Resistance Grows in Many States

Status: 
Archived
Subject: 
K-12 Testing

A Louisiana court has dismissed a lawsuit by parents seeking to block implementation of a state plan to use test scores to determine promotion from grades 4 and 8. The judge ruled the case was not timely as no students had yet been harmed, since the policy does not go into effect until the end of the 1999-2000 school year.

 

Thus, this summer Louisiana will become one of the first states to attempt to deny promotion based solely on test scores, a common practice in many districts around the nation. 38,000 students failed the tests and face retention, yet the state has not provided funds for remedial efforts. The percentage of students flunking was highest in cities such as New Orleans.

 

Parents may return to court as soon as test-based retention decisions are announced. They are planning a series of meetings and rallies to educate the public and policy-makers. For more information contact C.C. Campbell-Rock at Campbell-rock@email.msn.com.

 

Many parents kept their children out of the March administration of the Ohio Proficiency Tests (OPT). The story was reported in local papers, but state officials say they do not know how extensive the boycotts were. In response to the parental action, Sen. Robert Hagin introduced a resolution to temporarily halt the tests. Several legislators also spoke out against the exam, and political pundits predicted that the tests were likely to become an issue in next fall’s political races. For more information, contact Mary O’Brien (614) 487-0477; sobrien@columbus.rr.com; www.stopOPTs.org.

 

Meanwhile, a group of researchers from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) concluded that the OPTs are a significant source of anxiety for both students and teachers. The BGSU study was done in Perrysville, a town which ranks near the top of the state in the percentage of students passing the test. Two-thirds of Perrysville elementary school teachers said the test causes excess stress, and three of four secondary school students agreed. Two-thirds of the educators said the tests undermined morale and also criticized the pressure to teach to the state exam. Another academic group, from Youngstown State U., found that results on the tests mirror the students’ socio-economic status.

 

Resistance is also growing in California, where parents can legally keep their children out of the state’s tests. While the number of those opting out is not yet known, Eugene Garcia, Dean of the School of Education at U. Cal.-Berkeley, has called for 50% non-participation, arguing that a boycott of that size would kill the test. The tests are administered in English to all students, without regard to the language they speak or read, will soon be used to determine grade promotion and high school graduation, and are now the sole criterion for ranking schools for rewards or punishments.

 

Activists in California have established a listserv. To subscribe, send an email to majordomo@lists.ncte.org and in the first line of the note put: subscribe ca-resisters.