Rep. Sean Matthews: Opt your students out of test

This letter to the editor appeared in the Feb. 23 edition of The News Journal


A teacher in New York recently tweeted: “I taught in the South Bronx and students passed exams at 50 percent, now I am in the suburbs and they pass at 95 percent. I am the same teacher.” This simple example illustrates the fallacy of using standardized test scores to “grade” teachers. But teachers will be OK. They have professional associations to advocate for them.

I’m more concerned about students. Almost everything that is wrong with public education stems from the misuse and overuse of standardized tests. Standardized tests are more about making “winners and losers” than improving schools. These statistically unsound tests don’t adequately account for the impact of poverty, disability, student motivation, or learning style.

The new Smarter Balanced test will take some students over 10 hours to complete and will “take over” computer labs and libraries in schools for over two months. Teachers don’t need the Smarter Balanced test to effectively teach your child. They have many short and simple screeners to identity areas of academic need and just being with your child everyday tells teachers more about them then any standardized test ever could. It’s time to push back against the misguided policies of the US and Delaware Departments of Education.

As a teacher, legislator and member of the House Education committee, I encourage all parents to consider exercising their right to “opt-out” your student/s from the Smarter Balanced test.

State Rep. Sean Matthews

10th House District