Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Teacher Education

Major Professor

Colleen P. Gilrane

Committee Members

Richard L. Allington, Robert Nobles II, Stergios Botzakis

Abstract

With the hope of giving voice to individuals who are usually left out of conversations regarding standardized assessments—the families who live with the effects of those tests on their children—this study was designed to answer the following research questions:

1) Who are some of the individuals who are participating in the opt out movement?

2) How are some individuals making the decision to participate in the opt out movement?

a) What knowledge do these individuals who are participating in the opt out movement have regarding the standardized assessments that their children are being given in public schools?

b) How have these individuals who are participating in the opt out movement been affected by the standardized assessments being given in public schools?

Guided by interpretivist theory's notion that reality is socially-constructed, I strove to better understanding the lived experiences of these individuals. The study's initial phase was a national level census survey with open-ended responses and demographic questions. Eight descriptive interviews were conducted with selected census participants.

Although each interview participant had their own experiences with standardized assessments and the opt out movement, it is striking how much their narratives resonated with each other and the predominant findings in the Census. The following conclusions can be drawn about parent's perspectives from this study's findings:

  • Too much testing is going on in American schools,
  • Testing is having negative effects on teachers and children,
  • Schools and systems are not well-prepared to respond to families who wish to opt out, and
  • Parents support their own teachers and/or schools, even when they believe education in general is on the wrong track.

This research has implications for families, for schools, for opt out leaders, and for state education departments and policy makers. It points to the need for additional research regarding test anxiety in children, RtI effects on the well-being of children, in-depth case studies of individual states, and the effects of the opt out movement on reading.