Amy Frogge is a member of the Metro Nashville school board. She was elected despite being outspent 5-1 by the corporate reformers who are trying to take over local and state school boards. Amy didn’t know anything about corporate reform when she decided to run for school board. She is a mom of children in Nashville public schools, and she is a lawyer. She went door to door and won her race.
Once she became a school board member, she realized that much was wrong. The charter industry was targeting Nashville, threatening to skim off the students they wanted and to reduce the funding for public schools. State-mandated testing, she discovered, was completely out of hand, a time-wasting burden to children and an unnecessary financial drain on the district’s schools.
This post has been widely shared on Facebook. Here, she explains why parents must get involved and act to defend their children from the unnecessary and excessive standardized testing to which they are subjected.
So to clarify the problem, let’s consider some facts:
1. The average school in Nashville will lose 6-8 weeks of valuable instructional time to standardized testing this year.
2. My 9-year-old third grader will spend more time taking standardized tests this year than I spent taking the LSAT to get into law school.
3. This year, children in grades 3-5 will be expected to sit still for two and a half hours on one day alone to fill in bubble tests.
4. This year, third graders will be expected to type multi-paragraph responses to essay questions and perform sophisticated manipulations on the computer screen in order to even complete the tests.
I have to pause here to ask: Do the people who developed these policies have children- or have they even spent any time around real children? I don’t know about you, but my third grader does not yet have proficient typing skills, and he’s among the lucky MNPS students who use a computer at home. Over half of MNPS students do not have home computers, and because of ongoing funding deficits, public schools do not have all of the technology they need to allow every child time to practice as necessary.
Furthermore, as for all the so-called “accountability” generated by standardized testing, here are a few more facts:
1. The results of this year’s standardized tests will not be available until NEXT YEAR, when the students who took the tests have moved along to the next teacher and grade level- and sometimes the next school.
2. Test questions and responses are not available for review by teachers, parents, or students. In other words, the standardized tests upon which we are basing EVERYTHING are like a black box. How do we know the tests are even correct or appropriate when only the testing company has access to the information contained in them? (Luckily, a new bill is pending that might change this.)
3. About 70% of Tennessee teachers will be evaluated using test scores of children they have NEVER taught. (Stop and read that one again. Yes, it’s true.)
4. There’s plenty of research questioning the validity of using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Research demonstrates that test scores are primarily influenced by out-of-school factors; only 7-13% of variance in test scores is due to teachers. (Haertel, 2013)
Why do I know all of this is wrong? Is it because I am a lawyer? Is it because I am a sitting board member who has spent years now considering education policy? Is it because I’m a genius?
No, it’s because I’m a mom. Also, I would like to think I have some common sense.
Those who say the tests help teachers help children are wrong. The results are not reported until the student moves on to another class. Furthermore, the results tell how children rank, but that does give the teacher useful information. Those who want to rank teachers by test scores don’t know that 70% of the teachers don’t have annual test scores and will be judged by the scores of students they never taught.
What can parents do?
OPT OUT. Refuse the tests. Tell the school that you will not allow your child to take the tests. They do not help your child. They do not improve teaching and learning. They make big money for testing companies, and they label most children as failures.
JUST SAY NO!