Published Online: June 9, 2015

Inside Opt-Out: The Pushback Against Testing


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This Commentary special collection offers a range of perspectives on parents’ opting their children out of tests, from researchers who are studying the phenomenon, to parents who have long embraced testing boycotts, to teachers whose opinions on the subject vary widely.

Join us for the "Inside the Opt-Out Movement" webinar on June 17 at 2 p.m. ET. Register now.

Test-Taking ‘Compliance’ Does Not Ensure Equity

Parents have a civil right to opt out of testing when children's K-12 needs go unmet, write Judith Browne Dianis, John H. Jackson, and Pedro Noguera.

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An Early Opt-Out Talks About School Without Tests

Read Commentary After 12 years of opting out of testing, Fred and Catherine Hamel interview their daughter on her experience.

The Policy Implications of Opting Out

Read CommentaryResearchers Jessica K. Beaver and Lucas Westmaas discuss the implications of opt-out on accountability.

The Power of Parents Is on Display in Opt-Outs

Read Commentary Resistance to mandated tests, especially from parents of special-needs children, is reaching a breaking point in many districts, writes Rebecca Page Johnson.

A Movement Gains Momentum

Read CommentaryPolicymakers need to rethink how they engage families, argue Michael P. Evans and Andrew Saultz.

Interactive: How Could Opting Out Affect School Ratings?

See how a relatively small number of homogenous students opting out could tip a school’s rating into a different score bracket.

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What Teachers Are Saying:

"The opt-out movement is dominated by middle-class families that are concerned for the welfare of their own children, but seem less concerned about poor children who are languishing in low-performing schools."
Cristina Duncan Evans
—High School Social Studies Teacher
"The Opt-Out Movement Needs to Address Educational Inequity"
"We are sending a message to our children that if they do not like something or if it seems too difficult, then they do not have to do it. Allowing students to opt out of tests they don’t feel like taking undermines education and harms our students."
Marika Heughins
—Middle School Teacher
"What the Opt-Out Movement Teaches Students"
"[F]or the opt-out movement to succeed, as I hope it does, we will need to acknowledge and highlight the full range of diversity of people supporting it. We can’t allow it to be belittled and mischaracterized as just a bunch of white suburban moms."
Bill Ivey
—Middle School Dean
"Standardized Testing Has Created an Unfair Burden on Public Schools"
"Parents should advocate for assessment systems that provide meaningful data on current performance, can be used to plan instructional next steps, and are used in a proactive manner. Pulling children out of state testing does none of these, and simply takes attention away from the real needs of students, teachers, and schools."
Ken Mattingly
—Middle School Science Teacher
"Why the Opt-Out Movement Won’t Fix Testing"
"As more parents decide to opt out their children from high-stakes standardized tests, more educators grow empowered to reclaim public education from those who would reduce a student’s learning experience to a test score."
Deb McCarthy
—Elementary School Teacher
"Teachers Have No Voice or Choice in Testing, So Why Would They Support It?"

Read more reactions to the opt-out movement on Storify.


Support for this Commentary special section came from a grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Education Week retained sole control over the selection and editing of the content; the opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Vol. 34, Issue 25