The American Public and Testing In Schools

Anya Kamenetz at NPR News has put together an interesting article on American public opinion on testing. The reason for her article was two recent polls, (poll released Aug. 17 by EdNext) and (poll released Aug. 24 by Gallup/PDK). These polls vary slightly in the way that they ask respondents for their opinions about the role of testing in American education. Kamenetz highlights these subtleties to point out the fact that it seems that most Americans are still making up their minds on the issue of opting out and the role of testing. Following are her conclusions:

No matter how you slice it, both polls show most people don’t support allowing parents to choose whether to opt their children out of tests. And the Gallup Poll says most Americans wouldn’t choose to opt out their own kids.

That’s interesting because some proposed amendments to No Child Left Behind, as well as several state laws, would grant parents that choice.

If these polls are to be believed, those amendments would appease a small minority of parents at the expense of the majority’s belief.

But there’s another problem. Getting a permission slip is not what the opt-out movement is actually trying to do.

Based on my reporting and public statements from some leaders of the opt-out movement, the goal of parents in most cases is not just to spare their children the burden of sitting and answering questions for a few hours.

These parents aren’t asking for leeway based on families’ personal preferences. In their view, they are deliberately breaking the law to force a change in the broader policy.

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