Fast Focus: 'Should children be encouraged to opt-out of standardized tests?' Parents speak out

April 20, 2014 

As a retired educator with more than 40 years experience in public education, I did not just fall off of the turnip truck when someone tells me what high-stakes tests will or will not do. I get it when tens of thousands of New Yorkers and thousands of others across the U.S. opt their children out of state/federal-mandated testing and why teachers in many locations refuse to give them. Through groups I administer on Facebook, I have solicited the reasoning behind parent opt-outs and will mention here just a few of the more than a dozen I uncovered.

5. They don't really measure what they purport to measure: student achievement. Filling in bubbles is not an effective way to adequately assess knowledge or measure what people can do when it comes to tasks needed for real world success.

4. They are not helpful to teachers. The results are provided as a single number, usually after several months when the child has moved on to a new grade and teacher.

3. They are unfair to students whose first language is not English and to those with disabilities. Students are being inaccurately assessed because of language barriers, cultural bias and learning disabilities.

2. They are a horrific waste of money. K-12 testing has become a huge industry estimated at more than $3 billion annually. As new tests mandated for the Common Core Standards Initiative are brought online and expanded to all grades, experts predict as much as a 20-fold increase in that number.

1. And the reason cited most often by parents opting their children out is that the stress and anxiety brought on by these essentially useless assessments are making children, especially those in the early grades, physically ill. Early childhood experts and child psychologists are calling the new Common Core tests that are designed to pass only about 30 percent of the children, abusive.

I fully understand why parents are rising up to opt their children out of high-stakes testing. What I don't understand is why we are continuing down this road to nowhere.

-- BOB VALIANT, Kennewick

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