My daughter’s (and next year son’s) school’s Parent Teacher Organization decided they needed to stay something about standardized testing (see below).
Here is my response:
A few corrections…
- HISD has not eliminated mandatory benchmark tests. Our campus is taking 4 snapshot and a full practice STAAR this year and many schools are doing many more.
- HISD eliminated only one assessment and that was the Iowa — the only quality, norm-referenced test given in the district.
- HISD changes in promotion requirements are temporary for this year and only due to delayed test results by the state; this change did not reduce the amount of standardized testing.
- HISD reduced the weight of tests in teacher evaluations only after a lawsuit was filed; this change did not reduce the the amount of standardized testing.
- None of these changes were made as a result of “dialogue” or “advocacy” on the part of this PTO or any other organization.
A few questions regarding the record of growth and achievement…
- Are there more or less hours of standardized tests today at our school than 5 years ago? Answer: More.
- Are there more or less Montessori schools in HISD than 5 years ago? Answer: Less.
- Has our school increased or decreased in state standardized testing pass rates in Reading over the last 5 years? Answer: Decreased.
Relating to “Implement state-mandated assessments in such a way that the character of the Montessori program is not compromised.”
Here are some things teachers have said in lower and upper elementary classrooms at GOMM this past year:
- ”Come on, people, it’s almost test season. After the break, it’s going to be real tests.”
- ”You are going to need to know this for the STAAR. It will be on the test. I suggest you listen.”
- ”You guys, you have to get 60% or better on these STAAR tests or else you’ll go to summer school or repeat [your] grade.”
Does this sound like a minimal or passive administration of a required assessment? No.
Our school is not immune to the pressures of high-stakes testing in our district. Our trustees are not interested in changing this culture. Our teachers and administrators are being unfairly stressed by these flawed and culturally-biased tests and our students feel the impact. Opting out is a way for parents to reclaim our classrooms for the good of our students and on behalf of the talented and dedicated professionals our Montessori campus is blessed to have.
The role of a PTO is to bring parents together and engage them with the school—to make the school the best it can be. Over 20 schools last year had students opting out, but GOMM’s PTO has the only Executive Board that feels compelled to take a “position” on opting out. Why? Isn’t there room for all parents to advocate for their children in the way they feel is best for them? I think so.
Maria Montessori said that “Before elaborating any system of education, we must therefore create a favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts. All that is needed is to remove the obstacles.”