What Happens When Parents Decide to Opt-Out of Standardized Tests?

Ten years into the No Child Left Behind accountability standards, the backlash is gaining momentum. In New York, a growing number of parents are discovering that, as state standardized tests become a prominent part of the curriculum, their children are losing interest in school. This discovery is leading many of them to opt out of the tests altogether. But if a critical mass of parents decide that they don't buy into state mandated assessments, what will happen to the school system? Robert Kolker explores the consequences in New York City in a recent article for New York Magazine.

"No real anti-testing resistance movement ever gained traction until last spring, when the state introduced revamped ELA and math tests that were so much harder than what came before that a vast majority of students failed," Kolker writes.

The Opt-OutersMore than a year before 7-year-old Oscar Mata was scheduled to take his first major standardized test, his parents received word from his school that he was failing. The Department of Education calls it a Promotion in Doubt letter-a well-intentioned, if blunt, method used to get families to take notice of gaps in a student's skills.

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