The Arizona Republic recently reported on its Sunday front page that a greater number of parents want to keep their children out of state testing this year. Hmmm. While I hear rumors of that, we don’t even have student participation rates for this year’s state test yet, so I am not sure how we’d know that participation rates were down. School officials quoted in the story did not confirm such a suspicion.
And I hope it isn’t true.
Because the Arizona Republic also ran an excellent and ironically timed piece about vaccinations being something we do for ourselves and our own children, but also for the entire community. We live in society, and we must advance public as well as private health.
Same is true for statewide testing of students. The reason we go to the trouble of testing all students with the same test once a year is to measure the progress of ALL students against the same high expectations. We know without question that where testing is local only, wealthy students will be offered a higher level of challenge than poor children. So low-income families end up being told their children are academically healthy when they are not.
Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are generally higher income, as are parents who seek to keep their children from state tests. Wealthier families are probably correct that the environment they offer their children makes it less likely they will become sick. And they are certainly correct that they have the means to offer their own children any supplemental assessment or instruction needed to advance their education. They feel that they have ways to keep their children healthy and educationally advantaged that do not involve standard practice.
But the children who lose in that equation are those without such safety nets. Children at risk of ill health due to an inability to afford regular care or even strong nutrition will fall prey to infection much faster than a child with nutritional support in reserve.
And the families of children who are never able to compare their academic work with that of academically advantaged students will not know if their level of performance is on true par.
When considering the advantages of a state assessment that takes one day out of 180, remember we do this not just for one child but for all children.