Is “opting in” a self-regulatory strategy?

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 2.21.16 PM The simple response is yes. There is much chatter amongst parents in some areas of the country about opting out of the new PARCC state exams. For whatever the reasons the discussion made me wonder if opting out of a required assessment is ever a good idea. Furthermore, can sitting for state exams become a strong factor in teaching self-regulation to the youngest learners? Motivational speaker Zig Ziglar (http://www.ziglar.com/) was very clear about goal setting which is a significant factor in becoming a self-regulated learner. He is famous for the quote about aiming at nothing leading to poor outcomes.     aimzig Rather than opting out of state exams it might be a good idea to set specific goals using the assessments as type of formative assessment. If parents, teachers, and educators set specific and proximal goals for each testing segment, it is possible to change focus the students taking the exams on their performance and not the score. Teaching the youngest learners to self-evaluate and self-monitor how they approach a difficult task and individualize specific outcome expectations can also increase self-efficacy. Today I was in a NYC Public school where not one child has opted out of the upcoming tests. For the past three years the principal has had a mentoring program for parents and students staffed by teachers and volunteers from the school community. Early morning, after school, and Saturday interventions have been designed to make each family and their students comfortable with the subjects and formatting of the standardized tests. The support system is so strong that the students in the school are counting the days to when the PARCC tests begin and they will show everyone what they have learned! Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 2.28.10 PM Both parents and teachers together have help their students set proximal goals for each tutoring session – when specific goals are not met they are reset by reflecting on the performance, and when goals are met the students move onto the next level only after attributing their success to specific strategies. Self-monitoring, self-evaluation and self-assessment are all part of the learning process and can easily be applied to the common core assessments.  Let’s aim at shaping self-regulated learners while taking on the challenges of standardized exams in the earliest grades so that when the SAT score matters these students will say….”Bring it on!”