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Posted on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor parent group launches online petition: 'Stop over-testing our children'

By Danielle Arndt

Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify the nature of communication between Ann Arbor Open parents and principal Kit Flynn.

A group of Ann Arbor Public Schools parents has a message for district officials.

And it hopes soon that message will be 500 voices strong.

The group — called STOP, which stands for "Stop over-Testing Our Pupils" — launched a Facebook page and petition this week after more than a year of discussion with like-minded parents, with principals and district administrators and before the Board of Education.


School districts around Washtenaw County started MEAP testing Tuesday. A group of parents also launched an online petition opposing excessive testing at Ann Arbor Public Schools.

File photo

The parents decided to take their grassroots campaign to the next level with the start of this petition.

"The stress this (over-testing) causes my daughter is ridiculous," wrote Marsha Benz, signer No. 47 of the petition. "Please keep it to one or fewer standardized tests per school year and please don't start so young."

The timing of the launch coincides with MEAP week at AAPS and districts throughout Washtenaw County.

Students in grades 3-9 take the state-required Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam throughout the course of three days, Tuesday-Thursday or Oct. 15-17.

As of 7 p.m. Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the petition opened, 89 signatures had been collected. STOP's goal is 500.

The purpose of the petition is to show and express to administrators the level of concern that exists regarding testing within the Ann Arbor Public Schools community, said Ruth Kraut, a parent at Ann Arbor Open and a local education blogger.

The petition asks AAPS to reduce the number of tests and assessments mandated in its classrooms to only those required by law, leaving further testing decisions beyond the minimum up to individual buildings and principals, and returning more autonomy and trust to teachers to conduct their own multi-faceted assessments of Ann Arbor's students.

Kraut said clearly the petition is too late to impact this fall's round of testing.

"As I see it, this is a long-term campaign," she said. "And it's not targeted at MEAP because that's state mandated."

She said the group just hopes to catch the attention of the board and the administration this fall, as well as other parents and teachers opposed to so much testing.

Kraut has heard from a variety of parents who have spoken to their principals about what they see as over-testing and especially about their opposition to the Northwest Evaluation Association’s (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) exam.

Pamela Davis-Kean, another supporter and member of STOP, said it seems like there are a lot of negative sentiments out there, but parents have had no luck getting the administration to take their complaints seriously or in procuring a reasonable way for their children to opt out of the assessment.

In January, Davis-Kean began pulling her son, now an eighth grader at Ann Arbor Open, out of school during the NWEA testing period in protest.

She signs him out in the front office and returns him to school after the test has been administered.

"All we're really asking for is the ability to, as a parent, say we don't want our kids taking this test," Davis-Kean said.

She added she knows of a handful of fellow AAO parents who also have taken this approach.

There were enough parents that Principal Kit Flynn sent correspondence this fall to a few families that previously wrote to the district expressing their desire to exempt their children from the test, Davis-Kean said.

According to parents, Flynn told them school officials would not require parents protesting the assessment to pull their children out of class for a second time during the NWEA make-up test date, nor would staff be allowed to pressure those students into taking the make-up test if parents state in writing they do not want their kids to participate.

"It still requires parents to go in there and physically sign (their students) out during the initial test time. … It's not like we can say we want our children to be able to read a book somewhere else in the building instead," Davis-Kean said.

Ann Arbor spokeswoman Liz Margolis said the district does not have any procedures in place for allowing students to opt out or be exempt from taking any assessments.

Requests and letters from families are handled on a case-by-case basis, she said. As of Tuesday afternoon, Margolis was not aware of nor could she comment on the circumstances at AAO under which parents were being permitted to remove their children from class during the NWEA testing time.

Margolis said the district has no intention of changing the NWEA exam. She said the feedback the administration has received from parents and staff has been positive. All parties like seeing the immediate results the MAP assessment provides and the over-testing outcry primarily has been from select parents in the AAO community, she said.

But Davis-Kean said there is a reason AAO is heading up the effort. Parents enroll their children at Ann Arbor Open to get away from standardized curriculums, she said.

"So to add more standardized testing here goes against all of the tenets and reasons why parents would want their children to attend the school in the first place," Davis-Kean said.

She added prior to the NWEA, Ann Arbor Open students participated in "focus studies," where children spent two hours per day engaged in and learning about a topic that interested them.

"It was part of what made Ann Arbor Open unique," Davis-Kean said. "It had to be dropped because of the testing and because of how much time teachers spend preparing for all of the tests in the fall. They don't have time for it."

Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Michael Corliss

Sun, Oct 14, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

I am a parent, and an educator. I have a Master's degree in Educational Psychology--Measurements and Testing. Mandatory high stakes testing is not simply a waste of resources. It is nothing less than a (mild) form of child abuse. I excused my children from all high-stakes testing except ACT, which is a valuable test. I am very concerned about the children who are forced to endure this traumatic waste of time, money and energy, but first of all I am my child's parent, and I refused to sit by and let politicians dictate to me about testing. They know nothing about it, and I actually do.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 9:36 a.m.

Test is bad. No test is worse. Would over-protection of our kids is alike the man in "The Story of the Butterfly"? "Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Going through life with no obstacles would cripple us."


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 9:48 a.m. The first kind of standardized testing took place in China in the seventh century A.D.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

A college degree in most college teaching programs requires tenacity, not necessarily intelligence, or capacity to teach in their field. When I attended college, taking a class in the Education Department was known as getting an "easy A". If you're going to spend all the time and money testing the kids, then test the teachers, as well, preferably before they get a job in a system where it is virtually impossible to remove a teacher. I had a similar conversation with Chelsea School Superintendent Joe Piasecki a few months before he was shot by a teacher he was trying to remove for sexual harassment of students.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

One concern I have about testing is that it teaches children how to study just enough to pass tests, but not how to problem solve. I understand that there needs to be a gauge for how well students are grasping the material, but I think the frequency of testing should be less. More emphasis needs to be put on learning and actually understanding the material, not understanding how to apply formulas in order to pass at test on a subject. I personally am an incredibly good test-taker, so if you give me a subject, tell me there's a test on it in x amount of days or months, I can study and pass with flying colors. Don't try to ask me anything about the subject afterwards, though, because you will be sorely disappointed with how little I retained about it!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

Great point...and well said!

