We begin with a definition of the word “conscience” and we leave you with one example of our Teachers’ Letters of Professional Conscience. Feel free to use these words, revise, or edit as you wish. We have made them generic so that you can add your test names and teacher names to these objections to personalize them.
Remember to write your personal letter or speech in no more than 3 paragraphs above these objections to include your personal story. This is a living document and we will update it as teachers around the globe improve upon it with their brilliant thoughts, words, and actions of professional conscience.
(Add your personal reasons for the following objections here, followed by:)
For these reasons, I cannot remain silent.
Teachers constantly use data of a different sort to drive instruction. Kids do not come standardized, nor should they, and the individual data a teacher gathers on a child is in the context of their relationship and classroom based assessments.
The teacher who knows each and every student and the precise moment in which to intervene as they tackle a multi-step algorithm; the educator who can sense from a child’s posture the exact tone to use to engage them on a difficult task; the moment when a student needs you to believe in them and spend that extra moment to provide specific positive feedback so they will try harder next time vs. when to be quiet and let them lead; using the weekly quiz that shows exactly which skill is not quite mastered and leads the teacher to planning a lesson and finding new materials the following day to fill that gap; these are teacher behaviors and they all mean using real data to help kids.
I do NOT need this standardized assessment to measure achievement when it is apparent every single day. A one-day snapshot of a child’s performance is not at all indicative of that child’s overall learning progression. Students one day are at mastery and not the next. This is human.
The student who comes to school hungry or sad or is distracted by friendship issues on the (insert test name/s) day? Failure. The child who can’t type as fast or as accurately as his peers? Fail. The kids who can’t read a screen as well as a piece of paper because they forgot their glasses or have tired eyes? Failure. The anxiety ridden children who literally pull their hair out because of the pressure to perform? Fail. The students who don’t care about a test their teacher hasn’t created and which doesn’t mean anything to them because it isn’t connected to anything they care about? Failures.
I empathize with the kids who know they will fail and cry during the assessment. For those kids, we are the failures for making them endure this.
Diane Ravitch said:
Sometimes, the most brilliant and intelligent minds do not shine on standardized tests because they do not have standardized minds.
None of the policymakers advocating “tougher” standards and graduation requirements have experience working with children, or understand the impact these changes have on the students in our classrooms. These leaders seem to have contempt for teaching the whole child when they ignore our cries for support and resources that kids need to be READY to learn.
We have cut counselors, nurses, art, music, extracurricular activities, behavior support, classroom aides, field trips, and most of all TIME for teachers to plan good instruction. Instead we have been given MORE duties for data collection, evaluation rubrics, more tests that are not aligned with our curriculum or student’s developmental needs, leadership duties, technology tasks, pacing guides that are literally impossible to follow, error-riddled tests that change often, report cards that do not match standards, new standards without training and a total lack of quality curriculum while our students are needier than ever.
This reality is unconscionable and I cannot remain silent. I ask others to stand up with me for children and our future.
I object to the latest iteration of No Child Left Behind’s failed policy called the (insert test name/s) which goes against my professional conscience.I object to the inhumane test environment imposed upon us by people who believe schools should be run like businesses and students like commodities. This single test will rank and sort children so that labels of failure may be applied and the door will open for takeover of public schools by private interest groups in the name of ‘accountability’.
I object to treating my students like guinea pigs in an experiment that has not produced any real learning gains but will increase drop-out rates, decrease motivation and will increase anxiety disorders leading to what we’ve already seen: increased suicide among teenagers for the incredible pressure they are put under.
I object to how computers are monopolized for weeks at a time for the sake of testing young children; tech Levy voters believed their dollars would be spent on learning not standardized testing.
I object to the use of Pearson’s set “cut-scores” predicting ⅔ of our kids will fail to meet proficiency on their test for profit. These scores will not inform our instruction but will discourage the incredibly hard-working school staff and diminish brave innovation in coming school years.
