Despite the April 21 threat uttered by U.S Secretary of Education at the Education Writers Association meetings in Chicago that the federal government would “step in” if states did not make sure their students took tests aligned with Common Core Standards, students around the country are skipping the tests, and now more than half of students at Palos Verdes High School have opted out of taking the tests.
More than half of the roughly 460 juniors at the high school have ignored the tests, which started last week and run through this week, in order to concentrate on issues more important to them, such as studying for the SATs or Advanced Placement tests, according to Superintendent Don Austin. Over 200 more students are skipping the tests in another high school in the Palos Verdes School District, as well as assorted intermediate and elementary schools.
Barry Yudess, a parent who heads RestorePVEducation, which opposes Common Core tests, celebrated, “We think it’s fantastic.” His group took great pains to educate parents and students about skipping the tests, including hosting forums, setting up a YouTube channel, creating a Facebook page, emailing information, and most powerfully, according to Yudess, distributing fliers and opt-out forms outside of schools.
California Department of Education spokeswoman Pam Slater acknowledged that the Palos Verdes students represent the highest number of opt-outs that California Department of Education officials knew of; still, the state has not seen a huge number of students rejecting the tests yet, as opposed to New York, where some schools admitted that between 60 and 70 percent of students had ignored the tests.
Since 98% of the graduates in Palos Verdes enroll in college, parents and students see no need for taking tests that hinder them from studying for Advanced Placement tests instead.
The federal No Child Law Behind law requires 95% of students in certain grades to take annual standardized tests or the school will lose Title 1 funds, but that only applies to schools that receive funds for low-income students. Since Palos Verdes is a more affluent school, there is no financial threat the federal government can use to force the students to take the tests.