted to prepare for test prep. It’s ridiculous!

  11. Thank you for speaking up and for standing up! This is so relatable to so many mothers not just in TX, but in KY as well! Thank you-Please promise to keep posting about this in the future!

    1. You don’t have to ask me twice to keep talking, haha! Thanks for reading, Laura!

  12. Kayren (Norwood) Babcock says:

    YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!!! I CAN NOT EVEN TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS! Yes, I was yelling in letters, but that is because I just love this so much! This crap that our children are having to deal with breaks my heart!

  13. My daughter is in 7th grade and I’ve been seriously considering opting out next year. Im worried about the repercussions, though. For those of you with middle and high school kids that have opted out, what Texas school districts are you in?

  14. Cheri Green says:

    You go!! I lived in Texas for 45 years. I watched our educational system go down the tubes!!! Now I live in Tennessee. Their system is just as bad. My oldest dropped out of high school because they would not help him deal with issues he had. We have been finding “pieces” of the issue as we continue to work with him and encourage him to get a GED or go to an “adult high school”! Yes! For all those who were not “left behind” but really left in the dust. My second child is homeschooled. Very very good reasons!! I have given him one standardized test–to see where he fell– and he did 6 grade, 8 month. He was finishing 4 th grade! He is doing fine. Are there a few places he needs to work on? Sure! As his teacher that is for me to know and then work on those areas. As his mother I really don’t want him to experience the test anxiety I know he will have. We have to work through it! I don’t “teach to the test” because I don’t need too! My job is to teach him basic reading, writing, math, science, and how to study. He learns Bible verses, morals, and history is his favorite subject. You keep opting out!! You do what’s best for your child. I tried to work in the system with my first one and failed him while trying to uphold the failing system. It didn’t work!! Don’t make the same mistake. You know your child! You have been given a precious gift in that child! Do what you know is right!! Enjoy his laughter, his smiles, and his childhood with him. He will only have one!!

  15. Good job Mom. The only thing these tests are tied to is how much money that particular school will receive from the state and if his teacher will keep her job.
    Teaching your child when to push through and when to say no is a valuable lesson, don’t listen to the internet trolls.

  16. I’m wondering about how to get past the part where he had to write a paper every day…
    do you sign a blank sheet of paper with the title at the top and his name?
    Sit in class to make sure he gets the privileges he deserves?

    If it’s not for a grade but teachers are forcing kids to sit inside through recess and complete it… how do you save your son from that agony?

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Joe! Fortunately we have a great relationship with his teacher, and I was in communication with her as soon as I realized how outrageous it was and how badly it was affecting him. I wish I could say I realized it long before I did, but I sadly didn’t, so he didn’t have months and months of just sitting there while everyone else worked feverishly. We told him to do the best he could and to tell his teachers it was the best he could offer that day. We still expected him to listen to them and be respectful, but honestly once he found out he wouldn’t be taking the test, so much of the stress left him and the weight of those practice papers wasn’t so heavy. Sometimes he finished, sometimes he didn’t. He’d come home with papers to finish and sometimes I’d have him do it, sometimes I’d tell him he got to be a kid that afternoon and he didn’t have to worry about it. I didn’t want him to ever think we were keeping him from doing what he was supposed to or keeping him from having to work hard, I wanted him to know it was okay to work hard, but that at 10 years old it was also okay to have limits on just how hard he was worked. Once he felt free and his teachers knew how we felt and how badly it had been affecting him, there was peace. They didn’t let him slide with doing nothing, but they also didn’t push him too hard. I can’t imagine how hard of a line that was for them to walk, seeing as how they’re put under enormous pressure with those tests, too! I’m guessing that they knew he wouldn’t be taking the test so they knew it wasn’t really worth it to push too much.

  17. Kate sipe says:

    Jen, i invite you to do some research into who helped write standards, who publishes the curriculum materials, and who writes the tests. In addition, the expense of the tests.

    The public has been completely hoodwinkedto think that these tests are about children. They’re all a complex move to dismantle public education by undermining its function and perceived performance in the public eye.

    Great perspective from a mom. My heart broke reading this. I’m a teacher and could write you a mirror of giving the test. It’s equally heartbreaking.

    Oh, and it’s such a colossal waste of time that I’m sending my son on a road trip with my husband for that week and a half. 🙂

  18. Tawanna Thompson says:

    I have a grandson, who has been through alot of emotional, family changes, a single mom of 4, 6, 9 and 11 yr. Children, that works full time. (Mom is only support, other than grandparents).
    My grandsons mom received call from mom that her soon had failed the STAAR test, and will continue to be pulled from class to prep for retake, probably summer school ad suggest get a tutor.
    This puts more stress on a mom who is already stretched to the max. She has already made plans for the for children during the summer. Deposits have been made for childcare during summer,so she knows her children are in safe, enriching environments. An important camp was scheduled for older 2, that will bless them by with some emotional and coping help.
    My question is, just how important is this test, if he doesn’t take, could he repeat grade 5, which may be very ok. He is a larvery boy, so I think k they are really wanting him to go on to 6th. His grades haven’t been his best this year.
    Thank you for any thoughts, we are a little bit at wits end.

