Thursday, May 5, 2011

STAR Testing


We are in the midst of STAR testing now in our school district. I invite readers to go back to my earlier post on STAR testing here. If you get a chance to read it, please also see the comments that followed that post.

I see a lot of time spent on preparation for tests in our high achieving district. This year one of my son's teachers gave a practice, graded STAR test. I felt that was a waste of my son's time. Instead I would have preferred his teacher to continue teaching the content.

As Alfie Kohn says in his new book Feel-Bad Education

"The more time spent teaching students how to do well on a particular test -- familiarizing them with its content and format -- the less meaningful the results of that test. What those results mostly tell us is how well students were prepared for that test, not what knowledge and skills they have in general."



8 comments:

  1. Laura - Parent in DanvilleMay 5, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Thank you for focusing on this issue. I am curious what experiences parents out there may have had re. opting out of STAR testing. Our children are in the San Ramon Valley School District, a "high performing" district, and I can ONLY IMAGINE the response I might get if we choose to opt out... what pros and cons have parents experienced re. this...?
    Thank you!

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  2. I have opted out twice for one of my sons and there has been no backlash. Just write a letter stating you wish to opt out and follow it up with a phone call or email and you are all set.

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  3. Wow, I had no idea my son could opt out. He's in second grade and this is his first time. When testing began last week, he woke up with a stomach ache and seemed a little stressed. I told him not to worry about it too much, just do the best you can then not think about it otherwise. Teacher advised us to give him practice tests from online...almost 100 pages total. We started doing it, but no way are we going through all that.

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  4. I have been opting out my son since I moved to Danville 8 years ago. Now in middle school, this is the first year he is taking the STAR exam. He is taking it because he is old enough to understand its importance and because he can use the practice with a standardized measurement. What will we, his parents, do with the scores - nothing. What will the school do with the scores - that is the more important question. If the scores don't help with the day to day classroom instruction (which they don't), I see no need for such a lengthy, expensive, and time wasting exam.

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  5. Laura, Mom in DanvilleMay 5, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    So... a follow up.. when it's written there is no backlash... I'm curious... my sense is that the teachers would question one's decision... do the kids just not go to school those 2 weeks.. or do they go and like sit in the corner etc... I'd hate my child to wonder why they weren't taking it.... and... a question to the Mom/Dad who opted out for 8 years... how was that received?? How did you talk with him about it? I'm kinda excited about this option cause I don't like the idea of all this testing, but don't want to make it more of a problem not to do it....

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  6. The first time I opted my son out, he stayed home, but you could work that out with the teacher. Maybe your child would go to the library? This year he was ill for 5 days during STAR testing and I wrote a letter opting him out of STAR makeups. I didn't hear anything negative from any of his teachers. I think they were sympathetic because he had so much makeup homework.

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  7. I just opted out my Monte Vista high school junior for the first time -with the SAT prep and the incredible course work during junior year we felt that there was no added benefit for him to take STAR testing. I'm very involved in the school and checked in with one of the assistant principals to make sure I wasn't black listed after I sent the email stating our position - he was just fine with it. My son was relieved, got a lot of SAT prep work done during the time and was the envy of his friends! Thanks Kerry for fighting the good fight!

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  8. Opt Out Now - Ask Me How! That's our motto. We have groups promoting the idea of the 6% Club. If 6% of the student does not participate in STAR tests, the entire school's scores don't count, and THEN we could actually get some attention and some substantive discussions rolling! Best decision I ever made was to opt my kids out.

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