It wasn’t that long ago that many school reformers and education policymakers gave short shrift to, or outright ridiculed, parents and educators who fought the overuse and misuse of standardized tests. It was only two years ago almost to the day when Education Secretary Arne Duncan said lots of “white suburban moms” opposed the Common Core State Standards and aligned standardized tests because they realized “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.”
Now, of course, Duncan and President Obama have conceded that kids do, after all, take too many standardized tests, and states and districts are moving to dial back some of the exams while Congress may pass legislation to rewrite No Child Left Behind in a way that reduces federal involvement in testing.
A new report details the advances made by the anti-testing movement in the past year. It was issued by FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, which works to eliminate the misuse of standardized tests, and written by Lisa Guisbond with Monty Neill and Bob Schaeffer (all of FairTest). Here are some of the findings:
*A sharp reversal of the decades-long trend to adopt high school exit exams. Policy-makers repealed the California graduation test, while Texas loosened its requirements, joining six states that repealed or delayed these exams in the 2013-2014 school year. California, Georgia, South Carolina and Arizona also decided to grant diplomas retroactively to thousands of students denied them because of test scores.
* Florida suspended Jeb Bush’s 3rd grade reading test-based promotion policy. Oklahoma, New York, and North Carolina revised their test-based promotion policies, and New Mexico legislators blocked the governor’s effort to impose one.
*States and districts that rolled back mandated testing include Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, Maryland, Dallas and Lee County, Florida.
*Opting out surged to new levels in New York, New Jersey and across the country – approaching 500,000 nationally – riveting the attention of the media and pushing governors and legislatures to act.
*A series of opinion polls documented increasing numbers of voters and parents who agree there is too much standardized testing and it should not be used for high – stakes purposes.
*The past year was the best one on record for the test-optional college admissions movement, with three dozen more colleges and universities reducing or eliminating ACT/SAT requirements, driving the total to more than 850.
*In California, New Hampshire, and elsewhere there are promising efforts to develop alternative systems of assessment and accountability, de-emphasizing standardized tests while incorporating multiple measures of school performance.
Here’s the entire report, with details: