More parents join growing opt-out testing movement - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

More parents join growing opt-out testing movement

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It's the first week of school for several Middle Tennessee school districts, and before long, the students will begin a battery of tests, many of which are mandated or strongly encouraged by the state.

But a growing number of parents are pushing back when it comes to standardized tests. They want to see fewer tests or even the choice to opt-out of tests altogether.

The group, called Stop the TN Testing Madness, has now compiled a guide for parents who want their kids to take less tests, and one member of the Metro Nashville school board said she is hoping to reduce tests this year and the hours of practice time that goes along with them.

Stop the TN Testing Madness is about as grassroots as it gets. The members are mostly moms who say their kids really struggle with kindergarten through second grade testing, called the SAT-10.

Metro School Board member Jill Speering says there is now talk on the highest level of Metro education of ending the SAT-10 for kindergarten and first grade - not just the test itself but the hours of test preparation, too.

Some parents say they are concerned that those who design the curriculum are dictating what the students learn instead of the teachers in the classrooms.

But the state does not share that opinion. In fact, Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says testing is critical.

"We can't live in a world where we pretend that everybody is doing OK, so it's necessary to measure and see where we are making progress - what are the things we do well, what are the things we can do better," Huffman said. "If you don't measure, you don't really have a sense of how you are doing."

The Tennessee opt-out movement started in March and already has hundreds of members as parents are starting to discover other parents feel the same way about testing.

There is even hope of a new law to reduce testing down to one big test like the TCAP.

This opt-out movement is so new there are no real policies in place for parents and students who decide they want to opt out of a test.

Metro Nashville Public Schools is working with the state on a policy, and schools in Williamson and Rutherford counties say they have no policy on opting out.

TCAP is a state-mandated test that counts as part of a student's grade, so there is already a built-in penalty for opting out.

Speering has a resolution at the next Metro school board meeting asking the district to investigate the number of hours spent on practice tests, assessments and studying for tests.

If you would like more information on the opt-out movement, visit: http://stoptntesting.com or http://www.facebook.com/StopTheTnTestingMadness.

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