Parents Opt Kids Out Of Common Core And Call School Districts’ Response ‘Child Abuse’


Parents are opting their kids out of stringent Common Core state-mandated tests. What started as a small number of parents opting out to protest an unnecessary focus on standardized tests has grown to a larger number of parents who want to take their kids out of the educational rat race.

The Common Core dilemma is described by one Buffalo news source as:

Last year, the movement picked up steam as the new Common Core-aligned tests came out, fueling concerns that testing time has increased and that the tests are too difficult, putting too much pressure on children, particularly because the test results were now linked to teacher evaluations.

The opt-out parent revolution is growing—enough to cause concern in state school districts that don’t know what to do with kids who aren’t required to take standardized tests. Since parents were involved in the opt-out process in the first place, they also want a say in their child’s activity while standardized tests are in progress.

In translation, kids shouldn’t be punished for their parents’ choice to opt them out of the test. Some school districts have taken the matter quite seriously and have established policies that “require all students to remain at their desks during the testing period, which can go as long as 70 minutes, and do nothing.”

In response to this, one parent called a school superintendent a “child abuser:”

“Forcing an innocent child to sit in silence in a hard chair for prolonged periods of time with nothing to do for several days is a violation of child care laws,” Mihelbergel wrote to him.

As you might expect, parents are up in arms about children who are required to “sit and stare” after they have been opted out of standardized tests. I am still learning about Common Core as my children are not yet school-age, but I would also be irritated if my child received unfair treatment because of an educational decision that I made on his behalf.

Calling the “sit and stare” policy child abuse is a touch dramatic, but I get where the parent is coming from. Parents and school districts are in the midst of a heated Common Core debate. Opt-out kids should be accommodated without being made to feel ostracized or guilty.

(Image: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock)

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  • Theresa Edwards

    No common core in Texas yet. Just sucky education. So, breathe easy?

    • Paul White

      One of the ONLY times I’ve been glad of our state board being intransigent.

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      I thought the good parts of Texas has great edu (DUH like all other good neighborhoods…)

  • Aimee Ogden

    I don’t know what the right answer is on opting out. As an ex-teacher, I have strong anti-standardized testing feelings, but I also understand why schools want to make opting out not an attractive idea: parents who opt out tend to be more involved/higher educated/some combination thereof, and those are the students who tend to score better on standardized tests. And when school funding and teacher salary depend on those scores, well … I don’t think making small children go through an hour plus of sitting in silence is the right solution. I just don’t know what the right solution is, short of a revamp of the entire way we assess students and fund schools (I know, I know, wishes, horses, etc.)

    • bl

      I can see how they landed on “sit and stare” because I would think that the kids
      -can’t be a distraction to the other kids testing;
      -they can’t be doing such fun activities in- or outside the class that encourages opting out;
      -they shouldn’t get extra non-graded schoolwork, because that would either be considered abusive or an unfair advantage depending on who you ask;
      -they can’t fill out tests that are later discarded because their parents would probably flip and it would open the door to swap or throw out low performers’ tests and pretend they opted out too;
      -they can’t do much of anything.

      I admit to not knowing much about common core, but in my opinion, if you’re present in school that day, you take the test. Period. If a parent keeps their kid home, they should be allowed, but the kid should be marked as absent. It’s called public school; you take some bad with the good. If you want more control, go private. If you want total control, home school.

    • CW

      A lot of families are not in a financial position to be able to afford private or home schooling. You’re basically taking a “let them eat cake!” position when middle-class parents are making legitimate complaints about how taxpayer-funded schools are run. My family pays up the wazoo in taxes to support the schools- why shouldn’t our voices be heard? $25k per year per child x 3 for private school is simply not affordable to us.

    • bl

      It’s a moderate “let them eat cake” position, I think. I don’t think public schools should have a “Shut up and suck it up” attitude toward parents, but I do think parents should accept that decisions are made for the good of the entire group, not your kid or even your kid’s class. It’s simply not feasible to expect individual requests to be handled perfectly. It’s public school–for everyone together, not each person individually.

      You should absolutely complain at board meetings and use your votes to bring change, and aside from that make requests and see what the school will do. But I don’t think public school can meet all needs perfectly and allow each child to pick and choose the educational experience that’s right for them, and that’s unfortunate for people who can’t afford alternatives (including me). But that’s how life is. We make the best we can of the public school experience.

    • Mikster

      And what if the parents think that big business (publishing companies) and government just got into bed together and have created another juggernaut industry who main intent is profit, in the form of ever-changing standards, curricula and media that must be purchased, and NOT the chillun’s best interests?

