Why Minority Parents Are Opting-Out: The Misuse of Standardized Tests
Dissatisfaction with standardized testing is growing in all quarters, and even The New York Times has now recognized that parents choosing to opt their children out of standardized tests come from a variety of backgrounds. An article in the Sunday Review highlights some of the concerns about standardized tests raised by minority parents, students, and educators.
All too often testing narrows the curriculum—particularly for students attending high-poverty, urban schools who are already likely to experience an opportunity gap compared with their wealthier peers.
New York City middle school teacher José Luis Vilson told The New York Times that when schools eschew all “extras” for a rigid, single-minded focus on math and reading, kids feel like they’re in jail. “Testing often exacerbates that, to the point that it doesn’t feel like you’re going to school to learn—you’re just going to take a test.”
Testing has a place in education, but today tests are being used for purposes completely distinct from and often at odds with those for which they were designed. And when tests are misused there is an outsized effect on students whose schools are labeled as “failing.”
The New York Times writes,
Some experts say that, because testing provides an incomplete picture of the problems at low-performing schools, it can lead to policies that worsen those problems rather than ameliorate them. Warren Simmons, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, said test scores can’t offer policy makers much guidance in the absence of qualitative assessments — of the curriculum, of teacher training, of the support a school is receiving from the district and state.
“Student testing is like using a thermometer to try to diagnose what kind of cancer an individual has,” Mr. Simmons said.