Putting Education Reform To The Test

New York Parents Organize Movement Against Common Core Tests

Parents at a Brooklyn school opt out of state tests earlier this week.

girlray / Flickr

Parents at a Brooklyn school opt out of state tests earlier this week.

The civil disobedience taking place during New York’s statewide testing season may offer a preview of what’s to come when Florida unveils new Common Core-tied tests next year.

This is the second year New York has used a home-grown test to assess its Common Core standards. The protests started last year and seem to be picking up steam in 2014.

Advocates of “opting out” of New York’s tests estimate that parents have chosen to withhold more than 30,000 students from the tests this year. Chalkbeat reported the number of students opting out of state tests in New York City schools has increased to nearly 640, up from 276 last year. And advocates argue that number could exceed more than 1,000 students.

That’s still a small percentage of the NYC student population, but the numbers are larger in other New York districts.

The efforts include social media campaigns, websites and a very well-produced how-to video on withdrawing your children from New York state tests.

The entire staff of one Bronx school wrote an open letter questioning how test results are used. And teachers are comparing notes and posting their experiences with the exam at an online forum.

Of course, the backlash to the testing backlash has also begun.

Parent Stacey Altherr wrote an op-ed for Newsday about why her kids will take the tests:

Yet we still ask our kids to do the best they can in those areas. Striving for excellence is an important part of life. If he scores low, which is possible for my son, who only came to this country four years ago and is still on the English as a Second Language spectrum, it is OK with me.  But it’s still important because it tells me where he is academically and where we need to spend more of his time and attention. It tells his school district that, also. He need not feel inadequate. It’s a measuring tool.

Advocates in Florida are watching.

Opponents are likely to lose the political battle to repeal the use of Florida’s Common Core-based standards this year. But they say they’re keeping an eye on New York and researching an opt-out effort for Florida schools next year.


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