The plan for spring testing in Louisiana is a mess right now. Teachers have been preparing students for PARCC testing, but are the children ready?

Some parents are going to opt their children out of the high stakes testing. Even Governor Bobby Jindal is telling parents they have that option. He's calling on BESE to offer alternative testing to those students. But BESE members don't have a meeting planned in February to try to fix the problem. The testing is to begin in March.

This is part of one letter written to the school board in St. Tammany Parish:

I am writing to you in order to express feelings that I’ve had for some time regarding PARCC testing and Common Core State Standards as they relate to my own children in the school system.

I have four sons in the St. Tammany Parish school system.  They are in first grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, and a senior in high school.  My husband and I have invested our careers in this system as teachers and school leaders.

I am compelled to write because I am, as of now, strongly considering opting my children out of all PARCC testing.  As the testing coordinator of my school, I have had the opportunity to participate in testing workshops and trainings offered by the parish.  I have been researching this test and the policies, development, administration, and scoring of it for months.  I am very suspicious of what we are calling the PARCC test, which is planned for Louisiana students.  I have been in touch with Pearson and DRC in an attempt to learn more about our version of this test, with no success.  Both companies have remanded me to the state department of education, which will not address my questions regarding opting out, the absence of a relationship between Louisiana and Pearson (the exclusive publisher of the PARCC test), and the how Louisiana will procure PARCC questions, since we have no contract with Pearson.  Instead, I received a threatening email from the state suggesting that my children would be considered truant if they did not participate in testing.  I have no intention of keeping my children home from school during testing days.  This communication by the state seemed to me to be a “smoke and mirrors” strategy designed to intimidate and distract, and I found it offensive.

I am suspicious of this test because my understanding is that it has been developed and field tested here in Louisiana.  How can a test field tested and developed in Louisiana possibly be comparable to the testing and achievement of children around the country in states who truly are members of the PARCC consortium?

Another question that I struggle with is the assumed assignment of zeros for students who do not participate in testing.  While I understand this will have no bearing on the individual child, the assignment of any score other than a null seems to me specifically designed to skew data and create the appearance of failure.

I have other questions which I’ve been mulling over:

What is this bad testing costing our taxpayers?  Is this a wise use of resources when over half of our children are living in poverty and have real needs that this testing will not address?

Are parents going to be given more information regarding their rights to opt out?  It is my belief that we may see many parents who choose not to have their children participate in testing.

Who benefits when our schools and teachers are unfairly portrayed as failing?

Finally, how did any of us ever become critically thinking, literate adults and successful, ethical individuals without excessive testing in our formative years?  My understanding is that our children will be expected to participate in more testing time than I spent on Ph.D. level comprehensive exams, with no valid research to support such practice.

Will the BESE board collaborate with one another and have the moral fortitude to do what is right for our children and educators by eliminating the misleading letter grading for schools, the terrible plan of assigning zeros, the inappropriate Common Core Standards, and the shady LA PARCC test?

I am considering opting my children out of testing because I feel that this “test” is bad science which will not serve their needs.  I believe that it has the potential to harm them.

I am very sad that the leaders of our state would work to actively punish my children’s teachers and the wonderful schools in our district because of parents’ decisions, over which they have no control.  Our schools exist to meet the needs of our children, not the other way around.

In my opinion, we should eliminate all testing this year.  It has been, and continues to be a debacle.  Not testing for one year, so we can prepare more thoughtfully for future assessments will have no ill or lasting effect on our students, and will certainly relieve our teachers, who continue to struggle with the uncertainty of the state of testing in Louisiana.

Sincerely,

Jessica Stubbs, Ph.D.

BESE Member Jane Smith tells KEEL News some members of BESE and Superintendent John White are "trying to cram this down our throats." She says teachers are confused, parents are confused and no one knows what is going to happen this spring.

getty images

Find out more about the testing with the informational guide.