Recently, 175,000 students in New York state have opted-out of taking standardized tests. The students, and their parents, as well as educators and politicians, see the new, Common Core aligned tests as unworthy of their time. The tests are harder than in previous years, and require more time spent teaching to the test, instead of teaching the subjects in question.
Standardized tests have been central to federal education policy since 2002’s No Child Left Behind. That law in particular could be a real problem, because it states that schools which fail to test 95% of their students can lose federal funding, a problem that Ohio currently faces.
But for many, the testing is the problem, not the threat of losing funding, and for the growing opt-out movement, the goal is to make those tests less central to determining if children are learning, if teachers are doing their jobs well, and if schools have funding. Many parents think that the tests are a waste of time, and many educators agree, feeling that so much emphasis on testing takes time away from actual teaching. The American Statistical Association tends to agree, and doesn’t think that standardized tests actually show how well teachers teach or students learn.
Long Island, which has the strongest support for this new movement, recently elected 21 people to school board positions who were endorsed by opt-out supporters. Even in the U.S. Senate there’s a draft bill looking to reduce the stakes of standardized testing in federal education policy.
New York isn’t the only state where this is happening. Colorado, Florida, Oregon, Main, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and others have all seen large numbers of parents puling their kids out of tests. New York has the largest numbers, but its obvious that standardized tests are under fire around the country.