    • Rachel Sea

      But standardized tests aren’t for the good of the group. It get proven over and over that they seriously fuck-up kids’ education, and yet they are the metric by which we measure the quality of schools. That is terrible for kids, and communities. If administrators and governments won’t do right thing, then parents have to.

    • bl

      And I think that’s fine. If people want to keep their kids home rather than contribute to tests they disagree with, that’s their right. I just think it’s excessive to expect the school to find some engaging alternative activity for every kid who doesn’t want to participate. If the school offers an alternate option, that’s nice of them, but not required in my opinion. I’m even OK with the sit and stare option. To me, if you show up for something, you participate in what’s going on or you sit quietly and opt out. Otherwise don’t come. But I can’t imagine taking my kid to school and telling them he won’t be participating with his class today, so please find him something to occupy his time.

    • Rachel Sea

      Keeping kids home takes money from the schools, they are not paid for absent kids. Schools have alternate activities for kids opting out of sex ed, PE, or language classes, they can have an alternate activity on test day.

    • K.

      What about community service, such as maintaining school grounds and stuff like that? You could pool all the kids who opt out together.

      (Yes, I can see the parental objections now, but I mention it because growing up, all the classes did this sort of thing once a month in rotation–like weeding the garden (we had a school garden) and picking up trash and tidying up classrooms. We also did things like make donation baskets for troops and stuff–but there’s more of a cost to that)

    • bl

      I agree. If you’re at school with a considerable chunk of time on your hands, you might as well be useful. But you’re right, some parents would go nuts, see it as punishment, or see it as beneath their kid. If I were doing this at a school, I’d offer the sit silently option or the service option, and make parents choose one and sign.

    • brebay

      Should be something academic, like researching a topic and writing a paper or giving a presentation (stuff kids used to do in school before standardized testing became the only thing that mattered), something educational, not manual labor.

    • SarahJesness

      My senior year of high school, I was taking a physics class that was mostly attended by juniors. (the science requirements had changed the year before so I suddenly had to take that class) There was one or two other senior girls there, but the standardized tests was only for juniors. So instead of the test, the teacher had us make a timeline of scientific achievements. Simple enough.

    • K.

      Sure, but it puts more pressure on a teacher who has to come up with the assignment and respond to it after it’s finished. It’s also rare that elementary school children can focus on a single project for 70 minutes by themselves. Most are not accustomed to research or working independently for that long. Some might be able to if they are in 5th grade, but good luck with a 3rd grader.

    • brebay

      If that many kids opt out, put the testing kids with one teacher and the non-testers with another. And we had to do plenty of reports in third grade…back when they still taught things besides how to pass the test!

    • Melissa T

      That kind of thinking ignores the economic realities that many parents face who can’t homeschool or go the private school route, much less take a day off of work or pay a caregiver so the child doesn’t attend school for a day.

    • bl

      I don’t mean to ignore people’s economic realities. I get it, and it sucks that kids with money have more options than those without, but that’s reality. And if you don’t have the job flexibility to stay home with your kindergartener during the standardized test days, that’s unfortunately “reality” to me. The school is offering to care for your child, provided they participate in the planned curriculum that day. To me, it’s not the school’s responsibility to find someone to babysit children while parents opt them out of regularly planned activities.

    • jane

      I am torn in the exact same way, as a current public school teacher whose daughter just took her first standardized test yesterday. On one hand, I hate the tests and think that they are virtually void of pedagogical value. On the other hand, I understand how the tests in aggregate do impact lower-income and lower-ability kids, of which there are many in my town. So do I pull her because it’s what I think is best for her? Or do I leave her to take them because it’s doing her part for the good of the whole? There is no good answer here.

    • Rachel Sea

      Currently schools get funding based on tests, but they shouldn’t. If more parents put their foot down, withdrew their kids from the test, and demanded that governments figure out how to measure a school without screwing up education with standardized tests, they’d have to.

  • Jessica

    There is a lot to say about Common Core and its implications for the education of our nation’s children, and I’ll save that for another time.
    Speaking specifically to this issue, it is unfortunate that these students are being asked to sit in silence while the other students take these tests. However, I don’t think the parents realize the amount of stress and protocol with testing days. The classroom is supposed to be silent. Teachers are given a lengthy document to sign indicating that they cannot help students with test questions. Having a kid get up to go to the bathroom requires a phone call to a teachers aid, who takes the student while his/her test is secured so it cannot be messed with. Just collecting the tests when the students are done is a carefully orchestrated procedure. So to expect the teachers to entertain students not taking the test is impossible. To expect there to be teachers available to take these kids to do something with them is also impossible- many teachers are used for small group testing during this time, among other tasks. There’s no quick answer here, but I think it reflects that opting out is a short term solution to a much greater educational issue

    • Bethany Ramos

      I have a lot to learn about this, but could kids read books during the tests, as an option?

