Tests and everything about them

What are these tests?

Standardized State Tests – tests that measure students’ “academic standards.” The problem here is in the definition of the term “academic standards.” While we, parents understand this as students’ grades and academic achievements, the lawmakers refers to it as something else: they use these assessments as a tool to collect a variety of data on students for the purposes of profiling.

What’s wrong with the tests?

The problem with the tests is complex.

First of all, students are not tested for their academic knowledge, as you would think. These, for the most part, are psychological tests assessing child’s behavior, lifestyle, opinions, social and family life. The other component of these tests is health (sex and drug) surveys, mental-health screening and other questionnaires. The computerized format allows test questions to change and to adjust based on how students respond. These assessments are set to determine pretty much what those kids are: their character, thinking pattern, ability to resolve problems, likelihood of a certain behavior, how healthy is the child and what are the risks associated with him, what is he likely to do, who are the parents, and many other facts are being collected, sorted, studied by psychometricians at Pearson and AIR (American Institute of Research) and profiled.

This leads to the next problem – privacy issues. Does school have a legal right to collect and possess this kind of information? No. The privacy laws are being violated at least. Parents do not realize how much of private information is being collected and shared with interested corporate parties. Who needs this information and what are the those third parties looking for that? First of all, it’s a business. Second, it becomes a part of SLEDS – State Longitudinal Educational Data System, a national database, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The question is why are they, people that have nothing to do with US system of education, buying these records? Yes, you heard me correctly: Bill and Melinda personally sponsor common core. What does common core has to do with it? The standardized tests are totally adjusted to the common core state standards, which are described by the state as “academic standards.” And yes, Bill Gates is paying big bucks to know your child’s potential, his skills, and weaknesses; is he at-risk-student and what kind of family is he coming from? The database consists of hundreds (if not thousands) points for the information to be filled in for each child. The collected information ranges from the child’s name, date of birth to his mental abilities and behavior to the description of a person he is more likely to become. How on the earth they will guess that? Remember that the test results are being collected, compared, studies, analyzed, cross-matched throughout school years, and that’s how test questions are being adjusted for each child individually.

It goes even further: parents cannot see the test questions. There are number of cases where parents went to school to actually see the test and met with refusal. As I was talking to one mom, who did just exactly this, she described to me how many hours, school officials , nerves and tears it took so the school principal got the permission from the Department of Education to disclose “some of the questions” which he did. The disclosed questions were about students dates of birth, parents’ names and some other basic household information. Is that how they assess students’ academic progress? I don’t think so; they have different goals. The electronic format of testing makes hiding even easier. States are creating a file on every child stored with a unique student identifier called “Digital Backpacks.” (You can research more on this).

Another point to consider: these tests do not stand alone; they are part of greater assessment agenda. Many schools now have implemented different types of data mining, from simple verbal/written surveys to biometric technologies. Free i pads, for example, are not “tools for learning” – they are tools to collect information on your child’s thinking and working patter, how slow/fast he is, what “catches his eye,” what kind of information bothers him and many more. Many public schools have students to temporary wear bracelets that read children’s handwriting (and handwriting can tell something about the person), his reaction to certain things, etc. There are other types of such tools.  If you don’t believe it, you better do: we have seen this in schools.

In short, the state tests are the assessments collect personal information and profile students based on what students say and how their answers change throughout the school (yes, the test results are kept in the databse).

Are they now different than when we went to school?

Yes, they are different. Even though the socialistic/atheist/feminist transformation of schools started in 1980s, the last couple of years have brought dramatic changes. One reform after another has been implemented WITHOUT parents being notified. Parents today have to literally become detectives in order to spot any abnormal changes in the schools. Not only tests did change to become behavioral/psychological/mental assessment, the test questions cannot be even disclosed. Go and check: ask your child’s teacher or a school administrator for the copy of a state test or for its sample? Your request will not be honored. As I mentioned above, the test questions are not fixed questions that correspond to the academic standards; they change throughout the test depending on how students answer the previous questions. Plus, Pearson (the largest testing company in the USA making billions of dollars on these tests) is monitoring students’ social media to assure that students do not discuss test questions online, as well as for other reasons. In short, students will spend countless hours preparing for the tests (yes, they spent weeks in preparation for the tests!), because they think tests are important, but neither the students, nor teachers will ever benefit from tests results: the results simply will never come back. Now think about it: the logic of taking the test is to get the results back to teachers, students and parents to see the progress; but interestingly enough, these are the parties that never get it. And regarding the test prep hours. Children do spend weeks in preparation for the tests. Why? Isn’t an effective teaching and instructions are the main  means of test readiness? When weeks are taken out of school calendar to prepare students to take tests (note: not to prepare students to know something, but to prepare them to take tests!), doesn’t it leave less time for instructions? Yes, it does.

Good read on that:

Is my child going to be punished for that?

It’s against law to punish student with consequences. But it happened. Not participating in state testing is parents constitutional right. Schools in no way have the right to interfere with that. However, don’t be naive. When you opting out your child, talk to him/her a lot. Make sure he/she understands what is going on, what he/she should do during the tests, and what he should not do/should not happen to him because of it. It should be as simple as submitting your opt out form to the principle, and make sure your child has a good book to read during testing (or working on other school projects).

Here’s more information on this:

Don’t students need them as graduation/college requirement?

Yes and No. There are at least 3 main high school tests: ACT Plan, ACT Explore and ACT College and Career. Most colleges do need this for admission, but there are some that do not. These tests are called “Career and College Assessments.” If you know that the college you will be going to will not require it, then you can easily pass on these.  You/your child can opt out and still graduate.

Here are the Minnesota graduation requirements:

You DO have to take one of the following to graduate:

  1. Meet or have met graduation assessment requirements through Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma(GRAD) by: achieving proficiency on high school Standards-Based Accountability Assessments; passing GRAD retests; and/or meeting GRAD alternate routes.
    2. Take or have taken ACT/WorkKeys/ACT Compass/Armed Services VocationalAptitude Battery (ASVAB)
    3. Have or receive score on equivalent assessment(district determined).

Source: Procedures Manual for the Minnesota Assessments (2014-2015)

Page 35 and 152


In the last paragraph it talks about those children in 11th and 12th grade NOW.

Please keep in mind that this information refers to Minnesota specifically; however, the notion and the purpose of the state testing belong to the same national agenda. While using this information, be sure to check the specific requirements in your state.

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