For The People

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

This is less a district by district issue and more a state/ national issue. Within the State guidelines for teacher evaluation (which lots of politicians are in favor of) is a provision that over the next few years teacher evaluations will be largely data based. This means moving from 0 in some cases to 25% and ultimately 50% of the evaluation based on student achievement. This does not mean grades. And for anyone who buys the lie that because a student earns an A in the class means they are proficient, I would challenge them to find a standards based report card. How many of those grades are for participation, turning in homework on time, being good kids, and how many of them are for subject mastery. So we test away (a sensation that has been around for a while and derives from Federal Title Money! Make no doubt about this. the testing, the evaluation piece and the education our children receive is a direct result of federal legislation. Hold on you say! Education is a state by state matter and the state has delegated this to local governments. WRONG! The states rely heavily on federal dollars for everything from highway moneys to education dollars, and by controlling the cash flow they can control public education. No Child Left Behind, when enacted wanted every child proficient in reading and math by 2012. Well guess what folks. it is hear and our students are not proficient (and we were never going to be, this is fantasy land politics! it sounds good and makes for a great stump speech, but until we change parenting we will not change education). So the State of Michigan and the Department of Education apply for a waiver and implement changing curriculum to national standards (common core) and increased rigor for teacher evaluations. Since the MEAP is a flawed unit of measure the best defense for Districts and teachers is to have something to show growth, where the child is now, to where they are at the end of the year. This can't be accomplished by the MEAP.

Jay Thomas

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

These people THINK they know what's best for everyone (as usual). They are not concerned about "over-testing"... they don't want testing AT ALL. I knew kids who went to school in a test free environment (won't name the place) and their post graduation real world lives have been anything short of amazing. Don't buy into the hype.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:11 a.m.

Maybe some education would help you with that "These people" style attitudes and thinking !! Maybe let's assume that since they say they are concerned about "over-testing", that's exactly what they're concerned about--the *over* use of testing, so that there is little time for creative teaching or interests-based learning! Maybe someone can believe that it might be useful to do testing to see whether material was mastered, but not these constant disruptions with high-stakes tests that do a bass-ackwards job of determining what gets taught and how. Never mind that they *completely* muck the education-works with younger children for whom testing accomplishes way more harm potentially than any little bits of good it might do (well, I can't even imagine what good it might do for kids younger than 3rd grade, honestly!).


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

Thge amount of instructional time lost to testing in elementary schools is nothing compared to the loss of instructional time in AAPS high schools. An entire 5 day week is given over to end-of-semester testing, during which students are assigned to take a maximum of 2 2-hour long exams during each of 3 days. In many classes, a paper or project is assigned instead of a final, and no test is given. In all cases, the students and teachers who don't have a test scheduled are not required to be at school, and transportation schedules for students are completely disrupted. So most students have 2 days off and at most 3 half-days of test taking twice each year. These 2 weeks (Is it 3 in the case of Skyline High?) are in addition to the 9th grade Social Studies MEAPs which consume most of 3 class periods on each of 2 or 3 days for all freshmen, and the 11th grade MME (MEAP for High Schoolers) testing, during which ALL the students in other grades are locked out of the school for 3 additional days. There is also a significant loss of instruction time for PSAT, Compass, and other "pre-tests" which are used to practice for standardized tests of college readiness. Even if you needed students to "get used to" longer exams than can be given over a normal class period as is common in the more competitive colleges and universities, the MEAPS, MME, PSAT, Compass and others provide plenty of opportunities for students to practice pacing themselves on exams. Better practice would be to have weekly or twice-weekly quizzes in most classes. Schedule the end of chapter and end of semester tests within the normal class periods and stop disrupting an entire week. This would give students plenty of opportunity to practice their test-taking strategies, and make each individual test fairly low-stakes, helping to minimize test anxiety.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Back when I took the CAT and others I used to fill in the circles to try and make shapes and words. I guess nowadays my teacher would get penalized finacially and possibly lose their job due to obstinate, rebelious, I don't care and anti authority attitude.

Sheila Parsons

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Taught in AA for 3 years, and retired after 20 years teaching high school in TX. This is a national problem, and yes! stop testing our students so much. The tests are so fundamental (teacherese for EASY) that they are considered a joke, if not an insult, by most students - and a waste of time. By the time I retired, the amount that I could allot to my discipline was reduced from 45 min to about 15-20. GIVE THE TEACHERS BACK THEIR TEACHING TIME!

G. Orwell

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Public schools exist to dumb down and indoctrinate children. That is why you see American school kids continue to fall internationally in math and science aptitude. U.S. now ranks 19th in the world. Before the federal government took over publica education, we were #1. Google, Charlotte Iserbyt (former top official at the Secretary of Education) , "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America."

Michael Corliss

Sun, Oct 14, 2012 : 11:03 p.m.

It constantly amazes me that conspiracy theorists like "G. Orweel" seem to understand that most politicians are completely uninformed about the science of education (quite true) and yet are competent enough to carry out a vast conspiracy in which even the people carrying out the plan (teachers, administrators) are completely unaware of their role. Get a grip. Teachers and administrators want kids to learn and become educated. They are doing the best they can with the resources they have. Some are great, most are good, a few are ineffective or even incompetent. Just like in every profession. And forcing them to teach to a test is the kind of thing that sounds good if you're looking for votes, but is a huge mistake if you actually want an educated populace.

say it plain

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

OMG, thank you, your google suggestion led me to uncover a fabulous bit of conspiracy -theory (doubtlessly inspired by those same right-wingers alleged to be acting as representatives of the elite illuminati, too cool!) that I'd somehow missed, despite being on the interwebs for years and years now lol! Thanks for the education ;-) !!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:39 p.m.

What a bunch of wussies! They ahve been taking these tests for as long as I can remember! This is exactly the reason that kids today are such wimps! Take your kids and homeschool them if you don't like the FREE education your kids are getting in the public school!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

Andrea Just for clarification, the NWEA is given 3 days in a row, 3 times a year, but at our school I believe they test for just about an hour on each of those 3 days. That would be 9 hours per year. Now the debate on whether that 9 hours is too much can continue. I just thought it might mislead people to think that 3 full days were spent testing.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

With all due respect, I need to disagree with the "wimp" generalization about these kids. In general, the students (K-12) that I meet around town blow me away both with all of the activities they are doing and with how hard they work at school. I know elementary school students who play instruments, go to language schools, do a sport, and participate in a myriad of after-school activities. I know high school students who play in the orchestra, stay up until 2 a.m. doing homework, volunteer at their church, and help out around home. Perhaps it is just me, but the characterization you put forth doesn't mesh with my experience with the AAPS student body.....

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:50 p.m.

