More Student Boycotts

K-12 Testing

Forty students at Drake High School in San Anselmo, California, walked out of the administration of this year's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exam. Other students joined the protest during a break in the state-mandated testing, but said they did not walk out because they feared punishment at home.


A flyer urged students to "Boycott the racist STAR test and take it as if you didn't speak English...Protest government racism and standardized testing."


Chloe Lieberman, a freshman who helped organize the boycott, explained that the exam "is given only in English, so schools with large numbers of non-English speaking students get penalized. That's an injustice." Lizze Louis added, "This is not an effective way to tell anything about what we're learning." (See Examiner, Spring 1998, Winter 1997-98, for more on the STAR test.)


Also this spring, more than 50 students at Danvers High signed a petition stating they would not take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams (see Examiner, Winter 1998-99). They expressed fear that their courses will be altered to fit the tests. Sophomore Melissa Parziah added, "I don't think education is something that should be standardized. All children have different styles of learning."


Meanwhile, dozens of parents from other schools have said they will keep their children from taking the tests. Students who do not take the exams receive a score of zero, and those scores are included in the school's score, putting pressure on administrators to ensure that all eligible students participate and take the tests seriously. In Danvers, eleven students were suspended for not taking the test. Parent and school pressure apparently caused other students to participate.


Last year, many students in California's San Rafael High School deliberately failed the STAR exam as a protest, a method reportedly spreading in california and other states. This method of resistance has been used elsewhere. In Chicago in February, eight students at Whitney Young, one of Chicago's top high schools, organized a "flunk in" of the state test. Those students now are organizing at other schools as well.