    • Jessica

      Yes. I used to make packets of puzzles and coloring sheets (even for 4th graders) for them to do when they were done. Even with those you had to be careful that the language on them couldn’t be considered coaching for the test. Also, you had to be careful that your activity packet didn’t look so fun that kids rushed through the test to color. :) But they can read. The problem is that most younger test takers (3rd-5th grade) won’t want to sit and read that long. It will work for a little bit, but then they will be bored.

    • K.

      I was going to say that the answer is yes, technically, but for one, younger students don’t usually read for that long, and two, not all kids are big readers.

      The other thing that bothers me about this is that I don’t recall elementary grades sitting in classes for longer than 50 minutes–my kid isn’t school-age yet so perhaps it’s changed, but if so, it shouldn’t have. I taught 7th graders and their classes were in 50 minute chunks and I STILL had lesson plans that often involved them getting up and having to move in some way at least once in the class time (like getting into groups or something). Young children can’t–and shouldn’t–sit still for that long, so I think a 70 minute exam is a bad idea in itself.

    • Jessica

      I think it depends on your school, but both areas where I have taught (rural VA and urban Philadelphia) had 90 minute blocks for reading instruction. Other classes were around the 50 minute mark, but the “breaks” were minimal. This is due to the emphasis on standardized testing, where “every minute counts!” It’s stressful for everyone involved.

    • K.

      Yikes. My kids–in Jr. High, nonetheless–would be chewing the walls if I tried to have them go for 90 minutes!

      My COLLEGE kids started to get itchy around the 80-minute mark.

    • Bethany Ramos


    • crickethengineer

      I live in the Buffalo area, and it is my understanding that schools are following the sit and stare with an added, hissy-fit twist: If you decide to keep your kid home on test day so that they don’t have to sit and stare on test day, they are sent to a room when they return to school to sit and stare for the same amount of time while their classmates move on. That is retaliation against the parents, imposed on their kids.

    • Jessica

      So kids get silent detention for missing school and missing the test? That does sound very much like retribution. That makes no sense. Keeping the kids home would be doing the school a favor in a lot of ways.

    • K.

      W. T. F.

      (My mother does legal work for a non-profit that supports disability rights and therefore sues a lot of school districts. My DH is a public school teacher and she asked him once, “Um, why are principals so…stupid?” His response was, “Yeah…Cream rises to the top.”)

      I can’t…I mean…Fuuuuuck.

    • Bethany Ramos


    • jane

      That’s just not right.

    • Jen

      As a teacher in NY, I’m going to assume that’s because the children are coming back during make-up days. If a child is absent and hasn’t opted out, they miss whatever the rest of the class is doing while they take the exam. In my district, parents who opted out kept their child home for all of the testing and make-up days. It was a nightmare for the teachers to try to catch them up after missing 2.5 weeks of school. (We do teach those days)

    • crickethengineer

      There are 2.5 weeks, 12.5 days of testing? Doesn’t that seem like too many? Are they consecutive?

    • Bazcat

      My issue with the sit and stare is that they are given literally nothing to do. It isn’t disruptive to allow the opt-out students to do silent reading at their desk. I remember being allowed to have a book that I could read silently at my desk during standardized testing when I finished early. Which I always did because I am a very fast reader and I test well.

  • K.

    I don’t think the issue is necessarily with Common Core, but on the prevalence of standardized testing in general–it just so happens that we’re in the cycle of something called Common Core.

    Having kid sit in chairs for 70 minutes and do nothing seems like a “cut off your nose to spite your face” sort of solution–ie, it sounds like it’s punishing the parents and it sounds like it’s considerate of the fact that teachers are supposed to be administering the test, but did anyone consider that kids forced to sit in a chair for 70 minutes doing nothing might–just might–be a monitoring problem? This is not a solution.

    (Personally, my dream is that opting out takes on a critical mass until there aren’t enough students left taking the test and therefore no way of using it as an assessment tool or a factor in teacher evaluations/school funding. But I dream…)

  • pixie

    Ugh. I hate standardized testing, and from what I read on wikipedia, this sounds just…ugh.

