The Opt-Out Reckoning
An ever-growing call to opt out of standardized tests is prompting serious questions in education.
In public school districts across the country, spring is commonly referred to as testing season. But for the past several years, parents across the country have passively resisted participating in standardized testing by opting out. And the movement is gaining momentum. Last year, over half a million school-aged children did not participate instandardized testing. In New York state alone, nearly 1 out of every 5 students opted out.
Standardized testing, a longstanding feature of American education reform, is meant to serve at least three purposes: monitor student performance; improve teaching and learning; and evaluate the quality of teaching and schools. Policymakers have relied on standardized tests as a mechanism for assessing student progress and identifying racial and economic achievement gaps since the original Elementary and Secondary Education Act was passed in 1965, which was followed by the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002 and the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act.
Test refusals may force education reformers to re-evaluate their priorities.
Criticism of standardized testing is nearly as old as the testing itself. For decades, opponents have argued that the tests cause undue stress for both teachers and students, and that they do not provide valid or timely information about what students know and understand. Critics have also noted the consequences that high-stakes testing has for the curriculum, marginalizing courses in so-called untested disciplines like art and social studies, as well as untested skills and topics within tested courses. Recent research has shown that there is often very little overlap between the content that is actually covered in math and English language arts classes and the content that shows up on state standardized tests.
Given new urgency by the implementation of standardized tests aligned to Common Core State Standards, which were fully implemented in the 2014-2015 school year, many of these same criticisms have helped catalyze the current opt-out movement. These concerns were exacerbated, in many cases, by widespread technical issues that hampered the rollout (including issues with curricular materials and resources; issues with providing adequate professional development to teachers; and problems with new computer-based assessment systems), and the belief among some opponents that these Who Does the Movement to Opt Out of Standardized Testing Help? | US News Opinion: