Opt-out movement in Ohio small but significant, say Miami researchers

Michael Evans and Andrew Saultz wanted to learn more about the national movement to opt out of standardized testing. They started with Ohio, discovering not widespread, but distinct pockets of dissent.

The scope of Ohio’s opt-out movement surprised the two researchers, both professors in Miami University’s College of Education, Health and Society. They found in preliminary data that the media portrait painted of the affluent suburbia parents leading the charge is not the case at all.

“Pockets of dissent are materializing in a wide range of districts — not only the affluent suburban or urban school districts as many believe,” Evans said.

Halfway into their research they discovered that 5 percent of the districts had a significant number of opt-outs. These districts represent typical Ohio communities. (See chart right.)

Evans and Saultz are now turning their attention to the rationale that informs a parent’s decision to opt out of having their children take the tests.

In Ohio there are two organizations that appear to be very influential: United Opt Out – Ohio, a progressive education group; and Ohioans Against the Common Core.

United Opt Out members believe testing is taking away time and resources from the arts and other forms of curriculum. They also are concerned about corporate influence on public education. Ohioans Against the Common Core dissenters hold the belief that the federal government wields too much control over local school districts.

”It’s a combination of strange bedfellows in terms of who is supporting the opt-out strategy,” Evans said.

(Read more at Miami University)