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The Standardized Testing Opt-Out Movement: Right – Or Wrong-Minded?

Words like difficult, nervous, to hate, longand boring come out of children’s mouths every time they are asked about standardized tests. sometimes gum is heard too, but only because teachers understand the research that chewing it during tests is associated with a 3% increase in math scores on standardized assessments. Small, yes, but considered “statistically significant”, so why not? Same for homework.

As for all these negatives, it’s really no wonder. The fact is, as the Council of Great City Schools reports, our kids take about 112 standardized tests between kindergarten and high school graduation, which equates to about eight a year. This, in turn, translates into between 20 and 25 hours of lessons each year!

The result: a collective uproar of parents and teachers and the strengthening of what has become known as the opt-out movement. And, rest assured, despite former Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s conclusion that opt-outers are just “suburban white mothers” unhappy with falling scores, this movement has legs. multicolored here in Pennsylvania and across the country.

Indeed, last spring in Lower Merion, several teachers and parents took a stand against the high stakes of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA). Saying, “Our children and our schools are more than a score,” they offered residents yard signs for a dollar each, and each one was quickly collected. In the end, about 200 children in the district did not participate in the tests. In Philadelphia, that number reached 595, with another 186 taking the Keystone exams. Indeed, anti-testing pressure eventually forced Governor Wolfe to postpone these Keystones as a condition of graduation until 2019. Meanwhile, across the Commonwealth, some 4,500 students withdrew last time out.

But, according to FairTest’s findings, those numbers pale in comparison to the more than 620,000 students in the 14 states who reported — some 240,000 of them in New York state alone. In New Jersey, the figure has reached 110,000, and those numbers are sure to rise this spring.

However, not everyone is happy with this prospect, and that includes the National Parent Teacher Association, which takes the following position:

  • “Tests and assessments are most often used to help students, teachers, schools and parents find out what students have learned and what they still need to study.”

  • “Teachers can use assessment information to design course that meet the needs of their students. »

  • “School districts and states use assessment results to assess whether they are meeting their goals.”

  • “Assessments are also used by decision makers to responsibility-to help measure the effectiveness of programs and schools…”

Then there is this from Pam Stewart, Florida Commissioner of Education for each district: “…My belief is that students who do not want to take the test should not be seated in public schools, because it is compulsory and required for students seeking a standard high school diploma.Standardized statewide assessments are part of the requirement to attend school, such as immunization records. our message and what we send to you to be shared with your staff.

So the!

Nevertheless, the movement is gaining momentum. Last February, the 2016 United Opt-Out Conference was held in Philadelphia, and one of its main goals was to do a better job of reaching out to minority families. Moreover, as the organization reminds us: The movement is “much more than simply refusing high-stakes tests”.

For starters, the government-sponsored and funded Common Core-aligned assessments—PARCC and SBAC—are more rigorous than the ones they replaced, so scores have fallen and anxiety levels have risen. Add that to the fact that 42 states and DC, up from 15 in 2009, now require that “student growth and achievement be considered in public school teacher evaluations.” Fanning the flames, Governor Cuomo of New York went on to propose that 50% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on those test scores. Oh yeah, in 28 states, “ineffective scoring” is grounds for dismissal.

Then there’s the fact that the K-12 education market attracts over $700 billion a year!

And one final detail: New Jersey is, for now anyway, the only state in the union to use the PARCC Common Core Aligned Assessment as a requirement for graduation, a goal for which it does not. was ever designed. Stan Karp, director of the Newark-based Education Law Center’s secondary reform project, therefore hopes to lobby the Department of Education to give this year’s class a pass.

Meanwhile, the California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education has joined a call for an end to high-stakes testing, saying that “there is no ‘compelling’ evidence to support the idea that common state standards will improve the quality of children’s education or close the achievement gap, and that common core assessments lack “validity, reliability, and fairness.”

Then there’s this from Peter Gray, research professor at Boston College: “The evidence is overwhelming that our national mania for testing – and for so long in school and schoolwork – is harming physical health and psychology of our children.

Accept? To disagree? Stay tuned; testing season is brewing again – and so are the opt-outers.

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