Large Florida School District Votes to "Opt Out" of Standardized Exam Mandates.

for further information:
Bob Schaeffer  (239) 395-6773
                                                        
for immediate release Thursday, August 28, 2014

LARGE FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT IS NATION’S FIRST
TO VOTE TO “OPT OUT” OF STANDARDIZED EXAM MANDATES:
FAIRTEST STAFFER TESTIFIED AT LEE COUNTY BOARD MEETING

     Lee County, Florida, home to 87,000 students, yesterday became the first public school district in the country to “opt out” of standardized testing mandates. An overflow crowd of more than 300 parents, students, teachers and community activists cheered on the Lee School Board as it voted to support Chairman Tom Scott’s “Move that the Board opt out of state-mandated testing beginning immediately for the benefit of administrators, teachers and most importantly students, whose educational growth has not been enhanced as a result of such testing.” Lee County is the nation’s 33rd largest school district.

     National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer has lived in Lee County for 15 years. He works closely with the parents and school leaders who pushed for the action and was the first speaker in favor of “opting out” at the Wednesday evening meeting.  According to Schaeffer, “Support for the opt-out motion from local residents was overwhelming. It cut across political and ideological lines. Progressive education advocates, Tea Party activists, and ‘just plain moms’ came together to say ‘enough is enough’ to high-stakes testing. Together with courageous school board leaders, they delivered a loud message to out-of-touch politicians in Tallahassee and Washington, DC: it’s long past time to end standardized exam overkill.”

     FairTest is a national leader of the rapidly growing grassroots movement to replace high-stakes testing with forms of assessment that better support learning and teaching. Along with allied groups nationwide, FairTest organized “Testing Resistance & Reform Spring” at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.  Opt-out campaigns, petition drives, forums, and rallies in hundreds of communities across the country pressed public officials to take action to overhaul assessment policy. In New York State, for example, 60,000 families opted their children out of standardized exams, and 20 districts refused to administer exams to try out items for next year’s Common Core tests.

     “Protests against standardized exam overuse and misuse exploded across the country last spring,” Schaeffer concluded. “We expect Lee County’s action to kick off even stronger campaigns that force politicians to stop the testing fixation that is undermining educational quality and equity in our nation’s public schools. Several other Florida districts are considering actions similar to Lee’s.”

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-  Mr. Schaeffer’s testimony to the Lee School Board is available on request

-  Watch for a forthcoming FairTest report on recent testing reform victories around the country.