Ten years into the No Child Left Behind accountability standards, the backlash is gaining momentum. In New York, a growing number of parents are discovering that, as state standardized tests become a prominent part of the curriculum, their children are losing interest in school. This discovery is leading many of them to opt out of the tests altogether. But if a critical mass of parents decide that they don’t buy into state mandated assessments, what will happen to the school system? Robert Kolker explores the consequences in New York City in a recent article for New York Magazine.

“No real anti-testing resistance movement ever gained traction until last spring, when the state introduced revamped ELA and math tests that were so much harder than what came before that a vast majority of students failed,” Kolker writes.

The Opt-OutersMore than a year before 7-year-old Oscar Mata was scheduled to take his first major standardized test, his parents received word from his school that he was failing. The Department of Education calls it a Promotion in Doubt letter-a well-intentioned, if blunt, method used to get families to take notice of gaps in a student’s skills.

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  • Carol Holtslander

    NCLB really has focused attention on traditionally underperforming groups (which is a good thing) but it’s failing bright, creative students and not allowing good teachers to do what they, as professionals, know is best for their students. Opting out of taking the test does not change the fact that your child is sitting in the classroom everyday being subjected to test-prep curriculum. I’m using my public school teacher’s salary to send my own children to private school. Call me a hypocrite (I’ve called myself that) but I see first-hand what this test-centric culture does to teachers and students. I don’t want it for my own children and I don’t want it for yours. Excellent teachers with years of experience are counting the days to retirement. Schools will become a revolving door of new teachers who burn out because of the demands placed on them by standardized testing mandates, or are let go because their performance is tied to test scores. This is sad for schools, sad for teachers, and most of all, a huge disservice to our children.

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  • Mark Halpert

    If we shifted the focus from passing or failing to student growth, many more of us might buy in. When you only reward students who pass, schools will ignore those most in need, because the students might not pass this year even with massive help. We need to focus time and resources on helping struggling students succeed. Test mania is awesome for testing companies and certain leaders — but it can be disastrous for struggling students, parents and teachers

  • Sejal Yad

    NCLB contract is going to be over in 2014 and government is planning to launch something else to get more productivity in terms of knowledge in student and interest. Common core might be the based of NCLB kind of stuff after 2014 as common core is going to be implemented from 2014 academic year in schools. Institutions like http://www.libertyoflearning.com has already started providing online tutoring to their students based on common core


Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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