    I’m all for having a guideline as to what kids focus their studies on during whatever grade level and goals for them to achieve, but each individual child is different. Some will excel above and beyond, some will struggle. Some will do excellent work in class but at the same time test poorly. I don’t know what the solution to fix education (not just in the US, but in Canada, too), but it’s not standardized testing.

    In Ontario, we have testing for math, reading, and writing in grades 3 and 6, math in grade 9, and the “literacy test” in grade 10. I don’t think we were allowed to opt out, though we were allowed to read or draw once our test had been collected. I don’t know what the teacher situation is in this case (though Jessica says it’s all hands on deck), but perhaps there just isn’t the availability to have a room/rooms with all the opt-out kids in it doing other supervised activities.

    • keelhaulrose

      I think the education system is broken at the foundation, which has been increasingly based on standardized tests. Teacher’s hands are being tied to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw standardized lesson planning in the future. Teachers, especially those in poorer districts, can hardly afford to bet their salary a new teaching strategy will work.
      The whole system (I can speak for the US only) needs a revamp. And we need to look towards other countries with better educational systems for inspiration. Unfortunately, the school districts that can afford to start remodeling themselves are the ones that are better performing already.

    • pixie

      Definitely. And while Canada isn’t quite as bad as the US, it’s no model of perfection, either.

      It also makes me sad that there’s such an imbalance of education, too. Not every child is getting the same quality or having their needs met, it’s the same here, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

    • Lilly

      it has been a while since I was involved in any standardized testing but when I did it in Ontario once you were done you went to the library to read or do homework — the librarian was then responsible for watching you — but this was in middle school (so grade 6 I guess) which would be slightly more responsible kids who could walk to the library easily, for younger kids might not be such a good plan.

      I find standardized testing so problematic — it assesses so much based on such a fallible method. I was always a really good test taker, rarely studied, have a really good memory for facts and figures so I would whip through them so quickly, whereas my sister who by most measures is smarter than me is an awful test taker, always had anxiety and often did poorly — standardized tests always brought the most anxiety out for her.

    • pixie

      We weren’t allowed to leave even in grade 10. It could have just been the schools I went to, though.

      And yeah, I never had problems with testing and rarely studied for tests and usually did well, but many of my friends and my boyfriend do not test well and get high anxiety even though they’re very intelligent people who have no problem with the material.

    • SarahJesness

      My schools never let us leave the room after testing. It was either read a book (if you brought one) or put your head down. Since testing wouldn’t end until everyone in the school finished, you could be there doing nothing for hours if you forgot a book. I usually finished the tests quickly (had no problem) so I was screwed if I didn’t bring a book, or didn’t bring enough books. (I was a fast reader. Still am)

    • pixie

      Yeah I didn’t think it was just my schools. Our teachers usually provided stuff for us if we forgot a book, but I tried to bring a couple anyways. Like you, I finished tests pretty quickly and am a fast reader.
      Or I would doodle on scrap paper.

    • SarahJesness

      I wish my school would’ve let me doodle on scrap paper after the test, but that was against the rules. And the teachers wouldn’t provide anything. I’m jealous of you.

    • pixie

      That’s depressing!
      Knowing me, if I couldn’t doodle on scrap paper, I would have done it on my skin (hell, in my first year of university I finished an exam in a half hour and we weren’t allowed to leave until the hour or hour and a half mark – I forget which – because we were in the gymnasium with a bunch of other courses, so I drew stars all over my hand and up my arm. The TAs gave me the weirdest looks when they walked by me lol)

    • Roberta

      For the Grade 10 one it is a requirement to pass it for graduation. We had many kids who would either come in from China after the testing, or fail it because they are still learning English. They would have to take it again until they passed.

    • pixie

      I know it’s a requirement and I’m not sure if I 100% agree with it. For ESL students, I do think there should be a English proficiency test, but for those who’s first language is English, I’m not sure.

  • Kelly

    The standardized testing and common core bullshit is a big part of the reason why we pulled our son out of school and started homeschooling.

    My son’s third grade teacher had been teaching for 30 years. She had a masters degree in education and was a wonderful teacher, hands down. Because of all this common core crap, she was no longer allowed to create her own lesson plans. She had to do exactly what the books said, like a robot. She even compared it to Nazi Germany.

    Plus it’s boring as hell for the children. Now, I know, there’s a brigade on here that think children should be bored in school because life is boring and they need to get used to be being bored all the time because everything sucks and is boring, blah blah blah. I’m not a fan of that kind of thinking. Maybe I’m special or just lucky but I’ve never found adult life to be a matter of sitting the fuck down, shutting up and being bored out of my mind while a bored instructor reads out of a boring book.

