Why are parents electing to “Opt-out” of testing?

Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind and the follow-on update to this policy by President Obama labeled as Race to the Top, parents have kept their children from taking the required testing mandated by these programs. The number per state varied and in some areas, the number was varied by race. Numerous reasons are given by parents in keeping their children from these test but a few seem to be consistent among families.

Alan Singer in an educational blog states; “Opt-out is a parent-led campaign supported by many teachers against Common Core aligned high-stakes tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools.” This is the number one reason that can be found for “opting out” of the testing. The teachers, schools, districts, states, and students are all ranked and evaluated on the scores of a single multiple choice test. Depending on these scores, some of which can follow a student through their school careers, are used to set funding, rank success or failure in the ability to retain information, and to measure success or failure of a teacher. This has led to what many call “teaching the test” in which teachers teach only test material to insure their students score well since their evaluations depend on it.

Many up and down the states educational systems in addition to parents are absolutely adamant that a test does not adequately measure a child's ability to learn and retain information. Their stance is that the understanding or abilities of child learning is more than coloring bubbles on multiple choice questions. This also coincides with the private and charter schools that do not have to apply these test. The parents and educators are supportive of school reform, they disagree that that standardized testing is the right way to gauge a child's intellect, their counter-argument is it should be left to the teachers and districts to determine each students ability. This more personal and bottom up solution is gaining traction through out the states.

Another huge problem is the security of the personal identifiable information (PII) which is being tracked by several companies by the testing. This first came to a head and exploded in New York State with the company called In Bloom. InBloom was amassing huge databases of millions of students under the premise of using the data to develop individualized learning plans. They collected information on students testing, grades, performance over time, search histories, and demographics. This caused a lot of concern from many parents and law makers on what was in place to protect this personal data and concerns over medical data that became part of these students records. Additional concerns centered around who would have access to this information? The initial proposal stated parents and school officials, but it failed to disclose who else could get access. This led to an immense push back and ultimate shutting down of InBloom. There are currently other companies now opening to take InBlooms place but have implemented and tried to answer the questions that caused InBlooms failure.

There are more reasons that parents have for opting out. Some include concerns that if a child has a bad day then these scores can be used to deny them entry into schools, programs, or other academic areas later in life. There are also concerns that government may be using this data to keep track of kids as they progress through school for any number of reasons. The two above mentioned reasons are the most popular and most discussed as to why parents choose to “opt-out” of this testing.