Act Now: A Testing Reform Guide

A movement is growing across the country to resist testing abuse and overuse and to promote authentic assessment. Parents, students and teachers are boycotting and opting out of tests. They are holding demonstrations, forums and town halls, launching petitions and resolutions, and pushing legislation.

FairTest is working with groups across the country on “Testing Resistance & Reform Spring.”This includes a website to build local actions, a national map of actions, and ways for activists to share experiences and ideas and think together.

There are many different ways to take action. No one approach will work for everyone or in every community. These pages provide tools for building campaigns that can be useful for those just starting out as well as those who are already active and want to take their campaigns to the next level.

To strengthen Testing Reform Spring, FairTest needs your support. Please make a contribution here or by clicking on the red DONATE button at the top of this page.

I. Testing Resistance & Reform Spring

  • Are you organizing a testing reform event or campaign in your state or community? Would you like to announce it on a searchable website and have people contact you? Would you like to find out about events near you? Testing Resistance & Reform Spring will help you do that and more.

II. Resistance Guide: Organizing for Testing Reform

See our one-page fact sheet, 8 Steps to Work for Testing Reform, HERE; and its companion infographic, HERE.

  • A. Sign the National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing – and get other organizations and individuals to sign it.
  • B. Share information privately and in public; distribute fact sheets; write letters to the editor; use social media; hold rallies and demonstrations. Share information with parents, teachers, students, community members.
  • C. Organize a community meeting or forum. Community meetings and forums are powerful tools for educating, organizing and mobilizing parents, students, teachers and other community members.
  • D. Opt your child out of testing (boycott). Opting Out is one of the most powerful expressions of opposition. For more information, click here
  • E. Build alliances to other groups. Reach out to teacher unions and other education organizations; parent and student groups; community, civil rights and faith-based groups; labor unions; civic associations; business groups. Also see FairTest's Assessment Reform Network pages for tips on this.
  • F. Organizing: See FairTest discussions of testing reform organizing and links to supporting materials on high-stakes testing and authentic assessment.
  • G. Working with the Media. Use different forms of media to get the message out, build support, persuade policymakers. For ideas and assistance on media work, click HERE.
  • H. Contact your senators and representatives.
    To contact your US Senators and Representatives, click HERE.
    Tell your Congresspeople they need to overhaul NCLB/ESEA – to find out more about the law and needed changes, click HERE.
    Talk to candidates for office - get to them when they are most likely to be listening.
  • I. Support authentic assessment and accountability – To win change, activists must offer proposals for better assessment systems—systems that help improve teaching and learning instead of narrowing curriculum and punishing students, teachers and schools-- coupled with demands to end harmful practices. For ideas, examples, evidence, click HERE.
  • J. University Admissions Reform. To find a list of colleges that have “test-score optional” admissions, plus other information on SAT, ACT and more, click here.

III. Opting out

“Opting out” of testing is a potentially powerful way to resist No Child Left Behind and the way standardized testing distorts and corrupts K-12 classrooms. Growing numbers of parents and students are questioning the value of NCLB testing and saying they want to exercise the right to opt out.  What is opting out, why do it.     

IV. Hold a community forum

Community meetings or town halls are a great way to educate, network and organize around testing issues. Panels of speakers can inform the community about high-stakes testing and its consequences and inspire people to take action. Click here for a brief guide.

V. State Contacts and Resources: Assessment Reform Network (ARN)

FairTest works closely with test reform groups and individuals in nearly every state in the nation. If you are looking to connect with others in your community or state, see our state-by-state list of FairTest Assessment Reform Network volunteers and their contact information as well as contact information for other groups and individuals working on test reform. Many have useful websites and Facebook pages. You can also sign up for our ARN listserv to receive relevant news and information on upcoming actions.

A. State resources and contacts
B. Join the ARN list

VI. Organizing: Strategic Resources, Reports, Analyses 

This page includes FairTest discussions of testing reform organizing and links to supporting materials on high-stakes testing and authentic assessment.