'Opt-out' movement gaining momentum

As the “opt-out” movement is spreading throughout the country, a growing number of Philadelphia parents are looking into alternatives to high-stakes testing.

Led by the Caucus of Working Educators, parents, teachers, and students distributed sample opt-out letters and informational flyers to parents during report card conferences on Feb. 11 to 13.

“Some parents were welcomed into schools by administrators and given tables to distribute literature, other parents were asked to leave school property and therefore distributed flyers from the street,” said Kelley Collings, teacher at the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences.

According to Alison McDowell, member of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools,  at the SRC meeting held Feb. 19 Superintendent William Hite publicly stated that the district is preparing handouts for parents about upcoming standardized tests with information about the opt-out process.

“Hite committed the district to translate these handouts into all necessary languages, so that parents in the district whose first language is not English would still be able to review the information,” McDowell said.

Following the meeting McDowell asked Hite about the timeframe for preparing this information. “He said they hoped to have a draft by Wednesday Feb. 25, and that all stakeholders should feel free to disseminate accurate opt-out information to families.”

As part of the opt-out movement, the Caucus of Working Educators, Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Teacher Action Group, Philadelphia Student Union, Parents United for Public Education, and Action United are sponsoring the “Test-In” & Forum on High-Stakes Testing on Thursday, Feb.  26. The forum will be held at the Free Library of Philadelphia – Central Branch Room 406 & 407, 1901 Vine Street, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

“The event is expected to draw together parents, teachers, students, community members, university faculty, politicians, and district administrators to examine the harmful effects of high stakes testing,” read the announcement.

In addition to discussing alternatives to high-stakes testing and answering sample questions from standardized exams, teachers will break the self-imposed silence about the “injustices” of high-stakes testing from their perspective. Students and school nurses are also expected to share details about emotional and physical response to testing anxiety on students.

The cost of administering testing will be highlighted, as well as strategies in support of opting out in other cities, including New York City, as well as alternatives to high-stakes testing.

For more information please visit Caucus of Working Educators webpage.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015 - 11:33am
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Ana Gamboa