More Parents Are Opting Children out of Standardized Tests; among the Reasons They Cite Are Using Tests to Evaluate Teachers, Stress on Students, Focus on Passing Exams

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

More Parents Are Opting Children out of Standardized Tests; among the Reasons They Cite Are Using Tests to Evaluate Teachers, Stress on Students, Focus on Passing Exams


DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, N.J. * While his eighth-grade classmates took state standardized tests last spring, Tucker Richardson woke up late and played basketball in his Delaware Township driveway.

Tucker's parents, Wendy and Will, are part of a small but growing number of parents nationwide who are ensuring their children do not participate in standardized testing. They are opposed to the practice for myriad reasons, including the stress they believe it brings on young students, discomfort with tests being used to gauge teacher performance, fear that corporate influence is overriding education and concern that test prep is narrowing curricula to the minimum needed to pass an exam.

"I'm just opposed to the way high-stakes testing is being used to evaluate teachers, the way it's being used to define what's happening in classrooms," said Will Richardson, an educational consultant and former teacher. "These tests are not meant to evaluate teachers. They're meant to find out what kids know."

The opt-out movement, as it is called, is small but growing. It has been brewing for several years via word of mouth and social media, especially through Facebook. The "Long Island opt-out info" Facebook page has more than 9,200 members, many of them rallying at a Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., high school last month after a group of principals called this year's state tests and their low scores a "debacle."

In Washington, a group of parents and students protested outside the Department of Education. Students and teachers at a Seattle high school boycotted a standardized test, leading the district superintendent to declare that city high schools have the choice to deem it optional. …

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