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Testing: Boulder Parent Confronts Broader Purposes Of Testing

Dear-parentsBoulder parent Lisa McElroy tells the story in Slate about how freaked out administrators were when she told them she wanted to opt out of standardized testing -- but ends up wondering just what, exactly, she had accomplished or could hope to accomplish, and about the impact of opting out on schools and teachers.

One issue is the potential impact on the school or district if parents like her opt out: "Do I stand on my principles, both personal and political? Or do I put the interests of the very important people and institutions that educate my children above those of my kids?"

But the other, more fundamental issue is that the parent opt out numbers are still very small, and seem to trend towards white, college-educated parents rather than the poor minority parents whose children have traditionally endured inadequate education offerings in the absence of outside accountability. 

Individual parents may not want to have their children tested, and to some extent should probably be accommodated, but their individual decisions -- like with immunizations -- could have unintended and unanticipated impacts on schools and other children that aren't limited to immediate financial impacts.

 

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As plenty of studies show that the worship of high-stakes tests has done the greatest harm to low-income students of color through school closings, increases in dropout rates, etc., it seems rather silly to try to use this issue to divide parents.

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