Opting Out

The New York Times is on a mission to ensure the “opt-out movement” gets as much press as needed. My opinion is probably a little uninformed and half-baked, but that’s never stopped me before. The debate about testing and standards and evaluations and unions has become so muddled that it’s nearly impossible to have an honest discussion about it, but here’s my quick snarky response:

The SAT and AP tests still matter. No matter how much we want to hope that some day our students’ and children’s futures don’t depend on their performance on a handful of tests, these tests still matter. For many students of color, success on standardized tests can be life-changing. The majority of schools are simply not preparing students for the rigor of the new tests. Parents on Long Island, Westchester, and the UES pay tutors a few hundred dollars an hour for a year or two to ensure their students are successful on standardized tests, essentially admitting and making up for the fact that their middle schools did not do the job. Instead of introducing and supporting meaningful standards and assessments in middle school, these families are encouraging and embracing a comfortable, mediocre education that can be fixed with a few checks in high school.

Oh, one other thing (and probably a little more snarky), there are many, many nations around the world (see generally, China and India), where families don’t have the privilege to think that “opting out” of “high stakes testing” is an option on their path to success (and out of a poverty we simply don’t know in the U.S.). And those students are going to be competing with our kids for spots at U.S. colleges.

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