National Resistance to high-stakes testing grows even before school year begins

From the beginning of the Resistance to the regime of high-stakes testing tied to corporate privatization, charterization, and union busting schemes in the late 1990s, the test resistance usually began escalating in January, as the testing season approached. Then, from March through May, the test resistance was recorded over various school districts and locations in the United States. Not so for the 2014 - 2015 school year. As Bob Schaeffer of Fair Test is reporting this week, the Resistance never stopped organizing after last year's testing cycle ended.

Chicago's Sarah Chambers was one of the primary organizers of the 2014 Opt Out movement in Chicago. She also helped teachers at some schools decide to boycott the ISAT tests.And with another group of secret tests being foisted on American public school children this school year (in Chicago, it's the NWEA MAP, which is secretly held inside computers and not released to parents or teachers), the Resistance continues to have several issues to confront. Following the debacle of the debate against Common Core at the July 2014 American Federation of Teachers convention (during which the national and New York leadership groups maneuvered to prevent discussion of Common Core and have the debate over so-called "standards"), even more teachers are becoming aware of the issues.

The Opt Out movement among parents and students in Chicago in 2014 was the largest in history, with families from approximately 100 of the city's 600 public schools refusing to have the children take the ISAT tests. Despite harassment at some schools (at one South Side elementary school, students who took the ISAT were given an ice cream party, while those who opted out were forced to watch), the movement continued to grow all the way to the deadline for the tests and during the "make up" week (during which CPS officials tried to get children who had previously opted out to take the tests).

Contrary to some claims nationally, the majority of children in Chicago who were opted out in 2014 were minority and poor. Despite claims from some administrative circles that Opt Out is a middle class movement (aping Arne Duncan's statement that suburban mothers were angry with the testing because they learned that their children were not doing well), the Chicago movement was grass roots and diverse at all levels. A major push came not only from members of the Chicago Teachers Union (and the CORE caucus), but from parent and community groups, including More Than A Score, a recently organized group that maintains a very effective website. One of the main methods of communication with families, however, consisted of teachers and parents distributing opt out information and forms after and before school. Despite harassment from some principals (at Taylor school on the South Side, the principal claimed that it was "illegal" to distribute leaflets on the public sidewalk in front of the school), the movement communicated with parents and children.

Preliminary organizing for the 2014 - 2015 school year has already begun. Claims by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett that the NWEA MAP test is valid are simply not true. The NWEA is even more closed off from public accountability than any of the high stakes tests that Chicago has used during the past 20 years. One part of the 2014 - 2015 Opt Out movement in Chicago will be a demand that CPS officials provide parents with the contents of the NWEA MAP tests and rubrics for scoring after children have been rated by the test. CPS and Chicago officials claim that NWEA MAP shows how Chicago is doing on the "Common Core." But the Common Core itself is a controversial set of tests that have never been validated, despite relentless claims.

The Opt Out movement and the Resistance to high-stakes testing can presently be seen to be nationwide, as the following update from Fair Test shows.


Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest reports:

The pace of assessment reform news accelerates as back-to-school season begins. Note the geographic breadth of the rapidly growing high-stakes testing resistance with stories from 17 states and the District of Columbia just this week. There are also several very good commentaries.

Remaking Accountability in California: Moving Beyond Test Scores

The Failure of Washington, DC Test-Driven "Reform"

Florida Education Officials Continue Testing Misuse

Atlanta, Georgia, School Test Cheating Trial Gets Underway: Understanding the Context

Indiana Accepts $3Million in CTB/McGraw-Hill Test Foul-Up Settlement

Louisiana Governor Seeks Injunction to Block Use of Common Core Assessments

New Jersey Board of Ed Reduces Role of Test Scores in Teacher Evaluation

New Mexico Teachers Seek Common Core Exam Delay; Development of Better Assessments

Parent, Educator Pressure Forces Release of Half of New York State Test Questions

On School Exam Transparency, New York Fails Test

New York Teachers Demonstrate Against Pearson Testing Contract

Time to Ditch North Carolina's School Grading Gimmickry

Ohio Educators Protest "Toxic" Standardized Exams

Oklahoma Attorney General Investigates CTB/McGraw-Hill Standardized Exam Administration Problems

Rhode Island Student Advocates Affirm Value of Grad Test Moratorium

Nashville, Tennessee Eliminates District-Mandated Standardized Exam

Statewide Texas Candidates Seek Testing Reduction

Good Luck Explaining the Current Texas Public School Accountability Rating System

Vermont Ed. Commissioner Dissects "No Child Left Behind" Flaws in Letter to Parents of "Failing" Schools

Virginia Testing is Leaving Too Many Students Behind

Local Activist and Students Organize to Overhaul Virginia SOL Tests

"No Child Left Behind" Fails to Help Washington State Students

New NEA Leader: Revolt, Ignore Stupid Reforms

Testing is a Lousy Way to Hold Schools Accountable

Standardized Exams Take Away Valuable Classroom Learning Time

School Testing May Be Driving Parents Away From Engagement with Their Children's Schools

How to Fix Test-Driven Kindergartens

Video Games as a New Form of Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The Sordid History of Standardized Tests: Sorting and Ranking

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director

FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779

mobile- (239) 696-0468



August 15, 2014 at 11:33 AM

By: Spencer Beard


Please take care to make reference links actually link to something. All the links on this page are inactive. I had to cut and paste to view them.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 1 =