May 2016

The Misuse of Standardized Tests

Why a growing number of minority parents are now joining the opt-out movement

Dissatisfaction with standardized testing is growing in all quarters, and even The New York Times has now recognized that parents choosing to opt their children out of standardized tests come from a variety of backgrounds. An article in the Sunday Review highlights some of the concerns about standardized tests raised by minority parents, students, and educators.

All too often testing narrows the curriculum—particularly for students attending high-poverty, urban schools who are already likely to experience an opportunity gap compared with their wealthier peers.

New York City middle school teacher Jose Luis Vilson told The New York Times that when schools eschew all "extras" for a rigid, single-minded focus on math and reading, kids feel like they're in jail. "Testing often exacerbates that, to the point that it doesn't feel like you're going to school to learn—you're just going to take a test."

Testing has a place in education, but today tests are being used for purposes completely distinct from and often at odds with those for which they were designed. And when tests are misused there is an outsized effect on students whose schools are labeled as "failing."

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