In response to the growing opt-out movement that has been well documented across the country this year, schools are taking action to stem the tide with the same method that so many adults use to get children to do their bidding. The Washington Post shed light on several school districts around America that are using ‘bribes’ to coerce children into sitting for the PARCC exam. Let’s take a look at their report:
A growing standardized test opt-out movement is spreading around the country. Ten of thousands of parents are choosing not to allow their children to take these tests, some older students are refusing to sit for the exams on their own, and some teachers have announced that they will not administer the exams, even if they get fired. An Indiana Superintendent of the Year, Rocky Killion, suggested to parents that they homeschool their children during testing week because he is so opposed to the exams. Now, with the 2015 testing season upon us, some schools are offering treats to kids who take, rather than boycott, new Common Core assessments, and throwing in extra treats for high scores.
There’s nothing new with students being rewarded — or, depending on your view, “incentivized” or “bribed” – for accomplishing an academic task. Extra play time. A pizza party. No homework for a day. Cash for high grades. And now, “incentives” to take the new standardized tests.
Now, this is nothing new, of course. I have several friends who are educators who have used bribes or an ‘academic and/or behavioral reward system’ as they call them. Schools in Palm Beach County, Florida have been doing this since the early days of the Florida version of the high-stakes test, the FCAT. In my estimation, based on the level of vitriol that parents throughout the nation have for the Common Core, few will be dissuaded by a free homework pass or the chance to win an iPad.
The Morris Hills Regional District in New Jersey, for example, concocted an an “incentive program” designed to give students treats “based on their participation and performance on the PARCC Common Core exam, according to NJ Advance Media. PARCC is a Common Core test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two multi-state consortia that designed new Core-aligned standardized tests with some $360 million in federal funds.
The program included an American Express gift card lottery for the grade with the highest PARCC participation, as well as the awarding of “bonus points” for the next marking period for high scores. The program was dumped after parents and others criticized it.
Also in New Jersey, students in Newton High School are now being offered a chance to skip English and math final exams this year if they take the PARCC exams, according to NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. The offer was made to parents by district Superintendent Kennedy Greene after only 59 percent of the eligible students took the PARCC on the first day. Greene was quoted as saying: “It appears the widespread public debate affected our district more than we anticipated.”
More than anticipated? Did Superintendent Greene bother to look at the news last week? The opt-out movement, and hatred for the Common Core is increasing. This will only intensify after the test is completed and as the scores are released. The impact of bribes will be minimal in 2015. By 2016, students, parents and a growing amount of faculty won’t care what bribes are thrown at them.
Some schools are only helping to fan the flames of hate. Common Core news took a flat-out bizarre turn yesterday as a school in Winter Park, Florida refused to allow a child to leave the testing site when their parent attempted to pick them up. From the Daily Caller:
Supporters of Common Core have encountered a public relations nightmare recently thanks to technical glitches, student boycotts and a slew of irate parents who are refusing to allow their children to sit for standardized tests.
However, last week marked the first time officials at a taxpayer-funded school have allegedly attempted to confine a student for a Common Core standardized test after her parent arrived on campus to remove the child from class.
The incident occurred at Brookshire Elementary School in Winter Park, Fla., the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The unidentified mother showed up at Brookshire Elementary to pick up her daughter because she wanted to opt the fifth grader out of a Common Core-aligned writing test.
School officials informed the mother that they would not allow her daughter to leave, according to the mother as well as a second parent, Jacqui Myers, who was at the school.
Myers, the parent of a first-grade student, was on the scene at Brookshire Elementary because she is politically active in the local movement to opt students out of Common Core-mandated tests.
“They’re not giving me my child, can you help?” the mother of the fifth grader told Myers, according to the Sentinel.
Myers responded by calling 911.
An emergency responder notified police. The Winter Park Police Department dispatched a school district resource officer to Brookshire Elementary.
Brookshire principal Susan Mulchrone then arranged for the fifth-grade girl to appear in the school’s administrative office so she could leave with her mother, according to school district spokeswoman Shari Bobinski.
Mulchrone’s concern, Bobinski said, was that the girl and other students had been engaged in Florida Standards Assessments testing for a full 20 minutes. They were in the midst of writing standardized test essays.
“We do not hold children if parents come to pick them up,” Bobinski swore to the Sentinel.
Myers, the anti-testing parent, told the newspaper she had seen four parents come by to pick up their children — successfully — before the fifth-grade girl’s mother had her encounter with school officials.
Myers also noted that Mulchrone, the principal, had previously emailed parents to inform them that they could not pick up their own children during the standardized testing period because it could prove disruptive.
Florida state law requires public school students to participate in the Common Core-aligned tests.
No surprise that an incident like this happened down here in Florida. None at all. Not in the state where former Governor Jeb Bush turned the FCAT into a high-pressure yearly ritual that ripped away the joy of learning. Shove testing down the throats of students and teachers, and standoffs like this are the result.