At The Opt-Outs – Leaking Questions Might Be Good! Obsessing On 95%, Not So Much…

This kind of thing (penalizing schools for opt-outs) seems certain to just create a target and inflame things. Especially in places where opt-out seems more marginal. Perhaps what we need is just more attention to the percent of students who take tests when considering school performance rather than a slavish focus on 95 percent? That’s the way any sensible analyst thinks about college prep data from high schools now. Could create a good upward incentive for elementary and middle schools.

But this kind of thing (leaking and publishing test questions) creates IP and costs issues for states but seems likely to help Common Core advocates, but I’m biased – I like transparency. Reading a passage and actually understanding it? That’s killing what’s great about education! No, actually, I want my kids to be able to do that (even if it’s not rewarded on Twitter) and don’t want them in a school where teaching that becomes some three ring circus about tests.

My more general take on opt-out here. The numbers in NY aren’t final yet but could be really interesting. Some folks crediting the UFT and the chancellor.

4 Replies to “At The Opt-Outs – Leaking Questions Might Be Good! Obsessing On 95%, Not So Much…”

  1. “The federal government is obligated to intervene if states don’t respond to high opt-out rates” — by repealing No Child Left Behind’s requirement for annual state tests. Otherwise, if Congress proceeds with reauthorizing the federal mandate in the face of an opt-out movement that continues to grow, it will present the states with an enforcement mess that will make all of our current education controversies look like those of a pre-school play area, and really could incite the opting out of the entire state school system that your column predicts with some prescience. At some point the taxpayers and educators who have been the bedrock of the American state school system are going to look at what it’s become, look at their own children and their future, ask themselves if they see any common cause there, and if they conclude that the state schools have become some outside imposition enacted by corrupt politicians who care primarily for their own career interests rather than the public good, you can well expect that people will increasingly head for gated communities, lobby for vouchers, and cut taxes — a whole new generation of Republicans who were once Democrats but feel abandoned by that party.

  2. Since the state is paying the schools to educate the children, its fair for the state to require the school to test the children. It’s one of the ways the state can monitor and hold the school accountable for its outcomes. If parents want to opt-out of testing, they can opt-out of the free and public education the state is providing for them.

    Of course forcing students to take a test against their will isn’t going to yield valid results. If you want valid results you need the right carrot (diploma, college acceptance) tied to student performance.

    If the standards truly represent the skills and knowledge of value then colleges and universities should be willing to accept them as a measure of student readiness for post-secondary education. I’m waiting for some bold and forward thinking institution to take a step in that direction, a step toward integration of K-12 and post-secondary which would add another voice, another perspective, and hopefully discussion of solutions .

  3. Guy, here’s the answer to you and Mr. Rotherham:

    Pro-Annual Testing of Everyone pundits are all in a tizzy about Opt-Out. In their view, parents who opt out are severely compromising accountability for our public education system. They are eroding the public interest in the most selfish possible way. What seems to irk these pundits as much as anything is the possibility that the recent pattern of opting out appears (empirical question for a later day) to be disproportionately occurring in upper middle income to upper income communities – A group, over which pundits have have little control or possible leverage [little opportunity for punitive policy – which drives them crazy].
    So the pundits say, the disproportionate opting out of upper income white children from testing will severely compromise the ability of policy makers to accurately measure achievement gaps between those children and poor and minority children more compliantly sit down, shut up and fill in the bubbles (ok… point and click).
    If the affluent families opt out, we really won’t know how far behind those who are less affluent really are?
    Do we?

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