Should Schools Be Punished When…

Should schools be punished when students and parents opt out of high stakes testing? Large numbers of students have refused to sit for standardized tests this year. The antitesting movement has been growing in a number of states. For months, state and federal officials warned that districts that fell below a 95 percent participation rate might lose federal funds,


In New York State, school districts will not be penalized for having large numbers of students refusing to sit for the New York State standardized tests this year, education officials stated. The number of students who opted out of the tests this year was quadruple the number from the year before and constituted some 20 percent of potential test takers, hampering the state’s ability to analyze the test results. More than 200,000 third through eighth graders declined to take the exams this year. In a number of districts, students who refused to take the tests outnumbered those who did. In the Chateaugay Central School District had an 89 percent opt-out rate.

But New York State is not alone. In New Jersey, tens of thousands also opted-out. Many Colorado districts saw less than 80 percent participation. Pennsylvania’s opt-out rate tripled from last year. More than 3,000 boycotted examinations in Albuquerque.

I am not opposed to testing. For better or worse, being good at taking tests has helped me at every point of my educational careers. I am opposed to how the test results are inappropriately being used. Linking test results and high stakes tests to rank schools, how to fund them and being used to evaluate teachers inevitably leads teachers and schools to teach to the test, spend large amounts of time and money and results in less teaching. This has caused teachers to be driven out of a profession that they love and is corroding the true purposes of education.