Wednesday, April 1, 2015

No to the Stress of the M-STEP Test

 I found a wonderful Facebook page that supports my views on Common Core and the M-STEP (Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress). I found an "opt out form" that I could fill out for each of my children and take to their principals which was to insure that my children would not be taking the M-STEP, and I had another copy ready to take to the superintendent for the district, if need be. I printed off many copies, mainly because I wanted to insure that I had a copy for my records at home that had an original signature from whom accepted the form. I had heard stories from other parents on how they ran into some trouble spots with school personnel while opting out of the test. I thought there was a good chance that the stories had been embellished; until I took my forms in.

I thought it would as simple as walking into the principal's office asking for his signature and I'd be on my way. I had not made an appointment as chose to just wait in the office after dropping my younger two off at their classroom doors. I let the secretary know the reason for my visit and she asked me to have a seat. A short time later the other secretary asked what she could do to help me, I said "Just getting some opt out forms signed", she said something along the lines of she wasn't aware there were opt out forms. I have had many visits with the elementary principal due to issues that have raised this year with Joey, so when he saw me he was less than thrilled. The principal said he had a meeting he was running late for and what could he do for me today. I really thought it would be a quick visit and told him "I'll be out of here in less than 5 minutes. I just needed him to sign four papers for me". I followed him into his office where I was invited to have a seat once he saw the forms I handed him. I was told that he did not believe our school was accepting any opt out forms. After hearing the stories from other parents on the Facebook page I have been following, I had brought a copy of the state law that stated that I had a legal right to opt out my children, just in case. It took him a moment to compose himself then checked something on his computer. Then every word I had heard other parents say they were told, were recited to me. It almost sounded like he was following a script. I presented me with a copy of what the Michigan Department of Education had to say in regards to student participation in state assessments. After 45 MINUTES of him trying to explain that by opting my two children out of the testing I was putting all the teachers in the school and the school's funding in jeopardy by not allowing my boys to take the test. For every negative consequence he tried to convince me I was inflicting on the school, I had done my research was able to counter it with laws that backed up my rights as a parent. Michigan Department of Education states that 95% of participate in the assessment to ensures the school is in compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act. Michigan law states that it is the fundamental right of parents (and legal guardians) to determine and direct the care, teaching , and education of their children. After going back and forth for 45 MINUTES, I stopped debating with him and literally stood up and said "We love this school. We are school of choice and we chose you're school because of the teachers here. I hope you get the 95% of students to take the test so the school is not effected. However, as a parent I do not feel this test is in the best interest of my children. Would you please sign the papers". You know what, he signed the papers. He wasn't happy about it, but he signed them. Just before I left the office he informed me he would need to speak to the superintendent about if I was allowed opt my child out of a state test, and he was sure the superintendent would be in contact with me. I reassured him that I was fine with that. Then I walked out with my head held high, knowing I was doing what was best for my kids. That day after school, I stopped by each other their classrooms to inform their teachers of the choice I had made. I wanted the teachers to be aware that when my child said they were not to take the test, that were being truthful and should not try to be swayed to take the test.

After the ordeal opting out turned out to be with the elementary school, I was prepared to have a repeat when I went to the middle school to opt Jordan out of the test. It also just so happened that the elementary principal and middle school principal are married. I was pleasantly surprised when I talked to the secretary and she said she could have the forms sign for me in a few moments. She even chatted with me while we waited for the forms to get signed. I was informed that Jordan was the first student in their building that would not be taking the test. She was so helpful and even left a note to check into what alternative assignments Jordan would be given in place of the test. That was it. Done.