What you need to know about the student boycott of standardized tests

Everyone knows the struggle that is standardized tests. Dreaded by many, they are a necessary evil of the school year. Just the idea of filling in endless bubbles and flipping to the next section is enough to cause a panic attack sometimes. These state-administered exams don’t count towards your actual grade, of course, and are instead meant to measure student progress on the whole. However, people across the country have begun to question the standardized test status quo. Students, parents, and teachers are questioning the real benefits of this kind of testing and some are staging a full-on standardized test boycott.

Standardized testing has been around since the 1970s, but recently it’s gotten a bit of an overhaul. This extreme makeover is thanks to the new Common Core Stare Standards. These learning standards are pretty controversial, but have been adopted in over 40 states. The Common Core has led to new exams like the PARCC and the SBAC. These new tests have revamped the tradition of No. 2 pencils and “filling in the bubble completely to show your answer.” Exams like the PARCC are taking standardized testing into the 21st century. Students take the exams on computers and get help from tools like “virtual rulers.”

But these tests aren’t just changing tradition, they’re changing public opinion. In New Jersey, 5 percent of all public school students have actively chosen not to take the PARCC. But what’s got people so upset? We will admit that having your butt fall asleep after sitting in a chair for hours isn’t the most fun, but is it worth a boycott? For a growing number of people, the answer is yes.

Many people now believe that taking a standardized test is more than just an unpleasant experience. They argue that student progress should not be boiled down to a single test score and think the exams hurt the public school system. The protest started with parent complaints about a variety of things, including their kids coming home from the exam exhausted, and the movement really gained traction when teachers’ unions got involved. Teachers in New Jersey are not exactly thrilled about the new standards and exams. Mainly because the state government has decided that teacher assessments and salary will be based on how their students perform on the standardized tests.

But adults aren’t the only people taking up this cause, students are fighting their own battle, too. Students have been pressuring their parents to allow them to  “opt-out” of the standardized tests. By having their parents fill out some paperwork, students skip the test and get a few more hours of rest. Some argue that no exam means more sleep and better performance on classwork that is actually counting towards their GPA. Students say they don’t want to take a test that stresses them out for no reason. Many students used social media to show their true feelings about the exam, tweeting things like “PARCC spelled backwards is “CCRAP.”  Allegedly, some students who were not allowed to opt-out just filled in their answers at random. This new movement against standardized tests started with a few parent complaints but has now turned into a full-on student protest. One major driving force of the boycott is that no one can really answer the question the students and parents are asking. Why are these tests necessary? Those in charge of education have failed to give one complete and satisfying answer, with some saying old tests were just too easy and others saying the tests are needed to gather data.

So what do you think? Do you think standardized tests are important? Or are they just unnecessary stress? Do you support the students standing against them? Let us know in the comments!

(Image via here.)

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