As opposition toward standardized testing grows, so has the “opt-out movement,” in which parents choose for their children not to be tested. But what if you’re a parent concerned about the breadth and scope of current testing…who is also a teacher? Should teacher-parents be leading the opt-out movement, as a group with some of the highest stakes invested in public schools? Or do teachers have an ethical obligation to opt in, given their leadership role within the school? This tough question was recently posted on our WeAreTeachers Helpline, and our teaching community weighed in with some helpful things to consider.
YES, teachers should “opt out” their own children from testing:
- “I plan on opting my kids out when they are old enough,” says Melana K. “It’s not appropriate and I refuse to make them sit through it. The questions are ambiguous and even teachers can’t determine the correct answers. The test is as much a test of computer skills as it is reading and math. Assessments are useful—but these aren’t.”
- “My daughter is in third grade and she is not taking the test,” agrees Laura M.-K. “And because she isn’t there are five other parents this year that will opt out as well.”
- “I opted my children out,” writes Brenda K. “Once they’re in high school, they can take the PSAT, ACT, or the SAT to qualify for a regular diploma instead of the SBA.”
- “I will opt mine out,” adds Susan H. “Otherwise I would feel hypocritical. Yes assessments are useful to teachers, but not THESE assessments. I wish thousands more parents would stand up and put a stop to it.”
- “My daughter is in eighth grade and she has never taken the state tests,” concludes Dawn M. “She’s perfectly happy to spend the time reading, which is a much better use of time than tests that are riddled by flaws, are no help to her teachers or her, are too long and are just another way to say teachers are failing.”
NO, teachers’ own children should opt in:
- “I always had my own kids test,” says teacher Katherine K. “It would make me feel really disingenuous to insist students test and then not test mine! I HATE testing, but this is the world we live in.”
- “It’s like a doctor saying they aren’t vaccinating their own children but will vaccinate others,” agrees Jenny L.
- Anne B. writes: “In some states, opt-outs count as failures for the school. If that’s the case, you may not want to do that to her school. I hate testing, but it’s a reality of life, so I encourage them to do their best and not to stress.”
- “Parents don’t want their kid tested, but they want them to go to an A school,” adds Sherrie B. “If we don’t test a high enough percentage, we will automatically fall down to a B.”
- Finally, Marilyn S. pleads that teachers’ own children should take the tests for the sake of other teachers. “The teachers need the scores,” she says. “Somehow the state departments of education think it’s a good way to evaluate us. I disagree with the process myself, but it’s not our choice. If it won’t stress out a child, I’d let them take it. Our income & even our raises, in part, depend on it.”
So what’s the verdict? It may ultimately depend on what state you live in—the consequences for opting out vary across the country. While some states penalize schools or teachers for opt outs, others do not. We’d love to hear what you think about the topic in the comments, so please weigh in!