Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance. This "opt-out" movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60% or even 70% of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing. Resistance could be costly: If fewer than 95% of a district's students participate in tests aligned with Common Core standards, federal money could be withheld, although the Department of Education said that hasn't happened.
This week in New York, tens of thousands of students sat out the first day of tests, with some districts reporting more than half of students opting out of the English test. Preliminary reports suggest an overall increase in opt-outs compared to last year, when about 49,000 students did not take English tests and about 67,000 skipped math tests, compared to about 1.1 million students who did take the tests in New York. Considerable resistance also has been reported in Maine, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, and more is likely as many states administer the tests in public schools for the first time this spring. (Read more Common Core stories.)