My right to decide the education direction of my children is at stake. I choose to determine the best path for my child. Not you or the state. And, until my school tax dollars (funny how you do not mention FREE education anymore) are in my control, I will hold and use my right to determine what my child experiences in the public system, as allowed by law.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

It is not 3 days. It is 9 days in the first month and a half of school alone between the MEAP and the NWEA, plus several additional days two more times during the year. And yes, I do see real cuts being made to my kids' education because of the time commitment to all this testing. Those real education experiences are the ones that give kids a glimpse of the real world, which requires critical thinking, team work, creativity, research ability, and a host of other skills that can be learned from a good teacher, not from a standardized test. Not once in the real world have I ever had to do anything that remotely resembled a timed, multiple choice test. As to having to do things you don't want to do, my kids actually like the tests because they find them quite easy so they can finish quickly and have free time to read, they have less homework during testing weeks, and they get special snacks. This is not about my poor kids having to take a scary test. This is about my kids' time and their teachers' time being wasted by something with no educational value at the expense of real learning. Education budgets are being slashed while a huge amount of funding is being committed to these extra tests. And none of this is free. We're all paying for it with our tax dollars.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

What "rights" are being violated? Are your children being harmed? If this is just a bunch of parents trying to exert their power...go for it! Eliminate all testing while you are at it. Let's let our little princes and princesses live in their little bubbles and think that they don't have to do anything to get by in life. While your kids are sitting on welfare somewhere, mine will be working to pay their taxes to take care of yours. It's the real world people! One stupid standardized test is not going to make or break your child's entire educational career.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Testing in general has been happening forever. So this new one was added. So what? Are those 3 days of instruction going to make or break your child's education? How can you even say there is no educational benefit? During standardized testing is probably the only time your little ones get a glimpse at what the real world is like. You have to do things you don't want to do, you have to do things that are sometimes boring and mundane and sometimes not everything you have to do makes perfect sense. Again I say that if you are unhappy with your child's free education, please, keep them at home where you can impart all of your knowledge on them 24/7.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

The NWEA test was added just LAST YEAR and takes several days THREE TIMES A YEAR. This has not been happening for as long as you can remember. Nobody is saying to stop all testing. We are saying that the exponential increase in the amount of standardized testing has gone way too far in recent years, with no educational benefit, and at the expense of real instructional time.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

I am just saying, that we should reduce the testing of children, as it forces teachers to teach for the test. I know that teachers will jump all over me for saying this, but if we are going to test our children at all, we need to test the children to see if they are competent to teach in their in their subject area, and, for grade school teachers, they should be tested on their general knowledge.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

@aamom. A college degree in most college teaching programs requires tenacity, not necessarily intelligence, or capacity to teach in their field. When I attended college, taking a class in the Education Department was known as getting an "easy A".


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

I meant we should test the teachers, as well.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

As teaching requires a college degree, I would presume their college or university tested them on their competency to teach and on their general knowledge before they conferred a degree on them. I also believe the state makes them take some kind of standardized test to get certified to teach in this state. appears we have the testing of teachers covered already.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Test the teachers.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

If a teacher performs poorly on a test, that teacher should be required to attend classes in her/his field. If they refuse they should be fired. I know...the teacher's union would make this impossible...or very difficult. Perhaps the teacher should take the test before they are hired.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Do we then post the teacher test results so all can see? What do we do with a teacher that performs poorly on a test?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:22 p.m.

According to the Department of Education for the State of Michigan the School Code reads, "THE REVISED SCHOOL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 451 of 1976 380.10 Rights of parents and legal guardians; duties of public schools. [M.S.A. 15.4010 ] Sec. 10. It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children. The public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil's parents and legal guardians to develop the pupil's intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive environment. . This fundamental statement in the Michigan school code is the legal underpinning for the right to exempt your children from ANY test, including the MEAP test.

andy kelly

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 10:46 a.m.

Wow, silenced for speaking ones mind. What a progressive town we have. Let us relish in the little freedom we have left - especially with mob mentality.

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

"Why vote me down?" It could very possibly be due to the number of times you've posted on this topic.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Thanks, that is great to know re: the waiver (sorry, misspelled it the first time). It was much more difficult to get my student out of the test than I anticipated. This may give you a sense of the level of obstacles in actually getting a child excused from the test - I believe teachers have been told they have to test any child in the class on the day of the test....

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

Why vote me down? Do you have something against the freedom to parent the way you see fit?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

You do not need a waver. I just got off the phone with the Department of Ed and they confirmed the validity of this mandatory opt-out without the need of a waver. The federal NCLB act 106-110 says that each district is responsible for testing their enrolled children. State code conforms this. Yet, school code also asserts that parents can determine what their child learns in school (ex. opt out of evolution education if requested) or what is tested, even state "mandated" testing. In short, AAPS cannot supersede the rights of the parent.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Tried it, but AAPS didn't agree to a test waver


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:46 p.m.

I wish the poll accompanying this article was actually a useful tool to measure reader opinion on the amount of school testing, but three out of the five poll choices accurately reflect my own opinions. I am grateful to see that the title of the article has apparently been changed to accurately state the goal of the petition, which is to stop OVER-testing our kids, not to stop testing entirely. Nine days of testing in the first month and a half of school is ridiculous. Giving three standardized reading tests within a few weeks is also ridiculous. This amount of testing does not give us any new information about our kids and does nothing other than limit the amount of time teachers have to actually teach.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Why does the Oogie Boogie song from Nightmare Before Xmas come to mind? The one phrase after reading this? Your joking. Your kidding. I can't believe my ears. I totally agree with this one.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

I have 2 children in elementary school in Ann Arbor and I teach science to undergraduate students. These experiences give me pause as follows: 1) I don't see the value of computer testing a 1st grader in reading and math - what does a single test statistic tell you about aptitude and achievement and at what cost - these first graders spend 4+ mornings each testing session to take the NWEA, 3 times a year; 2) I have seen published studies indicating both that high-stakes testing for 3rd and 5th graders causes anxiety and that the effects are larger for economically disadvantaged students; and 3) I teach undergraduates who are presumably at the front end of the wave of the No-Child-Left-Behind standardized test-taking, and I see a lot of test-taking anxiety and overemphasis on test results which, frankly, undermines the experience of what an undergraduate education ought to be. As a parent, I think we are required to do our best to provide a top-rate educational experience for our kids - where do all of these tests fit into this, especially given the increasing class sizes (25 in 1st grade, 29 in 5th grade) and increasing pressure on teachers to have their students perform on standardized tests?


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

First graders don't take the MEAP. The NWEA will tell you a lot about what a first grader has mastered, of course it's not everything, but it is quite a valuable measure combined with the specific curriculum assessments.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

I am a huge believer in testing. I think it's important to assess what children know and don't know/understand and don't understand and then use that information as a tool to figure out what and how to teach children. It's also important, from a teacher's perspective, to identify whether children learned what they intended to teach. Despite this, however, I strongly believe that too much standardized testing is utterly useless. The MEAP provides some general broad strokes for teachers, administrators, and parents. They can use the MEAP tests to identify children in trouble, to assess whether or not things are going okay, and so forth. Because all children in Michigan public schools take the MEAP, parents can use that information in their own evaluations of schools and districts. Whenever a district or school adds an assessment, there needs to be a consideration of the tradeoffs. Testing takes a great deal of time away from instruction (especially when it is not in the service of said instruction). Testing costs money. Thus, there need to be good reasons why one might implement additional tests. Please no more testing!!!! Enough is enough. Have some sense, Ann Arbor Public Schools.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:23 a.m.

I agree with most of your post. I agree that one standardized test per year should suffice, but feel that we need to pressure the state to move in the direction of the NWEA rather than the MEAP. The MEAP results come so late that it can't help anyone and all that time spent taking it is then wasted. If you find out in January that the 4th graders in Ann Arbor didn't do so well last year in math, it's a bit late to do anything about it. Yes, I guess it shows a general trend so that teachers can alter their techniques and help future students, but it doesn't help the kids who need it. I also like how the NWEA alters questions based on your answers. My kids hate taking the MEAP because they think it is too easy and thus boring. You get to a certain point and you have to stop and wait for everyone else to finish. They really enjoy taking the NWEA because you work at your own pace and if you get a question right you get a harder one. They have to think more while taking that test than the MEAP and it makes the time go faster. So, if we could change the one test given per year to the format of the NWEA, I would be satisfied.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

You have infused into this argument wisdom. Thank you for your commenting. I agree with your post 100%.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

There is a different downside here. Parents of students who do well on tests assume that the kids actually know something and are learning, but tests very rarely test analytic ability, especially at this young age. I would much rather have the opinion of a teacher and the results of his or her testing than the results of a standardized test any day of the week. At this age, most skills that are important (willingness to learn, ability to apply concepts, etc.) cannot be reduced to a multiple guess test.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

The opinions of teacher vary widely and are quite subjective. Standardized tests just give some measure done objectively. It isn't and shouldn't be everything, but it is importamt.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Beautifully stated!

the other guy

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

And the lowest common denominoator is...the below average students who complain about tests. Next they will complain about going to school altoghether. Let's let them learn everything they need to know from watching Jersy Shore and The Kardashian's.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

It's not below average students. It's well educated parents who read the scientific literature on testing, amongst others.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

I understand feeling that kids are over-tested, but what are these parents going to do when their kids have to take the ACT and SAT for college applications? If kids have very little prior experience with standardized tests, I doubt they will do well on these college admission tests. It is just a reality, like or not, that these standardized tests make a huge difference in getting into the college or your choice.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

I scored very well on these tests. I experienced tests at school and one standardized test a year. It was enough. There is no evidence that taking 4-5 standardized tests a year impacts SAT or ACT scores or even test taking abilities. FYI: I used to work for ETS.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Another problem with the MEAP test, is that the schools funding is based on it. That needs to stop. And why do they give a test to 3 rd. graders over material for 3rd grade at the beginning of the year?.. explain how that helps anything. The child is in that grade to learn that grade level and yet the test is given at the beginning of school. wonder why the teachers are tense?. When my kids were in school, the teachers would have to spend hours and hours in class just teaching to the test. The MEAP test was originally for information, the teachers approved so that they could see what the students needed to work on. Now it takes a year to get results so what good does it do that class?.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

that was not what was explained to me.

Nancy Shiffler

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

Because the MEAP is given in the fall, the content tested is based on the previous year. Third graders are tested on 2nd grade material.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:01 p.m.

What I don't like about the MEAP is the interpretation of the results. For example if a kid misses the "not proficient" level by a few points and therefore is considered "proficient", the school uses that to their advantage in IEPs. Or, if a child is not proficient in one aspect of reading but does very well on another aspect, they will still average out to be "proficient" in reading (as an example) even if their comprehension is below proficient. I don't fault the teachers for this, but more so the administration for looking for ways to cut corners/staff.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Sounds like all the same parents who complain every week about too much home work.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

If you homeschool your kids you can completely direct the curriculum and never test either. If you choose to have your kids attend public schools, you should do what is required.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

Actually I am opposed to excessive standardized testing and the NWEA tests in particular but I would LOVE to see more homework.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

As long as there are other effective ways for parents to know whether teachers and schools are doing a good job, for teachers to know whether students are learning what they should learn, we don't need standardized testing. But standardized tests or not, just don't go back to the feel-good ways when all children feel confident and happy and yet can't perform the simplest tasks.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

There must be something to show student growth during the year. According to the MDE The MEAP Test format will be changing and it will be given in the spring. Every country seems to be changing the educational system. The Center of International Education Benchmarking has the US behind other countries in all tested areas.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

Yes, there should be methods to assess growth. We already have many (teachers assess children, test them formally and informally, for example). So, why add more?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

As I was reading the article I could't stop laughing. The more they quoted people from the group STOP, the more ridicules they sounded. Next thing you know, these same people will be telling me how a public school tax increase needs to pass.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:05 p.m.

If you as a parent want more control over your child's education, then take it over yourself. I know many kids that have been homeschooled and have had excellent educations – and you can let them get deeper into their interests. But I also don't see a problem with testing. When they get into the real world, and they are working at their job, they aren't spending all their time doing their work. They have things like meetings, and training that takes them away from what they are really suppose to be doing. This just prepares them for their life outside of school. Also remember "practice makes perfect". The more they test, the better they get at it.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

the whole point of the local-control of the American public school system is so that parents, teachers, the community can together decide what's best for the kids. Some of us are saying that testing has gone too far.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

Yay. That's what I want -- kids who get really good at taking tests. And as for homeschooling-- careful with your assumptions here. Not every family has the privledge of having a non-income-earning member who can do this.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

dwcwork, just because YOU do not see a problem with testing does not mean that one does not exist. The beauty of this state, when it comes to education, is that I can choose the direction of my child's education. Therefore, if I want my son to be tested, I can opt in. If I do not want him to be tested I can opt out. Choices, it is a simple but wonderful concept.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

My problem isn't with the testing per se. A little stress is good for your pumpkins. The problem is that the teachers are being required to spend all their time preparing for these tests, and these tests really don't really measure much breadth of knowledge. A secondary related problem is this new concentration on "reducing the achievement gap", which is shorthand for not teaching the smart kids anything advanced lest they screw up our precious gap. Instead we've got third graders still practicing 3+4 all the time which many of them were able to do in kindergarten.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

You make very good points. Well stated!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Before someone jumps on my repetitiveness, please excuse the accidental "really don't really".