    • Erin

      That’s awful that your son’s teacher couldn’t plan her lessons anymore, but that was most likely a district choice, not a Common Core choice. No where in the Common Core does it say you have to teach this, in this exact way, at this time and you better not change anything. The Common Core is standards, NOT a curriculum. Unfortunately, some school districts have taken the Common Core standards and used it to create mandated curriculum and lesson plans. In my school district in NC the teachers actually have more freedom and more choice now in how they teach their lessons. As long as they are meeting the Common Core standards, they can plan and adapt their lessons for what their students need, which I think is awesome. We have a district curriculum but teachers are free to adapt and change lessons as they see fit for their students.

      I guess I just get frustrated because the Common Core standards are good, but some districts take the most Draconian positions and use it as a way to tie the hands of the teachers and students. And then that gives the anti-common core side of things even more ammunition to scream “oh my god they’re trying to indoctrinate/brainwash/destroy my child”.

    • Mikster

      I can’t see how it’s good when it[‘s eliminated Pre-Calc from it’s standards and doesn’t go much beyond Alg II

    • 1Hell

      I graduated from a school where anything beyond Algebra II was optional. It made it easier to learn Pre-Cal and Calculus because the teacher didn’t have to move ultra slowly so the students who didn’t care would absorb something anyway.

    • Mikster

      My son took AP Calc in 11th grade. No cost in high school versus well over a thousand at a decent state college for the SAME credits. Oh- maybe that’s the point.

  • Kay_Sue

    Common Core doesn’t require any testing.

    Common Core is a set of standards, a good set, in my opinion. Any testing that’s done is a separate issue.

    I’m really tired of the “Common Core means more testing” complaint…no, it doesn’t. Nothing in the CCC says, “YOU MUST TEST YOUR CHILDREN!” For that matter, neither has any curriculum, ever.

    Testing being tied to teacher evaluations is an entirely separate issue. I don’t believe in pay for performance for teachers, in large part because there are so many variables they can’t control. We also have a fairly substantial body of research that suggests that pay for performance doesn’t work. Our district will be trying out the pay for performance system next year, and it’s a horrible idea (again, in my opinion). Testing being linked to teacher pay is something that we should be concerned about, period, whether your state is one of the many that has adopted the CCC or not.

    I’m biased, though. My mom is a very good teacher (not just my opinion–she’s been recognized in her district, our state and nationally), and she loves the Core. She was one of the teachers handpicked to test drive it before they rolled it out, and she’s been in charge of helping educate other teachers–as well as helping to develop and implement it in our district. My oldest son began with the Core in kindergarten, and has continued with it in first grade.

    • Jessica

      Common Core isn’t the enemy. I agree wholeheartedly with that. All of my teaching experience was before common core even existed. We just called it something else (SOL and PSSA). The issue is the emphasis on testing to drive not just teacher salaries, but funding as well.

    • Kay_Sue

      Testing tied to funding anything is a problem, in my opinion. But that’s something that’s been prominent in American education for a while–No Child Left Behind being the biggest and most glaring example I can think of that tied the two. We believe that the almighty dollar can motivate anyone to do anything and we can’t accept, for some reason, that that isn’t true.

    • Jessica

      And the kids who get screwed in those scenarios- No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, etc. are disproportionately poor children. And then my head starts running House of Cards corruption scenarios.

    • Kay_Sue

      I know. I really wish we had a targeted resource allotment scenario–one where we considered the WHOLE CHILD, their home life, their background, etc.

      My mom taught a transitional class for first graders that should have been retained in kindergarten but were not, because their parents wouldn’t allow it. We live outside of the capitol of our state–it’s an eight minute drive from her school, over a river–and there were significant numbers of children in the class that had never crossed the bridge. They’d never been to a library or seen a skyscraper, or been to the zoo. They’d never seen the river you have to cross over.

      These children had not really experienced *anything* and they lived so close to so much. On the short list of things my kids have done just in the past six months: tubing on the river, going to the zoo, visiting the art museum, visiting the state museum, a marionette theater….the difference is astronomically huge. And it’s easy to forget that there are literally children that can’t experience these things both because their parents don’t have the funds and because they often don’t have the time.

      And these things reflect in their school performance. You need that schema to start building things on.

      And you’re right, it really is easy to picture House of Cards-esque scenarios, because it does disproportionately affect lower income families.

