Students in our school districts are scheduled to take the so-called Smarter Balanced Assessments in grades 3-8, 10 and 11 English and math soon, though we have not been told exactly when. I encourage parents to watch the coverage of the recent open Washington State Senate hearing/panel on the Common Core and these tests, available online, and hear experts and community members’ concerns about these tests. I also invite you to submit a Smarter Balanced Assessment Refusal Documentation Form to your child’s school before test day. Our schools have been pressured into administering these tests in order to be eligible for federal education funds, but I believe there is no evidence that they are reliable or valid or useful for improving instruction or student learning. The tests do measure student access to educational resources as conferred by high socio-economic status, English-as-a-first-language, the absence of special needs, and facility with computers. Therefore, the 40 percent to 70 percent estimated to fail the tests will disproportionately include children who lack those resources. Giving these children, or any children, the message that they are below standard is not a way to help them become better students.
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