10 Reasons to Refuse the PARCC Test for Your Child: Maryland parent on opting out of high-stakes testing

TakePart.com ran an article by Joseph Williams titled, “Boycotters Might Be Winning the Battle Over Standardized Testing.” In that article he writes:

“In districts across the nation, from Florida to Alaska, the grassroots push for a rollback in high-stakes testing has gained momentum, and a broad coalition of parents, teachers, and advocates are poised to take advantage, even if it means an end to federal grants in tight fiscal times.”

He can now add Maryland to his list.

My good friend Michele Bollinger just sent me a copy of a statement to publish (see below) of her intention to respect her daughter’s wishes not to take the new Common Core high-stakes test—and why other parents should join this opt-out movement. Michele is a teacher in Washington, D.C. and was my mentor to becoming a social justice educator when I first began my teaching career in that city. Michele is also the editor of the young adult textbook, 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History.

Here now is Michele’s statement and ten reasons parents should join this growing opt-out movement:

As a parent and educator, I cannot stay silent as PARCC testing begins around the country. After much discussion within our family, our 5th grader has decided to decline the PARCC exam. We agree with her and have expressed our refusal to consent to testing to her school. Here are some of the reasons why.

It is easy to feel alone in this, but people are standing up to high stakes testing all around the country right now. If any Maryland residents, especially those in Montgomery County, Maryland are interested in declining the PARCC exam, please contact me at michele.bollinger@gmail.com.

10 Reasons to Refuse the PARCC Test

for Your Child in Maryland

1.   High-stakes standardized testing takes an emotional toll on students.

  • The PARCC is unlike any test you took as a child. It is unprecedented in its level of standardization and in the punitive measures attached to testing performance
  • The PARCC is a timed exam and unfamiliar to students in form and content
  • The stress of high-stakes test taking produces anxiety and is even more challenging for students who already experience anxiety
  • The testing environment can be oppressive, as students movements and behavior are heavily monitored

2.  The PARCC test drives the standardization of learning.

  • The Common Core State Standards, which support the PARCC, have narrowed state curriculum to fit the demands of the test
  • Untested subjects are deprioritized or dropped altogether
  • This unprecedented level of standardization cannot accommodate student differences in need, ability and interests

3. Test prep means less quality instructional time in schools.

  • PARCC is longer than previously administered tests
  • PARCC means more testing beginning at younger ages
  • Schools now commonly refer to a “testing season” that lasts from March until June

4. The PARCC test is a fundamentally flawed assessment.

  • There is no evidence that PARCC prepares students for college or careers
  • PARCC is developmentally inappropriate for students at all grade levels
  • Not enough sample tests, practice tests, or exemplars have been released
  • The expectation that many or most students will perform poorly on the test is public knowledge
  • Because Maryland students are already tested and assessed throughout the school year, the PARCC is unnecessary

5. Schools around the state of Maryland are unprepared to take a high stakes exam.

  • Never before have so many students taken an online exam simultaneously
  • Districts have continually reported schools’ IT infrastructure cannot support PARCC administration
  • The rush to implement the PARCC does not make sense for our schools

6. PARCC is a cash cow for testing companies such as Pearson, Inc.

  • Technology and testing companies – not educators – have funded and organized the rush to develop and implement the Common Core and PARCC
  • States have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Common Core and PARCC
  • In Maryland, combined costs for Math & English/Language Arts tests are as high as $61.24 per student
  • Pearson is a private company which will have access to student data with very little oversight. Pearson may sell personal data related to individual children who have taken the PARCC

7. School districts have been bullied into accepting PARCC and the Common Core – and residents have been failed by their elected leaders who signed on to it.

