- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A southeast Nebraska woman is joining some other parents across the nation in deciding their children will not take statewide tests. She says the tests are about politics, not learning

Jill Osler, of Doniphan, told the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1kRejUJ ) that over the past year or so she’s contacted state education officials and senators, trying to start conversations.

“I felt it is not best for kids and teachers,” Osler said. “I’m adamant it’s not a teaching tool, it’s a political assessment. It’s used to rank, rate schools, and I just wanted to question what good is this doing for our kids and our education system.”

Experts say Osler is part of a small but growing movement across the nation. For example, an advocacy group called Change the Stakes estimates that up to 1,000 students in New York City will not take the English test this month. And last year students and teachers at a Seattle high school boycotted a standardized test, leading the district superintendent to declare that city high schools have the choice to deem it optional.

The Nebraska Education Department allows parents to make formal requests to their local districts to opt their students out of the testing. Last year just 14 Nebraska students opted out of the reading, math and science tests, according to the department.

Valorie Foy, the Nebraska Department of Education director of state assessment, said the assessment tests are a tool to help schools improve.

“I think if one believes that school systems can improve through having a statewide test, then having students opt out makes that a less effective tool,” she said. Students who don’t take the test receive scores of zero, which reduce a school’s overall score, Foy said.

Osler, a former teacher who works at Educational Service Unit 9, said she doesn’t oppose having state standards and understands assessment is an integral part of teaching. But, she said, she doesn’t think state tests inform teachers or help learning.

“It comes down to the kids,” she said. “And it’s not helping our kids at all.”

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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