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  • wnelson20

To Test or Not to Test

I talk to a lot of parents who are concerned about the state standardized testing that goes on at most schools. They worry about how the testing will affect their child and whether it's really necessary.

According to the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), school testing is required by law. They claim that "it helps ensure all public school students receive a quality education, no matter where they go to school, because they are measured to equal standards." Unfortunately, what they neglect to mention is that a student who is unable to read the test questions will be unable to answer them correctly, even if they know the correct answers. Many students who receive accommodations like text-to-speech in their everyday classroom do not receive the same accommodations during state testing.

I often recommend that parents choose not to have their children participate in state testing, either by opting-out or keeping their child home from school on testing days. This does affect the school's overall results, as "[s]chools and districts that fall below a 95 percent participation rate on state tests jeopardize eligibility for any state or federal awards or recognitions." It all comes down to funding in the end, but is that a good enough reason to put your child through what may be a traumatic experience that won't provide a reliable measure of their abilities?

If you're not sure whether to have your child participate in state testing, talk to their teacher about your concerns. Then, talk to your child about their feelings related to tests. Realistically, there will be times when they can't avoid testing, so it's good to have them go through the experience. However, they also need to know that test results mean almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. They can bomb every test they ever take and still be a successful, worthwhile person.

Ultimately, it's your decision whether or not to have your child take a state standardized test. A number on a page is never going to show you the most important qualities that your child possesses - all it does is tell you whether they're good at taking tests.

Please comment below with your thoughts on state testing or anything else related to reading.

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