The opt out movement has caught hold around the country.
In New York:
The Greenville School Board on Monday railed against the excessive amount of testing that the State Board of Education is requiring for primary school students.
“We are going to have to take a bold stance. We are going to have to do something,” said School Board President Anne Mitchell. “It is not right. It is just not right.”
The board complained that while the State of New York is not providing the school district with enough funding they are also requiring that students take an excessive amount of tests.
Some of the tests are for assessment purposes so that the State of New York can keep track of how each district is performing.
The board took issue with whether the tests are actually teaching students, questioning whether there is a connection between testing and learning.
“As Superintendent I know I am required to implement the testing requirements of New York State. I do think, however, that there needs to be parental feedback to the [New York] State Education Department, including the Legislature. I hope the parents take the issue seriously because I don’t sense that the Governor is interested in what the Superintendents have to say,” said Superintendent of Schools Cheryl A. Dudley. “We see the day-to-day impact of the testing on the children and I do not see the connection between the assessment testing and children learning and their well-being.”
Dudley said she was also concerned about how the assessment testing results are being used. Dudley questioned who had the data, was the data confidential and how are companies managing the information.
Dudley blasted the penalties that school districts face for failing to report assessment data to the State. Some parents do not want their children to be tested repeatedly during the school year and have the option to refuse the testing of their children.
To read this article in full, go to Mobile News.
From Fair Test, an excerpt:
The Seattle action may have had the highest national profile, but it was far from the only testing protest this winter.
- In February, two student unions in Portland organized a boycott of the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) test. The Portland Public Schools student union and the Portland Student Union protested the OAKS because it wastes resources and is not an accurate measure of student achievement. “We’re hoping to send a greater message to the Department of Education about how students really do care about our education,” said Portland student organizer Alexia Garcia. “Over the years we’ve seen increased class sizes, less community control over our schools, and a movement towards standardization. We are standing up to say the system needs to change and public education needs to be better funded.”
- In January, 45 Providence high school students rallied at the Rhode Island State House in opposition to a new requirement that students pass the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests to graduate high school. The class of 2014 would be the first to have to meet this requirement. “Punishing students—particularly those who haven’t had the opportunity to receive the great education we deserve—is neither effective nor just,” said Kelvis Hernandez, a Providence Student Union member. In February, members of the Providence Student Union staged a die-in to dramatize how using NECAP as a graduation test could snuff out opportunities for as many as 40% of Rhode Island and 60% of Providence high schoolers.
- Students in Denver are organizing a walkout and boycott of the Colorado state test, the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, or TCAP, for March 14. Darciann Samples, a Colorado Parent, National Board Certified Teacher and opt-out organizer, shared her experiences opting her son out of testing last year and her plans to do the same this year. She offered words of encouragement to other parents: “Simply state your case, in a letter or in person, and stand firm. The less said, I believe, the better. Don’t give them any openings to break down your thoughts or give you doubt. You know your child, you know what is appropriate for your child, and you have the right to ensure that your wishes are upheld.”
- Citing the example of the Seattle teacher boycott, Chicago parent and community organizations and the Chicago Teachers Union initiated a campaign in January to support local efforts to eliminate non-state mandated testing from schools. They launched a new website, “More than a Score.” Parents circulated petitions at 37 schools on February 6 demanding fewer tests and more transparency, using the effort to educate parents and teachers. They will continue collecting signatures in person and on-line, then deliver the petitions to the Chicago Board of Education in the spring. Organizers have held regular community forums across the city (including two featuring FairTest presenters), critiquing the tests, explaining authentic assessment, and building the movement.
- In South Dakota, voters registered their opposition to the overuse and misuse of testing by overwhelmingly rejecting, 67% to 33%, the governor’s scheme to eliminate teacher tenure and institute a teacher bonus and merit pay system based on test results. The legislature had approved the plan, but when it was brought to voters as a ballot question, it was roundly defeated.
- In Massachusetts, 160 professors and researchers have signed a statement that standardized tests “provide only one indicator of student achievement, and their high-stakes uses produce ever-increasing incentives to teach to the test, narrow the curriculum, or even to cheat.” National early childhood education expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige of Lesley University, FairTest staff and Harvard graduate student Chris Buttimer initiated the statement.
- Parent groups in New York, Washington, Colorado and elsewhere have continued to organize opt-out drives, including a large and successful campaign in New York against field tests of Pearson exams last spring. Organizers of opt-out campaigns in New York and elsewhere expect that the forthcoming Common Core assessments will create an even greater explosion of standardized testing and are preparing to educate and organize parents to respond.
To read this post in full, go to Fair Test.
In Rhode Island:
This time it was the kids serving as proctors and the adults taking the standardized test.
In Providence, R.I. on Saturday, several dozen state legislators, city officials, professors and others sat down for several hours at a library to take a standardized test that was created from actual questions off of the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP.
Why did they do it? The Providence Student Union, a high school student advocacy
group, persuaded several dozen high-powered adults to take the test as part of their protest against a new state requirement that high school seniors must reach a certain level of proficiency on the exam to graduate — even though the test wasn’t designed for this purpose. It wasn’t even designed for the assessment of individual students.
The Providence Journal interviewed many of the adults after they took the test and it reported that most of them thought they flunked. Results will be made available Tuesday. Some said the test included “trick” questions.
The math test given to the adults was composed of actual questions kids have to answer on the NECAP, some of which are made public every year after they are no longer being used on the assessment. The students who designed the test said they chose to give the adults a math test because that is the one that is putting the most students in danger of not being able to graduate.
The Journal quoted state Rep. Larry Valencia (D-Richmond) as saying:
I was good at math. I took trig, statistics, pre-calculus. I have a degree in chemistry. I think the test is very unfair. It doesn’t represent what the average high school student should know.
State Sen. Adam Satchell was quoted as saying in a student union press release:
We’re trying to teach students twenty-‐first century skills— how to speak, how to use technology. That’s not what this test measures. It’s not an accurate measurement of our students.
Rhode Island state Sen. Gayle Goldin (D) took the test early and she said in an interview that she did not do well on it.
An Opt Out form for Chicago Public School students:
And finally, a Pennsylvania parents opt out letter for her child: