This blog is behind on important national news about several topics in public education today. (But we've had a lot going on in our district.) To correct that, here's some reading I put aside.
Please understand - opting out of testing is your right (and many Supreme Court cases validate that). Certainly there could be consequences as the district may use testing to gatekeep for some programs.
But consider that our district does not listen to parents in any real way. (In fact, Director Peaslee has been complaining about the "angry parents" or "angry public" without considering why parents might be upset.)
Several things happen when you opt your child out of testing. You certainly will get the attention of the district and your school's principal. They are very worried you will tell other parents and then more people opt their children out. It is a direct signal of parent unhappiness.
You also help starve the data beast. Don't like the direction the district is going in the classroom with the emphasis on testing? If they don't have test scores, they don't have data and that is power.
To note, Arne Duncan talks as though he, too, thinks there is too much testing but has yet to do anything about it. Hey, Big Talker.
Big overview from The Washington Post:
Four states have repealed or delayed
graduation testing requirements in the past two years. Four others,
including Texas — where the idea of using tests to hold schools
accountable for educating children first began — have cut the number of
required exams or reduced their consequences. Boycotts, such as when
60,000 students refused to take exams this year in New York, are on the
Former President Bill Clinton said two weeks ago that
students don't need to be tested annually, as required by federal law.
"I think doing one (test) in elementary school, one in the end of middle
school and one before the end of high school is quite enough if you do
it right," he said.
The result is that, on average, students in
large urban school districts take 113 standardized tests between pre-K
and 12th grade, according to data being collected by the Council of
Great City Schools. (Editor's note: SPS belongs to the Council of Great City Schools.)
Colorado has been hugely in the news over opting out. A group has been started there called United Opt-Out and they have good information state-by-state. They have created quite the heavy-duty letter for parents to submit to schools about opting out.
The groundswell in Colorado, while small in for overall testing numbers, has been loud and covered nationally. From Chalkbeat Colorado:
So far, the debate over testing in Colorado has seemed to be
concentrated in suburbs like Douglas County. But while still relatively
small — the total opt-outs from the 2013 round of tests amount to about 1
percent of students — the emergence of spats in Denver may indicate
that momentum among parents to opt out is growing.
More on Colorado's pushback from Chalkbeat Colorado:
15 Coloradans will gather at the state Capitol to kick off a six-month marathon of meetings intended to dissect and evaluate Colorado’s testing regimen.
Created by the 2014 General Assembly, the panel is tasked with
understanding how Colorado’s public schools are assessing their
students, how exam results impact certain education reform policies, and
whether relief from standardized tests are needed for students and
A great piece is from the Answer Sheet at the Washington Post by the head of Fair Test, Monty Neill, called The Rise of the Anti-Standardized Testing Movement.
To understand how parents, students, educators, community leaders and
other allies built the movement, my colleague Lisa Guisbond and I
interviewed more than 30 activists, primarily parents, from across the
nation. We tracked news stories, read research reports and blogs, and talked with policymakers. FairTest has released a detailed report on our findings.
From the Badass Teachers Association (BATS), a call to arms:
It all comes down to standardized tests. Bureaucrats don’t know how to
measure educational achievements without them. After all, they’re not,
themselves, educators. That’s why every major educational “reform” of
recent years requires more-and-more of these fill-in-the-bubble falsely
objective, poorly written and cheaply graded tests.