Opt Out – Florida Standards Assessments Test
Opt out. That’s what a group of parents in Orlando have chosen to have their kids do rather than take the Florida State Assessments test. This year, the state replaced the controversial FCAT standardized exams that had been used to determine how well kids were doing in school with the even more controversial FSA. The tests, which were imported from Utah where they were rife with problems, were rolled out this year, and parents and education advocates say that teachers and students weren’t given enough time to prepare for them. To make matters worse, the stakes for failure on the tests is high – students can be held back a grade for failing to pass them, something many parents say is just not right.
So rather than pressure their kids to power through these high-stakes tests, some parents are telling their kids to participate in an act of educational civil disobedience called opting out. Students choosing to opt out, movement organizers say, should show up on testing days, sign their booklets and open them. But then they should refuse to answer any of the questions in the test.
The state has said that opting out is not an option for parents or schools, and it warns that those who refuse to participate in standardized exams could face consequences. However, opt out organizers say, the students are indeed participating in the testing process, as the law requires. They just aren’t providing enough information to be graded. So they’re following the letter of the law, if not the spirit.
Parents and opt out organizers say they aren’t protesting their schools or the quality of the education kids are receiving. In fact, they say, they aren’t even really protesting standardized testing as a whole – what they are objecting to is making a single test the most important measure of what kids learn in school.