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Non-violent Test resistance

March 3, 2014

No orderly Opt-out

The South Dakota legislature has rejected a bill (HB 1187) that would have permitted parents opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. It failed. Parents are not permitted to keep their children out, even though the test is not important to the education of the children, and its results will not be used by their teachers, only by some bureaucrat somewhere… Somewhere.

It is well-known that personally identifiable information will be collected, and since the “test” itself has obvious psychological dimensions, this is doubly disturbing.

Well, opting out is the simple and honest way to stay clear of this material. If that won’t work, there is always the “Christmas tree” system, where the student chooses his answers in a pattern or in some decorative fashion that is not related to the questions. Some students who do this for other kinds of tests repeat 1,2,3,4 or some other pattern: 1, 3, 2, 4… One could be more creative and less obvious by using the decimal places of an irrational number such as pi = 3.1415 9265 3589 7932 38, skipping or substituting for the higher digits. Euler’s number also has a long string of non-repeating digits: 2.718281828459045235… Anyone can make up other systems or just answer randomly, though that is harder than it might seem.

If you give such non-answers, you may finish the test early, and that might clue someone that you are not really taking it.

Well, it could be useful to your parents if a student would memorize a line from the test. Some will readily recognize the juiciest line when they see it. It would be nice if a group of friends could choose an item to memorize together, each taking just a few lines, but this may not be possible since it is an online test that adjusts itself to your answers. New questions are chosen based on the answers you give, so, say, agreeing to memorize Question #7 might not be the same item for everyone. And clearly, considering the example just given, there will be no way to memorize a whole item; they are too long.

Still, I remember a verse I learned from a high school test many years ago; it was a parody of Edgar Allen Poe, and it was just very funny.

‘Twas many millenniums, long ago
in a millhouse on the mall
that I met a maiden whom you may know
then again, you may not at all,
Ulabelle Lume, her high-born name,
And she, just six feet tall…

Massive Data Collection

Unfortunately, such passive resistance seems childish when you recognize the scope of the data collection in question. The ambition here is breathless, and nothing is left to chance.

Here are some of the 400 data points recommended to be collected; the information is from a blog, but is the same as I have heard elsewhere.

I do not know specifically which data points will be in process of collection in South Dakota at this time, but this is from the  “National Education Data Model,” and once collected, rest assured, the data is irretrievable, completely non-secure, and internationally available to innumerable business and government entities. Religious affiliation, complete computer address, and hot-button medical information including vaccination date and insurance coverage are included.

A few items

Are you kidding?   Bus Route ID 
– Bus Stop Arrival Time — Distance From Home to School 
– Nickname

Think: permanent international databank: Class Attendance Status 

– Class Rank
 — Days Truant 

– Developmental Delay 
– Dialect Name 
Diploma/Credential Awarded

 — Reason

Health stuff: Disease, Illness, Health Conditions
 — Immunization Date 
Insurance Coverage

Household stuff: Dwelling Arrangement
Economic Disadvantage Status
– Family Income Range

Stuff the feds presumably have, so why here? — Family Public Assistance Status 

– Federal Program Participant Status 


WHAT?? : Non-school Activity Description
 — Religious Affiliation
 Voting Status 

– Career Objectives — Family Perceptions of the Impact of Early
Intervention Services on the Child

And: Born Outside of the U.S. — Citizenship Status (!) — 
Birthdate — 
City of Birth 
Social Security Number

 — IP Address — Electronic Mail Address

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