Students Boycott Exit Exams

K-12 Testing

Despite ever-rising pressure to comply with state exit exams, individual students and parents continue to take a courageous stand against the damage done by high-stakes testing by refusing to take the tests.


Texas freshman Mia Kang refused to answer the questions and instead wrote an essay challenging the validity of high-stakes testing when the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) was administered in February. “I wrote about how standardized tests are hurting and not helping schools and kids,” Mia told the San Antonio Express-News. “I just couldn’t participate in something that I’m completely opposed to.”


The New York Times recently profiled several boycotting families, including another Texan, 11-year-old Macario Guajardo, who said he objects to Texas’ high-stakes testing system because “I think we should be doing other creative things that help kids express their imagination. We don’t do any art. We don’t get enough recess.”


The Times article mentioned boycotting students from Washington, Ohio and Scarsdale, NY, though it neglected ongoing pockets of resistance in Massachusetts and other states.


The pressure to comply and take state tests is greater than ever, due to the No Child Left Behind law’s requirement that 95 percent of eligible students must take the test for a school to make “adequate yearly progress” (AYP). One Colorado district has gone so far as to threaten to retain students in grade if they boycott the test. Several states require students to pass a test to be promoted to the next grade, which makes boycotting much riskier.


According to Florida educator and activist Gloria Pipkin, “In some districts, parents who have tried to hold their children out of testing have been told by school officials that children who missed all testing and makeup days would be reported as truant and parents would be reported for contributing to delinquency.”