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Testing Backlash

The long-simmering backlash against high-stakes testing is starting to boil over in Texas and Washington state.

Slowly but surely, a standardized testing backlash is growing in pockets of the country as parents, students, and even school boards are protesting what they claim is an overabundance of tests that rob students of actual learning.
The movement seems hottest in Texas, where education commissioner Robert Scott told the Houston Chronicle, "We want the curriculum to be the focus, not the tests and teaching to the test."

So far, more than 400 Texas school boards agree: They adopted a resolution to ask lawmakers to scale back testing requirements. Earlier this year, more than 500 students in Everett, Washington, ducked out of state tests in protest. In Florida, two school boards have signed pacts similar to the ones in Texas, while parents have asked the sixth-largest district in the country, Broward County PS, to sign on.

The main complaint is the waste of time tests entail. One Austin mother, Edy Chamness, estimated that her son faced 40 hours of test practice and another 16 hours of actually taking the tests. Cham­ness formed a Texas chapter of the United Opt Out Movement, a national organization seeking to eliminate high-stakes testing in public schools.

Testing has increased exponentially since NCLB passed a decade ago. In addition to ranking students, scores are used to judge teachers' effectiveness and sometimes to determine their pay.

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