Thousands of High Schoolers Refuse to Take State Mandated Tests

Thousands of Colorado high school seniors are protesting the state's mandated science and social studies tests the most effective way they know how: by refusing to take them. We've heard about parents who are so fed up with overtesting and unfair testing that they've opted their kids out of standardized tests. It seems like every week another parent writes a funny and thoughtful response to a ridiculously difficult Common Core math problem on his child's test or homework assignment. But imagine how it feels to be a teen forced to take these tests. Those who are standing up against them aren't being lazy or defiant -- they're being thoughtful and courageous.


Teens and children have sat out from tests before, but the number of kids who were no-shows in Colorado is staggering: at nine Douglas County high schools, almost 1,900 students -- more than half of the students -- didn't take the science and social studies exams. More than 1,500 seniors in Boulder Valley School District and nearly that many in Cherry Creek School District refused to take them. At one school -- Cherry Creek High School -- only 24 of 877 seniors took the tests.

You have to wonder what will happen when the test results come in? If the students who took the tests didn't do well, will they even count?

I'll admit, when I first read this, I thought, Oh nice, so these kids got a day off from school to goof around and watch TV. But at Fairview High School in Boulder at least, seniors attended school that day -- and used their testing time to protest outside with picket signs, collect canned food for needy families, and write letters to local politicians.

The students insist they aren't against all testing -- they just feel these particular tests don't match what they've been learning in class and that they are being bombarded with standardized testing in every subject. It doesn't help that the results of these tests haven't always been pretty. In Colorado last spring, only 17 percent of fourth- and seventh-grade students scored "strong" or "distinguished" on the social studies standardized test.

More from The Stir: Mom Starts War on Standardized Tests -- Hooray!

Teachers have to spend weeks -- sometimes months -- preparing students for a state test. In the process, kids and educators lose the enthusiasm for learning that they once had. How can test prep foster a kid's curiosity? How can it motivate them or keep them asking questions and wanting to explore a subject and dive in deeper? It doesn't.

Standardized tests are fantastic when they serve as tools teachers can use to help determine which skills students have mastered and which they need to revisit. But we are taking it too far when they are used as the be-all and end-all of education. These teens were smart to take a stand against overtesting and refuse to be part of it.

Do you think these teens are inspirational for refusing to take the test, or should there be consequences for their actions?


Image via Carol VanHook/Flickr

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