SNOHOMISH, Wash. (CBS Seattle) – A grassroots effort has grown out of frustration with both education budget cuts and federal student testing, an anger which has manifested itself into a strike of sorts with students opting out of the exams in protest.
As of Friday, a reported 90 students opted out of the Measurement of Student Progress tests at Seattle Hill Elementary, and nearly 50 students at another elementary school in the Snohomish school district also declined to participate.
“[The MSP] is a very expensive test, costing between $37 [to] $90 per child depending on what grade level they are in,” We Support Schools – Snohomish representative Erin McBrien told CBS Seattle. “The results give no specific answers as to [where] a student may be struggling. They simply tell you if the student is low, average or high in any given subject, but it does not show what area in that specific subject they may have had a hard time with.”
She added that the results of the exams are not reported until the following school year, when they would no longer be able to benefit the children with issues in current curricula.
Additionally, the Snohomish school district, like many others around the nation, has had to make tough decisions over the past few years due to a lack of funding.
McBrien said that Snohomish in particular has had to make budget cuts amounting to $10 million dollars over the past three years, which have resulted in a spike in overall classroom size, transportation cuts, custodial, classroom support staff and office personnel hour cuts, and more.
As a result, the community is riled by the estimated $40 million allocated for the standardized testing alone.
According to Q13-FOX, the school district understands the organization’s frustration, and supports their collective action.
“Parents always have the decision to opt their students out of these tests,” spokesperson Kristen Foley said to the station. “We respect the decision these parents are making and we’ll see where that takes us.”
The overall goal of the protest is to get the attention of government officials as to the wasteful nature of the exams, both financially and in regards to instructional time.
“Our ultimate goal is to get our state leaders to stop wasteful spending on tests that do not benefit our children’s education,” McBrien said. “We are not asking for all testing to stop – we want smarter, less expensive testing that will help our children. “
The MSP is a federal mandate associated with the No Child Left Behind Act. All students who miss the exams will receive a zero on the test, which will reportedly lower the school’s overall test scores.