While I do not wish to debate whether our schoolchildren are overtested, I do feel it’s necessary to clarify some misinformation that has recently appeared in The Advocate’s Opinion section regarding the testing with the PARCC.
Before the days of Common Core and PARCC testing, each public school student in the state, in grades three through eight, was tested in the areas of English, math, science and social studies under Louisiana’s LEAP. This was operational for about 20 years.
No one had the choice to opt out of any of these subject tests.
Under the revised system for this year, students will be tested in English and math on the PARCC test and science and social studies with iLEAP or LEAP tests, which are still part of the state’s LEAP testing plan.
Same number of subjects tested, just two different tests utilized.
However, due to our flimflam governor in his quest to attract national attention regarding the Common Core standards, he is claiming that parents should have the right to opt out of the PARCC testing due to his delusions about “government mind control.” He had no such concerns about offering an opting-out option when LEAP was in full use, nor was he concerned about overtesting young children.
In fact, just after taking office, Jindal bragged about the rigorous academic accountability system in place in Louisiana, which included LEAP testing of students in five subject areas.
As the former Director of Accountability and Assessment for the New Orleans Public Schools, I agree with those who feel that young public school children are overtested and that there are better ways to assess their abilities.
However, it is important to clarify that, with the implementation of the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests, students aren’t being tested any more than previously, under LEAP, as far as the total subject areas assessed are concerned.
If parents choose to opt out of PARCC, they will have incomplete test results because English and math assessments will be missing, and this could affect federal funding for the state since it violates the conditions of the No Child Left Behind Act passed under the Bush administration and simply rebranded Race to the Top by the Obama administration.
Again, let me emphasize, I am not debating the merits of overtesting, just clarifying that nothing has changed from the original LEAP testing paradigm. The children aren’t receiving any additional testing because of the use of PARCC.
It is baffling to me that now parents are up in arms about how children are being overtested and make references to the new “hot topic” of the day that the use of the PARCC is a government takeover of education, and that parents should have the right to opt out of it.
The amount of testing this school year is no different than before Common Core and probably is in line with the standardized testing that each of us old folks participated in when we attended school. Do the terms Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, the California Achievement Tests, the Stanford Achievement Tests and the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills sound familiar?
All these tests are given so that Louisiana can assess whether or not its students are receiving an education of the same quality as the rest of the nation. From our governor’s point of view, it would probably be great to opt out of all testing. Then he could avoid the embarrassment that our children rank either 48th or 50th in reading and math skills.