The Network for Public Education stands in full support of parents, students and educators who choose to teach and learn about the reality of high stakes tests, opt out of high stakes tests, speak out against high stakes tests and who refuse to give those tests to students.
We take this stand because:
- Right now, in communities from the highest need to the most affluent, students, parents and educators are being punished for the courageous act of informing others about available options to opt out of high stakes tests and acting upon those options. These reprisals, often for merely learning and teaching about students’ rights, violate basic human rights and common decency.
- There is no evidence that these tests contribute to the quality of education, or help close the “achievement gap.” Since NCLB, these tests have hindered, not helped, school improvement efforts. The scores of US students in the international PISA tests have remained flat for the dozen years of high stakes testing.
- These tests, particularly those associated with the Common Core, have become intrusive in our schools, consuming excessive time and resources. These are not the kind of tests that we took when we were children. Students in grades three to eight must spend ten or more hours on testing, and enter their answers on computer keyboards. Since teachers will not see their scores for months they have no diagnostic value. They have resulted in narrow instruction and curriculum that focuses on test preparation.
- The Common Core tests, such as PARCC, SBAC and others Pearson has developed to measure the Common Core standards, have been designed to yield widespread failure for students, and thus are an inaccurate reflection of what our students are capable of doing.
- Inequities in education are a real and devastating reality in our education system. High stakes tests exacerbate this inequity with their negative, disparate impact on students of color, students in poverty, English language learners, and students with disabilities.
NPE Board member Carol Burris wrote recently,
“…there comes a time when rules must be broken — when adults, after exhausting all remedies, must be willing to break ranks and not comply. That time is now. The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.”
NPE recognizes that not everyone is in a position where opting out of the tests is a viable option. However, we strongly support those who make that decision, and we encourage administrators, school board members and elected officials to honor this choice. We encourage teacher unions to support and defend teachers taking this stand and to support members’ rights to freedom of speech when they speak out on such issues of importance.
Most of all, we encourage all involved to circulate information and educate ourselves, each other and especially students to make decisions about their own education including around the issue of high stakes testing.
We do not take this position lightly, but we do so in response to a testing system that has moved far beyond what is useful, and has become a force of fear and failure in our schools; a system that is now directly attacking parents, students and educators who courageously stand to defend students.
In order to defend our students, high-stakes testing must be halted. We stand in full support of those who opt out and encourage others to do so.