This is the first of a four-part conversation on the opt-out movement.
Spring has arrived and with it the annual rounds of state assessments begin. Students sharpen their No. 2 pencils in preparation for this national ritual, and teachers read over their test-administration manuals. But today, a small but growing number of parents are choosing to remove their children from this process and opt out of the assessments.
The opt-out movement is a collection of loosely affiliated groups with various objections to the assessment system. Their main concerns are that the tests don't provide specific enough information on student growth, the results are being misused, and testing is another example of government overreach. As a means of expressing their dissatisfaction with the current situation, they have chosen to not have their children participate in state exams.
As a practicing classroom teacher, I share their concerns. I find that my state tests don't give data specific enough to make real decisions around student and teacher performance. The information puts students into categories without a clear indication of their strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, testing results do nothing to help us address root issues affecting students, teachers, and schools. The discussion simply devolves into one that focuses on success or failure.