In the News: To test or not to test? That’s the question families face as students head into state exams this week

State testing begins in New York this week and observers are watching to see whether “opting out” will increase, decrease, or remain the same. Last year, the percentage of students who opted out of taking the tests was around 21 percent statewide.

Early reports suggest that opt out numbers in Rochester were down on Tuesday compared with last year. The Buffalo News reports that opt out numbers decreased across western New York. Newsday reported on the district-by-district opt-out rates on Long Island.

Last year Education Next published a forum on the opt-out phenomenon.

Over the past few years, students by the thousands have refused to take their state’s standardized tests. This “opt-out” phenomenon has prompted debate in state legislatures and in Washington, putting states at risk of losing Title I funds. Advocates describe opt-out as a grassroots movement of parents concerned about overtesting, teaching to the test, and a lack of transparency. Others oppose opt-out, viewing universal standardized testing as an important source of information for educators, students, and parents and a necessary tool for ensuring equity in public education.

Scott Levy, a New York State public-school parent and local school board member, and Jonah Edelman, cofounder and CEO of Stand for Children, a national organization advocating for college and career readiness for all, draw different conclusions in their analyses of the topic.

• “Opt-Out Reflects the Genuine Concerns of Parents,” by Scott Levy

• “This Issue Is Bigger Than Just Testing,” By Jonah Edelman

– Education Next

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