Archive for May, 2015

Opt Out

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Has the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) thought about the variety of students who must be assessed?

Or is each state, member of a consortium or not, only thinking of assessment in terms of the numbers No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires, which is still not revised in Congress?

The “opt out” strategy that has swept across the country, mainly in PARCC assessment states, but also in SBAC states, sheds glaring light. This post will look over the statements made about “opting out.”

“Opt out” supporters do not like the over-emphasis on testing; but also feel that student data privacy is not protected under the current assessment requirements. In reading various blogs and reports by parents on “opt out,” it can be claimed that middle class, educated parents and students are rebelling against the national fanaticism for testing. As has been said many times, students that come from high income, educated communities always do well. Testing all the time does not serve their learning well. Also, these parents have long been leery of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, known as FERPA. Note that in January 2015, President Obama called for revised federal legislation to regulate student data privacy. Up to Congress to change the current FERPA.

Let’s look at the national United Opt Out website. United Opt Out’s position is that corporations are dominating high-stakes testing decisions that the site intimates has influence over Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the consortia, and  the United States Department of Education. The website names ACHIEVE, a partner of the testing corporation Pearson, and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) which advocates for free markets, limited government, and federalism.

From my perspective, even more paranoid are the views named in the book Crimes of the Educators written by Alex Newman and Sam Blumenthal. Mr. Newman, in his post for Brave New Schools on WND News, “Common Core: Obama’s Assault on Children” (4/12/2015) wants to “stop the nightmarish plot and keep liberty alive.” He includes CCSS in the testing tirade. He has said that CCSS shapes minds with propaganda and reduces critical thinking for nefarious purposes. He asserts CCSS is a federal encroachment on every child’s education and that the assessments leave privacy of student records open to the world. He places guilt on the Obama administration, the UN, crony capitalists hoping to profit, population control zealot and Common Core financier Bill Gates, and “the whole corrupt educational establishment”. According to his convictions, students should “opt out.” Now, to whom is he speaking?

School districts from Seattle, Washington, to Pacific Grove, California, to the state of Colorado and New York have counted thousands of students and parents opting out of this year’s tests. Many districts have made applications that must be signed. Only California (SBAC) and Utah have regulations that allow parents and students to “opt out.” Since the country must still abide by the regulations under NCLB, state and school district administrators pale with fear of punitive measures because schools must include the number of test takers to fulfill the Adequate Yearly Progress, known as AYP, reports still required by federal law.

Before thinking that getting rid of the federal government’s place in schools will solve the CCSS and assessment problem, ask the administrators at SBAC and PARCC if they have thought of how to equip the United States’ diverse schools, students, and teachers for this future? Opting out does not help student achievement; supportive alternatives are the answer.

What about supporting diverse needs? Look for the next post that will address the problems for the actual tests.