Elizabeth Blaine, 10, stunned members of the Montclair, New Jersey, school board when she dismantled Common Core testing and supported a policy that would allow students to opt out.
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational practice that lists what students should know by the end of every academic year. The intention was to standardize English, language arts and mathematics education.
Elizabeth, who is in fourth grade, was due to take the Common Core test known as PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) later this year. At the Montclair school board meeting on Monday night, a measure to allow students to opt out of PARCC was introduced.
Prior to the meeting, Elizabeth wrote out her thoughts on PARCC and shared them with the Washington Post, where her mother, Sarah Blaine, occasionally contributes. Elizabeth’s speech to the school board was nearly verbatim what she told the Washington Post, and Sarah said it’s her daughter’s independent work.
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Elizabeth told the school board that PARCC “stinks” and she was tested on material she wasn’t taught in class. After taking an end-of-year practice test for PARCC, she said she was tested on “… adding, multiplying, and subtracting fractions, long division, and geometry.
“All of these things we have not learned (or even started learning yet). And we are supposed to know these concepts mentally by the end of the year!”
Elizabeth added that, while her mother told her she was one of the most gifted students in her grade, she was stumped by the English Language Arts exam.
She criticized the test for not giving students enough time to complete reading and writing prompts and said that the technology was faulty. PARCC is an entirely digital exam, and Elizabeth’s teacher said that if students clicked outside of the testing window on the computer during the exam, the computer would lock the student out of the test for the rest of the day.
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“I am glad my mom and dad are letting me opt out, because I don’t want to deal with this nonsense, as I stated before,” she said. “I agree with the policy being voted on tonight and hope that it passes through.”
Elizabeth, who spoke after several adults, received resounding applause for her speech. The policy will be voted on at a later meeting.