The Opt Out Movement Does More Harm Than Good

In a recent opinion piece published by The Progressive, Jesse Hagopian, a Progressive Education Seattle fellow, argues student assessments serve the interests of “corporate education reformers” and “a multibillion-dollar testing industry,” not minority families. “Standardized testing was invented by white supremacists and maintains institutional racism,” Hagopian claims. “Our task must be to build multiracial alliances in the opt out movement…to defeat a testing juggernaut.”

Contrary to Hagopian’s claim, there is strong support for high-quality student assessments as a way to ensure students of color are held to expectations that prepare them for college and careers. “We rely on the consistent, accurate, and reliable data provided by annual statewide assessments to advocate for better lives and outcomes for our children,” 12 national civil and human rights groups wrote in a statement last year.

“Opting out is the wrong choice for our kids,” Charles Coleman, a prominent civil rights attorney wrote last month. “Boycotting standardized tests may seem like a good idea, but it hurts black learners the most…The negative associations many of us attach to Common Core, standardized testing, and teacher evaluations stem from a false narrative on the state of our education system and short-sighted ideas on how to fix it.”

A recent post by the Collaborative’s Jim Cowen underscores the importance of annual assessments to both parents and teachers and urges parents to opt in, not out. “Instead of boycotting testing, let’s work together to get parents the information that they need. When the testing window is, the purpose that the test serves, links to the practice tests available and other resources available to help their child succeed – those are strong conversations worth having. As we approach the 2016 testing window, join me in opting in,” Cowen says.