As standardized-testing season begins, many parents, teachers, and unions are opting into the opt-out movement.
While students across the country prepare to participate in their state’s version of standardized testing, some parents choose to opt out of exams for their children.
Supporters of standardized testing cite benefits such as an equal educational learning environment – regardless of background, a record of academic achievement and growth, and measuring the effectiveness of the schools as reasons to participate. Opponents of exams feel the tests are excessive, unnecessary, and promote a stressful environment that prevents teachers from doing their job of educating and decreases quality, in-class learning experiences for students.
Real Moves of the Opt-out Movement
Standing behind parents’ rights to opt out of standardized testing for their children, New York’s Monroe County Federation of Teachers released a statement in mid-March, ahead of the start of testing season. The organization, which represents more than 20 teachers’ unions, revealed that while minor adjustments to exams were made to reduce student stress, it feels this practice remains an inadequate gauge of student learning ability and quality of a teacher’s performance.
In February, United Opt-Out National hosted its United Opt-Out Conference in Philadelphia, to “…demand an equitably funded, democratically based, anti-racist, desegregated public school system for all Americans that prepares students to exercise compassionate and critical decision-making with civic virtue,” according to its website. Comprising parents, K-12 educators, and professors, the organization has taken a revolutionary stance against standardized testing. The group focuses on supporting the opt-out movement from a grassroots, social-activist level by promoting events, such as the upcoming Save Our Schools People’s March for Public Education & Social Justice that will take place July 8 and 9 at The Lincoln Memorial and Howard University.
While the Florida Education Association (FEA) has warned its teachers to use caution when expressing their support of the opt-out movement, the organization provides information regarding how to become involved. The issue has become so important that the statement can be found up front on the FEA homepage. In addition to caveats, the organization provides resources, such as an opt-out movement guide and footage from a march for public education, which took place in January.
Why Are We Stressing Standardized Testing?
Many parents and teachers have remained resistant to standardized testing for an array of reasons. Some of the more popular opt-out movement issues are the business aspects of testing processes, which create partnerships with the private companies that develop and grade exams. Other opt-out movement arguments discuss the valuable time lost to test preparation, which could be dedicated to arts education, study time, college preparation, project-based learning, and allowing teachers to educate – rather than teaching to test.
Others feel that the benefits of standardized testing justify the time and money needed to conduct them. Standardized tests can allow parents to see an objective evaluation of what their children have learned and the topics with which they are still struggling. Students’ scores are also compared to those within their school, district, and state, which can give parents a better understanding of their children’s overall performance. Some parents even compare districts’ scores when choosing a school for their children. While most experts agree that districts should not use students’ test scores to evaluate teacher effectiveness, many districts use test scores to compare successes in different school buildings and uncover best practices in particular subjects or grade levels.
Standardized testing remains a complex and controversial issue. Whatever their stance, all parents and educators are focused on helping students learn and grow. Regardless of their opinions about standardized testing or the opt-out movement, the camaraderie between parents and teachers should continue to help students excel long after this issue has been resolved.