Students Ditch Common Core in California

A shocking number of students at some exclusive schools in California are ditching the Common Core-derived Smarter Balanced exams en masse.  Over half of the juniors in posh communities like Calabassas, Palos Verdes and Palo Alto have eschewed the tests.  This trend wasn’t isolated to these communities as lower-income communities followed suit.  Opting out is legally allowed in California, so this is not viewed as an inflammatory act as it is in other states.

The loss of federal dollars will not affect the more affluent schools but will result in a loss of Title I funding toward schools in lower-income communities. Breitbart reports on this development:

Bob Schaeffer, a spokesman for the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, orFairTest, explained to EdSource that in California, students can opt out legally, adding, “It is not civil disobedience in California because it’s legally authorized. So it’s not been seen as an organizing tool in the same way (as in some other states).”

Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest, told EdSource, “We’ve heard from almost every state in the country there’s opting out going on. Last year, we probably heard from half.” In New York, 200,000 students have opted out with the support of teachers unions.

The opt-out argument in Calabasas and Palos Verdes was initiated by Common Core opponents, who alerted students about parent exemptions, but then spread among 11th-graders who had their own reasons for skipping the tests.

Meanwhile, Common Core opponents are organizing efforts to educate students and parents about avoiding the tests

As a result of the No Child Left Behind law, the federal government requires that 95% of students take state tests; schools that receive Title 1 funds that do not meet that mark can trigger harsh sanctions. Because Title 1 funds flow to schools with low-income students, the four affluent high schools will not be sanctioned, but Westmoor High, comprised of roughly 37% low-income students, could be hit with sanctions.

With opt-out movements in Seattle, New York City and several other states threatening to trigger sanctions, it remains to be seen if the federal government will take a hard stance if several states fall out of compliance.  If a dozen or more states cross the 5% threshold, will they penalize every state? The loss of federal funding could be the tipping point that sets off massive protest against the Common Core.  Stay tuned…

-Gabriel Diaz

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