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Mar 09 2015

I didn’t opt my son out of the PARCC tests

When you make a decision, it’s YES or NO in one form or another. When you don’t make a decision, or put it off so long that it’s made for you, you’re still making a decision, you’ve just decided to remove yourself from the process. This is why my ten year old son went off to start PARCC testing this morning.

I have severe decision fatigue right now. It usually hits after large events, when I just cannot make another damned decision. Picking clothes in the morning is pretty close to the limit of my capability lately, though that might be because I’m sick to death of my extreme winter wardrobe. After our wedding, lo those many years ago, I was nearly non-functional. We moved four weeks ago and were prepping to move six months before that, so all my decisions are exhausted. I ain’t got no mo’. You can only imagine what our meals have been like lately. Let’s go with creative.

It was to this emotionally drained mindset that PARCC testing crept. It snuck up on me, mainly because J’s new school wasn’t sending out hourly PARCC testing is coming! updates (the old school was crazy about testing and that’s all I would hear about for weeks before). I got one email about an assembly (Let’s Knock It Out Of The PARCC!!) and one “please remember to feed your child on test mornings” note from his teacher. Out of inbox, out of mind. Every so often I’d think “Hm, maybe I should opt him out of the testing,” and then I’d have to go deal with something else and forget. That went on for awhile and then suddenly it was this morning and as I was kissing him out the door I found myself giving him valuable and time-honored testing advice: Do your best, they’re not testing you but the school, and if it’s a multiple-choice question and you don’t know the answer after chewing on it for awhile put down C and move on (I passed many a final with that little tidbit).

I don’t agree with this test. I consider it a waste of time and resources, think it’s going to do more harm than good to a lot of kids, and I probably should have opted my kid out. But I didn’t. And to be honest, it wasn’t all decision fatigue that kept me from sending that letter. J is four weeks into a new school. A new school where no one knows his older brother or the mom who pulled him to homeschool when it all sent sideways. There is no baggage there. No baggage for him to shoulder, for the first time in his educational career, in his life. The school still likes me, or rather, doesn’t know me. This school does actual letter grades instead of the “exceeds/meets/approaching/below” bullshit method of grading that doesn’t do anything for motivating a kid to improve, and right now my kid is rocking some serious A’s. Do grades really matter that much? No, not really. But he’s stoked about it and suddenly wants to work hard to keep those. This is new and I am not about to discourage it. Even Andy piped up the other day, when report cards came home (yes, grades for four weeks, whatever), that hey, maybe he should go to school to get straight A’s. Uh-huh. Right. This is the kid who needs dynamite to get out of bed before 9:30; I don’t see traditional school in his near future. You want A’s, kid? Work your ass off. I’m your teacher, I’ll let you know when you’ve earned your A’s.

So I didn’t want to rock the boat. I’m tired of rocking the boat. The damned boat leaks and it’s hard to steer and I just want someone else to take the helm for awhile so I can rest. And if that means my kid has to go take a completely bullshit series of tests, fine. I won’t let them define him, and if it looks as though the tests will pigeonhole him into someplace inappropriate for him, then I have experience homeschooling and am pretty sure I can manage two at home. We’ve been repeating to ourselves for months that there are no more decisions and no changes to anything until summer. We need that time to settle and recover; my brain feels like a sponge full of hardened cement, so I need some serious recovery time. Perhaps come summer homeschooling will look right for J too. Perhaps not. I know a lot of parents are opting out, and I applaud them. Not me, not this year.

In the meantime, it’s BS testing and thrown together dinners and slowly chipping away at the hardened brain cement. Get a good night’s sleep, have a hearty breakfast, and remember the answer is nearly always C.

No decision needed there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update: My son just got home from school and informed me that he didn’t take the tests today, that he sat and read instead. Why, you ask? Well, not because he refused to take it; I don’t think that would even occur to him. No, because the state still had him enrolled at his old school four weeks after starting at his new one. So until the district and state get that worked out he’s reading during testing time. I chortled with the deliciousness of it all.

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  1. Bob Yamtich

    There is plenty of time to opt out of stuff. Strange how letting something be is both “one more thing” and “one less thing.”
    Bob Yamtich recently posted…Five Modifications to General Admission Programming to Support Neurodiverse FamiliesMy Profile

    1. Jen

      Yeah. Pretty much. Especially since he didn’t actually take it today after all. Whatevs. I won’t let it define him.

  2. Heather Curnett

    As someone who did opt out, and feels strongly about parents educating themselves on both sides of this issue, I appreciate and understand your logic completely. Sometimes, there is a LOT to be said for not rocking the boat. When your child is new, when you may or may not have reason to anticipate needing certain things for said child in the future, it makes sense to just go along to get along, No shame there. Sadly, there are plenty of years of standardized testing to come. Maybe then it will be the right time to learn more about both sides and take a stand, or not, either way. Until then, doesn’t it feel good to just do what’s best for the folks within your own walls?

    I’m glad it worked out so he didn’t take it anyway :~)

    1. Jen

      I’ve gotten better at just doing what my crew needs, everything else be damned. And right now my crew needs things to settle and be still for awhile.

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