6th Grade Assignment: Why are you boycotting the test?

In a school in NYC, while most students were taking their second day of the ELA exam, this 6th grader was asked to write an essay on why she was boycotting the test.  Some say no one cares about how our children and students feel, but we say otherwise.  This student seems to have quite a message to tell that a test score would never reveal.  We applaud the children who mindfully decided to refuse to be tested.  It should give us much reassurance to see that in fact, our schools are not failing.

I am boycotting the test because I don’t like the way the DOE uses the test results. The kids who take the test are being used like guinea pigs in a lab.  I do NOT want to be used this way.

By boycotting the state exams we’re trying to change the way the exams work. We, as students, want to make a change, a change that will last.

Why do we want to change the way the tests work? Because the tests  are a waste of paper, money, and class time. Computers are able to score these tests, which goes to show that these test scores can’t have much value.  The test doesn’t let you learn much about the students or their teachers. A cycle project could show more because it shows that the teachers are thoughtful about how their students learn and the students can express what they can do and have the time to show what they know. On the tests you are very limited. If the DOE wants to know anything on how smart we are, this test is not the correct answer.

All of the schools across NYS have a different curriculum, therefore,
they should not all be tested on the same thing. I think that tests are okay, just not what this one is used for. So, if the DOE wants to test us on anything why don’t they test us on the things we’re actually learning? This way the school year for certain schools wouldn’t be taken up by months of test prep for the useless state tests.

This year for us, the sixth grade exam doesn’t count for anything. One thing it’s trying to do is trick us, so that they can catch our mistakes, prove that we’re not smart. So why take it? Yes, it may be prep for the upcoming seventh grade test. But, it’s the seventh grade test that determines what high schools you get into, not the sixth grade tests. Plus, there are prep courses that you can take if you want to get a really good grade. Even so, why do you need six days of testing a year, for six years, when the SAT, probably the most important test, only takes a few hours?

The questions on the tests are also a big problem, not just the overall
idea of the test itself. Last year, on the eighth grade ELA test there was a multiple choice question with no correct answer. If the tests are going to be like this what are we going to do? It’s not like we can raise our hand in the middle of an ‘important’ test and say “Excuse me, but there is no correct answer for this question.” So, we all miss that question, no matter what the answer is. That’s another reason besides my main point on why we shouldn’t have the state exams.

Behind the questions are the people who make them up. Those people
come from a huge corporation, Pearson. Pearson is a giant testing company that makes the tests. Last year, in fifth grade I went to many protests against Pearson. Who pays for Pearson to make these tests? NYS tax money pays this corporation to create the state tests. Tax money shouldn’t be going to this company but to the actual schools! Also, do they ever think about the kids who take the test between the money and the making? In my opinion the actual idea of a kid taking the test is left out of the whole process of making it. Does anyone think of the kids who come in on the day of the test nervous, upset, tired, or sick? The way the child feels when taking the tests affects there test scores. In fact those test scores are VERY dependent on the test takers mood.

The DOE says that these tests are to see that the 8,000,000, or so kids
in NYS are learning. You don’t learn, show any work, or analyze anything, by filling out A, B, C, or D, on a bubble sheet. By having test takers fill out a bubble sheet how can you possibly know that they learned what they’re being tested on? On a test someone could easily be cheating, or have just memorized answers, without actually knowing what they mean.

You shouldn’t have you entire grading system based on a test. Instead I think that there should be another system. People are too dependent on the tests. But what do those tests mean to them? To me they don’t mean anything. What do they show you? They show you that you passed an exam, and that yes, you’re smart! But smart? That is not the right word. Everyone is different, so this test really can’t determine who you are as a student, if you’re smart or not. Because even if you fail, you are still smart. This test just lowers your self esteem in my opinion, everyone is smart in their own way, but if you fail a test you don’t believe in yourself anymore. Like Albert Einstein once said “Every
one is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” I found this quote from an article that I was reading about an eighth grade girl who lives in Saranac NY. She made a test based on the eighth grade Common Core exam. (There’s a really cool article on the Washington Post about what she did.)

This test is just a bully on paper. I mean, what else can it do? Can it help you with answering questions on passages? No. How could it? The questions are so poorly written that sometimes they make no sense at all.

In addition to that think about how hard it must be for children with disabilities to take the test. It’s hard enough for people without disabilities to take the test, but think about how hard it must be for children who function differently. Yes, they may get extra time, but what difference does that make? They are always going to be who they are, and adding time onto a test won’t change that. That extra time just means more time sitting in a room, which I think makes everyone anxious. And some people with disabilities need to be able to run around. Keeping anyone in room for over an hour to take a test is just plain torture. To determine how people are learning in NYS there could be tests, but not so long, not so poorly written, a test that wouldn’t make a child miserable for six long unhappy, pressuring, pointless days, like the tests we have now. These tests would be like diagnostics, they wouldn’t do anything to hurt you, teachers could make them, in this way the tests would me more like midterms as in how they are based on what we do in school. These tests wouldn’t affect teachers, what can a teacher do if a child is not paying attention in their class?
Their students behavior is not under their full control. It’s not the teacher’s fault that they have a student who is not willing to learn. But they blame it on the teachers. I think that tests should definitely not be able to do anything to harm teachers.

Or instead of test taking we could do as we do now when we are
boycotting. Have class where we don’t take tests made by the large
corporations, and instead of learning things around the time of the test we learn them later in our curriculum as planned. Either way we should not be used in a giant experiment, as the DOE wants us to.

If our mayor, Bloomberg was a kid in this position, would he protest for
what he wanted? Would he protest so that the results of the test would
change? So that teachers wouldn’t be fired because of their students, so that students wouldn’t have to fight to get into the next grade because of their poor test taking skills. Or, would he just do as the other kids did? Even though at my school there’s a big percentage of the grade opting out, in all of NYS we’re a small percentage. But we’re standing up for what we want. We’re doing something that takes courage. We are making a move our mayor would not have made.

We are going to change these state exams. This is why I am boycotting.