Friday, April 27, 2012

New York: Bringing Parent Opposition and Resistance Out of the Shadows

From zero reporting on parent opposition to excessive testing, news stories published in mainstream press are popping up here and there - a good sign.
AP Buffalo covered parents opting out in that area:
"A small but growing number of local parents are deciding to have their children opt out of the state standardized tests in English and math."

The news report describes the reasons parents give for opting out:

  • Too much stress on the children

  • Exaggerated test-centric learning environments

  • Narrowed curriculum and exclusion of development of critical thinking skills, hands-on learning, and other significant learning opportunities such as social studies and art

  • Concerns over testing quality and outsourcing testing to Pearsons

Notably, in contrast to the recent school-based threat made to a Long Island parent to report opting out to Child Protective Services and proceeding with testing in spite of parent request otherwise, no such threats or punishments for making this decision were reported in this article. In fact, parents sent their students to school and the students simply left the sheet blank. The test is not scored.

In an ABC News article, Opting Out of Standardized Tests, also covering New York, a spokesman for the state indicated that opting out has ramifications for the schools and the districts. Poor scores mean the schools could close or staff changes made.
Oddly, no comment made on the benefits of testing for children, except confirming parent rights:
"There are no ramifications for parents or students who keep their children home from grades 3 through 8 tests."

Parents remain generally unaware of the rights; but as the awareness grows that opting out is possible for parents, expect this movement to grow.

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