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

When I was K-12 student in the 1960's I hated standardized testing. I hate it even more now. The purpose of these test were and still are not to help the students, but to place and control them. Students of color are particularly affected. The time has come to let teachers teach and base testing on class/instructional levels. Save the standardized testing for entrance exams.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.

So what do your actually mean student of color. I hope you really mean - Asians. Yes, they realy do get affected by the testing by skewing the curve - being sarcastic! Enough of the multi-culturalism

Linda Peck

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Amen to that! Administrators, put yourself in the children's shoes and see how you would enjoy all of that heavy pressure!


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

The pressure is being put on by all the adults including parents, but I would agree the administrators are the worst about doing so.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

It's not just the pressure that the STOP group opposes. It's the time taken away from instruction, the focusing of instruction towards tests, the inability of parent and teachers being responsible for testing choices.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

do not agree. it is method of seeing where they are before it is to late to correct.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Danielle (and, Please consider changing the title of this story immediately. It is misleading, and should say "stop over-testing" not "stop testing" (which has a very different meaning). Indeed, the group's moniker, the title of their online petition and all of their statements in your story reflect their mission is to stop over-testing. However, the title of the story says (and you've even incorrectly put it in quotes) that their petition is to "stop testing our children," period. That's clearly wrong and should be corrected right away.

Cindy Heflin

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

We have changed the headline to reflect that over-testing is the parents' concern.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

Good point!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Need more diversity and sensitivity training and then a way to test them on it................


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

I wish the headline read that parents are concerned about OVERtesting of children. My family is just entering AAPS with a Kindergartener. One of my hesitations over going the public school route is the amount of standardized testing. We are not at AAO, this is a parent concern across our schools not strictly at the more open school environments. As a former teacher, I wish the state and populace gave individual schools and individual teachers more trust to find the best method of teaching and assessing individuals' performance. One test at the end of each school year, if mandated, seems sufficient, no?


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I'm not arguing that all standardized tests are to be dismissed, but I don't really see the MEAP or any other standardized test as a means to inform parents and teachers on the child's progress. I see them as a way for schools and states to compare schools. As you say, teachers should be continually assessing children and informing parents of outcomes throughout the year. So, I do think a standardized test at the culmination of the year to show progress from the prior year is sufficient. If teachers aren't adequately assessing or informing parents throughout the year that is entirely a different issue that needs to be addressed through that particular school/principal.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

You really want to wait to the end of the year to find out your child is struggling? Some teachers will be good and alert you early, while others will not. There should be good small assessments built into each unit or topic area. Assessments should be both formative and summative, meaning you are seeing how the kids do as you go along and adjust instruction accordinly, and summative means did they learn what they were supposed to at the end. But some type of curriculum based assessment is crucial. Overall tests like the MEAP are supposed to asssess an entire cumulative academic area - I would agree that the MEAP is quite flawed and not a very good assessment, but we should be looking for better ones, not dismissing them totally.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

I totally agree. Well stated!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

I think the main False Assumption is that these tests actually test for knowledge. More likely they test for test taking ability. Do we want our kids educated to take tests or to excel in life via knowledge learned in the classroom?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

The tests are not terrible. They do test knowledge as well as test-taking skills, intelligence, anxiety, and more. However, do we need them?

K Thompson

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1 p.m.

A) yes B) yep C) uh-huh D) all of the above. Blame A) G Bush B) NCLB C) Arne D) all of these for this travesty model of so-called 'education.'

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Perfect! Funny! Thank you!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.

What gets to me is that the MEAP is being taken now and the results won't be back until January/February!! How can a teacher, student or parent use those results when between now and then so much more is achieved or in some cases lost. If the results could come back in a timely fashion they might actually be useful in aiding our kids.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.

Many if not most parents have insufficient knowledge and skills (and the time) to properly educate their own children, if they are considering home schooling for instance. Very likely many of the parents who object to testing do so because their own children have performed poorly and these parents do not wish to accept the fact that their children are not progressing well in school. Unfortunately, no parent who is arguing against testing has offered a meaningful alternative for measuring a child's accumulation of knowledge and the skills necessary to effectively use their knowledge. The better colleges and universities have many more students applying for admission than each school can accept. Therefore, the schools must select from the pool of applicants and prefer accepting those candidates best prepared to successfully complete their college education. The ACT and SAT tests have proven useful in predicting success at the higher education level. Furthermore, those matriculating to college who have higher ACT and SAT scores are less likely to require remedial education which is a number of universities find necessary to provide. Many parents of poor performing students may wish that their child's poor performance go unnoticed because lack of success in school reflects badly on their participation in the child's education. Nevertheless, having a good education is accepted as the key to better employment and probably a more enjoyable and meaningful life. Assessing students' progress through their formative years is important to adjusting the educational experience to benefit every student. The tools used to assess each student's progress needs to be constantly refined to produce results that will actually improve a student's schooling experience.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.

My own kids consistently score in the high average to high level on these tests. My objection to testing has nothing to do with my own kids' performance. It has to do with the amount of time wasted by all this testing, which does not tell us anything about our kids that their teachers do not already know. If my child was struggling in any area, of course I would want to have that be noticed so we could work on strengthening that area. I just don't believe that endless standardized testing is the way to achieve that. The only meaningful feedback I have ever received about my kids' academic performance has come from their TEACHERS, not from standardized tests. I agree that a good education is a key to future employment and life experience. That's why I want to let the teachers have time to actually give my kids a good education, rather than wasting so many instructional days on these standardized tests and cutting real education in the process.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

My kids are GREAT test takers. I am opposed to too much testing. I trust my children's teachers to develop and use tests and other assessments (for example, my children's teachers do regular one-on-one reading assessments and math problme solving tests). So two incorrect premises-- most of us in the group (I know many) have very bright children who test well, and we have and do provide alternatives.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

I am not opposed to SOME testing...there needs to be a guideline, but I'd like to see all school districts select the one test that can most accurate assess ability. AND, I'd like to see all teachers....ALL teachers, be tested on an annual basis of their knowledge and ability.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

Hey barefootdave, you and I agree! Yes, with N.C.L.B. and set curriculum, a teacher cannot use any expertise to do much more than inspire. Well stated!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