I object to the lack of trust in classroom experts which has been replaced by faith in test publishers devoid of teaching experience and who deny the whole child’s uniqueness.
I object to the time stolen as (insert test name/s) becomes the main goal of my reading, writing and math instruction, thus eliminating project based learning, health, social studies, the arts, physical education, music and social/emotional lessons.
I object to the fact that (insert test name/s) will force more kids to drop out which will increase poverty; by failing this test students will lose faith in their individuality, self-worth and higher education or career prospects. Confidence is key to perseverance.
I object to the use of (insert test name/s) or any standardized assessment that directly correlates to family income. Students of color, English learners, and those with low socio-economic status are disproportionately harmed by standardized testing and yet we continue to increase it-often IN THE NAME OF CLOSING THE ACHIEVEMENT GAP. This is ludicrous.
I object to the lack of transparency on (insert test name/s) test items and scoring mechanisms; that teachers and parents are not permitted to view the test or the answers their students write is insulting to the people who know a child best. Teacher assessment data and report cards are disregarded by accountability ‘experts’ who strive to label students for their own purposes.
I object to the misuse of precious revenue spent on (insert test name/s) scoring, on practice tests, on required test materials, on contracts with test-prep corporations’ consultants and on staff time for training to teach to the test as well as training for administering the test. Funding has been cut for counselors, nurses, planning time for teachers, behavior support staff, playground supervision & equipment, libraries, field trips and safety plans and still we have increasing class sizes. Follow the money on who is profiting from (insert test name/s) as it is not in the public’s best interest to give tax dollars to profit-makers who view children as voiceless consumers from which profits are earned.
I object to how financial backers for the corporate takeover of education are funding campaigns for candidates who will support (insert test name/s) testing using billions of dollars earned on the backs of workers who live in poverty and whose children are harmed by this test.
I object to the undemocratic process of adopting (insert test name/s) and the Common Core State Standards whereby members of society, notably parents and educators, have not been engaged in ethical discourse around the ultimate purpose of public education and whether or not new standards may or may not solve the real problems impacting education.
I object to the (insert test name/s) as it has been marketed; it is designed to prepare workers for a competitive global economy. Who can defend the social and environmental impacts of our current economic practices? Our path as a nation is focused on profits, not human rights or ecological sustainability. If the (insert test name/s) was designed for perpetuating our exploitative economic practices, then many of us are morally obligated to renounce the test itself. Students have a right to an excellent public school education to learn to solve massive problems such as income inequity, not perpetuate them.
I object to the unprecedented practice of increased unnecessary testing, standardized testing from Pre-K to grade 12 including the WaKIDs Teaching Strategies GOLD, WELPA, DIBELs, CogAT, STAR, SRI, MAP, End of Course Exams (customize this list by inserting test name/s) used to fail students from graduation, and all high stakes testing, and the latest iteration of No Child Left Behind’s failed policy: the (insert test name/s) all of which go against my professional conscience.
I object to forcing young children to sit through hours of bubble tests when they don’t even understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. This is inhumane.
I object to expecting young children to wait to learn “working independently” for hours while their teacher is forced to test other students one-on-one – test after test after test.
I object to children who are just learning to speak, read, and write in English being forced to take standardized tests using English academic language and culturally biased language. This too is inhumane.
I object to forcing children with special needs to take standardized grade level tests when they have already proven to be 1 ½ to 2 years behind typical peers via a formal evaluation using standardized tests.
Therefore, I professionally object to administering the (insert test name/s). Our students deserve better.
This being said, please select one of the options below. Thank you.
____ (insert teacher name), Your concerns are noted and valued and you will be allowed to opt out of administering the (insert test name/s) without any retribution.
____ (insert teacher name) Your concerns are noted and your professional conscience is being discounted. Administration in this building or district requires you to administer the (insert test name/s) despite your objections and the harm, outlined in the narrative, that children will experience.