Parental Involvement Should Not Be This Hard

All students in grade 9 are expected to be present at school to take the exam. Absences on the testing day will be counted as a school absence and students will be responsible for making up the test.

- Granada Hills Charter High School

For two mornings this week my child will not be learning anything in school. She will not have class time with a teacher, benefit from a stimulating classroom discussion or prepare for her AP test in May. Instead, she will have to sit in front of a computer screen taking a test that which will help “prepare students for computer based standardized tests and other adaptive tests.” This is not exactly a task that will contribute to a “student-centered environment in which all students will develop academic skills, practical skills, and attitudes to enable them to be successful lifelong learners and productive, responsible citizens in a diverse society.” However, I do suspect that it is geared towards preparing students to get better grades on the state mandated tests so that the school can flout these scores in their public relations materials.

Standardized testing has become so ingrained in the school experience that Granada maintains a testing office which is supposed to be the point of contact for parents with any test-related concerns. While the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools claims that the schools they represent “foster a partnership between parents, teachers and students to create an environment in which parents can be more involved,” a phone call to the testing office showed how this partnership is an illusion. First I was told that the Common Core opt-out form that we have filed with the school does not cover these tests because they are not state mandated. When I asked what form would be needed to opt-out of this test, I was told that I could just keep my daughter home that morning. This immediately raised a red flag and I asked about the email’s statement that “students will be responsible making up the test”. I was told that this is no different than any other test. So much for an honest relationship with parents.

I pressed again about a way to invoke my rights as a parent and the administrator tried to change the direction of the conversation. Still not realizing that my primary concern is the proliferation of standardized testing, he stated that this test had nothing to do with the Common Core. I questioned this, pointing out that the school itself describes it as “Common Core Aligned Testing.” His explanation was that the test was developed over 30 years ago and that they just made sure that it lined up with the new standards. Tired of being lied to, I told him that I would be reviewing my options and would get back to him. He thought that meant that I was reconsidering my opposition to the test and told me that all the information I needed was on the school’s web site.

Any possibility that I would relent on this fight was removed when my daughter came home from school on Friday. Despite the fact that the e-mail the school sent states that “scores on these assessments do not affect student’s grades in any way nor will they become part of the student’s cumulative record,” her English teacher had told the class that the results would be included in their grades. Placing this undue pressure on the students is another reason that I oppose these types of tests. My daughter will not be taking this test.