Valerie Strauss --- The Washington Post
Peggy Robertson is an educator in Aurora, Colo., who has been a sharp critic of high-stakes standardized testing. Robertson, a teacher and literacy coach, has taught in elementary schools in Missouri, Kansas and Colorado, and spent several years training teacher leaders and administrators in educational theory and practice. She is a co-founder of United Opt Out, a national organization advocating for the rights of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests and against the privatization of public education. She blogs at pegwithpen.com as well as at www.corave.org, where a version of this post appeared.
In this post, Robertson explains why she has decided to refuse to administer what is known as the PARCC test, a Common Core-aligned test being designed by one of two multi-state consortia that are working with $360 million in federal funds to create new standardized exams. PARCC refers to the official name of the consortium, which is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
Robertson is one of a small but seemingly growing number of teachers who have decided to refuse to administer standardized tests to their students and who have come out publicly explaining why. A Florida teacher recently wrote a letter posted on Facebook to the parents of her students explaining why she was refusing to give a particular test to her kindergarteners, and a few days later, the Florida Education Department suspended the test (although it didn’t mention the teacher in its announcement).
It is risky for teachers to refuse to administer a mandated test; they can lose their jobs. But some are doing it anyway as a protest against the number and importance of standardized tests in today’s education reform.
Here is Robertson’s letter addressed to the “citizens of Colorado.”
Citizens of Colorado, I address this letter to you, because you are my community, my people. You have the power to shift the momentum in our public schools, where our students are increasingly being taught to the test under the intense high-stakes conditions created via Race to the Top. Meanwhile, child poverty is ignored. I send this letter to you because I have made attempts to have a dialogue with the decision-makers. I have spoken with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, I have written to President Obama, and I have spoken in front of the Colorado Legislative Education Committee, all to no avail. So, I address this letter to you, in the hopes that my words and my actions will create momentum across our beautiful state for the children of Colorado. Thank you.