Opting Out of Standardized Testing Now Has a Name and a Face.

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Opt-Out Isn’t Black and/or Brown

I’ve provided insight on the data found in a recent Columbia University survey on the National Opt-Out Movement.

The goal of analyzing this report is as follows:

  1.  To discuss quite frankly how the opt-out movement has a color to it, and the color isn’t black or brown, it’s white.
  2. The significance of the Opt-Out Movement. Why is this movement so important to everyone, including Black and Latino families?  It’s a movement centered around the traditional public school system, and their need to protect middle class jobs by ensuring teachers have little to no accountability for the learning of students, especially poor, minority students who have been inherently disenfranchised.
  3. Lastly, this opt-out movement has little to no effect on people with the financial means to provide supplemental education to their children. The leaders of this movement can afford tutors, such as learning centers, SAT/ACT prep classes, etc.  All to leave minority students holding the bag, taking remedial classes for the first couple years of their college careers.

It should be noted “the vast majority of the participants in the opt-out National survey (92.9 percent) indicated that their children attended public schools” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016).  The majority of these children are not from charter schools.  The reason being, is because the sole viability of the worthiness of a charter school, (at least in NY state) is a point by point comparison of how the charter school performs in comparison to the district school.  In most cases, if a charter school does not consistently outperform the district in which it is located, the question becomes why is there a need, when the district performs at the same rate or better?

Additionally, “nine out of ten (92.1 percent) respondents who are parents or guardians of school‐aged children said they are likely to opt out in the future” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016).  NY State responded accordingly to the feedback it sought out to change the tests for those that exhibited concerns.  Initial concerns were, test were punitive to teachers because they were tied to evaluations, the tests were poorly written, and the tests should be untimed.  All feedback lawmakers took into account and changed.  So, if many of the changes they requested were made, and they’re still opting out of testing at higher than 90%, what is this really about?

Income levels effect opt out choice

The study notes that “the typical opt out activist is a highly educated, white, married, politically liberal parent whose children attend public school and whose household median income is well above the national average” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016).  According to the research, we have highly educated white people, making decisions that could ultimately effect students of color, without any of the parents of the students of color even being able to voice their outrage.  So, if you look at the statistics, how is this different from the 1% wealth argument?  It really isn’t.  The people with the money are now driving Ed policy for the poor.  And they’ve went so far as to say, not only do we drive policy, but we don’t want charter schools, blacks and Latinos should not have choice in where they send their kids.  They should send them to the schools where they have traditionally gone.  The schools that for decades have failed these students.  This kind of thinking is the thinking that perpetuates generational poverty.  The “haves” continue to have, while the “have nots” continue to not have.

Consequently, “they also are protesting the narrowing of the curriculum, corporatization/privatization of education, and the implementation of the Common Core State Standards” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016).  For those that oppose common core, is the thought process on its opposition the fear of raising standards?  Every profession does quality review, in hopes of having continual improvement.  There’s a high percentage of students that get to college unprepared, and are relegated to taking remedial classes their first year of college.  Usually by the end of year one, you have anywhere between 24-42 credits.  So, by the end of year one, if you’ve only received between 6-12 credits, you’ve lost a year of education, and a year of funding.  Thus leading to many minority students never finishing college, because it circles back to money, which many first generation college students of color just don’t have.

Moreover, “teachers (45.0 percent) say that they are opposed to tying teacher evaluation to student performance on standardized tests while non‐teachers were more likely to mention opposition to ‘teaching to the test’ and to the Common Core” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016). There are of course many different ways to analyze teacher effectiveness.  One such way is student performance on summative assessments.  Who wouldn’t want to know how much their students have grown?  I’ll tell you who, those people that don’t believe in kids.  Research supports that it’s harder to move black and Latino subgroups.  Black and Latino parents aren’t the parents in opposition of these policies.  Is/will education ever be about the needs of “all students”?  Or will we continue to use words like all, when we know good and damn well we mean the select few with money and resources.

Lastly, “opt out activists’ view increasing school funds as an important idea for improving schools” (Pizmony‐Levy, Saraisky, 2016).  The irony with this assertion is that in the epicenter of the opt-out movement, Long Island, NY, schools receive per pupil funding, but are also able to raise additional capital for school budgets by raising the real estate cap.  Charter schools on the Island receive about 90% of per pupil funding, with no ability to raise additional capital to compete with the finances raised by tradition school districts.  There is little to no collaboration between districts and charters on the Island, with some districts being quite adversarial to their charter neighbors.  All of this to say, every charter school on Long Island outperforms its district, and they do it with less funding.  So this isn’t necessarily an issue about money, but I can totally see how those that have money in abundance would like to invest in their children.

Reference:

Pizmony‐Levy, O. and Green Saraisky, N. (2016). Who opts out and why? Results from a national survey on opting out of standardized tests. Research Report. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.

 

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3 thoughts on “Opting Out of Standardized Testing Now Has a Name and a Face.

    Michael Paul (School Board Member) said:
    August 22, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Any time, any group or individual says they know the one reason why education in N.Y. is suffering, run for the door. Teachers, testing, spending, unions, poverty, etc… these are just a small sampling of education’s problems. Politicians who are clueless, activists with agendas, parents who don’t care, kids who lost hope, teachers who have burnt out, corporations who are only profit driven, philanthropists with something to prove, unions guided by greed, an apathetic public, etc… are also driving factors in failing schools. Blaming the problems of urban education on white soccer moms in the suburbs is ridiculous. All the state test scores have shown us is that there are huge problems in our inner-city schools. Didn’t we already know that? Didn’t we know that crumbling schools filled with poverty stricken kids, in violent neighborhoods, in over-crowded classrooms, with out-dated books, computers and supplies were lagging behind their suburban counterparts? What we need is educational equity. We need to provide inner-city schools with the resources they need to achieve success. We need smaller class sizes, more social workers and psychologists, up-dated books and equipment and consistency of facilities, teachers and curriculum, We need better housing, safer neighborhoods, more and better paying jobs and two parent families who support and value education, What we need to do is to stop blaming somebody else and try to find a way to work together to solve these problems.

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      Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr. responded:
      August 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Mr. Paul, thanks for your work as a board member. I also appreciate the time you spent to comment on the post. My post was meant to start meaningful dialogue. Thanks for being apart of that.

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        Michael Paul (School Board Member) said:
        August 22, 2016 at 7:13 pm

        Mr. Ankrum – I appreciate your passion for our inner-city children. Being a school board member in one of New York State’s poorest cities, I fight the same battles you are fighting. I also understand the passion many of the opt-out parents have. We are all protective of our own children. Although our problems are different, our goals are the same. Part of the problem in education is understanding that what works for some students does not work for all students. Likewise, what works in some schools and school districts will not work in all schools and districts. It bothers me when people spend so much time placing blame instead of finding solutions.

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