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Photos: At Zombie Crawl, parents and kids rally against standardized testing

Categories: Education

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More photos below.
Parents (and kids) opposed to standardized testing took their fight to the streets this past weekend during the annual Zombie Crawl. With bloody pencils protruding from their skulls, kids held signs with messages such as, "Testing Kills Brains."

"Standardized testing is actually harmful for our children," says Amber Olson, a mother of three and the founder of Denver Opt Out, which encourages parents to opt their children out of the so-called TCAP tests, which the state says are mandatory.

"It is not a diagnostic test to help our children learn," adds Olson, who plans to opt her two youngest children out of testing for the first time this year. "It's a test purely made to asses teacher ability and school ability. But unfortunately, it's biased to individuals of color and children with special needs.... These tests do not help children know where they are and what they need to learn in their school. They unfairly take time away from actual learning in the classroom and focus more on memorization."

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Zombie Crawl participants pose with Denver Opt Out's flyer.
Two of Olson's children have special needs; her oldest son has Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and her youngest son struggles with ADHD. Her oldest son, who's now eighteen and out of high school, once walked out of a standardized test because his school wasn't following his Individualized Education Plan. The plan dictated that he be allowed to take tests alone rather than in a crowded classroom and that he not be tested for more than an hour at a time in order to cut down on his anxiety issues.

"Because standardized testing is so strict when it comes to rules, he was required to sit in class for three hours without a break, among other students," Olson says. "He...knew it would cause him issues, so he actually walked out of the test. I'm proud of him."

The testing has caused stress for her younger children, too. Her middle son, who's nine and in fourth grade, took the TCAP for the first time last year. "He would come to me on a nightly basis, crying and afraid he was going to fail and would never do well in school," Olson says. "You don't want your kids crying. You want your kids to be happy to be in school. You want your kids to love school."

Olson learned about the opt-out movement this past summer while attending a social justice conference in Chicago, where she spoke with the union representative from a Seattle high school whose teachers boycotted standardized testing. "Their story was so inspirational to me that I decided to bring this fight to DPS," Olson says.

So on Saturday, Denver Opt Out participated in the Zombie Crawl, handing out flyers and raising awareness about its nascent campaign against standardized testing.

Continue for more on Denver Opt Out and the state law regarding testing.



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12 comments
Stephen Dryver
Stephen Dryver

Institutionalized "education," itself, is killing learning.

Amber Olson
Amber Olson

Amyjeen Disney - Devak's makeup that day, along with his big eyes, made him look like the creepiest kid ever! Not pictured is my little zombie hunter, Liam, who jumped right into to help by chanting and talking to other kids about what we were doing. I'm a proud mamma, and I love DPS!!

Adam Laarsen
Adam Laarsen

Yes. We teach kids to memorize instead of teaching them critical thinking skills.

Chris Gallion
Chris Gallion

two sided coin. While tests are our most current way of measuring retention/comprehension, they don't tap into the creative and actual problem solving skills of students. One can memorize answers and 'test taking strategies' all they want. One cannot memorize how to navigate many real world situations that occur in everyday life.

Right Choice Realty, LLC
Right Choice Realty, LLC

I am always impressed with how testing does not seem to affect my kids. Whatever they say at school, also does not cause test anxiety.

Karye Ann
Karye Ann

Yes!! Saw this group at the crawl and loved it! Brovo for speaking out!

Annie L Goble
Annie L Goble

Good 2 know opting out is an option. My daughter has Aspergers and the TCAP caused her to have a complete mental breakdown. She was hospitalized for 5 days at Children's !!

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