"[The] refusal to participate in federally mandated testing programs likely represents a turning point in the history of assessment reform in the United States. The next few years will tell, as activists plan to dramatically increase refusals and to win policy changes in the states. Their avowed goals include less testing, an end to high-stakes uses of tests (that is, making decisions about students, educators, or schools solely or primarily on test scores), and implementation of other, educationally sound assessment practices.
A controversial December 2015 memo from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) is the latest in a series of hollow threats suggesting that states, districts and schools could lose federal financial aid if parents, students or teachers boycott standardized tests. The memo cites several possible penalties for states with high opt-out rates, including withholding some federal funds that help pay for testing. But none of the funding sanctions would affect local schools.
Congress has passed the “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA). This bill is the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the universally despised “No Child Left Behind.” The new law presents both opportunities and dangers for the testing resistance and reform movement.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was signed into law in 2002, the latest version of the long-standing Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Its provisions, such as testing grades 3-8 annually in reading and math and punitive sanctions, took effect over the next several years. The law is eight years overdue for reauthorization by Congress. In 2015, both the House and Senate approved reauthorization bills and as of October 2015 are working on a compromise.