About 500 more Colorado students did not take the state’s standardized reading test in 2014 because their parents objected than the year before, according to new data released by the Colorado Department of Education.
Despite the apparent increase in vocal opposition to the tests that erupted earlier this year and some prediction that opposition would be borne out in testing numbers, the opt-out movement barely made a statistical dent in Colorado’s testing regimen.
To put the opt-out numbers in context, in 2014 three-tenths of a percent of all students tested in Colorado opted out. That number grew is up from two-tenths of a percent in 2013. The numbers are drawn from test results classified as “parent refusals.”
“That’s awesome,” said Peggy Robertson, one of the state’s opt-out leaders. “I’m thrilled with that.”
In total, 1,412 students between the third and 10th grade did not take the reading test in 2014. The numbers per grade ranged from 66 opt-outers in the third grade to 520 in the tenth grade. According to the data, the older the student the more likely they were not to take exams.
Robertson said any increase is welcomed by her organization, United Opt-Out, especially given it has no significant monetary resources and is entirely run by volunteers of parents and a small group of teachers.
Parents who oppose the state standardized tests, which state law requires schools to administer, believe they eat up valuable teaching time, don’t add to instruction, and are more about profit for private businesses than improving student achievement.
Supporters counter that standardized tests provide parents, teachers, and community with invaluable information about how students, schools, and their districts are performing.
Robertson predicted the number of students who are opted-out of Colorado’s tests will continue to rise, especially next spring when new computer-based tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which Colorado adopted, are rolled out.
The standards have separately been the subject of criticism. And, Robertson said, the two sides are already joining forces in anticipation of the new tests.
Meanwhile, a panel, responding to parents concerns and created by a 2014 legislative bill, has been formed to study Colorado’s testing diet. Recommendations will be made early next year to the legislature.