I’m not necessarily talking about whether or not parents have the right to opt their children out of standardized testing. Opt out of testing groups, of which the NPE is now involved, are doing a pretty good job of getting that bit out there, although it’s still not reaching, from where I stand, the real epicenters of education reform.
I could be wrong.
Since I still follow the movement, although I’m not a part of it, I can see bits and pieces of misinformation still sprinkling in. And to be honest, I thought all of this would have been sorted out by now.
In earlier days of opt out movements, there was this comorbidity with hysteria over the Common Core. The standards evidenced a Federal takeover of the minds of children, and they would therefore be manipulated to smoke grass, vote for Obama’s re-election, toss their guns, hate God, and have copious amounts of sex for pleasure, which would then lead to wonton abortion as a method of birth control.
Opt out leaders attempted, with mixed results, to quell this anti-government hysteria because it lead to calls for the elimination of public schools altogether. There was a time when strict homeschool or unschool advocates became involved and cited the prominence of high stakes testing and Federal standards as reason to divest from public education.
Groups had to do some damage control, and an expunging of group membership, to reinforce their faith in a free and equitable system of public education. But one without testing and common standards. I think I see less mention of the Common Core in most opt out discourse nowadays because the standards turned out to be less of a boogey-person than was originally thought.
Despite the evolution of testing opt out movements, there is still a trickle of misinformation about testing itself, with a subtle smattering of anti-government flavor to it. For instance, that opting out of tests is always related to the Common Core.
It isn’t. There are a number of interim and summative assessments that have nothing to do with the standards.
Another example: there is one single way to opt out of a single, Federalized standardized test.
There isn’t. As it currently stands, there is no single, Federalized standardized test attached to the Common Core. I think the PARCC and SBAC were supposed to become those, but fewer and fewer students and fewer states are taking them. Otherwise, there’s still a patchwork system of high-stakes standardized tests, which therefore relegates this still to a state-by-state fight. Honestly, a single, Federalized test would make opt out movements more successful. All of this state-by-state stuff gets confusing and true consensus is unachievable.
What makes it more difficult are the series of additional assessment products taken throughout the school year, which again have very little, if anything, to do with a Federal Common Core.
Ultimately, opt out groups need to continue informing their activists and members and be very clear on what tests are out there, how they work, and above all, how to speak to them.