Tennessee Lawmaker Among Parents Opting Out Children From New Standardized Test | Nashville Public Radio

Tennessee Lawmaker Among Parents Opting Out Children From New Standardized Test

Mar 28, 2016

The number of parents opting their children out of state testing may be larger than normal this year.  An elementary school in Chattanooga had more than 200 students refuse the TNReady test this month.

Parents are rallying in other parts of the state as well, and Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, is among them. He and his wife decided to opt out their daughter after speaking out against it themselves.

Stewart says, “We just felt like, we’re telling people these tests are so wrong. We should step up and opt out. We should live with our convictions."

His issues are the same shared by a lot of parents. He says the delayed rollout of TNReady caused children unneeded stress and cut into valuable instruction time.

The test was initially computer-based but after widespread crashes, the state reverted back to paper. This resulted in missed deadlines and prolonged testing periods.

The state has concluded that teachers won't be held accountable for results, and schools want the same exemption. It's left some parents asking, “What’s the point?”

Typically, refusing to complete a standardized test would negatively impact a student’s grade. But that requires schools to receive test scores before grades are finalized in May, which isn’t possible this year due to the expected delays.

If parents don’t want their children taking the test they have two alternatives: They can keep their kids at home or tell them to turn it in blank.

Rep. Stewart does see one upside to all of this: These complications give the state a reason to reassess what he calls a “fetish” with standardized testing.

Stewart added, “Testing has it’s place [but] it has gotten completely out of control to where the tests are driving what is going on in the classroom year round.”

School districts are not required to keep track of opt-out numbers because the state doesn’t officially recognize it as an option for students. Blank answer sheets are simply referred to as “irregularities.”