Nationwide Protests Against Tests

From Washington State to Arizona, Michigan, and Massachusetts, parents and teachers organize to protest the disastrous effects of high-stakes standardized tests.

An estimated 1,500 students and parents protested against high-stakes tests in Albany, N.Y., as part of a nationwide, grass-roots upsurge against politically imposed testing that distorts teaching and learning.

The protests, petitions, boycotts, and political organizing are taking place as part of locally organized efforts loosely coordinated through the Assessment Reform Network, a nationwide effort spearheaded by the Boston-based group FairTest.

“We will not allow our children to be reduced to a single test score,” said Jane Hirschman, a leader of the New York movement. Current policy calls for students to pass five Regents exams to graduate, beginning in 2003.

The Albany protest was part of a “Month of Resistance Activities Against High-Stakes Testing.” Events included rallies, marches, teach-ins, forums and other activities which, according to organizers, are “designed to send a clear and powerful message to state and national legislators and education officials:Oppose high-stakes testing! Support authentic efforts to achieve educational improvements and equity for all students.”

In Massachusetts, thousands of parents, students, and teachers geared up for another round of protests culminating in a statewide rally planned for the Boston Commons May 15. At that time, more than 12,000 petitions will be presented to the governor and legislators.

In addition, hundreds of families plan to boycott the high-stakes tests that are part of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, according to Jackie King, an organizer with the group Coalition for Authentic Reform in Education (CARE). CARE, which is spearheading the Massachusetts organizing, has grown from a loose network of parents’ groups to a statewide organization with more than 30 chapters.

In what King characterized as “a significant new development,” the majority of families at the Mission Hill Public School in Boston have announced their intention to boycott the tests, despite intense pressure from the Boston Superintendent to raise school MCAS scores. The school is headed by noted educational reformer Deborah Meier, who is a founding member of CARE.

Protests were also scheduled in May in Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington state.

For more information, visit the FairTest web site: