Opting Out Shouldn't Be An Option
It's that time of year again, STATE TESTING for grades 3-8, in New York. No one likes to take tests, especially long, 2-3 hour tests, but its part of life. There are some parents who started a movement a few years ago to opt their children out of taking the state test. It was a big thing around here. However to opt your child out of the test you couldn't just keep them home that day, you needed to write an opt out letter and they still had to go to school. Those students whose parent opted them out of the test still have to sit in a room quietly reading for 2-3 hours so as not to disturb the rest of the building students taking the test. The thing that kids don't understand is that they can't just opt out of tests for the rest of their lives. Taking the state tests in grades 3-8 is practice for what is to come. I don't think the test needs to be 2-3 hours long at that age. I think they should start small and work up to a longer test. New York State Regents exams are 2-3 hours long and high school students take them. The SAT is 3 hours long, again for high school students. I think at elementary age an hour test would suffice. Then at middle school a 2 hour test. This would build their stamina and start preparing them for high school exams.
We have never let our children opt out of taking the state tests. We tell them it's good practice and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. We took them when we were in elementary school, back in the ice age, ha ha. But seriously, you can't opt out of test all your life. If you want to drive a car you need to take a permit test and a drivers test. If you want to graduate from high school you need to take final exams. If you want to go to college you need to take entrance exams. If you want to graduate from college you need to take final exams. If you want to be come a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a veterinarian, fire fighters, police officers, a construction worker, a plumber, an auto mechanic, a computer programmer, a secretary, even an athletic trainer you will need to take some type of test to become certified in that field. You need to know how to read, write and do math. In every day life you need to know those skills. And I know some teacher family and friends are going to hate me for this but teachers too need to be tested and graded by their students test results. In most jobs you take tests regularly to advance in your field and even to keep your job. Teachers should not be an exception.
A few years ago I compared the "Opt Out Movement" to "breast feeding." Some people got very offended by that statement. All I was saying is that there are 2 sides to the both and each side thinks the other side is crazy and wrong. The "Opt Out" parents and the "breast feeding" moms are very judgey of the people who have their kids take the test much like the moms who bottle feed. When in fact it's your right to have your own opinion, just dont' shove it in my face.
By writing this, I'm not trying to shove my opinion in any ones face, it's just that time of year again and it got me thinking again. Especially because my youngest is in 7th grade now, and came home insisting that she was going to "Opt Out" of the state test. I of course told her, "no, our family doesn't opt out," and continued to explain to her what I said above. You can't opt out of life.