    • Jessica

      That reminds me of when we were taking my West Philly kids on a field trip (ironically, it was the field trip to the skating rink for a “reward” for surviving testing week) and we passed one of Center City’s horse draw carriages and the kids freaked out because they had never seen a horse before. Center city was 40 blocks away. We have a zoo. We have a huge Amish population within an hour of the school. And the most exciting think they saw that day (other than seeing their teacher break her tailbone in a super fun skating accident) was a horse.

    • Kay_Sue

      Hey, horses are pretty exciting! (says the life long horse fanatic) ;)

    • K.


      My DH used to work for a poor urban school district and all the money in the world couldn’t “motivate” the schools to begin to address all the outside factors affecting student performance (anything stemming from poverty, basically).

      …Of course, perhaps if you GAVE them extra funds so that they could start addressing those factors more effectively (such as longer and better after-school activities, funding for school supplies (hell, funding for SHOES), more comprehensive language support, more college counseling, more counseling in general to name a few), THEN maybe the scores would increase.

      Oh, but the poor must prove they’re *deserving* first, right?

      (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I believe children are *always* deserving of a quality education, so I get very angry at the idea that schools have to prove themselves worthy of funding—punishing failing schools doesn’t in any way benefit students.)

    • Kay_Sue

      Don’t apologize. I agree wholeheartedly.

      One of the reasons my mom has a heart these kids is that the first school district my parents worked at was a particularly poorly performing district in our state. The town itself was extremely impoverished. The idea that the poor have to prove themselves deserving of any help is one that I find absolutely morally repugnant, especially when applied to children who are entirely bound by the decisions of the adults around them.

    • pixie

      Yeah, from what I read (on wikipedia), there really wasn’t anything about more standardized tests, but it did mention that there will be a test. And I just dislike standardized testing in general, and it seems to be the way that a lot of school boards are leaning more towards.

      And it’s good that other teachers have your mom to help teach them the new curriculum, because I’ve heard how difficult it can be for teachers to restructure how they teach things after having learned to teach one way for a number of years. :)

    • Kay_Sue

      Change is always difficult, true. Testing isn’t part of the curriculum, though–it’s a separate issue. We tend to lump it all in together. There are tests based on the Core–and they are FUCKING HARD, I’ve taken some of the samples myself–but it’s not dictated by the curriculum itself. Having taken the test, I can absolutely understand why schools and teachers would oppose having funding and pay tied to them. But the simple fact is, taking away the Core, you’ll still have the tests–you don’t really deal with the issue itself.

      The curriculum is exactly what it is: the standards themselves.

      There’s too much emphasis on standardized testing when we know it’s not the best barometer for measuring a school’s (or teacher’s) performance–it’s simply the easiest to quantify.

    • CW

      The Federal government requires students be tested annually from 3rd through sometime in high school (my state does it through 11th). Switching from the old state standards to CC required a new test be developed because the old test reflected the previous standards (which were actually higher than CC in math).

      If I were in charge, I would replace annual tests with exit exams at the end of primary (2nd), elementary (5th), middle (8th), and high school (12th). Students don’t get to move on to the next stage until they pass (special ed students excepted, but they would get a certificate of completion instead of a regular diploma). I would not have a grade-by-grade set of standards but rather a “by the end of this stage, students will know X, Y, and Z.”

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      That’s such a beautiful dream. Then I might have some students actually capable of writing complete sentences with punctuation. But alas, it’s just a dream.. :)

  • your_fellow_patriot

    The standardized tests & tougher standards aren’t such a bad thing, as a nation America ranks pretty low. Something needs to change but Common Core is not the answer. Our kids do not need to be data mined .

  • Susy

    It doesn’t sound mean. They can lay their heads down and take a nap. Most schools dont have extra teachers just laying around.They can’t leave students who opt out without supervision and the kids who are taking the test deserve to be able to concentrate. Why can’t parents have an excused absence and keep the kids out of school until testing is done?

    • K.

      Wow–you know 9-year-olds who will sit in a chair and take 70-minute naps??

      Mine only do that when I drug them.

    • Bethany Ramos

      And THERE is the solution for the opt-out kids.

    • K.

      Nailed it!

      Call off the dogs. We’ve got it here–Common Core for some; chloroform for others.

    • Susy

      I guess I just know well behaved kids who understand rules and have self control. If they can sit quietly for 70 minutes taking the test then they know how to. Maybe they can read for some of the time or daydream?

      It just isn’t fair for the kids taking the test to fail due to distractions.

    • K.

      I’m sorry, are you a teacher?

