How some students who refused to take high-stakes standardized tests are being punished
A school bus passes a sign encouraging parents to refuse that their children take state tests on Monday, April 13, 2015, in Rotterdam, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
What has come to be known as the “opt out” movement has become something of a a force in the education reform debate. Hundreds of thousands of parents have refused to allow their children to take federally mandated high-stakes standardized tests, including those aligned with the Common Core State Standards, and education officials don’t like it.
In 2015, 20 percent of parents in New York City opted out; this year’s numbers are not yet known. Parents who chose this course did not know if there would be personal consequences for their kids, but knew they were possible. Now, in some districts, they are finding out what they are.
Why would states and districts want to take action to stop the opt-out movement? The U.S. Education Department has been warning of possible sanctions if at least 95 percent of all students are not tested — a threshold set in federal K-12 education law, first in No Child Left Behind and now in its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act. Last month, the department issued proposed rules that includes punitive options that states should take to ensure 95 percent student participation rate on federally required state-selected standardized tests.
In this post, Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, writes about what is happening to some opt-out parents. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has been chronicling botched school reform efforts in her state for years on this blog, and this is her newest piece.
By Carol Burris
Nearly half a million families across the country made the decision to opt their children out of Common Core state exams in 2015. As a result, most districts are scrambling to come up with ways to adjust their policies and processes when decisions about students are made on the basis of test scores. Sadly, some refuse to adjust and seek to punish opt-out students instead.