The Unfair SBAC Test is Literally Killing Our Kids!
As a leader of Opt Out Washington, I have conducted meetings across the state on how and why parents can and should opt their kids out of the unfair SBAC Common Core test. At these meetings, parents often bring their own stories of how the SBAC test has harmed their kids. At a recent Opt Out meeting, a mom spoke tearfully about her Third Grade son who became depressed and attempted to kill himself after failing the Third Grade SBAC Common Core math test.


Since the introduction of developmentally inappropriate Common Core standards and unfair Common Core high stakes tests, there has been a 40 percent increase in the suicide rate of elementary school students in the US and a 20 percent increase in the suicide rate of high school students. Specifically, according to the US Census, in 2000, 205 elementary school children ages 5 to 14 committed suicide. In 2013, 286 children committed suicide for an increase of 40%. In 2000, 3,988 young adults ages 15 to 24 committed suicide. In 2013, 4,741 young adults committed suicide for an increase of 19%. In total, for ages 5 through 24, in 2000, before No Child Left Behind, 4193 kids committed suicide. In 2013, the total number of kids who killed themselves was 5,027 kids for an increase of 834 needless deaths per year or a 20% increase.


According to the Alliance for Childhood: “There is growing evidence that the pressure and anxiety associated with high-stakes testing is unhealthy for children–especially young children–and may undermine the development of positive social relationships and attitudes towards school and learning. … Parents, teachers, school nurses and psychologists, and child psychiatrists report that the stress of high-stakes testing is literally making children sick.”

Here is an example of the kind of ridiculous question this Third Grader was expected to answer. (note that this question was taken from the nation's most popular Second Grade Common Core Math Book, called Math Expressions). According to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, "Math Expressions Common Core focuses on the priority core concepts at each grade level, identified by the Common Core State Standards, to build in-depth understanding of major mathematical ideas."

In Unit 6, Lesson 5, Problem 4 is the following question for Second Graders:
"Brian has some boxes of paper clips. Some boxes hold 10 clips and some boxes hold 100. He has some paper clips left over. He has three more boxes with 100 paper clips than he has boxes with 10 paper clips. He has two fewer paper clips left over than he has numbers of boxes with 100 paper clips. What number of paper clips could he have?"

Do not feel bad if you have trouble answering this math puzzle. We have given this problem to state legislators who were unable to solve it. The fact that state legislators are requiring Second Graders to solve math puzzles that legislators themselves cannot solve is an indication of how inappropriate the Common Core standards and tests are for very young children. What makes this question difficult is not merely that there are three equations and three unknowns, it is that there is more than one right answer to the question. The difficulty of this question is somewhere between Algebra One and Algebra Two - both of which require the ability to engage in abstract reasoning. The authors of Common Core, and the SBAC test are apparently not aware that Second Graders are still in the concrete thinking stage of brain development and are not capable of abstract reasoning.


Here is how such age inappropriate questions and tests harm young children:

A parent writes: “Recently, my 10-year-old daughter asked me what it would take for me to let her stay home from school forever...Not tomorrow. Not next week. Forever. She said: ‘I’m too stupid to do that math.’ Your child is broken in spirit when they have lost their confidence and internalized words like stupid. That damage is not erased easily.”


To make matters worse, the SBAC test falsely claims that it can measure whether students are career and college ready. There is a mountain of evidence that no three hour high stakes test can measure college readiness. For example, the largest study ever conducted on the ability of bubble tests to determine college readiness - involving more than 81,000 students in California - found that the SAT test was no more able to determine college readiness than a coin toss! Instead, the most reliable predictor of college readiness was a student's high school Grade Point Average (GPA) – or the average of the combined grades from 24 teachers who worked with the student during their four years of high school.


Put in plain English, high stakes bubble tests like the SBAC test are not as reliable or as valid as grades from teachers. Those who claim that the SBAC test can predict college readiness are not telling the truth. If the goal of an assessment system is to determine career and college readiness, then Teacher Grades are clearly a more valid assessment system than the SBAC test.

By sharp contrast, teacher grades are given by a teacher that has spent 180 days with the young child and is in the best position to provide a fair and accurate determination of whether the child is progressing at grade level.


The only thing the SBAC test does is make billions of dollars in profit for the scam artists who sell and promote the SBAC test and the Common Core books that are used to prepare kids for the SBAC test.


The new ESSA allows states and school districts to replace the Common Core SBAC test with any other assessment system that is fair, valid and reliable. We should immediately end the SBAC test in Washington state and replace it with Teacher Grades. As always, I look forward to your questions and comments.

David Spring M. Ed.
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