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A perspective on test refusal from Japan

Christopher Chase describes himself as “a University teacher who was involved with U.S. education reform from 1988 to 1992.  Since 1993, I have lived and taught in Japan, where high-stakes testing has dominated the educational system for over 60 years.”

He describes a number of concerns he has with linking the Common Core Standards to high-stakes testing, closing of public schools and punitive teacher assessments in his post Why Opting Out from PARCC is Important.

He states his main concern as follows:

My main concern, as an educator who was involved in successful U.S. school reform in the past and has been living in Japan, is that once the new testing systems and standards are in place there will be many negative consequences, and (most importantly) that it will be VERY difficult to remove the changes in testing and instruction which are now being forced into place.

In Asia, they have long experience with a culture of high-stakes exams, teaching to the test and test prep, especially at the junior high and high school level. On paper and in International rankings, this seems to be effective, as Asia’s students do very well in testing situations. But in practice it means there is much less creativity, experimentation, freedom of expression and diversity in education.

There also appear to be links between the testing culture and high rates of suicide and bullying in schools (see this NY Times article on South Korea). On average, Asia’s students work hard in order to do well on highly competitive and rigorous exams, but at what cost? Teachers need to be accountable, but we also need to hold business and government leaders tinkering with education accountable for new policies that focus on data collection, but are not aligned with research evidence.

This is why the grassroots Opt Out protests and other criticisms of Common Core are very important now. Opting Out is a way for parents and students to voice their disagreement and concerns in a democratic and peaceful way. From the U.S. revolution to the abolitionists, from the suffragettes to the civil rights movements, speaking out against unjust and unwise government policies is part of what being American is all about.

Once the Common Core standards and tests are in place it will be much harder to make changes. As state governments plough forward the Opt Out protests are throwing a monkey wrench into the Core’s machinery, helping to push the issue into the mainstream media and the consciousness of the nation. We need this to happen, so Americans can debate and reflect upon the wisdom of this potentially dangerous path the country is embarking upon.

Will you join me (Jolyn) and parents across New York State in throwing a money wrench in the Core’s machinery by refusing the New York State tests for grades 3-8 math and ELA in April 2015?

Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org

Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org