    1. Goodness, that IS a lot to deal with. Have her request that the school convene a committee to determine his advancement based on his grades and attendance. Speak to his teachers about his skills mastery vs. test-taking, they’ll know more about him and what he’s capable of than a test. If they won’t assemble the committee, have her contact the superintendent’s office. That’s an entirely different situation most people don’t consider – how the excessive test prep puts a strain on those who rely on childcare.

    2. Tawanna – I definitely understand the stress your daughter must be going through! My daughter’s dad lives in Ohio (we’re in Texas), so she spends most of the summer with him. She failed her Math test her 3rd grade year (I believe), and they wanted her to do summer school. I explained to them that she was going to be in Ohio for the summer. She ended up doing some math prep over the summer while at her dad’s and when she returned was able to take a makeup exam. I don’t think it was the STAAR that she took when she got back though…I could be wrong about that. Talk to the school and find out what the options are. If he has passed most of his grades then they might make the same accommodations for him that they did for my daughter. Good luck to your daughter and family!

  19. I’ve tried to opt out, I live in Arkansas. They told me that if I opted him out he would be held back. I fought it, called the school board, etc….no luck. He had to take it. I was not allowed to opt out.

  20. I am a teacher in Texas and have heard tales of opting out. But, I have never seen it happen. If is that easy, why in the world don’t all the parents opt out for their children? Maybe then the state would get the point.

    I am sorry for your son’s stress levels over the test prep. I can assure you that his teachers are just as stressed, if not more so, because their whole career hangs in the balance over the test! It is nothing but stress for everyone at the school. You know all those papers everyday? That poor teacher has to evaluate each and everyone every day. And I know that some parents may say that the teacher deserves that work since the teacher is the one giving the work, but it is likely a district decision not the teachers to push that each day. Imagine working 14 hour days everyday and on the weekends, just to evaluate all of that. Texas is facing a teacher shortage and a long term retention problem, and being overworked because of the STAAR test demands has caused so many to quit.

    It was not this bad under the TAKS test. I took off for 3 years and when I came back, teaching to the STAAR had completely changed the school systems. Simple pleasures and destressors for kids like a coloring sheet or allowing them to draw when their work was finished, became totally taboo. You would think coloring had become a dirty word. This was 3rd grade! If they weren’t totally engaged in some form of learning at every minute, you were marked down by your supervisors. The buzz phrase in teaching is now “Bell to Bell,” which means they work from the moment the bell rings to the moment they change to another class. No down time to reflect or take a break. There is no time for a child to be a child.

    I left that grade and am teaching Kindergarten this year where they can still have some fun. I honestly don’t think I can handle the stress of going back to a tested grade, and I have been teaching for 16 years!

    I saw another blog complaining about STAAR pep rallies and all the major rewards for success on the test. Folks, I can see districts starting to pay children with money in the future as an effort to get them to care about the test. We all but do that now with all the rewards. The situation to show progress is that desperate in schools now with schools scrambling to avoid being rated below a C. And, many parents probably don’t know this either, it isn’t just pass or fail on the test that makes a difference. It is about 57 different markers based on ethnicity, at risk, poverty, gender, and a variety of other factors that make up the score that a school now receives.

    A school that makes an A rating is in more danger than a school that makes a C. If the A school doesn’t show higher progress the next year, they can be scored down. Example: A student makes 96 on STAAR math, if that same student doesn’t make a 97 or higher the next year, the school loses points! A school is better off with the student making a 72 in 3rd and then an 80 in 4th, because they showed “growth” and this gives the school more points.

    So after that long winded rant, please parents opt your kids out of the test and save your children and your schools!

    1. That is absolutely RIDICULOUS! It’s a wonder teachers have any hair left at all! I definitely didn’t blame his teacher, I know her hands were tied – that ALL teachers’ hands are tied. It’s an awful, awful program that cannot sustain much longer.
      I wish more parents would opt out, but there’s honestly such a terrible amount of disinformation out there. I can’t tell you how much internet backlash I’ve received from people who insist I’m either coddling my child and preparing him for a lifetime of avoidance behaviors, or who passionately argue with me that you CAN’T opt out. Thank you so much for sharing your experience here, I hope many more read it and see how horrible this test is for EVERYONE involved! Well, everyone but those who hold stake in Pearson.

      1. Well Jen, I found out an unpleasant fact about opting out and why schools (that don’t agree with STAAR and there are districts that don’t agree with it) don’t hint for parents to opt out. The state still holds it against the school even if a child opts out! They take points away from the school and too many opting out can red flag a school to be examined by the state! So basically schools are danged if you do, and danged if you don’t! It’s a viscous, crazy system.

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