High-Stakes Testing Resistance Spreads Across Nation
for further information:
Dr. Monty Neill (617) 477-9792
Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773
for immediate release, Tuesday, June 26, 2012
HIGH-STAKES TESTING RESISTANCE SPREADS ACROSS NATION;
RESOLUTIONS, BOYCOTTS, OPT-OUTS SHOW INCREASED PUBLIC OPPOSITION
TO FAILED “TEST-AND-PUNISH” SCHOOL POLICIES
A rising tide of protest is sweeping the U.S. as growing numbers of parents, teachers, and administrators take action against high-stakes testing, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). Instead of “test-and-punish” policies, which have failed to improve academic performance or equity, the movement is pressing for broader forms of assessment they say will enhance teaching and learning. From Texas to New York and Florida to Washington State, reform activists seek to reduce the number of standardized exams. They also want to scale back the consequences attached to test scores and use multiple measures to evaluate students, educators, and schools.
More than 10,000 individuals, 350 organizations and hundreds of school boards have now endorsed the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing. Launched by education, civil rights and religious groups including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Educational Fund, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, Parents Across America and the National Education Association as well as FairTest, the National Resolution urges state officials to “reexamine school accountability.” It calls for a system “which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools.” It also asks Congress and the Obama Administration to overhaul No Child Left Behind.
The national movement was catalyzed by Texas where 545 local school boards have adopted a “Resolution Concerning High Stakes, Standardized Testing of Texas Public School Students.” The endorsing districts are responsible for educating 3.3 million students, more than two-thirds of the state’s public school enrollment.
In Florida more than a dozen countywide school committees serving three-quarters of a million students endorsed the National Resolution. Early supporters included Broward County, the nation’s sixth biggest district, and Palm Beach County, the 11th largest. Then, the state association of school boards annual convention voted to endorse a state-specific version. Dozens of newspaper editorials, opinion columns, and letters to the editor have called for a reduction in testing and an overhaul of the state’s assessment system.
The National Resolution has also won support from several school boards in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area as well as Ohio and Virginia.
The resolutions are not the only form of protest. This spring New York parents organized a boycott of a “field test” designed to develop future questions. Parents at more than five dozen schools held their children out on days the exams were scheduled. Boycotts also emerged in other states. In Snohomish, Washington, 550 parents opted their children out. Campaigns aimed at encouraging more “opt-outs” are underway in California and Colorado.
This summer, assessment reform leaders intend to use campaign season to continue their momentum. They plan to press elected officials and their challengers to take public positions against test misuse and overuse. In St. Petersburg, Florida, for example, voters already convinced seven of eight contenders for the local school board to oppose high-stakes standardized exams. By “bird-dogging” candidate forums, asking pointing questions, publishing opinion columns in local media, and commenting on political blogs, advocates expect to deliver a clear message to those who ultimately make assessment policy: “Enough is enough!”
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