An Opt Out Movement to Watch

New York State’s chosen Common Core testing company – PARCC, which is a partnership under the control of Pearson PLC has a problem. And by extension, New York State has a problem.

Testing students in grades 3 through 8 under the aegis of Common Core Standards in New York State has now become voluntary. And parents are indeed opting their kids out of the testing. There are calls all across blogs, news media and in political circles for the cease of these tests. According to various sources, 60,000 students in these grades opted out last year. This year the numbers are growing, with whole districts (albeit smaller ones) opting themselves out of standardized state testing.

Social push back against Common Core started almost as soon as it rolled out. Today there are hundreds of local anti Common Core movements – parents, teachers, administrators and the students themselves – in many states. Complaints range from age inappropriate materials to length of the tests being age inappropriate. In New York PARCC has tried to soothe the fears of those groups with little success. And now the New York State governmental authorities have to grapple with how hard these groups are fighting to get Common Core – and by extension PARCC and Pearson – out of the schools.

New York’s fight is being watched, make no mistake. If New York State stops the testing it set up under Common Core standards then other states could follow suite. Most states have not rolled out Common Core standards to the extent that New York has, but they want to know if New York’s model will hold up. They want to see if they can implement versions of this model in their own states. If New York’s model fails, then there might be more and harder push back against Common Core and the federal mandates.

Opting students out of testing has its own drawbacks. Schools across the state are grappling with what to do with the students who aren’t taking part in testing. Parents are pushing for these children to receive regular lessons, or extra lessons of some sort, while schools are saying that they will probably be put into cafeterias or other large use rooms and left to sit without much structure until testing is done. Debate in the media over this is just as fierce as the original opt out.

New York schools in every county will have to figure out what will happen for students who have been opted out. And if too many students are opted out of testing in their local school, will the school even administer tests?

New York put a lot of effort into creating the structures for the Common Core curricula and testing. Scrapping it now will cost  millions. New York is going to have to make decisions as this opt out of Common Core testing movement spreads.

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