Parents claim schools are 'punishing' students for not taking st - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Parents claim schools are 'punishing' students for not taking state test

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - If parents decide their children don't need to take Missouri's MAP test, are the students punished?

Parents in Sikeston, Missouri feel that's exactly what's happening after they chose to opt their child out of taking the test.

They say they feel that way because kids who don't take the test miss out on rewards given to the rest of the class.

According to Assistant Superintendent Chuck Mayes, this is not a punishment.

Mayes said some schools offer incentives, like parties or play days. He said if the child doesn't take the test, there are alternative activities they do during that time and they don't get the MAP reward.

Parents say they feel very strongly about the issue because they weren't informed ahead of time that their kids would miss out on rewards; and all around, they say it's unfair.

We talked to several parents about the issue.

"I found out Wednesday, after my child missed the test, that there would be punishment," said Lisa Russell. "Also, my kids had no punishment or rewards or anything for opting out last year. So, this all new. This is the first I've heard of it; yesterday, after the fact. My son was told this yesterday by friends, that now that he has opted out he couldn't go to play day and would be missing recesses because I opted him out. I was not aware of that. It seems to be an afterthought to punish the kids after they opted out."

"I just want to say it's unfair for the kids to be disciplined for a parent's decision that was made," said Kristi Wheetley. "The kids had no choice in it. As a parent, we made this choice for our children. I explained to my son why we were opting out and understands that."

We talked to some students who've already missed out on play days, pizza parties or treats.  

"I feel like I'm being punished real bad for not taking it," said Jackson Hurt. "But I know why my mom doesn't want me to and she explained it to me," said Jackson.  

The issue is complicated, parents we spoke with felt they were mislead all around, including what type of state test the kids are taking.

"The school is promoting it as map test so the school district is lying," said Ellison. 

Parents teachers and school board members tell us the test is the SBAC test.

"No one knows what this test is what the questions are," said Kristi Wheetley. "This isn't the MAP test and the test is grade levels beyond what the kids have learned in some areas. We just didn't feel like we had the facts so we didn't want the kids to take it." 

In response Mayes said the SBAC falls under the Map Test umbrella.

He said questions making up the current grade-level assessments were purchased from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium by DESE who contracted the CTB McGraw Hill to construct the Missouri assessment from these questions.

Any state assessment in Missouri is part of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP), according to Mayes.

He said any state assessment in Missouri is part of the MAP.

According to Mayes, even though the new grade level assessments are SBAC assessments, they are still considered MAP tests because they are part of the Missouri Assessment Program. 

Mayes said SBAC was not found unconstitutional. He said the relationship entered into by DESE and Smarter Balanced was found to have been unconstitutional. This decision had nothing to do with the assessments themselves. 

However, parents and school board members argue just the opposite. 

Further, Mayes said the incentive policies are for taking the test opting out simply makes the student ineligible for the test taking award.

Students say inside the school, it's even led to bullying.

"When I told the kids they started laughing at me," said Trace Wheetley. "I understand why my mom didn't want me to take it." 

"We want the kids to understand they should stand up for their rights," said Ellison.  

We received this response from Assistant Superintendent Chuck Mayes:

"Sikeston R-6 has been and continues to administer the Grade-Level MAP state assessments to students in grades 3-8 and the End of Course MAP state assessments in grades 9-12. Students have worked very hard on the assessments and we are anxious to receive our score reports along with our district data to compare the achievement of our students to students across the state.

Over the last few weeks, some parents have requested to “opt-out” their students from the MAP assessment. Missouri statutes and regulations require that Missouri schools administer state assessments. Sikeston R-6 Policy IL states that all enrolled students are required to participate in all applicable aspects of the assessment program. For these reasons we were not able to accept opt-out requests.

Because of state statutes and regulations and Sikeston R-6 Board Policy, all students were or will be given the opportunity to test according to each building's schedule. During testing, we have had some students refuse to participate in testing. When this occurred, these students were not forced to participate and no consequences were imposed upon them for this decision.

At the conclusion of testing, some of our buildings have incentive rewards for the students who have followed the expected classroom behaviors as listed in their Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Matrix and completed testing. Most of our buildings have had these incentives in place for many years as a reward for students' hard work and good behavior during state and district testing. In these buildings, students who have completed testing and followed the classroom expectations will be rewarded in the manner the building has chosen. If students did not complete testing and/or did not follow classroom expectations for behavior, they are not eligible for the reward."

Mayes insisted the children are not being punished.

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