The 'opt-out' movement: More parents keeping their children from taking standardized tests
Maria Ferguson of the Center on Education Policy said she thinks the practice of parents pulling their kids out of standardized tests is symbolic.
"I think it shows that people are very scared and very confused by tests," she said. "I think it's representative that testing has a branding problem."
Julie Borst of Allendale, N.J., didn't want her rising ninth-grader to take state standardized tests last year because she has special needs and isn't learning at her grade level. Borst is also concerned about the corporate influence of testing on education.
Borst said the school and superintendent asked the New Jersey Department of Education for guidance. Rather than staying home, Borst's daughter had to go into the principal's office each morning of the test and refuse to take it. Borst then drove her home.
"It was kind of convoluted and kind of a dance you do, and the result is the school district, they don't get dinged," Borst said.
Michael Yaple, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Education, said about 98 percent of New Jersey students take standardized tests.
"Keeping a child home from testing does no favor to the child or the school," he said.
Morna McDermott, a Baltimore college professor who is a board member of United Opt Out, likens the battle against standardized testing to a fight for corporate reform.
"Ultimately this is an act of civil disobedience," McDermott said. "If this is going to change, it has to fundamentally be grassroots."
Darcie Cimarusti of Highland Park, N.J., didn't like that her twin daughters would have to agonize over a standardized test as first-graders so she worked out an agreement with the principal to move them into a kindergarten class during testing time.
"My goal is that my daughters never take a standardized test," Cimarusti said. "I see less and less value in it educationally and it being used more and more to beat teachers over the head."
Peggy Robertson, a teacher in Centennial, Colo., who is also an Opt Out board member, said she only expects the movement to grow.
"You can feel the momentum," she said. "I think we're headed for a full-on revolt next year."
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