  • When Chicago Public Schools announced they could not and would not administer PARCC this year, they were threatened with losing up to $1 billion in funding
  • Schools and school districts across the country have been forced to comply with federal and state mandates around PARCC or risk lose millions of dollars in funding
  • Maryland policy makers have endorsed Common Core and PARCC without diligently investigating what is at stake and without asking the right questions
  • We will call their bluff – we will not allow our children’s schools to be held hostage to bad educational policy

8. PARCC test scores will be used to justify punitive measures.

  • Per “No Child Left Behind” and other school reform measures, test scores are used to fire teachers, hold students back and close down schools
  • These actions are disruptive and are unsettling to the communities that have to endure them
  • These measures disproportionately impact under-resourced communities and students of color

9. There is no legal way for school administrators to force your child to take a test she or he does not want to take.

  • The official position of the state Department of Education is that there is no “opt out” provision for testing in Maryland
  • There is no legal precedent for forcing a student to take a standardized test
  • Maryland students and parents can opt-out, refuse, or decline to take the test just as families can in other states
  • National “messaging” around the Common Core and PARCC has been carefully crafted to conceal problems and to appeal to parents and teachers
  • Schools present a favorable view of the PARCC and their ability to carry out testing because of a lack of political leadership from the state
  • All parents should be informed of the detriments of standardized testing
  • Your child cannot be punished, failed, or held back for refusing this test

10. Now is the time!

  • More people are questioning PARCC than ever before – teachers, students and parents around the country have begun to speak out against high stakes testing
  • Boycotts and other actions against high stakes testing have galvanized communities to fight for justice in education
  • Given the large number of problems with the test, many schools will not be held accountable based on test results this year. This is a lower-stakes opportunity to boycott the test and to build momentum for bigger boycotts to stop the damaging “accountability” provisions in the years to come
  • If your child is “fine” taking tests and you can supplement your child’s test-driven curriculum with enriching experiences outside of school, the same cannot be said for everyone
  • Even if your school tends to meet AYP or other defined goals, the same cannot be said for all schools – especially those in under-resourced areas and disproportionately those populated by students of color

We need to stand up for all children who are experiencing an unprecedented transformation of the learning experience via the expansion of high stakes testing.

PLEASE check out:

20 thoughts on “10 Reasons to Refuse the PARCC Test for Your Child: Maryland parent on opting out of high-stakes testing

  1. Ok if I repost on RS blog?

    Rachel Kenison Director of Marketing and Outreach

    *Rethinking Schools* 1001 E. Keefe Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53212 414-964-9646 | rethinkingschools.org

    Twitter: @rethinkschools Facebook: rethinkingschools

    On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 6:29 PM, I AM AN EDUCATOR wrote:

    > I AM AN EDUCATOR posted: “TakePart.com ran an article by Joseph > Williams this week titled, “Boycotters Might Be Winning the Battle Over > Standardized Testing.”


  2. Pingback: 10 Reasons to Refuse the PARCC Test for Your Child: Maryland parent on opting out of high-stakes testing | Rethinking Schools Blog

  3. posing an alternative to high stakes testing, say having a class do a book that each one of them contributes a chapter to. A collaborative effort that will possibly unleash new knowledge and be a much healthier way to learn.

    What do you think?


    Steve Kessler

    On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 4:29 PM, I AM AN EDUCATOR wrote:

    > I AM AN EDUCATOR posted: “TakePart.com ran an article by Joseph > Williams this week titled, “Boycotters Might Be Winning the Battle Over > Standardized Testing.”


  4. Dave

    We begin Parcc in Montgomery County tomorrow. This is a bit of an aside, but does anyone know what the “cut score” will be? Who decides? How? When? Will it vary from state-to-state? Given what I’ve seen in our very limited practice testing (we has MANY technical difficulties) the scores for our 4th graders will be abysmal. Perhaps that’s all part of the grand scheme. The kids do poorly and Pearson sell more test prep materials.


  5. Thank you so much! I have tweeted and Facebook posted this article, I have also spoken with concerned, confused, scared parents and text messaged them this article also for discussion. As a product of Montgomery County public schools 1980 through 1992 this focus on what they call evidence-based (corporate profits ) driven education has transformed my feelings of pride regarding the strength of my education into feelings of frustration and embarrassment regarding the current assessment obsessed core curriculum environment!

    As a military veteran I witnessed firsthand the power of an excellent public school education, as many of my fellow soldiers , airmen, marines were not nearly as well versed, or well read. It saddens me to know and that my child sits in the same school I sat in in 1984 as a fourth grader and is learning about one sixth of the rigor, depth, and subject matter we did. I began rigorous supplemental homeschooling to make up for all of the gaps in the current core curriculum.

    Considering taking the big leap into full-time homeschooling, at quite a personal cost, I never envisioned earning my doctorate, then having to delay the initiation of my career as a Clinician to homeschool my child. I simply took for granted the excellent education we were provided with, would always be here.

