Today is Day 1 of Florida Standards Assessment testing, and it marks the beginning of Florida’s three-month standardized testing window.
If there is anything else going on in Florida’s K-12 schools for the next three months, it will be difficult to tell – at least from the outside.
Schools will be struggling to keep their computer systems working well enough to support the computer-based testing. Teachers and parents will be muttering weird things about the State of Utah.
And lots of people will learn what “NR2” means.
Some relatively small number of kids will refuse to take their tests. They will open their testing books, fill in their names on the response sheet and then do nothing. Or they will open their computer testing modules and then click on the box that says they are finished without answering any questions.
It is civil disobedience, except it will not be grownups who are being disobedient. It will be grownups telling their kids to be disobedient.
And those kids will be the center of attention.
In my classroom, the students who refuse to take a quiz or a test get zeroes. But it will not be that simple for the kids who are being disobedient at the behest of their parents. Teachers, school and district administrators, and even legislators are spending their time and nervous energy trying to figure out what to do with these kids who have been told by their parents to be disobedient.
These parents have a pretty interesting view of the world. When Florida’s Commissioner of Education pointed out that the law says that these kids have to take the standardized tests, some parent leaders called her a bully.
On those few occasions when my kids were in elementary school and we thought they were being mistreated by their teachers, we (OK, mostly my wife) were in the school confronting the offending teacher and the teacher’s principal. But no matter what the outcomes of those tense meetings were, we always told our kids to do everything they could to do what they were told by the same teachers who had – in our view – harmed them in some way. It would never have occurred to us to tell our kids to disobey the authority figures in their schools.
Yet here we are.
I wonder what it will be like when those kids who have been taught by their parents that respect for authority is optional are in my classroom.
I guess we’ll see.