Geneseo, N.Y. – Jenn Mehlenbacher quit teaching some years ago because she was tired of teaching to the test.
On Thursday, she kept her fourth-grade daughter home from school during the administration of the state math exam. She's not against assessments, but she's fed up with the culture of high-stakes testing and flawed exams.
“Every single time I talk to somebody the first thing words out of their mouth are, ‘I didn’t know you could do that,’” Mehlenbacher said.
A growing number of parents are opting not to have their children take the tests. The State Education Department doesn’t keep statistics, but there is anecdotal information and a national group devoted to the opt-out movement. The Buffalo News interviewed parents
in Erie County who kept their children home during the tests.
“We think it’s a mistake for parents to do that, to hold their kids back. It can have ramifications for the school and district,” said Jonathan Burman, a spokesman for the state.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, 95 percent of students at a school and 95 percent of each subgroup (race and classification) must take the tests or the school could land on a “school in need of improvement” list. That could lead to staff changes or closing.
There are no ramifications for parents or students who keep their children home from grades 3 through 8 tests.
“We do have the right to say this is not okay for my child,” Mehlenbacher said.
Mehlenbacher feels so strongly about this and other education issues, she is running for school board.