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Union Backs MA Students' Right to Opt Out of Standardized Tests

Students who wish to opt out of standardized testing in the Commonwealth now have the backing of the state's largest teachers union. Credit: Wikimedia - wfpl.org
Students who wish to opt out of standardized testing in the Commonwealth now have the backing of the state's largest teachers union. Credit: Wikimedia - wfpl.org
May 15, 2015

BOSTON - While the school year is nearing the end, many students still face a round of standardized testing - and now students who decide to opt out have the state's largest teachers union behind them.

Massachusetts Teachers Association president Barbara Madeloni said the union supports students opting out, and the union believes no parent or student should be penalized for deciding not to take a standardized test.

"It's not only that there are hours and hours of testing happening in schools, but there's days and days of test prep," she said, "so that in some districts upwards of 25 percent of the school year is spent focused on testing."

A majority of delegates voted in favor of the resolution, Madeloni said, adding that the union believes school districts should be required to notify students and parents of their right to opt out each year. Testing supporters argue that the standardized tests play an important role in keeping both schools and students accountable.

Madeloni said all this focus on standardized testing takes attention away from what she said are more vital issues the impact students, such as economic and racial injustice.

"If we care about education, we need to make sure that every single child in the Commonwealth has the same experience of possibilities," she said, "for arts, for music, for physical education, for small classes, for good physical plants."

Madeloni said this is a national movement and Massachusetts trails other states in catching onto the trend.

"In New York State this year, where the opt-out movement is about, I would say, a year ahead of us in Massachusetts," she said, "for the English Language Arts Assessment earlier this spring, they had about 200,000 students opt out of the test."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA