Oregonian OpEd by Education Policy Chair Kathy Swift

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Anti-test parents are opting children out of opportunity

By Kathy Swift

Almost every state in the country, including Oregon, has adopted higher standards for what students need to know and be able to do as they move through school. With tougher educational standards came tougher tests to measure students’ progress. These end-of-year tests in English and math – called Smarter Balanced – have been a source of contention and confusion amongst Oregon parents and community members since the testing window opened this spring.

This confusion has sparked an opt-out movement, where parents are refusing to allow their children to take these tests. By doing so, they deprive themselves of valuable information about their child. On a larger scale, the tests serve a greater purpose: to gauge the health of Oregon’s educational systems. When parents opt students out of the test, educational leaders and policy makers have less reliable information to improve services and target resources and supports to kids.