Parents, Educators, and Civil Rights Activists Opt-In

 

Annual assessments are an important part of the learning process for students, teachers and schools by providing valuable feedback on student performance that can inform student supports, instructional practices and school resource allocation. When parents keep students out of the end-of-year test, it doesn’t just hurt their child, it hurts all children in their school.

That’s why a majority of parents oppose opting students out of annual assessments, and why parent,  educator, and civil rights organizations are increasingly taking a stand against opting out.

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has recently stressed the importance of annual assessments:

“National PTA does not support state and district policies that allow students to opt-out of state assessments that are designed to improve teaching and learning. While we recognize that parents are a child’s first teacher and respect the rights of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children, the association believes the consequences of nonparticipation in state assessments can have detrimental impacts on students and schools.”

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Similarly, in a position statement on opt-out policies, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) expressed its “opposition to state and district policies that allow parents to opt their children out of standardized assessments.”

State and district opt-outs are particularly detrimental for low-income students and students of color, who often attend schools with the largest achievement gaps and the greatest need for resources. A dozen civil rights organizations – to include the NACCP, National Urban League, and National Council of La Raza – released a statement stressing the importance of annual assessments and stating that “…when parents ‘opt out’ of tests—even when out of protest for legitimate concerns—they’re not only making a choice for their own child, they’re inadvertently making a choice to undermine efforts to improve schools for every child.”

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Civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. hit the nail on the head in his op-ed when he stressed that, “while there should be concerns raised over excessive testing and devoting too much classroom instruction to test prep, the long-term effects of opting out could be even worse, particularly for communities of color.”opt-image-2

Instead of boycotting testing, let’s work together to get parents the information that they need. The Center for American Progress’ recently released Testing Bill of Rights helps provide a framework for this discussion by acknowledging the need for better, fairer and fewer tests, while also stressing the rights of teachers, parents and students to meaningful and accurate data.

During this spring testing season, join with parents, educators and the civil rights community in opting in.

Jim Cowen is a father of two, and Deputy Director at the Collaborative for Student Success.