Elizabeth Harris and Ford Fessenden wrote an article that just went online in The Néw York Times about the stunning growth of the Opt Out movement in Néw York state. Its numbers have increased dramatically in only two years.
The movement is now a potent political force:
“As the vanguard of an anti-testing fervor that has spread across the country, New York’s opt-out movement already has become a political force. Just two months ago, lawmakers from both parties, at the behest of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, increased the role of test scores in teacher evaluations and tenure decisions.
“Those same legislators are now tripping over one another to introduce bills that guarantee the right to refuse to take tests. The high numbers will also push state and federal officials to make an uncomfortable decision: whether to use their power to financially punish districts with low participation rates.”
The federal government requires a 95% participation rate on tests. Two years ago, almost every district complied. Not this year.
“Only 30 of the 440 districts where data was available met the 95-percent test participation rate called for by federal requirements, a far cry from just two years ago, when almost every district complied.”
Critics of opt out say that without the test scores, no one would know which students, teachers, and schools are “failing.” But if the tests are invalid and unreliable, as many believe the Common Core tests are, then the information they provide is worthless. Are superintendents, principals, and teachers so untrustworthy that no one knows what is happening in the schools? Are the test makers better judges than professional educators?
Where will the Opt Out Movement go from here? It terrifies the Establishment. It is a grassroots movement that can’t be bought out.
Now that parents have found their voice and a means of expressing their displeasure, there is nowhere to go but up. The organizing will continue, especially as the state raises the stakes on the trsts. Next year expect even bigger numbers.