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Sunday, April 4, 2021

Parents opt your students out of Florida's high stakes tests

 I am finishing my 21st year teaching in Duval County Public schools. I have seen a lot, but without a doubt, the worst and what must go is the state's reliance on high-stakes testing, This is especially relevant as DCPS starts testing season. I call it a season because it will last for weeks. Students at private schools that accept vouchers paid for by the public already don't have to take these pernicious tests, and it's time public schools joined them. 

Testing and preparing for the tests take away weeks of instruction. They don't provide any value either because the results aren't made known for months until after the school year has ended, and they rob teachers of the ability to be flexible, reteach or do deep dives into subjects. On the other hand, these tests affect everything from teachers losing their jobs to housing values and to a city's ability to attract businesses. 

This is not to say we shouldn't have standards or accountability; we should, though, for some reason, the state spends billions on voucher schools without either. However, we must do so in a way that doesn't steal instructional time, assists instruction, and doesn't hurt housing values. 

Parents may also not know it, but they have the option of opting their children out. Only a handful of tests are for promotion, and most of those have workarounds. Now the district has been known to threaten families with placement into special programs or schools they choose if their children skip the tests, but that too is a problem we should address. For a century, grades were the barometer for success, not how a student did on a high-stakes test. Teachers have long known how hurtful these tests are, but the state never listens to educators, but they may listen to parents, and if enough parents opt their children out; this will send a loud message to the state. You can find out more about opting out at . Please consider it, the state, the school system and your children would be better off if you did.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher

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