Take it from parents: teenagers are people, not data points

A Blog Post by Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto, members of PAA-Connecticut.

Ask any parent, high school student or teacher- 11th grade is hell. Aside from the heavy course-load, juniors have to suffer through a litany of standardized tests- and these ones count: SATs, SAT subject tests, ACTs, APs.

Could anyone make junior year any worse? Why yes! Thank President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Governor Malloy, Commissioner Pryor, the State Board of Education and Connecticut’s esteemed legislators. They all pushed and/or voted to make the Common Core State Standards Connecticut law.

As we all know, the CAPT test, the only state standardized test in high school, is administered in 10th grade. That test will now be replaced by the Common Core test, which will now be administered in 11th grade.

Would anyone who has any familiarity with high school ever be moronic enough to add ANOTHER standardized test to 11th grade, losing weeks of learning time and adding stress to the pressure cooker that is junior year?

Of course not- but then again, students, parents and teachers were never consulted before the Common Core was rammed down our throats.

What could possibly be the justification for this move to eleventh grade testing? That “we” want to make sure students are “college-ready?” Do people really think that a standardized test, scored in a seconds by a computer, will tell us whether a student is ready for the research, writing and in-depth learning she will face in college? Rather than imposing tests that pretend to measure whether they are college-ready, leave our kids alone- they already have enough exams on their plate. We want them to be well-rounded, healthy individuals, with time for extra-curricular interests and yes, even a social life.

Defenders of the Common Core, a set of standards written with virtually no teacher involvement, like to claim that its critics are right-wing nuts or left-wing nuts.

But we aren’t. We are parents, who care deeply about education and learning. We also love our children and unlike the geniuses that thought it would be a bright idea to add another round of high stakes testing in junior year, we understand their social and emotional needs.

When Sarah told her junior daughter that the Greenwich Board of Education had planned Common Core Alignment Testing to gather data for the State Board of Education this month, while she was also going to be taking AP Exams and preparing for the SAT, she said, “That’s just disrespectful.”  She is right.

We adults expect respect from our teenagers. But to earn their respect, we must show them the respect they, too, deserve. Expecting them take an assessment test for data purposes when they are already facing so much pressure is not only disrespectful, it is unhealthy.

Greenwich parents rebelled and Greenwich was allowed to opt-out of testing – for this year. But just for this year. Meanwhile, across the state, juniors in other districts are suffering.  Parents in the wealthy suburbs had better wake up and smell the coffee. This testing madness is coming for your kids, too.

As adults, we should be modeling balance for our kids, not cruelty and insanity. The rate of suicide for the 15-24 age group has nearly tripled since 1960. Is it any wonder when the State Board of Education and the National Secretary of Education treat our already stressed out teens like lab rats instead of human beings?

This is not a partisan issue. This is a conflict between those driven by ideology alone, who clearly will never live with the consequences of their policies, versus those who live with children in our public schools.  And for those of us who teach in, learn in or have children in high school, no matter what our political affiliation, it is time to rise up and shout: “Enough is enough!”

Wendy Lecker, Sarah Darer Littman and Jonathan Pelto are public education advocates and commentators.  In addition to their pieces here at Wait, What? you can find many of Wendy’s commentary pieces at the Stamford Advocate and Hearst Media Group papersand Sarah’s commentary pieces at CTNewsjunkie.

For the full post go to: http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/05/03/take-it-from-parents-teenagers-are-people-not-data-points/
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