|Updated: 11/06/2013 5:52 pm
||Published: 11/06/2013 2:18 pm
Deedra Barnes' daughter was in third grade, and she was already having extreme anxiety over state tests.
"She was praying that night, before her test, and she said, 'God, please let me do my best on my test tomorrow, so I don't have to go back through third grade.' At that point, I thought, 'This is personal with me," Barnes told FOX23.
So, the Jenks mother of three started doing some digging, and she discovered her children were not only taking required high stakes tests. The state was also requiring students to take "pilot" or "field" tests. Those are tests designed by the testing companies, like McGraw Hill or CTB, to determine how well their test questions work.
"There's no grade that is given for that test. It's basically our student is being used as a subject," Barnes said.
She also told us the additional 90 minute field tests are being given on the same day as the high stakes required tests, adding 90 minutes to the testing period. Barnes found out no one is required to take these pilot tests. Parents can "opt out" on behalf of their children. So, Barnes sent home a letter to all 1,625 students at Jenks Middle School, explaining parents' rights to opt out. She says more than 800 parents signed and returned the letter, exercising their right to have their child avoid an unnecessary test.
FOX23 talked to Principal Rob Miller off camera. He's still in hot water with the state over the whole thing. He tells us he did not encourage parents to opt out, but he was honest with them, when they asked about the field test, and whether there would be consequences for choosing not to take them.
Parents can not opt their children out of all state tests. The state requires students in third grade through eighth grade to be tested in math and reading. Students in fifth and eighth grades are required to be tested in science. High school students must pass four out of seven End of Instruction exams. We found out if a school does not have 95 percent of students participate in high stakes testing, the state will drop that school a letter grade.
We found Miller's blog, he talks about school letter grades, all the testing, and all the rigor. He tells FOX23 the push to "Opt Out" is really growing in New York. Test scores there plummeted when they rolled out Common Core Standards. Now parents are opting out of the high stakes tests, realizing their schools' letter grades will suffer, but they don't care, because they've lost faith in the entire system.