In school there was nothing I hated more than standardized testing. They took up a bunch of time, were boring and stressed me out. I always figured standardized tests were just a part of school life and colleges needed the scores to properly judge where people were at academically, so I just went along with it and only complained to my friends at lunch.
The Washington Post reported on a new phenomenon growing among parents of grade schoolers: opting out of standardized testing. Parents are becoming more and more upset with the current academic system and the importance of standardized tests in America. To show their distain they simply don’t take their children to school for test days. The tests are only effective if everyone takes them, so this really throws a wrench into the system.
If this reaction seems a bit drastic, it’s because it is. With the current education system, children are required to take standardized tests to assess if they should pass on to the next grade or if a school is properly educating kids. But this wasn’t the first step. Bianca Tanis, the founder of New York’s opt-out group, told CNN reporters they’ve been lobbying to the governor for years and feel the need to do this because instead of simply ignoring them, the governor has actually passed laws to make teacher evaluations more heavily governed by the test results.
Opt-out groups have been sprouting up all over the United States, with meet ups in every state. All of them have the common goal of evicting standardized testing, created by the No Child Left Behind Act, from the educational system. Many parents, like Tanis, feel the current system is flawed and they need to “take back the classrooms.”
Standardized tests aren’t all doom and gloom as they’re so often portrayed. In many ways they do some real good for the education system. Their main benefit is their most obvious: they create a standard system for judging levels of education and intelligence. With standardized tests, educators can see which school districts are doing worse than others at teaching their students, then send people to find out why and fix it. The tests also make sure teachers in low-income school districts are held to the same base standard as others in high-income school districts.
The tests aren’t all good either, though that much can be seen just by the protests. Standardized testing can cause many problems, not the least of which is stress. It causes stress for students, who feel as if the tests will dictate their future and if they fail then they won’t be able to succeed out in the real world. It also causes stress for the teachers, who need to cover specific sets of material in order to prepare their students. In some cases their jobs may even depend on their students scoring well. Another major issue is that teachers need to teach specific things, they’re not free to teach other topics that the class might find interesting. They’re not free to spend another week diving deeper into a topic that the class needs more work on because many surface-level topics have to be covered.
Whether you’re for or against standardized testing, this is becoming more of an issue in the US every year. According to CNN, in New York, an estimated 14% of all students will opt out of standardized tests this year, and the number continues to grow.
By Evan Roberts