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Opinion

January 21, 2014

At last, parent resistance to collective standardized tests

(Continued)

WASHINGTON D.C —

I've known older kids taking such tests in higher-income neighborhoods. They get sick to their stomachs taking practice tests in preparation for the actual tests that will be on their permanent records. 

What do they really learn from such tests?

But parents are continuing to speak up nationally, as AlterNet reported last October on a school in my city, New York: 

"The Castle Bridge Elementary School is a progressive, dual-language K-2 school in the Washington Heights section ... When parents there learned of a plan to give multiple choice tests to children as young as kindergarten, they decided enough was enough. They refused to let their children be tested" ("What Happens When Parents Stand Up and Say No to Testing?" Elizabeth Hines, AlterNet, Oct. 30, 2013).

Actually, as reported in the New York Daily News, "more than 80 percent of parents opted to have their kids sit out the exam" ("Forget teaching to the test -- at this Washington Heights elementary school, parents canceled it!" Rachel Monahan, Oct. 21, 2013).

So the principal canceled the test.

A penetratingly clear, common sense reason for doing away with collective standardized tests is provided by Neal McCluskey, the associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom. (I am a senior fellow at Cato.)

In the November/December 2013 Cato Policy Report, which was on the emergence of the Common Core State Standards, McCluskey wrote: "Why is the idea of common standards (and tests) wrong? Simply put, it's because all children are different. They learn different things at different rates during different times.

"They start from different places. They have different interests. The idea that they should all be fed into some sort of lock-step standardized system doesn't fit with the reality of human beings" ("Common Core: The Great Debate," Cato Policy Report, Nov./Dec. 2013).

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