Yesterday’s Newsday featured an opinion piece claiming that “Opting Out Spells Disaster.”
We get it. Anything the teachers’ union supports, Newsday opposes. But at this point they’re just phoning it in, as this has to be one of the most easily refutable Op-Ed pieces ever published.
The piece starts off with a comical level of hysterics (“when politics threaten to harm the well-being of children it becomes a dangerous game.”) throws out bogus statistics (“students spend less than 1 percent of their time in school taking state tests … 480 minutes [out of ] their 64,800-minute school year. Further, the state education department also limits “test prep” to no more than 2 percent of classroom time in a year.”), then moves on to three reasons opting out will bring about the end of times:
1. The tests are an annual “checkup.”
The authors state that “under the old system, hundreds of thousands of children — from the suburbs to the cities — slipped through the cracks and could drift along without intervention. That led to more than 60 percent leaving high school in New York without being college or career ready.”
First of all, that 60% number is more than debatable, but let’s leave that aside. Notice instead that the authors don’t even try to pretend that there is any evidence that annual testing has ever been shown to actually improve academic achievement. You’d think that something that has been federally mandated for over TEN YEARS would have at least some data to support its efficacy, no? After all, this is all about the magic of data, right?
2. The tests help high-need districts.
The authors rightly point out that “We need to make sure every child is advancing.”
This is a good point, but once again, the authors provide no support for this, probably because there is not a shred of evidence anywhere that standardized testing does anything to help students in high needs districts. Rather, they promise a false solution instead of looking at the real underlying issues, and worse, tend to force higher needs districts to narrow their teaching and deprive these students of the benefits of a rounded education.
3. What does this teach your kids?
Great question. Opting out teaches students that people should think for themselves and stand up for what’s right. It teaches them that they should not just blindly do what they’re told, but use their judgment. It teaches them to be critical thinkers who are able to recognize flat-out lies like: “Opting out could be disastrous for our school districts. The financial stakes are incredibly high. Schools with less than 95 percent participation risk losing federal funding, specifically Title I, Part A funds. State aid tied to teacher evaluation requirements is on the line, too.”