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Monday, April 8, 2013

Why my son (and daughters) will be taking the PSSA

I was going to let the viral opinion piece by Kathy M. Newman entitled I won't let my son take the PSSA slip away without nary a nod, but it kind of has me pissed.

My son, like Newman's, isn't a big reader. He doesn't read for pleasure. He reads because I require him to. While I realize that it is Newman's prerogative to opt out I think she fails to provide all the facts.

An opt out is recorded as a failure to the administering district. If less than 95 percent take the test, the district doesn't make adequate yearly progress (AYP) for participation.

It's ridiculous that religious reasons are cited for the opt out. My bible doesn't promise a stress free life. Newman calls her act a "civil disobedience". Fantastic. Here's hoping that Jacob doesn't grow up thinking that rules don't apply to him and that he never has to do anything he doesn't want to do.

Evaluations and assessments occur. They happen in school. They happen in the work place. They happen throughout our life. They are not new. Whether we agree with them or not we can't "opt out" without penalty.

We don't get to stay in the library and read for pleasure while the rest of our coworkers travel to Asia. We don't get to skip required paperwork at our job because we find it stressful and unneccary.

I think Newman's opt out sends the wrong message to her son. It says "You don't read well, we know you won't pass, so why not just skip it." At least that message is accurate, his opt out will be recorded as a failure.

Do I think a student's true knowledge is measured by a standardized test? Of course not. Do I think said tests should be tied to teacher evaluations? What does the art teacher have to do with a student's understand of math? The way things are currently, that's how the dominoes fall.

The system is flawed, but opting out will not make it better.

Contact your local legislator and complain.

Vote for public figures who have the power to change these things.

Or you can just "opt out" on real change and sit in the library reading for pleasure.

1 random thoughts:

Kathy N. said...

Dear Kisatrtle: I'm sorry you interpreted my decision as a purely personal one. I do understand the impact that my choice will have on my school, but my school is already being labeled a failure by NCLB. My choice is a protest against a broken system, and a way to say "stop" to my school, my district, my state and my government. If you and your readers share theses concerns urge you to join the national movement against these tests at Thanks, Kathy

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I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some meant some comments.
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