    • Susy

      I’ve worked with kids but it was in another country so that might be why I think it is reasonable for kids to follow the rules and be considerate of other test takers. If they finish early they still have to be quiet.

      Just like church. You have to be respectful for the time you are there. Kids manage to make it through.

  • Valerie

    As far as kids opting out having to sit there for 70 minutes I am not sure what the other option is. Is the onus on the district to provide another instructor in a seperate classroom to supervise or instruct these kids while the others take their test? How can a school have the resources for that? And if it is up to the parents to opt them out than maybe that parents could keep them home that day? While I don’t think all parents should blindly accept whatever the teacher says I do think they should recognize that this testing is not the choice of their child’s individual teacher and that by making a stink for their kid they are definitely causing an inconvenience to the teacher. Who is really only a part of this whole “machine”.
    I have a daughter in 1st grade and so far, the only downside I am seeing is that they don’t seem to do much other than reading and math. It seems like science and history have become little bonus lessons they do rather than an actual part of the daily curriculum. I find that sad. History and science are pretty necessary for a well-rounded education. I do get the sense that her teacher is focusing on the areas they will be tested on and not doing much else but I am seeing my daughter grow in leaps and bounds in reading and math. Whatever they are doing it seems to work pretty well for her.
    And not to sound daft, but is standardized testing really anything new? I can remember doing the “fill in the blank” scantrons every year from a very young age- at least 1st or 2nd grade. And I also remember that we were compared as percentiles- I remember my mom telling me what mine was and what it meant. Is the issue now just that teachers are being evaluated based on the scores? Because I am not bothered by standardized testing as a means of evaulating a school to see where they need to improve but if these evaluations target and attack specific teachers that is not right. I am from NY so I grew up with quite of bit of this kind of testing and I don’t see that I sufferred any ill effects but if the test results mean that a teacher is out of a job because she had a tough class that year, well, that’s just bullshit.

    • SarahJesness

      Right now one of the big issues people have with standardized testing is how much schools are relying on it. These days, it doesn’t just affect teacher evaluation, it affects how much money the school gets. I don’t know if it was any different in your day, but schools today spend a LOT of time on it. Like, at my schools, when testing time came around, an awful lot of time was spent on teaching us “test taking skills”. (like “highlight important sentences and key phrases!” and other crap things designed to make us spend as much time on the test as possible)

      Also at my schools, you got an unlimited amount of time to take the test, and normal school day wouldn’t resume until every person in the entire school (excluding ESL students; they’d go to the library to finish if they needed more time) finished taking it. So a lot of students would have to sit there for hours with nothing to do unless they remembered to bring a book. There was one day in high school when, by the time everyone was finished, there was only an hour left for the school day! People just got lunch and screwed around until the bell rang.

  • Frannie

    As a parent of a kindergartner, the whole standardized testing thing scares me. I know DD is still too little to participate this year, but I worry for her having to do this in the future. I didn’t realize parents could opt out, but now that I know I probably will opt out when the time comes.

    • CW

      The problem is that the Feds require a 95% participation rate from each school so even if legally parents have the right to opt their kids out, their exercise of that right can put the school in hot water with the Feds.

  • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

    Can’t the kids read a book for 70 mins?

    Or sext… whatever.

  • JustaGuest

    You know, I’d kind of like to live in the universe where our biggest concern with respect to child abuse was making kids sit on chairs and do nothing for 70 minutes.

    This might not be the best solution to the opt-out issue, but child abuse? Not in this universe.

    • wonderstruck

      Exactly what I thought when I read this! Clearly the parents calling it abuse have never experienced actual child abuse, and really I think it’s insulting those who have. Child abuse is a serious term that should really mean something, and these people throw it out there like it’s nothing.

  • JLH1986

    Since teachers are likely to be busy, perhaps a parent who opted their kid out could volunteer to keep the kids in another room? I think that many kids sitting quietly for 70 minutes wouldn’t happen and it would be a major distraction to the students who are taking the test. I think another commenter mentioned perhaps using that time to do community service, either packing donations for troops or the homeless, assisting the elderly or whatever is age appropriate. A parent could supervise that for 70 minutes while the children are tested.

  • val97

    This is a little OT, but the standardized tests are so stressful and I understand why parents opt out. Most teachers would like to opt out as well.
    When my sister died, my oldest son was in 3rd grade and right in the middle of the tests required for admittance into 4th grade. I called the school and explained the situation and asked if he could retake the final tests at a later date. They said no. They did not want to give me any alternative, and I was too upset to argue with them. So I booked our flights to the funeral around the tests. It was ridiculous.