I think testing teachers on their knowledge is irrelevant in the days of N.C.L.B. and set curriculums. The most important thing a teacher can do is inspire. How do you measure this? The idea that every child can be force fed knowledge is the reason our education system is failing. How do you bring parent accountability into the equation? How do you unleash the potential of the inspired while dragging the dead weight behind you?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

It seems there are a couple issues overlooked in most of the comments. Some readers seem to presume that testing is an accurate measure of ability. Overall, probably...but I'm the parent of a (now adult) child who, when in third grade walked out of a classroom in tears after the math component of the MEAP test. The teacher confirmed for me that the more she gave required time warnings the more upset he was getting. He'd lose his focus and try to get back on track. In math class, he was a straight-A student. The second issue is one I observed while sub-teaching in Connecticut. This may not be as applicable in the Ann Arbor school district, but I was doing urban teaching in the Hartford area. Schools were SO concerned about the standardized testing results (testing was in the spring) that the entire school year was geared to the test. The first year I was there elementary students were taught math for 45-60 minutes a day, they had 30-60 minutes a day for their "special"...gym, music, art, computers, etc. The entire rest of the day, in the school I spent most of my time, was reading and writing. The students didn't have science or social studies at all. The second year I was there (2006-07) science was added to the standardized testing and teachers began scrambling. Many hadn't taught (3rd/4th grade) science in over a decade and admittedly no longer knew how, nor could figure out how to fit it in to the school day.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

"The second year I was there (2006-07) science was added to the standardized testing and teachers began scrambling. Many hadn't taught (3rd/4th grade) science in over a decade and admittedly no longer knew how, nor could figure out how to fit it in to the school day." Which is exactly why you need some type of standardized curriculum and testing. Perhaps the particular types of tests are not the best, but you MUST have some type of testing/ collection to find out whether the student has learned the topic or material. There are actualy studies and empirical evidence on what type of teaching and curriculum work well to ensure students learn. I strongly agree that most of the issue is parents, teachers and especially administrators that make a huge fuss and giant anxiety-producing deal out of the MEAP. We took standardized tests 40 years ago too, but no one made a big deal out of it, we simply did the testing and it was part of the normal school routine. The adults are the ones putting the pressure on. Testing and assessment should be integrated into a good curriculum to continually measure how the students are doing, and also to be used to inform and differentiate instruction based on a student's deficits and areas for improvement. If you don't assess, and rely only on teacher judgment, you will get very uneven results. Testing isn't everything and it shouldn't be, but it is very important to know what the students have actually learned.

vox rationis

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

There are no timed components to the MEAP tests now being administered to grades 3-9.

Jon Wax

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

""Please keep it to one or fewer standardized tests per school year and please don't start so young."" this is why our country is falling apart. keep cutting corners on these kids and you can kiss the future goodbye. why even bother with grades? all they do is damage the fragile self esteem of your poor widdle baby! hell why even have school at all? just give em all a degree in whatever they want and things should be just fine. Peace


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

nothing to do with self-esteem. it's about time on testing vs. instruction. some tests are fine/good. too many are useless.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Really? And by testing we insure that the country will not fall apart? It seems by that logic that our country fell apart, as you state, because of testing. You know, we have had standardized for a long time!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

How about we keep the tests on the condition that all of our State legislators must complete the same tests (12th grade level) under the same conditions (supervised, make sure there's no cheating), and all their results be made openly available to the public? I doubt the legislature will approve this, but perhaps we could push for a 2010 proposal on the ballot? I'd certainly vote yes.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Interesting. Comical. Fun!

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

An online petition! What will be next, a strongly-worded letter?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:23 p.m.

There is a good discussion here: how do we evaluate what goes on in classrooms? How can we tell which teachers have the best ideas and implement the best practices? Standardized testing measures how well kids take standardized tests. (Ask any college admissions officer how much the SAT or ACT weighs on their evaluation process.) So what is the better way? Hard to say, but recognizing the shortcoming of over-quantifying a particular skill and then creating a false extrapolation of 'success' or 'failure' is one heckuva start.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Please do not forget that ALL Ann Arbor elementary teachers teach from the same mandatory curriculum that is purchased by the administration. The success of a teacher's best ideas and practices can no longer be assessed properly when they are forced into a scripted curriculum that does not allow for individual ideas to come through.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

Why test? Level the playing field and pass all kids with a C. Spread the wealth - grades - around. No one will feel bad. No one will feel pressured. No winners and no losers. Each can live at home till they are 35.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

So, therefore intensively testing our children will enable a perfect society? What is your point?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

The test is fine the stress comes from the teachers and the school prepping the students for the test. The build up to the MEAP is ridiculous and does put a lot a lot of pressure on the kids, more so at the elementary level. Just remind your kids this test is evaluating the teachers and school not them and not to sweat it. Perhaps it should be given without notice. The school is transferring their stress onto the kids shoulders.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Domey, what on earth are you talking about?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

"soccer moms"?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Domey, if only it were that easy to achieve the desired result. And, not getting to far off topic, nowadays food allergies in the classroom have prevented pizza parties like the old days.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Give the test without notice to minimize stress. Make it a pizza party day, announce it well ahead of time, and you will have as close to full attendance as you can get. No kid will want to miss that day. Make it the same day you do head counts for funding, and kill two birds with one stone! I believe PTSO groups would be able to fund this fairly easily, so if the schools can't pitch in, oh well. If they approached their pizza purveyors ahead of time, they might even get a price break from them too. Doesn't this sound easily doable? Schedule changes by the school, fund raising and bargain hunting by "soccer moms". These are the experts in these tasks, they can get this done so easily. Schools benefit by having maximum attendance on head-count day, pizza parlor benefits by having a boom in business with advance notice, parents benefit because they love their kids and have removed some stress from them, kids benefit because it's PIZZA!

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

Well, that solves everything. Barefootdave gave us all great truth by stating that stress comes only from the teachers and the school. Just remind your children and all will be great! (Sorry, but I just could not hold back the intense sarcasm).


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

Can we measure education effectiveness prior to standardized tests versus after? While we can not, I can venture to say that the results of these tests are grossly misleading. I think the best thing you may be able to glean is that you can tell which students blow the test off and which try their best. We all know tests are a measure of how well someone can memorize and regurgitate (for the most part) and know there is few if any better way to measure the students ability and create a system to encourage understanding. I don't' see how standardized tests have helped poorer performing schools other than they teach the test and then don't show as poor in evaluations (yet are just as poor no doubt). A test is only as good as the belief and faith of those who take it.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

As a teacher, I cannot agree more that our children are over tested, but there can be penalties for schools if parents just sign their children out without the opportunity to make the test up. Please don't punish our local schools for following a state mandate.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:57 a.m.

