By Haley Kluge
The Holt Journal
In a corner table of Mike’s Village Restaurant in Dimondale, Holt Public School’s superintendent Dr. Johnny Scott sat with four parents as he hosted his monthly coffee for community members. Nearing the end of his position, Scott discussed opting out of standardized testing, the ACT to SAT switch, Lansing Community College’s linked college program and the upcoming millage vote.
Opting out of standardized testing
After spring break, students will return for a three-week testing period for the M-STEP standardized exam for English, math, science and social studies. Due to the extensive testing schedule, parents are exploring the option of pulling their students from participating.
“When it (M-STEP test) first came out, there was some ambiguity from the state about whether districts have the option to opt out,” Scott said. “Now, we don’t have the opportunity to do that, so the school district is in this quandary as a school system where we don’t have the authority, and our board doesn’t have the authority.”
Since Holt’s schools do not have the authority to excuse students from testing, parents are looking for alternative options.
“Parents don’t have the ability to opt out without affecting the participation rate of the district,” Holt parent Tara Ragauss-Page said. “It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the ability to opt out, it means that they can’t opt out without it affecting the district.”
Despite the effect on the district, some families don’t want to subject their children to continuous testing.
“I refuse for my students to take this test,” Holt mother Amy Dalton said. “If you want to have them sit in front of a screen for hours, that’s your call. But in my mind, that is child abuse.”
Holt is struggling with excessive standardized testing as a whole.
“It’s non-stop evaluation,” Dalton said. “If you think back on the teachers who had the greatest impact on you, it was all of the square dancing and the plays and all of the things that you do that there’s no time for anymore because all they’re doing is testing.”
For now, Holt will continue the state mandated tests as scheduled.
“We struggled as practitioners to relate how standardized scores relate to what we do in the classroom,” Scott said.
There is no decision whether students will be allowed to opt out of the testing.
ACT to SAT Change
Starting in spring 2016, Michigan will now participate in the SAT as the standardized statewide test. Before then, the SAT will be revamped. During that time, the SAT is being revamped as a whole.