Report: Small Subgroup of Parents Opt Students out of Standardized Tests, Majority Support Them
the 2014-15 school year, a small but distinct group of parents opted
out of standardized testing for their children. However, the majority
of the general public opposes opting children out, according to a new
report from Educational Testing Service (ETS).
The report, "Opt Out: An Examination of Issues,"
covers the extent of the opt-out movement, its demographics, how much
time students devote to tests, other factors driving the opt-out
movement and the level of public support for testing in general. The
report found that New York State, Rhode Island and Colorado had the
highest opt-out rate. Students who opted out were more likely to be
white, less likely to be economically disadvantaged and less likely to
be English language learners. The occurrence of opting out was also
notably higher at the high school level than at the elementary or
middle school level.
According to the report, two common
complaints from opt-out advocates are that "too much time is spent on
testing, thereby detracting from learning and instruction" and that
"the high-stakes nature of tests makes children extremely anxious and
"Opt out is a complicated, politically charged issue
made more so by its social class and racial/ethnic associations,"
stated the report. "It is also an issue that appears to be as much
about test use as about tests themselves. While the majority of the
public opposes opt out, the minority that supports it is sizable,
organized, vocal and politically effective."
The report cites
several national surveys which indicate that the majority of the
general population oppose allowing parents to opt their children out of
standardized tests. However, most people also believe that standardized
testing could be improved and that other assessment methods might be
The report argues for the importance of addressing the
opt-out movement "because state assessments are the only comparable
measures of building-level performance within a state and the only
building-level measures disaggregated by demographic group." To address
the movement, the report suggests that the assessment community should
more actively and effectively communicate with policy makers, state
department staff, local educators, parents, students and the public.
The full report is available as a free, downloadable PDF from the Wiley Online Library.
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.