Thursday, September 4, 2014

Our press release: Parents Say No to Kindergarten Test

For immediate release August 31, 2014

Parents, Teachers Say No to Kindergarten Test

“I have opted out both my Kindergartner and my Second Grader,” says Jennifer Lewis, a Portland Public School parent. Lewis is just one of many parents across Oregon opting their child out of a new Kindergarten Assessment.

The Oregon Kindergarten Assessment was instituted last year by Governor Kitzhaber. Many early childhood and educational experts disagree this test measures kindergarten readiness at all. Parent Child Preschools Organization, an organization of sixty preschools in Oregon and Washington, has sent out information to all parents at their member preschools.
Kathy Ems, PCPO Vice-President says, “PCPO is very concerned about the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment and its effects both on the very young children taking the test and on preschool curriculum. A substantial body of research supports play-based preschool, without formal academic instruction. Learning the names and sounds of letters in preschool may happen naturally (your name starts with J), but is not part of the curriculum of a play-based program. In fact, much of the research supports starting formal academics after kindergarten, when children's brains are ready for the task of reading.”

In the first days of kindergarten students are tested on letter recognition, math skills and behavior skills. Test results cannot be released to teachers or parents, and teachers are not allowed to use them to inform instruction. Teachers are strictly prohibited from coaching or helping students.  Teachers do their own evaluations of students for normal classroom instruction

Lewis’ 2nd grade son did take the kindergarten readiness test and she didn’t like what he went through. “No 5 year old should have to go through a testing regimen, where they are repeatedly asked the same question. My son noticed this in his kindergarten assessment and started rocking and stopped responding. They know inherently they got it wrong when asked twice.” says Lewis.  
In Oregon parents can ask to opt their children out of tests by contacting their school principal or school district or teacher.  Oregon schools allow two reasons for opting out, disability or religion.  Washington and California allow parents to opt out without providing reasons. Ems says “We encourage parents to share their concerns with their principal and other school officials.  It may be possible for parents to opt out of the testing for reasons of disability or religion, including philosophical beliefs."

“Parents should not feel pressured or bullied by their school to participate in standardized testing. The state shouldn’t be pressuring and bullying schools and teachers to participate in standardized testing,” says Kathleen Jeskey an Oregon SOS member and Canby teacher. Jeskey helped co-found Oregon Save Our Schools, a group of committed teachers, parents and retired educational researchers who are trying to get the word out about the dangers of high stakes testing.  Oregon SOS is holding opt out parties to encourage parents to learn more about the tests. Kindergarten tests will be administered all over Oregon with many being done the first week of September.  “Why diminish a child's self confidence at 5?” asks Lewis