Why Opt Out of NYS Standardized Tests?

Here are 12 reasons!  See also: How To Opt Out.

1. When students, teachers and schools are rewarded for high test scores and punished for low ones, the tests themselves become the focus of education. Class time is devoted to test prep, which robs children of their natural desire to learn.

2. The state exams test only two subjects: English and math. That encourages schools to give less time to social studies, music, art, world languages, physical education, and even science. 

3. High-stakes testing undermines important learning. In its 2011 report to Congress, the National Academy of Sciences reviewed America’s test-based accountability systems and concluded, “There are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress.”

4. State exams are loaded with poorly written, ambiguous questions. A recent statement signed by 545 New York State Principals noted that many teachers and principals could not agree on the correct answers.

5. Testing is part of school privatization. Common Core-backer Bill Gates and Joanne Weiss, Chief of Staff to United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, have promoted national standards and tests by touting that they “will unleash powerful market forces” and create a national market for vendors.

6. While New York State is paying Pearson millions of dollars, it is massively underfunding NYC public schools. This is part of a national trend: states cut funding to public schools while pouring millions into new computer systems designed for Common Core tests.

7. Despite its high costs, high-stakes testing is designed to make education more “efficient” by machine-sorting students and teachers. Teachers deemed excellent are likely to be “rewarded” with higher class sizes. By focusing on tests and technology, the state aims to cut labor costs.

8. High-stakes tests don’t help students learn or teachers teach. The results come too late for that. The tests are largely punitive: they punish teachers, students, and schools that don’t perform. Low test scores can be used to hold good students back and rate strong teachers as “ineffective” despite high ratings by their principals.

9. High-stakes testing undermines teacher collaboration. Teachers are judged on a curve, which discourages them from helping students in another teacher’s class.

10. High-stakes testing encourages “teaching to the middle.”  Educators are pressured to focus on the “2” and “3” students, where the most progress can be made on scores, and ignore the 4s (where gains aren’t measured) and 1s (whose needs are too great to raise scores easily).

11. Many middle school admissions offices are ignoring state tests. Many NYC principals signed a letter last year stating that they would no longer be considering test scores. Most schools already have practices in place for admitting students who don’t have scores.

12. One-size-fits-all tests punish and discourage students who are already vulnerable
, including students of color, English-Language Learners, children with special needs, and students from families living in poverty.

If you have questions, email us at changethestakes@gmail.com. We can put you in touch with parents who refused the tests last year or are planning to do so this year.

Download Handouts

Why Opt Out (pdf)

Why Opt out SPANISH (pdf)

Choose to Refuse! What New York City Parents Need to Know about Opting Out of State Tests (pdf)  

Sample Opt-Out Letters

English: .html | .doc
Spanish: .html | .doc

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