Roll Back Standardized Testing & Support #OptOut — Best of the Left Activism

You’ve reached today’s activism segment. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s a reminder that certain awful things don’t go away quickly, so we have to stay vigilant and keep fighting them until we succeed. Today’s update: Roll Back Standardized Testing & Support #OptOut.

Standardized tests are finally getting a hard look in our education policy and legislature. This is due in no small part to the parents, students, and teachers around the country staging coordinated protests to opt-out of the tedious fill-in-the-bubble marathons that school kids are routinely put through.

Some teachers are on board, not just because they care about the quality of instruction they’re able to deliver, but because test scores are heavily weighted in their evaluations without concern for mitigating factors. We not only risk students falling behind, but the loss of good teachers who become frustrated or let go because of unfair criteria.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing — or Fair Test for short — is a group we’ve highlighted before. Currently, in addition to providing links to opt-out contacts and resources around the country and a comprehensive list of colleges that are “test optional,” they’re backing Senator Jon Tester’s legislation to reform the biggest cause of standardized testing: No Child Left Behind.

Senator Tester, a former teacher, has introduced the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act. He explains why reforming evaluations of both teachers and students is important:

"Students shouldn't be spending most of their time in school filling out bubbles. That's not the kind of education that fosters critical thinking or creativity. Students shouldn't be learning for the test, they should be learning for life.”

Visit FairTest.org and click on the “Public School - News” tab for their "Write Congress to demand less testing, an end to high stakes” campaign supporting Senator Tester’s bill which would reduce federally-mandated standardized testing to once each in elementary, middle and high school. GenXers managed to survive their educational lives with such bare bones testing; certainly the current generation of kids could as well.

A floor debate on the bill is expected any time and currently there are no co-sponsors. You can urge your senators to sign on and then vote yes by using ContactingTheCongress.org.

Update: Assessment Reform in Education

FairTest’s opt-out state contacts

Search to find and support test-optional colleges

Follow-up/new Action!

Add your name: "Write Congress to demand less testing, an end to high stakes.”

Support Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)’s Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act! Use ContactingTheCongress.Org to tell your senators to sign on as co-sponsors and to vote yes.

Sources/further reading:

"Tester Pushes Overhaul of No Child Left Behind Testing Policy” via Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)

“Are Teachers Ok With Opt-Outs?” — hear from teachers on the subject via EdWeek Teacher

“Stop the Testing Circus” via US News

"Opt-Out Parents Have a Point” via US News

"What Happens When Students Boycott a Standardized Test?” by Laura McKenna at The Atlantic

Hear the segment in context:

Episode #924 "The revolt against high stakes testing (Education)"

Revisit the original action/segment:

"Assessment Reform via @FairTestOffice - Best of the Left Activism” via Episode #871 "Your child is a widget (Education)” 10/24/2014

Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich


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