Parents in suburban New York districts are revolting against the over-reliance on standardized testing in schools by organizing a boycott of the tests. The Journal News of Westchester reported last week that 155,000 students refused the tests, and some districts had nearly half of kids opting out:
Yet collecting educational data is important for the future of education and can help define the the character of a town, said Nicole Brisbane, state director at Democrats for Education Reform.
"Schools are one of the biggest differentiators of value in the suburbs," she said. "How valuable will a house be in Scarsdale when it isn't clear that Scarsdale schools are doing any better than the rest of Westchester or even the state? Opting out of tests only robs parents of that crucial data."
"And I thought it was all about the children?" responded blogger Duncan Black at Eschaton. "Nope. Real estate prices."
This bit of honesty from a test-supporter is more than a hilarious gaffe. Right now, a number of educators in the Atlanta area are going to jail on racketeering charges for fudging the results of standardized tests. While cheating is wrong, this excessive punishment suggests that there's more going on here than a simple interest in improving educational standards. If testing is partly about creating "objective" measurements of which neighborhoods are better—and therefore more expensive and exclusive—than others, then the nationwide overkill when it comes to standardized testing starts to make more sense.