Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Opting Out

The latest "we're not gonna take it" movement in America is the "Opt-Out" movement, a rapidly-organizing coalition of parents who want their kids removed from the world of standardized testing, preferably before the Next Generation Assessments hit in 2014. Truly, despite being in the corporate education world they so despise, I get where they're coming from. I can't help being pleased that O will age out and graduate before the new tests hit in earnest. However, New York remains a state in which opting out is not a legal option. Here is State Ed's response to the movement.

Since the parents in the movement tend to be well-educated themselves, it is likely that successful opting out will lead to significant drops in school scores. Add to that the NYSSBA's concern about the need for a certain percentage of the cohort to be tested in order to maintain AYP numbers (which affect Title I monies). And as the article makes clear, teachers are now being evaluated partly on their students' test scores, making it more important than ever for them to see to it that their best students sit for the test.

High-stakes testing is a messy, awful way to evaluate an educational system; it robs big chunks of time from the 180 days students are in school, causes agita for students and teachers, and costs a boatload of money. One of my favorite recent examples of how demoralizing the system is comes from a teacher who just resigned from an upstate district. I really do understand everything that's wrong with the current plan. I'd like to hear alternatives, though. All of the ones I've seen (on the Opt Out website, for example) just seem, frankly, stupid.

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