2015 saw a strong increase in the amount of students who opted out of the Common Core in Wisconsin. With the final totals in, more than 8,000 students across the state did not take the Smarter Balanced exams. 8,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to New York state, where over 100,000 students opted out.
This represents a huge increase from the 583 Wisconsin students who did not take the exam last year. Can we expect to see this trend continue? You bet! The Common Core Opt-Out movement is gaining momentum and Gov. Scott Walker has given Wisconsin parents even more reasons to remove their children from the test next year. For more information, let’s take a closer look at More Than 8,000 Students Opt-Out of Smarter Balanced Exam, 700 in Madison:
About 7 percent of elementary and middle school students in Madison and 2 percent of public school students statewide this spring opted out of taking a new test aligned to the Common Core academic standards — up from one-tenth of 1 percent of students who opted out of the state test last year.
More than 700 students in the Madison School District opted out, part of the 8,104 public school students who opted out statewide, a substantial increase from the 87 and 583 students, respectively, who opted out last year, state and school district data show.
While the increase is significant, state education officials note the percentage this year of students opting out is not as high as states like New York, where a vocal movement against standardized testing has taken hold resulting in an estimated opt-out rate at around 14 percent for one of that state’s tests.
Department of Public Instruction spokesman John Johnson said the increase points mostly to a nationwide movement of parents opposing testing in growing numbers. Opponents question the number of tests given, and how scores are used in determining school accountability and evaluating teachers.
“At the same time, I’d say educators, education leaders and parents really talk to each other a lot about the value of assessments,” Johnson said, adding that so far, school report cards that rely on test scores have not been used as the basis for sanctions, which can drive opt-out movements. He also would not speculate about whether the trend will continue.
Fine, I will speculate; the trend will continue!
The Madison School District says 737 students opted out of taking the English and math tests this spring, which represents a surge from recent years. Just five years ago, 17 Madison students opted out of state tests. For other tests given this school year, 1 percent of students opted out of taking them, according to a district report.
The increase comes as lawmakers move to get rid of the Badger Exam, Wisconsin’s version of the Smarter Balanced exam that was developed using questions from a consortium of states aligned to the controversial Common Core academic standards that state Superintendent Tony Evers adopted in 2010.
The rollout of the test in Wisconsin schools this spring included several delays, and technical glitches forced schools to use a scaled-back exam that did not adapt to students’ abilities as intended.
Gov. Scott Walker has proposed in his 2015-17 budget to scrap the test and has signed a bill to prohibit this year’s test scores from being used to measure schools’ progress and teachers’ effectiveness — giving parents another reason to have their children sit out this year’s test.
On Wednesday, a Senate education committee held a hearing on a bill that would clarify the rules on opting out of state-mandated tests.
Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee and an author of the bill, said the law would also push school officials to “sell” state tests to parents and explain their value. The bill’s language is broad enough to allow parents to opt out of any tests administered by local school districts — language that public school advocates have asked to be removed. Thiesfeldt said it’s not the authors’ intention to allow parents to “opt out of the weekly spelling test,” and that the language could be narrowed.
Good luck selling the parents on the virtues of the Common Core. Parents everywhere are turning on the exams and with Gov. Walker pushing to dump the test, expect the number of students who opt-out next year to increase by a factor of ten yet again.
For an excellent summary of what is truly wrong with the Common Core, you can check out my good friend Brook Putnam’s e-book “Rotten Core: How the Common Core is Ruining Our Children’s Futures and What We Can Do About it.” I can’t recommend it enough! Brook is a Florida school teacher with a vicious sense of humor, and Rotten Core a ridiculously entertaining and informative read. We are offering it for a limited time on this site exclusively for only 99 cents! Take advantage of this outstanding deal, right here!