    Death by assessment, a term I coined to express the reality of our current education in the era of high risk assessment, speaks to a larger problem, the intention to create a nation full of undereducated, underprepared, internationally noncompetitive adults to work in extremely low paid semiskilled positions in an economy which has already plateaued in terms of recovery (poor job creation and stagnant wages).

    Opting out of ALL Core Curriculum based assessment.


  6. Pingback: Dawn of Education | 9 Reasons to Opt Out of State Exams

  7. Dan G. Montgomery County Maryland

    Is this whole blog entry wrong…… or can someone tell me they actually had a bad experience with PARCC? Here’s what really happened for My kids just took PARCC in MCPS (Montgomery COunty Maryland Public Schools) . There was no emotiional build up. It took no toll emotionally on them. The grade does not count toward their progress. So point 1 which indicates the opposite is wrong. Teaching to standardized tests is discouraged and does not happen in our Montomgery County Maryland Public School The kids spent ZERO days on test prep.. NONE , NADA , ZIP. So point 2 is wrong.. It took two (1/2 day sessions to take). So it took virtually zero away from their regular learning, So no prep, little time to take…. So point 3 is wrong. I can’t say point 4 is entirely wrong, but the purpose is to see how school are performing at the Macro level.. So I say Point 4 just doesnt matter, it’s more of a matter of opinion. The kids took the test, finished it with ease and were mostly done early.. I think they were ready for the test just fine.. So Point 5 is wrong because it says the students are not prepared.. and they are….. Pearson makes money from this… it’s their business. So do text book companies, Promethium Board companies. people that sell paper to schools, and desks and furniture.. Making money to provide educational supplies and services is not a sin. So point 6 is a red herring.. non issue.. Point 7 and 8 are speculative and not based in any fact. Point 9 is correct. Nobody can force you to take an exam. Just like Nobdy can force your kid to get a vaccine, but maybee for the public good we all do it so we can at least have some measure how our public school system operates. I am fortunate to live in a good school distrct. Montgomery County Public Schools that we attend do not teach to tests and PARCC is no issue at all. Maybe the answer is not to throw out PARCC, but to implement it in a better way like MCPS seems to have done, at least in the schools we attend.


  8. Lana

    As a student being “forced” to take this assessment, I will say that my anxiety is significantly higher than usual and I start to cry during these tests. They have so many technology caused problems such as odd log in screens and some questions will not load. These tests are also worded ridiculously difficult for even the best students cannot comprehend what it is actually happening.


  9. Pingback: Opt Out Position Blog – gmercyu

  10. Pingback: PARCC Testing begins March 28. « Walt Disney Magnet School PTA

  11. I took PARCC, and let me just say, it is totally unfair. The questions are worded weirdly, so you have no idea what to do. The tools are good, but downright glitchy, and you can’t even get a level 5 as your score. The test is very bland, with no interesting questions, stories, or design. The test compares you to other students, to mock you. And they try to trick you on every darn question. My grade for PARCC was a level 4.


  12. Colleen Searfino

    I completely agree, but Harford County Public Schools tell high school students that they must sit for the test or they will not be eligible to graduate. So it forces the hand of high school students. As a former administrator, I feel it is a huge amount of time wasted to get students prepared for the testing day (Logistics etc.). Not to mention the IT issues.


  13. May I simply just say what a relief to uncover someone who really knows what they’re discussing on the web.
    You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.
    A lot more people should look at this and understand this side of your story.
    It’s surprising you are not more popular given that you definitely have
    the gift.


  14. Ryan

    I totally think Independant Student is correct. Parents think the test is easy, because they saw the practice test, but it’s all a lie. The practice tests are made to look easy, while the online test, has stuff you didn’t even learn, or is worded so weirdly that every question is impossible to do. PARCC = CCRAP


  15. Pingback: 9 Reasons to Opt Out of State Exams | FreelyReading

  16. Karen

    This article is absolute drama. And I am a teacher – and a parent. Letting a 5th grader decide not to take a test that could help them use critical thinking and problem solving skills because it will cause stress? Life may be hard for your kiddo in the future whenever you swoop in like this. Best of luck.


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