Opting out of Ne-SA

Almost one year ago, I wrote a letter stating my belief that high-stakes standardized testing is not necessary for, and even detrimental to, learning.

Teachers feel pressure to spend large amounts of instructional time preparing students for Ne-SA tests, which robs students of authentic learning opportunities while killing natural curiosity and passion for learning.

No educational research supports standardized testing, yet districts must administer Ne-SA to comply with No Child Left Behind.

What can I do?

This past year, I have contacted the Nebraska Board of Education, our former commissioner, senators on the Education Committee, Nebraska State Education Association, the governor, Secretary of Education, the president, two school lawyers, and met with my state senator.

I learned I cannot wait for the government and politicians to do what is best for kids.

Therefore, we are choosing to exercise our parental right to opt our children out of taking Ne-SA tests. I can no longer speak strongly against these tests, and then support them as I tell our children to do their best on them.

Is it possible to opt out?

It is stated on page 27 of the Nebraska Department of Education’s Update: Standards, Assessment, Accountability 2013-14, that parents or guardians can make a formal written request to the district that their student be removed from testing. No reason is required.

How will opting out affect our school?

NCLB states that if fewer than 95 percent of a district’s students take Ne-SA, the district will not make Adequate Yearly Progress; however, I am doubtful any district will make AYP, because this year 100 percent of students are required to be proficient in Ne-SA reading and math.

This is another reason I feel the time is right to opt out.

How will opting out affect our children?

Our principal assures us they will never feel punished. On the Ne-SA results, our children will show a score of zero, which will not impact grades, future schooling or graduation.

What will our children do during Ne-SA testing? We identified activities they could do independently, so direct supervision is not required. They are prepared to respond if peers ask why they are not participating.

It is up to us, as parents, to stand up for what is best for children. It is nothing personal against our school or state; it is a much larger issue.

We love our school and state, however, we love our children more.

Jill Osler

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