Friday, March 25, 2011

In The News: Refusing The Test

This week, a story was published in the Huffington Post. A mother has decided that her children would not take part in Pennsylvania's standardized testing. Michele Gray pulled her 9 year old and 11 year old from the testing process and instead chose to home school them for the duration of the test. Gray's objection? She says that the tests cause anxiety, do not accurately measure student knowledge and are used for punitive actions against schools. And I couldn't agree more. The fact that there are parents out there that recognize that really excites me. Gray was spurred to action after reading a blog post by another opponent to standardized tests.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all said no. What if parents, as a combined force, all said no to testing? What would happen? Now, not everyone can take time off of work, or be off work in general, to home school their children for the duration of testing. But what would seriously happen if parents said that they refused to have their child tested? Would the test go on? Surely the state couldn't fail every single child if they all refused to take the test, right?

I asked the same thing about the audit. What if we barricaded the doors? What if we refused to be interviewed? What if we just said no? When I said this to my coworker, she said I sounded like one of my students. It's true though. I've had kids ask me what I'd do if all of the students in a classroom decided to refuse an assignment. I said I'd never had that happen and I doubt I ever would. The entire point of assignments is to help my kids learn. And whether they want to admit it or not, some of the little boogers actually like the assignments.

I don't know what would happen if we all said no. I don't think it's going to happen. I hope that one day the testing becomes less important. I hope that teachers are given more freedom in their classrooms to teach. I'm doing what I can to work for that change. I'm not a politician, but I've contacted some in the last few months. My only recourse now is this blog, where I exist as a semi-anonymous teacher writing for the greater good. Maybe it'll get better. I know the pendulum will swing the other way. It always does. I only hope that we've learned our lesson for the next time some brilliant person brings up testing as the best thing ever for education.


  1. a parent might be able to do that, but we can't! we can't bar the doors, because they're THEIR doors! they can throw us out through them for insubordination. they can even have us arrested for trespass. so don't go there; don't even go where i have been a lot lately, which is seriously wondering how long i can go on compromising every principle i have just to hang on until early retirement, especially when standing up for what's right and leaving would change absolutely zero (except said retirement.) this is not unlike when i was in high school in the 60s, and was actually distraught that i was lending my precious presence to this corrupt institution instead of dropping out on principle like another bright classmate did. (he's a lawyer CEO now. yeah, principled.) i honestly couldn't look myself in the face my entire senior year, but i stayed, because hello? high school dropout? thank god i didn't go there!

    and i won't go there this time, either. just don't go there; there's no there there. it will possibly come to some point when they do throw us out, but don't make it any easier for them and walk through any principled doors before then, 'k? been there; (thankfuly) didn't do that! (that time...)

  2. I'm the mother that said no to testing in PA. We did this because we believe in public school and teachers. This is the only left option left to us. What is being done with these test is wrong. It is taking money from school and kids that desperately need it and giving it to multimillion dollar companies. There is no benefit to school. And none to kids. It's wrong. I had to say no.

  3. I applaud you. Seriously. The test scores in our state were used to put twenty schools over the last two years through a demoralizing, humiliating and stressful audit that resulted in teachers being force transfered, even if they were good teachers.

  4. Good for you, Michele!


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