Also, please consider -- nobody is saying there should be NO testing whatsoever. It's the amount of testing that is ridiculous. My kiddo has been tested on reading comprehension on three separate and distinct tests within a period of weeks. Really??? She'll have 4 days of MEAP, 2-3 of NWEA, plus SRI, fast math and more -- all within the first month and or so of school. And then NWEA gets reapeated two more times, THIS YEAR ALONE. When does anyone have time to actually teach anything?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.



Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

There are over 100 signatures already! Go read the petition language. And read the comments from some of the signers -- very intelligent, thought-provoking stuff there! I signed.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.

I believe in a free society, so I'm OK with parents pulling their kids out if they don't want them tested. I also believe if the majority of parents object, the testing should be cut back. But believe this effort is misguided. Testing is how you find out where you are at. Limiting testing because it stresses your kids isn't going to make for better education.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

What's wrong Ann Arbor? Are you feeling like a computer can tell us more than a human when it comes to educational assessment?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

How about teacher assessment based on interaction rather than technological pigeonholing.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

I must be wired differently, when I was in school, I always looked forwarded to these tests.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

...because you did well at them. So did I. I took SAT and ACT on the same day, and thought it was really fun. That proves nothing. I was a great test taker. What about the large majority who view such tests as scary?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Good to see parents pushing back against excessive standardized testing!

Basic Bob

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

These people are way too special. The sense of entitlement at AAO and CHS is unrealistic. If they want special treatment, there is home schooling.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Assessment is not the same as standardized computer testing. It is the prime factor in what makes a teacher a successful teacher - the ability to really know their students. Yes, I prefer, and demand, teacher assessment to that of a computer.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

So, the schools should provide testing in every way that any parent wishes?

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

The real issue is enabling a different option for those that prefer no testing. If one wishes to have their child tested in that manner it should be available. Just as if one chooses not to have their child tested but assessed by a teacher. This is the beauty of freedom different paths for different people.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Actually, Bob's right. I've seen it many times with the AAO crowd.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

What? Really? Entitlement? No, how about freedom to decide the path of your child's education!

Liliana Holtzman

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

I couldn't agree more. It always broke my heart to see my own children spending hour after hour in this tedious (and completely useless) activity. It is enough to make any child want to run away from school. I completely support these forward thinking parents!

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Absolutely! And, thank you for bringing it up. The real issue is enabling a different option for those that prefer no testing. If one wishes to have their child tested in that manner it should be available. Just as if one chooses not to have their child tested but assessed by a teacher. This is the beauty of freedom different paths for different people.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

My comment ended up in the wrong spot!


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Andy Does that "freedom" extend to those with different philosophy than you?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:17 a.m.

Wow, go to school and take a test. When those AAO kids get to go to Pioneer, Huron, or Skyline, does mommy sign them out there too? My daughter said the MEAP was easy, not stressful, and there is less homework. Testing kids prepares them for later in life when they go to college. Can't think of a college that allows mommy to pull the kid out for a test, or a good one that does not require the ACT or SAT. More practice with standardized tests can help, and perhaps pinpoint areas the child needs help. Perhaps get them help with test anxiety EARLY. If you're going to hold your kids hand and do everything for them, why do they need a brain?


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:20 p.m.

MEAP is very easy. You realy do not need to prep if the core subject matter is tought in the schools. We have developed a nanny state, where we cary about everything. Go take a look at the pre-med and engineering kids at the schools, especially the grad schools. WE have lost our edge fast. Furthermore, most of the jobs in the future will require technical skill, with a path towards relearning every few years. I was out of a field for 4 years, it has taken me a year to catch up to the changes that took place in the mean time. If you wish your kids to go a fluffy degree , have at it, but do not complain if we insist that our kids need a much more rigorous subject matter. I wish to prepare my kids to a much more competitive world


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

My objection to the amount of testing has nothing to do with how hard it is on my kids. My kids (at AAO) also say the MEAP is easy. They like it because they get done and have time to sit and read, because they don't have to do homework during the MEAP, and because they get special snacks on test days. I think it is a colossal waste of time and I would much prefer to have them go to school to actually LEARN something. This is not about text anxiety. This is about wasting the time of our teachers and kids, time that was previously used for actual instruction. This kind of test does absolutely nothing to prepare kids for the kind of testing I experienced in college. For that kind of preparation, kids need a good teacher with time to teach.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

The fact alone that you would compare the perceived over-testing of a third grader to a college student taking an exam implies you probably aren't as thoughtful as you might think. You are missing about a decade of mental development in there...

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:32 a.m.

Thoughtful - your name and philosophy clash a little don't they? We are the teachers of our children and it helps to be THOUGHTFUL in our educational approach. Instead of the mass standardized, industrial model, we are creative enough to remake our system - why not start at testing? Also, prior to posting you might want to spend a few minutes researching colleges before you try to "recall" a college that does not require the ACT or SAT. (more than 850 reputable universities and colleges nation wide).


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:14 a.m.

Stop testing? Stop over testing? All this will do is hide the fact that our education system is failing us. This includes education specialists, school boards, teachers - all of them. We need to wake up to the fact that we are trailing the world in education. An education revolution is needed to set this system in the correct direction which has an end goal of educating our children - all of them! Oh - and testing will determine if we have accomplished our goal. It is too late to allow life experience to determine that we did not educate the child. Finding out at this point is too late. Wake up people!

Jonny Spirit

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

What people in the US don't understand we are the ONLY country that does not have a standardized test to allow students to go up to the next grade. In Finland the students take a test to see if they can move up to 8th grade from 7th. If they fail it then they stay in 7th grade. So the US is going against the top of every country and we have to take everybody up to the next level. Come on US lets put a test together so every student needs to pass it to go on to the next grade. I bet you students and parents will be taking school a lot more seriously if the gifted 15 year old son is still in 5th grade! Because everyone's child is gifted in the US :)


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

The tests are poorly designed and don't provide good measures of student achievement. And then politicians and others turn around and use the test results as a reason to vilify teachers and break their unions, lower their wages, and make their lives hell. That's a purely political game, and it has nothing to do with educating the children. No, constant testing is not the answer. It's time to restore adequate funding to public schools, including offering teacher salaries that attract the "best and brightest" to the profession, along with sufficient funds for a broad-based curriculum including ample arts and humanities instruction, and teach critical thinking skills instead of simple test preparation. A well-educated child is one who can think for him/herself, not merely one who scores well on a test. But politicians don't want kids who can think, because that makes them harder to control and lie to when they become voters.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

How about the variables (sleep, nutrition, family life, illness, etc.) attached to testing - can a computer calculate those? Also, consistency is a measurement reserved for controllable parts. We are human begins with variability all over the place. I actually prefer life with color rather than consistency. I reserve that for the machines.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Only a test can insure consistency. Individuals cannot.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

Be careful when comparing the US to other countries. We test ALL of our children, while they only test students who made it to the academic track.

