April 7, 2015

Opt-Outs? I’m In! Pass The Kale! But Let’s Not Be Hypocrites About It.

By Bellwether

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In U.S. News & World Report I take a look at the opt-out issue. I’m in:

What’s in this spring in public education? Apparently it’s students opting out of state standardized tests. 

If you just read hysterical press accounts you might think parents are refusing state standardized tests at a fantastic clip. In fact, for the overwhelming majority of schools and students it’s business as usual. In a few affluent communities opting out of the new Common Core tests is a thing. “Everyone is talking about it at Whole Foods” says one disgusted New York education figure. But so far the opt out craze is more noise than signal. 

Still, faced with even the possibility of an “opt-out” movement education officials are responding with force. This week Kentucky’s education commissioner said school districts cannot honor opt-out requests and student refusals would be counted as zeroes for school accountability purposes. That strategy seems more likely to fan flames than change minds.

When I asked my nine-year-old daughter about whether parents should opt kids out of tests, she responded, “Well, then how will they know how they’re really doing?” Fair enough, but the debate about testing is long past that sort of reasonableness. So if parents want to opt-out of tests and all this craziness, why not just let them?

Opt-in to read the entire thing here (the lame jokes write themselves around here). You might hear more education policy analysis from my kids on my Twitter feed @arotherham. And tell me here or there whether or not you like quinoa on the side along with your opt-outs.

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