How the testing opt-out movement hurts low-income students
VIRGINIA EDUCATION officials last week revealed that an Alexandria school tried to improve its ratings by using the state’s new law allowing parents to opt their children out of standardized tests. It wasn’t the only troubling disclosure; the state reported that an increasing number of parents throughout the commonwealth are having their children skip the annual state tests. Both facts should give pause to lawmakers who this year put their imprimatur on the pernicious opt-out movement, as well as Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who signed it into law.
Tests provide objective information about how well students are doing and what help they need. Anything that discourages participation does a disservice to children. That was underscored by the events in the spring at the Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Teachers at the high-poverty school, according to a school district investigation released by state officials, targeted parents of low-performing students to get their kids to skip taking the state Standards of Learning exams. The principal who allegedly hatched the scheme — and unaccountably still has a job — apparently thought it an easier way of improving the school’s overall performance than actually giving these students the help they needed.