Over the last two weeks, as PARCC has begun in schools across Ohio and also the country, many people decided to refuse the test for their children. Many others decided to allow their children to take the tests, to see what they would be like and how their children felt about them before they made a decision. As a teacher, one of the most disheartening things that came home after the first few tests was “my kid said the tests were easy!” or “they were done in no time at all!” As a result of this situation, many parents shrugged and let PARCC go back to being a non-worry; if their kids weren’t worried, why should they be? It’s only a test, right?
Maybe, but beyond the arguments that are already being made here and abroad about the grade inappropriate questions, the fact that many kids rushed through these tests and were done in record time, and the fact that we won’t receive the actual results back from these tests until, at best (per the ODE) January of 2016, there’s another huge reason that refusing these tests is paramount, even if your kid found them to be a breeze.
Here it is: Point blank. These tests are a colossal waste of educational time. When you add up all of the time spent a) testing b) prepping for a test that is, at best, the equivalent of the Yugo automobile in craftsmanship and usefulness (full of glitches, shutdowns, crashes, error messages, etc.) c) sitting around in test groups for days, inventing busy-work to do trying to make school seem relevant because the scheduling of the test has different kids you have in class each day testing at vastly different times, and d) time spent catching your kids up on all of the things they forgot from two weeks before, you have what amounts to several weeks of time that your child hasn’t really been LEARNING anything new. Then add in the fact that THESE TESTS ARE HAPPENING AGAIN IN APRIL. THREE MORE WEEKS OF CHAOS, HAVOC AND STRESS. And odds are, you probably had no idea!
Do the math. It’s staggering just how much time has been wasted this year alone. I did an exercise recently, the results of which made me sick to my stomach, incredibly sad and extremely angry all at once. I added up all of the lessons, experiences, projects, stories, mythology and cool stuff my kids will be denied this year due to these blasted PARCC tests and made a list. Below is everything I will not get to this year that I would have normally been able to introduce my students to pre-PARCCpocalypse:
The Medieval Story of Beowulf
Selections from Norse Mythology
Western African Unit
African Tribal Mask Project
The Legend of Sunjata told in class.
The story of Mansa Musa, the Golden King
Selections from African Mythology
Islam and the mixing of African culture
Kente cloth outfit worn by me/artifacts from Western Africa
Medieval China Unit
The Adventures of Zheng He (China’s Admiral of Ocean Sea and Explorer)
Chinese Invention Unit
Chinese Travel Guide Project
Selections from Chinese Mythology
Genghis Khan and the Mongol Hordes
Medieval Japan Unit
Stories of the Samurai and Ona Bugeisha (female samurai)
Samurai Costume (worn by me)
Japanese Art and Music
Shinto Religion and Animism
Selections from Japanese Mythology
Mesoamerican and South American Unit
The Mayans, Aztecs and Inca
The Aztec Newspaper Project
The Aztecs vs. the Conquistadors
Inca Architecture and GoogleEarth Search
Inca Patterns Project
Selections from Mayan, Aztec and Incan Mythology
And there you have it. Several. Whole. Civilizations. GONE. Erased from the educational experience of my adolescent students, who thrive on visual stimulation, stories, creativity and the adventure of what World History actually is. Gone. All thanks to PARCC.
So, parents, I urge you to think on that list above and think about what ELSE your child will be missing out on in whatever their grade level may be. What about Science? How many science experiments, scientific geniuses or grand ideas will they not be introduced to? Language Arts? What poetry writing, short stories, book talks and other mind-expanding activities will they never have? Math? How much will be crammed in rather than gone over slowly and thoroughly just to make sure it’s all in there before the test? And what about the other classes not deemed test-worthy yet that bring such a huge different to the experience of a child? Art? Music? Ask yourselves that when you ponder refusing the test for your child. WHAT ELSE WILL BE GONE FROM THEIR EDUCATIONAL MEMORY AND EXPERIENCE? Things that YOU had as a child yourself as a student? Ask a teacher in private and they will tell you just how NOT on board with this train-wreck we really are. We KNOW it’s bad for your children. In order to dissolve PARCC and fight for a return to that kind of hands-on, student-based schooling, we NEED to get rid of this test. The only way to show the State of Ohio that it NEEDS to go is to make an undeniable statement. Refusal shows that you want the BEST PRACTICES back and in action in your child’s school, that you want teachers creating amazing lessons and experiences for them, not wasting weeks of time on a test that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
PARCC isn’t just a test. It’s a black hole that devours precious time, the taxpayers’ money and the REAL education of your child so that someone that isn’t you, your child or their schools can make massive amounts of money selling it. Think on that. Think on what has been lost and what is still to be lost. Then make your decision. Thank you.