Every Junior Chose to Opt-Out at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle

While Common Core tests are in full swing, the opt-out movement for parents and students is still growing strong.  Yesterday another landmark was reached as the entire junior class at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle refused to take the Smarter Balance Assessment Curriculum, a derivative of the Common Core tests.

While the juniors did not need to take the test in order to graduate, all 280 of them willingly received a “0” on their exam.  The potential loss of federal funding is what officials argue will be the result of their actions. TheSkanner.com reports:

Every one of the juniors at Nathan High School in Seattle followed a growing trend in schools across America last month by deciding not to take the Smarter Balance Assessment Curriculum—an exam designed around the controversial new Common Core standards.

The 280 students will be earning a “0” for their boycott of the new test, but according to a Seattle Public Schools spokesperson, it’s an exam many juniors don’t need in order to graduate.

However, their protest of Common Core will leave schools with lower passing rates and could lead to loss of funding, Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Stacy Howard tells The Skanner News.

So far, Oregon is seeing a more than 5 percent opt-out rate in Portland Public Schools alone during its first year of implementation.

Contrary to trends from its neighbors to the north, it’s Portland public’s youngest students that are pulling out in droves: Creative Science K-8 and Metropolitan Learning Center already have more than 30 percent of their 200-plus kids out, and Abernathy Elementary School tops the list with over half of its 253 kids shaking their heads “no” to the Common Core.

Charles McGee, president of Portland’s Black Parent Initiative, says his staff has gotten their share of questions from concerned parents wondering how these Common Core standards will affect their children.

Next year, he says, the group will begin teaching parents in depth about Common Core and the pros and cons of opting out.

In Seattle, high schools like Roosevelt, Ingraham and Garfield — where testing hasn’t even begun yet — opt-out rates for juniors are near 50 percent and expected to grow.
Garfield history teacher and prominent education reformist, Jesse Hagopian has been a leading voice in boycotting the Smarter Balanced Assessment which he says sets students up to fail.

“The cut score for SBAC testing was deliberately set so as to fail around 60 percent of the students who take the test,” he said at a press conference with the King County NAACP in April. “None of us teachers got into our profession to demoralize students and we find this political decision to artificially create mass failure reprehensible, and pedagogically unsound.”

I love that last quote there by Hagopian.  I know of several school teachers in Florida who are disgusted by these tests and curriculum.  They feel that the Common Core demoralizes students and makes them less motivated to do better at their studies.  Since the students involved in the Common Core are still developing intellectually, many are ‘giving up’ on school thanks to the extreme rigor demanded by Bill Gates and his corporate affiliates.

While this is the latest high-profile case, nearly 200,000 students backed out of the Common Core exam in New York State.  The next move will be for education leaders in these states to attempt to convince parents to put their kids through testing next year.  The argument may gain some ground during the summer… but I suspect that it will all fall apart once the test scores come back this fall.

-Gabriel Diaz

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