  • ted3553

    In Canada we have similar standardized testing every 3 years. My mom who was a teacher, opted out because of her feelings about it so she just let us stay home in grade 6 and 9. It seems to me that there’s another option for kids who aren’t going to write the test like sending them to the library rather than sit in a class doing nothing for 70 minutes. It’s far from abuse however.

  • wonderstruck

    I really don’t understand what people’s problem is with standardized testing. OMG, you can’t expect them to pay attention for that long? Too much pressure! Stress! They don’t test well! Blah blah blah….guess what, people? School is meant to prepare your child for college and the rest of their life. I promise you that at some point in their life your child will face a tough dealing at work, or finals and midterms at college, or whatever. Would you prefer that they have absolutely no preparation for the real world??

    • Rachel Sea

      It’s not the test taking that is so bad, it’s that schools have to reshape their curriculum so that kids test well, which means they don’t get full rounded educations. Graduating seniors entering the college in my community used to test 80% into English 1A, now only 14% test in, the rest have to take remedial English.

      Because of a clerical error, I took English 1A twice, once in 1999 went I first went to the local junior college, and again in 2008. In 1999 the class was slightly more difficult and advanced than my 12th grade English class, in 2008 it wasn’t nearly as hard as my 7th grade English class, and most of my classmates were struggling, even with that. I was frustrated and furious, and spoke with the Dean about it at length – and he showed me the statistics and scores. They would need to invent another 3 levels of remedial English to get kids to the expected level of 15-20 years ago, so everything is being dumbed down.

      So the majority of 18 year olds cannot test into a class that would have been too easy for 12 year olds, 20 years ago, and that is the new normal, thanks to teach-to-the-test curriculum.

    • SarahJesness

      At my high school, if you weren’t taking the advanced classes, you were getting a crap education. It sucked. Last semester, as part of a (college) assignment, I had to grade PowerPoint assignments made by other groups of students. Two of the three had REALLY terrible grammar and spelling, and other types of problems. Each group had six people, so SOMEONE should’ve been able to catch ‘em. And this was a Biosciences II class. Most of the students taking it were attempting to get into medical school.

    • pixie

      Except there are countries where they have zero standardized testing and they don’t seem to have any problems with the real world. Finland being one of them and their students are some of the top scoring in the world when it comes to literacy and math. There’s other ways to teach the importance of deadlines and midterms and finals in university than standardized testing.

  • Larkin

    Why couldn’t the opted-out kids just… bring a book? Or work on existing homework? Like study hall. That seems like common sense. How odd.

  • evilstepmom

    Maybe I missed something.

    How is “READ A BOOK” not an option?

  • brebay

    Is the chair any less hard if you’re writing than if you’re just sitting?

  • SarahJesness

    “Child abuse”? In my middle and high school, when we were taking the standardized tests, normal school day would not resume until everyone in the whole school was finished with the stupid tests. And the school and teachers encouraged kids to spend as much time as possible on them. And if you finished before other students, you had to sit at your desk and couldn’t do anything but read or put your head down. If I finished the book(s) I brought, or didn’t have time to get one from the library beforehand, I’d just be sitting there for hours with nothing to do. REALLY sucks and it’s totally stupid, but calling it abuse is insane.


    As a parent I can’t stand the emphasis on testing. Last fall my daughter sustained a serious concussion. She was gone from school for a month before being allowed to try half days. She had a note from her neurologist that said no homework and no testing while on half days. Her teacher asked if we could leave her at school until 1,a little over a half day, so she could take the state math & reading tests with her class. I reminded the teacher there was to be no tests, and was told the tests were mandatory. I called the principal, who told me the state tests didn’t fall under the excusable note because the tests weren’t for a grade. I understand the district needs kids to take the tests, especially high-performing kids. But a child who is recovering from a concussion? At that point she couldn’t read for 20 minutes without developing a headache! I wound up calling the neurologist and having him excuse my daughter from another week, since the school was adamant she take the test. The whole episode was ridiculous.

  • AP

    So here’s what I don’t get. Most people are opposed to standardized tests because of the damage they do to the curriculum over the course of the year- it’s not the test itself that’s harmful. Why make the kid sit through months and years of test prep that’s harming their education without complaint, and then make a fuss about two hours of filling bubbles?

  • Alfreda Wells Morrissey

    Why can’t they just sit and read a book?

    If it were me I wouldn’t mind sit and stare anyway, I would just sleep at my desk or daydream, but having the option to read, write or draw/color would make it a non-issue.

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