I had to do something. So I started to research. I had been working with the school system myself for over a decade and was very aware of the detrimental affects of standardized testing on public education as whole. But this was the first time that I saw the emotional and physical affects. As a mother, I had to keep my daughter's spirit up while trying to get through the mountains of useless and irrelevant work that she was given. It is hard to be honest to a nine year old about the unfairness of the system, while at the same time, having her complete the work given to her. I felt put in the middle. I wanted to teach my daughter the value of perseverance, getting through things that aren't immediately gratifying and developing endurance and work ethic BUT the repetitiveness, lack of creativity and drilling of information was just unacceptable practice. I began to have more conversations with her about what was happening in the classroom and was appalled at how "teaching to the test" had truly become the norm.
Though I had read many scholarly articles about how standardization was taking over our schools, I now had my daughter's beautiful heart as the catalyst to DO something about it. I began really digging into the intricacies of the laws, seeing what other districts were doing, connecting with other concerned parents and got poised to make the best decision ever.
I confirmed with the principal at her school and the administration of the RPS district and learned that YES, in fact, I could opt my daughter out of these terrible tests. And so I did. I also tried to get other parents to join in this act of civil disobedience. I had many parents cheering me all the way, but in the end, my daughter was the only one at her school that was opted out.
She moved onto the fourth grade without issue. She has been involved in programs that requested SOL scores that after a short explanation gladly allowed her to be a part of the program.
This year, there seems to be more and more interest in joining the Opt Out movement, and hence, here is my contribution.
It is my wish to open the dialogue, to let parents understand what THEY can DO and to also allow schools to protect themselves in the wake of our decisions to take back our schools! Please share your story. Let's get motivated. Let's get moving. RVA - if there is any place that can do this, WE CAN DO THIS! Let's take back OUR SCHOOLS! Let's get SMILES back into the classrooms!