FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2016
More information contact:
Carol Burris (718) 577-3276
The Network for Public Education: www.networkforpubliceducation.org
The Network for Public Education released a message today to over 16,000 members and subscribers, urging them to support a nationwide Opt Out of this year’s Common Core exams. NPE President, Diane Ravitch, education historian and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Education Department, stated in a video on the organization’s website that the tests “provide no useful information” and she described the scores as “useless.” She counseled parents that taking the tests are not in the best interest of their children and that they should instead “insist that your child have a full curriculum” and be assessed by their teacher rather than by high-stakes exams.
Ravitch’s concerns were echoed by other NPE board members. As Professor and civil rights activist, Dr. Yohuru Williams said: “Choosing to opt out is one way of fighting back against the tide of corporate education reform with its emphasis on high-stakes testing, which has had a traumatizing effect on young people. We have a moral responsibility to demand that the government attack the real source of inequality in American society, which is poverty, rather than promoting schemes that discourage rather than encourage social justice.”
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, agreed: “As shown in New York state, where 240,000 parents opted out last year, opting out is the most effective strategy parents have to protest, disrupt and dismantle the punitive agenda of high-stakes testing, Common Core and privatization that is undermining our public schools and hurting our kids. Moreover, parents should know that the personal student data being collected through the PARCC and SBAC exams have few if any privacy protections. Most of their children’s exams, including their writing samples, will be scored via computers, which is not a fair, reliable or valid method of assessing their abilities.”
For some NPE board members, including Bertis Downs, opting out hits home. Downs and his wife, Katherine will be opting their daughter out of state tests this year. They explained that taking the test “ is a waste of time for her and beyond that, if enough people opt out, maybe the system will change and get back to more teaching and less testing. We are not opting her out of all tests. Her teachers come up with plenty of tests to diagnose weaknesses and know where to focus their teaching. But Georgia Milestones seem to exist to serve the data needs of the state so it can rank schools and evaluate teachers. Milestones again this year? No thanks!!”
The Network for Public Education acknowledged that there can be a legitimate role for standardized testing for diagnostic purposes, but the current state Common Core exams that are used to evaluate students, teachers and schools fail to meet the high standards the organization holds for testing. Further, as Carol Burris, NPE Executive Director pointed out, “The current demand for high-stakes testing and uniform standards diverts attention from the hard work of school improvement and the correction of social and economic inequities that lead to inequitable results.”
In a video statement, NPE board member Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig explained how tests have been used to sort society for more than a millennium. “Opting out is a civil right, righting high-stakes tests which are a civil wrong.”
The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose mission is to preserve, promote, improve and strengthen public schools for both current and future generations of students. The 3rd annual NPE conference will be held in Raleigh NC from April 16-17 this year, with keynote speaker Rev. William Barber. More information about the conference is available here. The organization’s Opt Out position statement is available on its website www.networkforpubliceducation.org.