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Inside The Opt Out Movement: Researchers Discuss Implications

Inside The Opt Out Movement: Researchers Discuss Implications

During Education Week's Inside the Opt-Out Movement webinar, two researchers looked at their specific states for what kind of interesting trends the opt-out movement has revealed so far.

For those unfamiliar, the opt-out movement is a movement that is growing in popularity where parents are electing to remove their children from sitting in on standardized exams despite the federal law No Child Left Behind requiring states to test 95 percent of public school students.

In Education Week's webinar, Michael P. Evans of Miami University in Ohio and Jessica K. Beaver of Research for Action discussed what current research is revealing about the implications of the movement on K-12 policymaking and state accountability.

Evans discussed specifically Ohio and research that has so far taken into account a sample of 310 school districts within the state, about half of the eventual intended 614 districts.

So far, Evans said that the research has indicated that most districts have families who opt-out, but that 77 percent of the sample saw less than one percent of families opting out.

However, in some districts which Evans refers to as "pockets of dissent," they saw over 5 percent of students opting out. Evans noted that these pockets of dissent, despite popular belief, did not exist in affluent districts; Evans says this is interesting because it "runs counter to the narrative" portrayed by the media currently.

To sum up, Evans believes that although opt-out numbers in Ohio are relatively low, the increasing numbers and diversity of families who have participated suggest that the movement will continue to grow in coming years. Evans thinks this will have a long-standing impact on policy change not just in Ohio, but nationwide.

Similarly, Jessica Beaver, of the Research for Action in Pennsylvania, called research into the movement from her state not necessarily a movement but an "interesting trend" that has yet to have large implications but very well could in the future.

Her research has led her to ask several questions she would like answers to: "How do state departments address opt-outs and evaluations of schools? Will state departments release data about which students are opting out?"

She calls on state departments to compile and release more data concerning the opt-out movement to get a better idea of the bigger picture.

Read more about Inside the Opt-Out Movement here. Note: Education Week is a tiered subscription model.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/19/2015

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