Mich Res and Alum

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

The best school system in the world - Finland's - does not test nearly as much as we do. In fact, they would be disgusted with the mere idea to test more.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

itchy, if you stop scratching for minute or two you will realize that people are awake and mad as the dickens. Finally, a place to start educational reform happens locally and not with our out-of-touch, do-nothing congress. Standardized testing will not determine any accomplishment of our goal, only pass on the anxieties associated with stress. Teachers are trained to privately assess without the stress. A much better path forward.

Mich Res and Alum

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

I agree with the basic premise, but isn't your concern better aimed elsewhere? This is a major education reform issue. You need to voice your displeasure with your vote and make sure policy makers know that this is not education. Also, what kind of message are you sending your child by specially excusing them from a test everyone else is taking? You pulling your child on test day does not change his education before or after that day. Sure it relieves him/her from some stress, but there should be no reason to be stressed about these tests that have no effect on their grade. Perhaps the better lesson for your child would be to explain the situation in a mature fashion, do your best to calm their anxiety, and tell them to do their best because you should always do your best.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:22 p.m.

I would agree with most of what you stated, however our "professional educators" are shackled by a out-of-control administration. So, once we break the chains our teachers will be able to do what they were hired to do - inspire and educate.

Mich Res and Alum

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

@andy kelly I'm glad that parents are finally voicing concerns that teachers have had since I was in high school 10 years ago. I remember a young teacher telling us of the impending test culture, and boy was he right. However, I think individually pulling one student out does not do that student any good. It may do harm. We (parents, teachers, concerned parties) need to make our voice heard in a more professional manner. Education needs to be a higher priority in this country and the people that should be leading it are professional educators, not people swayed by testing companies and companies that run for-profit charters.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

The message - how about the silent vote of civil disobedience? When it comes to testing, we the parents reserve the right to choose the educational path protested for us by our state congress. Read


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

MEAP reading yesterday part 1 and part 2 took up 3 hours of the school day for all kids in my class to complete (some done sooner, but last few kids took a long time). We did very little academics yesterday. This will be similar today, next Tuesday and next Wednesday. Couple that with 2 hours of NWEA in September, 2 hours in January, and 2 hours in May makes for less teaching time. Oh wait, I forgot about the SRI that is generally around an hour in September, January, and early June. When all is said and done we will have invested around 20-21 hours solely on standardized test for our students. I applaud these parents for their efforts, but I don't see these test going away. Would love to hear more about opting out, I think parents should have the right to do this. As a teacher, I would consider this for my own children.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

One final note. The state of Michigan defines a student as truant when they miss 10 days of school. The teaching contracts right off the top permits more absences than that.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

I get your point, but education is run by bureaucrats (local/state/federal). Education should be in the hands of teachers. Good ones that come to work and don't abuse the loop holes provided in their contract. Those that don't, get rid of them. I'm not against teachers. Only the ones that abuse the system - which my sons have been victim of for several years. Teachers should not be faced with a "use it or lose it" regarding accumulated days off. This only hurts the 30+ kids in the classroom. Pay the "good" teachers incentive rather than penalizing the students. Any district that continues to approve contracts as they are now is really displaying that education isn't really that important. It makes it difficult for them to be taken seriously in the first place.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

glimmertwin: teachers get sick because they are around sick kids all the time. So yes we get sick days for ourselves, but they also go towards the fact that their own kids often get sick and we might need to stay home with our own kids. Could some teachers abuse this? Yes! But this can also happen in other jobs as well. The whole point I was trying to make with my original post was that these test truly don't tell teachers anything they don't already know. Good teachers know this information before the testing time even comes around. So why so many test? Just asking people to consider. As for opting out, I wish more families would push this, would be anxious to see how the district responds.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

If a teacher is missing that many days off throughout the year due to illness than there is something more to worry about than teaching kids. There is something seriously wrong and a system in place that just goes on permitting it. Pay the teachers that come to work and replace those that don't.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

Opting out is difficult, and AAPS does not issue waivers. Our principal said "no," although I have heard other schools where principals will let students opt out. There is no formal process, and a lot of push back at the administrative level.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Beth, I don't want to speak for Glimmertwin, but I didn't think he/she meant teachers gone for sick days. We had a teacher one year who was on the equity team and they were gone ALL the time. At least once per week, which I think is unreasonable.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

Are we going to see a post from you about how much academics were lost for a snow day? Or will you be facebooking your friends about how much you enjoyed the day off with pay. lol Get over yourself.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

@glimmertwin - would you prefer that teachers came to school and taught your children even though they were ill????????


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

The MEAP data is not helpful because the results come in five months after the test was taken. Last year's data is too broad and vague. The NWEA data is available right away, but mostly is just useful for seeing how students do compared to other kids. You can't look at results and know what an individual student needs to work on. The SRI just gives a score and does not let you know where the child excelled or needs help. The best data is what teachers get on a daily basis, working with students in the classroom.

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

This again is an administrative issue. Abolish the administration and the teachers will be where they need to be, in the classroom.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I get the concern about stressing the kids out. But the teachers, per their contract, miss (and many do) many, many more hours that 20-21 and leave their classes to non-prepared substitutes. Where is the petition for that issue?


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

sh1 Can you give more explanation about how they can't change their teaching? I am not a teacher, but from our experience when I asked for some more challenging math for him, the teacher listened and then pulled out those scores from 2 days prior and seemed surprised because the numbers were higher than she expected to see. Then he was working out of a different math book. She was a good teacher and she knew he did well in math, but with 28 kids to manage, she didn't realize just how well he was doing. Again, I'm not a teacher, but reviewing the scores with the teacher really caused a change in what my child did in math all year.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

What's important to note about these tests is none of them are formative. Teachers cannot use the results to inform their teaching (regardless of the lie about how helpful the NWEA is--find one teacher who agrees).

andy kelly

Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

AAmom - we can get rid of it by a protest of civil disobedience.


Wed, Oct 10, 2012 : 11:13 a.m.

It's sad that the MEAP is the mandated one that we can't get rid of. I would love to see us keep the NWEA and kill the MEAP. The NWEA gives immediate results which were then actually shared with me 2 days later by the teacher and instruction was changed as a result. Never seen the MEAP do anything useful.