The Washington Post

10 ways to oppose high-stakes standardized tests

I’ve written several times in recent months about a growing movement by parents, teachers, principals, superintendents, students and others to protest the use of standardized tests for high-stakes purposes.

Here’s a list of 10 things that people can do to counter the damaging effects of high-stakes standardized testing. It was written by Ruth Silverberg, an associate professor in the Education Department of the College of Staten Island CUNY.

The list of 10:

1. Don’t brag if you or your children got high scores on any high stakes tests, including the SAT or ACT. This can help dispel the faulty idea that standardized tests are a valid measure of learning.

2. Ask for evidence that learning is occurring in your neighborhood school such as student work products, presentations, community service. Don’t use the “School Report Card” to assess learning in the school.

3. If you have a student in your home or extended family, reinforce the student’s collaboration with peers on schoolwork, and share this with his/her teacher. This will help dispel the idea that competition fosters learning better than collaboration. .

4. If you are a teacher, share with families and community your collaboration with colleagues that led to your great teaching.

5. If you are a parent or a teacher, take note of all of the people and forces affecting the student’s life, including other teachers, social workers, doctors, etc. This will help dispel the idea that a child’s success depends on one teacher.

6. If you have a student in your home or extended family, provide and access every support available to help him/her be successful in REAL ways, not test performance.

7. If you know a student, support him or her with a friendly smile, an offer of help, a job for her or her family.

8. Contact and support an organization that opposes high-stakes testing, including FairTest, United Opt Out, Change the Stakes, and Grassroots Education Movement. This will help dispel the idea that you are alone in your opposition to high stakes testing.

9. If you are a parent or guardian of a student, ask your school administration about the possible consequences for “opting out” of the standardized tests. This will help dispel the idea that you don’t have the right to make decisions about your student.

10. Just say ‘no.’ Write/call your legislators, New York State Education Department, U.S. Department of Education.


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Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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