Revisiting Assessment Policy

Forget about Standardized Testing This Fall, Parents Say

Parents overwhelmingly opposed going ahead with standardized testing this spring, according to a survey done by a parent advocates group. In a survey of more than 1,200 respondents, the assessment nays beat the yays by a margin of two to one. The polling also found that parents "overwhelmingly" opposed testing being used at all in ways that penalize students (81%) or teachers (73%). Two-thirds of parents also reported that any testing done this year should be shortened and used mainly to measure the impact of remote school on student learning.

The random sampling was done by ParentsTogether Action, a national advocacy that focuses on family issues, among its 2.5 million members. The polling was run between Mar. 10 and Mar. 16, 2021 through Facebook Messenger.

The survey also found that in families where students participated in a mix of in-person and remote learning, two-thirds of parents (62%) believed their kids' mental health had gotten worse since the pandemic began. That's 12 percentage points higher than families whose students attended only in-person (50%) and 16 points higher for families whose students were studying only remotely (46%).

In fact, free mental health counseling was the number one area where parents would like districts to spend their federal relief funding; 77% prioritized this area of possible spending, followed closely by spending on families who were "struggling" (74%) and adding teachers and staff to support learning (72%).

Nearly two in five "blended" families (38%) stated that the remote learning portion of their students' schooling was going poorly, compared to a quarter (26%) of "all-remote" parents.

In spite of discontent with remote learning, the majority of parents (78%) said they're worried or "very" worried about their students' health risks in attending fully in-person learning. But most (two-thirds) said they were likely to send their students back to school for on-campus instruction. Just 13% said they expected to keep their children home.

The survey found that parents continued to have "largely favorable views" of educators, as well as their unions. Seven in 10 said they felt "favorable" towards teachers, with 47% expressing the same about teachers' unions and 11% saying they felt unfavorable.

"A year into the pandemic, parents of school-aged kids are still struggling with how to keep their families safe, and that means different things for different families," said Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether, in a statement. "But they largely agree that schools should be fully open in the fall — and that the focus right now should be on supporting kids' mental health and learning, not on conducting standardized tests."

A more complete rundown of results is openly available on the ParentsTogether website.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.