Website set up to encourage parents to opt kids out of tests

Updated: 12/17/2013 8:01 AM | Created: 12/16/2013 6:22 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

He’s a parent and a former schoolteacher on a mission: to get New Mexico teachers and school kids out from under a burden. Kris Nielsen of Las Cruces has launched a website aimed at helping parents keep their kids out of much of the standardized testing that is a key part of state’s education reform program.

Nielsen believes that there is strength in numbers. That’s why his “NM Refuse the Tests” website encourages parents statewide to yank their kids out of the testing that is a huge party of federal and state efforts to reform and improve public education.

“I’m hearing from a lot of parents and a lot of teachers,” Nielsen said. “They just want to know what’s going on. They’re being left in the dark, and when they finally find out what’s going on they’re not going to be happy about it.”

Supporters of testing say Nielsen’s movement just serves to protect the status quo – a failing system with too many poorly performing students, too many dropouts, and too many teachers who can’t deliver.

“There’s nothing wrong with evaluating teachers,” Nielsen said. “Teachers want to be evaluated. We want feedback, professional feedback and accountability, but we want it done by people in our field. We want people who know what they’re doing to evaluate us. We don’t need people – billionaires and politicians – coming in and saying this is how you do your job and if you don’t like it you’re out of here!”

The website acknowledges right up front that there is a downside to resisting. If enough parents do it the school’s evaluation can suffer. But Nielsen says it’s worth it to show substantial opposition to all the testing.

The Albuquerque School Board recently voted against sending letters to parents advising them how to keep their kids out of testing, but they did post the information at the APS website.

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