Don’t Opt Out

Year-end testing begins in a few weeks. I would like to take a moment to discuss why we need several of you to reconsider and not opt your children out of testing for the sake of your student and everyone else’s.

Utah has participated in year-end testing for generations. I remember as a child doing the same type testing, always wondering why the results were never available for 6 months. Times have changed and test results are immediately available, so instant feedback is given to both the student and the teacher. Over the past several years, I am sure you have all heard the hype of subversive content in the exams that secretly alter your child’s thoughts. The truth is, the exams test our students on the values taught from the “core.” In this case it is the Common Core and when I was a student, it was the Utah Core. A core value of learning has been around for at least my lifetime. By combining several state’s values together and calling it a Common Core, someone cried conspiracy. To me, the core guarantees the minimal level of expected learning. Without a core set of expectations, knowledge would vary from town to town, teacher to teacher, and student to student. Wouldn’t our guarantee of a free and appropriate education for every student be hard to provide if every student had a different set of “what is appropriate?”

As a school administrator, I use the results of our testing to provide the data needed to drive the education machine for our district. Our principal’s look for problems with subject level data, issues with certain teachers, and also student level issues that may relate to ethnicity, socioeconomic, or other groupings. This testing data allows us to input changes to help solve issues that we would have never been seen without an exam. If our score represents only the students willing to test, the real meaning of the data is flawed since it doesn’t represent the entire population. Without question, our students are judged based on how the student, school, or district did on the test. I hope it seems reasonable that these results can only represent the population if the entire population took the exam. When we analyze the results of a school year, we need as much data as possible to judge our curriculum, our staff, our students, and our practices to see if we are adequately providing our students with an appropriate education. Please don’t let your student’s scores be missing when we look for what is best in driving instruction in Garfield County. Please opt in, not out!

Tracy Davis