Sunday, April 19, 2015

Opting Out - A Growing, Loud Movement

Time magazine has this new article: Thousands of kids opt out of standardized Common Core tests across the U.S.
This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.
Considerable resistance also has been reported in Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania, and more is likely as many states administer the tests in public schools for the first time this spring.
In California, home to the nation’s largest public school system and Democratic political leaders who strongly endorse Common Core standards, there have been no reports of widespread protests to the exams — perhaps because state officials have decided not to hold schools accountable for the first year’s results.
 Downside for districts:
Resistance could be costly: If fewer than 95 percent of a district’s students participate in tests aligned with Common Core standards, federal money could be withheld, although the U.S. Department of Education said that hasn’t happened.
On that withholding of funds, I just don't get it.  Schools and districts will be punished for parents' civil rights choice to withhold their child - not from testing - but from a test.  I do believe there is quite the difference between "no testing" and "just not this long test that may be developmentally inappropriate." 

So if Arne Duncan wants to be massively punitive, he may have a full-out mutiny on his hands.  (And woe be to Hillary Clinton if she thinks this will not come her way.  More on that in another thread.)

Nearly 15 percent of high school juniors in New Jersey opted out this year, while fewer than 5 percent of students in grades three through eight refused the tests, state education officials said. One reason: Juniors may be focusing instead on the SAT and AP tests that could determine their college futures.
So what about testing could be wrong?
Much of the criticism focuses on the sheer number of tests now being applied in public schools: From pre-kindergarten through grade 12, students take an average of 113 standardized tests, according to a survey by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts.

Of these, only 17 are mandated by the federal government, but the backlash that began when No Child Left Behind started to hold teachers, schools and districts strictly accountable for their students’ progress has only grown stronger since “Common Core” gave the criticism a common rallying cry.
Teachers now devote 30 percent of their work time on testing-related tasks, including preparing students, proctoring, and reviewing the results of standardized tests, the National Education Association says.
What's happening legally?
Utah and California allow parents to refuse testing for any reason, while Arkansas and Texas prohibit opting out, according to a report by the Education Commission of the States. Most states are like Georgia, where no specific law clarifies the question, and lawmakers in some of these states want protect the right to opt out.

Florida has another solution: Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill strictly limiting testing to 45 hours each school year.
In Congress, meanwhile, lawmakers appear ready to give states more flexibility: A Senate committee approved a bipartisan update of No Child Left Behind this week that would let each state determine how much weight to give the tests when evaluating school performance.


FascinatingButSad said...

I spent spring break in New York. It was fascinating to watch tv. There was a lot of news coverage regarding large amounts of opt-outs. Then, there seemed to be a continuous flow of pro- Governor Cuomo ads. The ads touted Cuomo as the Great Education Reformer; the one that holds teachers accountable.

Cuomo has decided it is ok for 50% of test scores to be included in teacher evaluations. Teachers not making the mark are subjected to state intervention and there are state requests for the superintendent to fire teachers. I believe the individuals from the state are either "turn around" or "transformation" experts.

Within a particular district, the state demands that the superintendent fire teachers. A particular superintendent is forced to fire a teacher on Friday, but he/she found a loophole and will rehire the teacher on Monday. However, the teacher's pay scale is at the lowest rung of the ladder.

FascinatingButSad said...


I'm not sure who paid for the continuous flow of pro Cuomo ads.

I also heard a couple of individuals talking in a Starbucks. One just left the Gates Foundation located in New Jersey. There is NO chance of escaping Gates- none.

Anonymous said...

There will be no withholding of funds. That is just some saber-rattling by the Dept of Ed and state ed entities who know there is nothing they can do. While there will be a couple of states that will probably try to punish teachers, schools, and districts, it will not go anywhere. Parents should do what they feel is best for their child/children in this matter.