Parents Lead Assessment Reform Efforts

K-12 Testing

Wisconsin - Many Wisconsin state legislators are crediting parents with convincing them that the state's mandated test should not be used as the sole criterion to determine whether students are promoted or graduate. Several proposals to modify the test requirements are now under consideration.

The Wisconsin Parent Teachers Association (PTA) played a key role in opposition to the high stakes tests. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel printed a PTA statement saying it "believes that valid student assessment doesn't consist of one single test score becoming the sole determinant of a student's academic future. To do so would ignore current educational research and data supported across the nation by educators and researchers."

Some parents also are preparing to battle with Governor "Tommy" Thompson over his proposal to eliminate an option allowing families to keep their children from taking the test, a move they say contradicts his commitment to parental choice. (Click here to see a two page informational leaflet written by the parents.)

New York City - Second grade students in New York City will be spared a new reading test, due to a successful protest by parents and teachers that resulted in its cancellation by the Board of Education. Parents and teachers pointed to several problems with testing young readers, the redundancy of the information that would be gathered, and the high number of tests already given. The cancellation was the first of its kind under Chancellor Rudy Crew's administration, commented one teacher. (A copy of a position statement used in this campaign, Second Grade Testing: A Position Paper, by Brenda Engel, can be found by clicking here.)


Arizona - Parents' complaints against the state's test, the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS), resulted in several changes. The requirement that 10th graders pass the test to receive a diploma was pushed back a year, the 10th grade math test was simplified, and the exam battery was shortened. Apparently, parent voices were heard by Representative Robin Shaw, who recently announced that she will begin efforts to further streamline the test, administer it only to seniors, and not require a passing grade for a diploma.


Toronto, Canada - When a set of third grade tests were to be administered to Dundas St. public school in Toronto, Ontario, last fall, 95% of the students weren't there to take it - even though many students scored well above average on the first round of the compulsory test. Their parents kept them out of school that day in protest, based on the belief that the test was a waste of resources and learning time, was harmful to students' learning and classroom environment, and would probably be used to mislabel their children. (Ontario has just passed a law requiring standardized testing of students in every grade and of teachers every three to five years.)


Ohio - With a flyer labeled "Stop the Bullies, Opt out of the Ohio Proficiency Tests," (OPT) a group of parents went to the state capitol to protest the state's heavy emphasis on the OPT and remind parents that they had the option to keep their children out of the test by writing a letter to their school principal. The organizers claimed that the state was improperly pressuring parents into believing that the test was the only real measure of their children's and school's achievement and must be used to determine grade promotion and graduation. (Find this flyer and a sample Freedom of Information Act request letter written by these parents here.)