“The national testing train is hurtling down the tracks out of control. Fueled by lucrative contracts with testing companies, driven by people with insufficient understanding of the educational and social consequences of their actions, and racing to reach a destination in too little time, the train will crash very soon.
The boldest choice, and in some real sense, the most principled one, would be to jump off.
If I were a state administrator responsible for state testing, a superintendent, a school board member, a teacher, a parent, or even a student old enough to make my own decisions about my education, I would seriously consider not participating in the coming round of high-stakes national testing—the tests will do too much damage on too many levels to students, teachers, and champions of education.
I salute those who have taken courageous stands to opt-‐out of the new rounds of testing. The tests cannot be fixed in the time before they’ll be administered. And in the current political climate, there will not be funding available for those who could fix them to actually fix them.
I recognize that a stand to resist the tests has many consequences, some severe in the short run. But anyone who takes this stand now will be exonerated in the long run. It is the moral and practical thing to do. Next year a stand taken against the tests today will look prescient.
I recognize that most people with a stake in education aren’t inclined or aren’t in a position to become “conscientious objectors” and opt-‐out of participating in the coming tests.
What can we do? It is now in the direct hands of parents, and only in the direct hands of parents. WE CAN OPT OUT.
Over the long run, there are other options… Yet for now, they come too late to save our children right here, right now.
But over time we can mitigate the damage by protecting students from days, weeks, even months of test prep for these tests. Based on the evidence Smarter Balance has given us, practice on their tools will not lead to better teaching or learning. In fact it will “dumb down” instruction.
We can make sure the right people are held responsible for what’s to come—among them the players who took our precious national and state funds for education and delivered this assessment junk.
We can support and defend the teachers and educational professionals who have done all they can to improve mathematics education in countless ways, but who will take the fall for poor test results.
We can urge schools and school boards to ignore the results of these contrived and fatally flawed high-‐stakes tests—they do not measure mathematical understanding. We can work to uncouple Common Core from the testing consortia and try to save the potential of CCSSM, even while we let the tests, testing consortia, and their corporate partners crash and burn.
As a society we can continue to research and develop well‐crafted digital tools for mathematics education and work to deploy them in realistic time frames and in appropriate contexts.
We can demand the education funding necessary for teaching and assessing in this country in ways worthy of our students. The promise of cheaper but deeper assessments was a false promise from the start. Maybe we can even make great assessments some day.”
(Steven Rasmussen (author of above) is an educational consultant at SR Education Associates. He was co-founder, publisher and president at Key Curriculum Press, a mathematics curriculum publishing company.)