Act Now: A Testing Reform Guide


Act Now: A Testing Reform Guide

The Testing Resistance and Reform 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- 650,000 students opted out in 2015. They are holding demonstrations, rallies, forums and town halls, launching petitions and resolutions, and pushing legislation.

There are many different ways to take action. No one approach will work for everyone or in every community. This Action Guide 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. We will update it regularly, so check back.

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I. Testing Resistance & Reform

Are you organizing a testing reform event or campaign in your state or community? Let FairTest know by emailing We are keeping a list of 2016 spring actions at Resist the Tests 2016.

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.

Here is a survey designed for unions to use, online or on paper, with their members; it can be adapted for use with parents. Surveys can be powerful tools to promote testing reform.

NEW! April 28, 2016: How to Organize Testing Resistance and Reform under ESSA

  • A. National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing – Use this resolution as a template to shape your own local or state resolution for use with schools boards, city councils, and organizations.
  • 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 state legislators.
  • 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.

Just Say No to the Test (Opting Out) Fact Sheet

Why You Can Boycott Standardized Tests Without Fear of Federal Penalties to Your School

Guide to Organizing by Jeanette Deutermann

IV. Hold a Community Forum or House Party

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.

House parties are an excellent way to begin organizing in your home with trusted friends and allies. 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 Assessment Reform Network (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.