Opting Out Leaves Students, Parents and Teachers in the Dark

If parents want to “end the obsession with standardized testing,” they should opt their children out of student assessments, argues Diane Ravitch in the Huffington Post. “That’s democracy in action…The tests today are pointless and meaningless.” Ravitch goes further, saying proficiency benchmarks are “subjective” and set “so high that the majority of children are expected to fail.”

Ravitch’s claims entirely ignore the value of high-quality student assessments most states are using. High-quality tests are one of the best tools parents and teachers have to measure student development and to provide support when and where students need it. The data that tests provide help inform instruction and allow educators to tailor their teaching to build on what’s working and address classroom needs.

Last fall, Karen Nussle noted, “States are finally measuring to levels that reflect what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college or a career…For parents and educators, that should come as a welcome change.”

That’s why numerous national civil rights groups and leaders support annual state assessments. “When we are finally going in the right direction, why would we even consider going back?” Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, wrote earlier this year.

To be sure, states are moving in the right direction by implementing rigorous standards and high-quality assessments aligned to them. An analysis by Achieve this year found 26 states significantly closed their “Honesty Gaps” over the past two years, giving parents and teachers a better picture of how well their students were being prepared to ultimately step into college or a career.

The Honesty Gap analysis recognizes New York—where opt-out efforts have been concentrated—as among the “Most Honest” states for reporting proficiency rates that actually exceed those identified by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). “The findings indicate parents and educators are now receiving more accurate information about how well prepared their child is to move onto higher level material based on college- and career-ready standards.”

Read more on the importance of assessments here.