We are writing to inform you that our child, ____________, will not be participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment to be administered this spring.
We have made this decision for the following reasons:
- The SBAC does not provide useful information to teachers, students, or parents. Receiving a single score of 1, 2, 3, or 4 tells us nothing of our child’s strengths, challenges, or misunderstandings in Language Arts or Math. Rather, we get ample information about our child’s progress from her teacher.
- The SBAC is a misuse of instructional time. The test is inappropriately long. It takes at least 8 hours, even for 3rd graders. This is longer than the SAT and ACT combined, and does not even include the hours needed for practice tests and test-prep activities. This time comes at the cost of meaningful learning experiences that teachers have had to cut out to accommodate testing.
- High Stakes tests are an inappropriate way to rate teachers and schools. Test results consistently reinforce the misguided notion that schools that serve a large number of students living in poverty are “bad” schools, while schools that serve mostly upper-income students are “good” schools. We have seen many schools in our community lose support, and then suffer through prescriptive, top-down “interventions” in a myopic effort to raise test scores. Furthermore, evaluating teachers based on test scores, as is currently required by Oregon law, penalizes those who work with the populations that most need a stable and experienced teaching staff. We conscientiously object to this system, and do not give consent for our child’s test scores to be used to evaluate her teacher or rate her school.
- High Stakes testing is a tool being used to privatize schools and diminish public education. Standardized test scores have been widely used to justify the closure and privatization of public schools, especially in low-income communities. At the same time, corporations profit from selling increasingly expensive tests and education products touted to raise scores. We can not in good conscience participate in a system that is being used as leverage to dismantle public education.
We have included the ODE opt-out form, but please note that we do NOT agree with the statement that appears above the signature line. It reads, “I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English Language Arts and Math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning.” We have complete faith in our child’s teacher to provide us with ample information about her progress, which is far more valuable than the single number we may receive months after the SBAC is administered. We are disturbed that the district would threaten to renege on its obligation to “equitably distribute resources and support student learning” if parents chose not to participate in a flawed testing system left over from the disastrous policies of NCLB. HB 2655, the Student Assessment Bill or Rights, clarifies that parents have the right to chose not to participate in standardized tests, and the state, district, and school have the obligation to honor this decision, without threat to a family or a school.
With the end of NCLB, our state has the opportunity to create a new vision for accountability in our schools. We hope to see a system that holds government accountable for fully funding schools, that commits to ending child poverty so that students can focus on learning, and that prioritizes relevant learning experiences before standardized testing.
We realize that opting out of this test is not itself the solution, and that we are already making progress away from the misguided testing system which has done much harm to our nation’s public schools. By opting our child out of the SBAC, we intend to be part of the continuing momentum to create a system based on supporting students, teachers, and public schools, not ranking and sanctioning them.