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Tests: Have They *Really* Proliferated (& Will Protests Matter)?

image from cdn.theatlantic.comMy new piece is just up over at the Atlantic education page, describing the spate of recent parent opt-outs.

Clearly, opt-outs and other forms of protest are on the rise to some extent, and have already had effects in a handful of places. But anecdotal reports don't mean that everybody hates testing (and even those who protest do so for very different reasons).

Teachers' concerns re tests being used for evaluations shouldn't be confused with parents' concerns about lost classroom time, for example.  

My biggest frustration reporting the story is that while there are lots of anecdotal reports of what seems like test proliferation there's no one I could find who's tracking the number of tests that states and districts are requiring so that we can see if the trend is up and if so how widespread it is. A little help, someone?

Just as frustrating, there's no accurate count of the percentage of parents who opt-out that districts, states, or anyone else is reporting -- though The Nation reports that the New York protests last spring amounted to just 1 percent of all parents. Again, some reliable numbers would be useful.

Thanks to experts like Bob Schaeffer, Anya Kamenetz, Tom Loveless, Charlie Barone, Michael Lomax, and the folks at Achieve and USDE for talking to me about the trend dynamics, as well as parents and teachers like Jesse Hagopian, Peggy Robertson, Liz Dwyer, Chris Thiennes, Rebecca Labowitz, and Deedra Barnes for talking to me about their opt-out experiences and everyone else who helped or offered to -- as well as Eleanor Barkhan and Julia Ryan for the helpful edits. Apologies to folks I didn't get to talk to (or whose best lines got left on the cutting room floor).

Previous posts: Either you’re against the Common Core or you’ve never heard of itThe Moral Complexities of Opting Out (Thompson).


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Contact school district superintendents for a list of required tests. I hate to be critical, but this is something you should have done before you ran the article.

As Tulsa's Deedra Barnes says, testing is all out of balance.

Is this testing mania unprecedented?


Is it incredibly damaging?

Of course!

I'm not aware of any comprehensive surveys of all the testing activities in districts.

You could come at this another way by looking at spending. A year ago Matt Chingos analyzed spending by states on their assessment systems. He looked at spending on assessments required by NCLB and on other assessments. Worth a look ...

Google "strength in numbers chingos"

Testing hasn't proliferated. If no one is tracking it, there's no data. And if there's no data, it hasn't happened.

Mmm-hmmm. Sure.

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