In the United States, education officials from the state of Virginia said an Alexandria school tried to improve its ratings by using the state’s new law allowing parents to opt their children out of standardised tests.
It wasn’t the only troubling issue announced; the state reported that more and more parents are having their children skip the annual state tests.
Both facts should make US lawmakers pay attention. This year they approved the "opt-out" choice.
Those tests (like our SBAs) gave information that was not changed by personal feelings, about how well students were doing and what help they needed. Anything that suggests students miss this test is harming the education system.
That was seen in events that happened in spring at the Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Teachers at the high-poverty school, said a school district investigation released by state officials, asked parents of low-performing students to get their kids to skip taking the tests.
The principal who, still has a job, seemed to think this was the best way to improve the school's overall performance than actually giving the students the help they needed to succeed.
Kids who are not tested do not count
As Education Trust’s Kati Haycock told The Post, "Kids who are not tested do not count." She said if schools can "opt out their poor kids, their kids of colour, their very low-achieving kids, they will never do the work to get those kids to achieve at high levels."
The opt-out movement hurts these at-risk children in another way. It gives false results that would otherwise show the differences in education.
White suburban parents, the driving force of the opt-out movement, may think their children are achieving and don’t need to be tested or are overtested, but having their children not take tests keeps much needed information from school officials.
Taking a yearly test is not a hardship and might even tell these parents something they need to know about their children.
The number of parents opting out in Virginia is still small, but there has been an increase since this year's adoption of the law that allows students to skip testing without it affecting a school's overall rating.
Figures from the state Education Department show there were parent refusals for 3,272 tests in 2015-2016, compared with 1,460 tests in 2014-2015. In 2013-2014, before opt-out came into effect, there were refusals for 681 tests.