With great frequency we now read of parents across the nation who are "opting out" of the state-mandated testing of their children in public schools. For most, this is a political decision, a manifestation of civil disobedience. Many of these parents cite their frustration at a system of schooling and school accountability that is centered on high-stakes testing that is dubious both in its accuracy in the measurement of learning and in the policy motivations that underly the process.
I came across this video (I Choose C) last week which underscores the absurdity of a misguided school accountability system. It is at once an amusing and painful indictment of a system that has run amuck.
I can't say that I blame the "opt out" parents. However, in the school community I serve (Guthrie CSD in Guthrie, Texas) we have chosen to take another approach. Rather than "opt out," we have determined to re-take the initiative in the defining and deployment of student learning at the local level. I like to think of our approach as "opting up" rather than "opting out." Yes, we will still take the state-mandated exams; however, we will not rely upon them as the only measure of student progress in learning. Instead, we have chosen to use and consider multiple measures in our assessment of the developmental progress of our students.
Our approach at Guthrie has been to have conversations at the community level about what WE want for the education of our children, then pursue those intentions deliberately and daily in the instructional process. Those educational intentions are what we call the Guthrie Graduate Profile (GGP) and they define learning beyond knowledge and skills in academic content alone. The GGP defines/describes our intentions in educating the whole child in ways of thinking and ways of behaving that will optimize the possibilities for their very best futures.
At Guthrie CSD, we have chosen to "opt up" rather than choosing "opting out" or "C."