- Education Week reports education officials in Colorado and New York, two states with especially active opt-out movements, have announced in recent weeks that they did not meet the 95% testing threshold mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act.
- While the U.S. Department of Education has not decided how it will punish districts with high opt-out rates, the promise of these penalties has some states on edge and even preparing for a states’ rights battle over any new regulations.
- State legislatures have worked to protect students’ rights to opt out, but the movement’s critics say students from low-income families and students of color are the ones most likely to be hurt by high opt-out rates that delegitimize test results, even though they are least likely to be the students opting out.
Researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University examined national survey data of opt-out movement participants and found the average opt-out activist is highly educated, wealthy, white, married and politically liberal. Under No Child Left Behind, annual standardized tests became the only accountability measure for schools, and while the efficacy of this strategy has been questioned, there is no doubt it made schools pay attention to students for whom they had previously accepted academic failure.
ESSA maintains a focus on test-based accountability, but it allows states to develop more holistic systems that take testing into account along with school climate issues. The Department of Education is still working on its final regulations relating to this accountability, but some states — including California — already expect a policy fight over them.