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Who

opts out
and why?
Results from a national survey on
opting out of standardized tests

OREN PIZMONY-LEVY
NANCY GREEN SARAISKY

AUGUST 2016

Abouttheauthors
Dr.OrenPizmonyLevyisanAssistantProfessorintheDepartmentofInternationalandTranscultural
StudiesatTeachersCollege,ColumbiaUniversity.HeholdsaPhDinsociologyandcomparativeand
internationaleducationfromIndianaUniversity,Bloomington.Hisresearchandteachingfocusonthe
intersectionbetweeneducationandsocialmovements.Hismainlineofresearchexaminesthe
emergencesofinternationallargescaleassessmentsandtheirconsequencesforpublicdiscourseand
publicopinionworldwide.HealsoconductsresearchontheworkofyouthandeducationalNGOsinthe
environmentalmovementandintheLGBTQmovement.Email:op2183@tc.columbia.edu

Dr.NancyGreenSaraiskyisaResearchAssociateatTeachersCollege,ColumbiaUniversity.Sheholdsa
PhDinPoliticalScienceandComparativeEducationfromColumbiaUniversity,whereherstudieswere
fundedbytheNationalScienceFoundation.Hercurrentworkfocusesonthepoliticsofassessment,
bothdomesticallyandinternationally.Sheisalsointerestedintheroleofideasineducationpolicy;
publicopinionandelitepreferencesinpolicyformation;andtheroleofcultureineducationalsuccess.
Shehaspreviouslyheldavarietyofpositionsinphilanthropy,governmentandjournalism.
Email:nlg2004@tc.columbia.edu

Whenreferencingthisdocument,werecommendthefollowingcitation:
PizmonyLevy,O.andGreenSaraisky,N.(2016).Whooptsoutandwhy?Resultsfromanationalsurvey
onoptingoutofstandardizedtests.ResearchReport.NewYork:TeachersCollege,ColumbiaUniversity.

Graphicdesign:PierluigiBellini

Electronicversionsofthisreportandotherresearchreportsfromthisstudyareavailableat:
http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/

Thestudywasnotassociatedwithanygrantorotherfundingfromeitherpublicorprivatesources.

Acknowledgments
FirstandforemosttheauthorswishtothanktheindividualswhocompletedtheNationalSurveyon
OptingOutofStandardizedTests.Theresponsestheyprovidedoffernewinsightsintotheoptout
movement,andwearegratefulfortheirtimeandthoughtfulness.RosemarieJensen,Morna
McDermott,ChristineMcGooey,TimSlekarandSandyStenoff,allofwhomaredeeplyinvolvedinthe
optoutmovement,providedfeedbackandinsightinthedevelopmentandpilotingofthesurvey.We
arealsoindebtedtotheadministratorsofthelocal,stateandnationaloptoutgroupswhoassistedwith
thesurveyimplementationanddissemination.AtTeachersCollegeandColumbiaUniversity,several
colleaguesprovidedexcellentguidanceandfeedback.ThankstoChristineBaron,DanielFriedrich,Britt
Hamre,JeffHenig,CeliaOyler,andPriscilla(Penny)Wohlstetter.ThanksalsotoLesleyBartlett,Todd
Beer,MarkLindeman,BrianPowellandFabioRojasfortheirtimeandexpertise.Finally,wethankour
wonderfulresearchassistantsAnneBurley,SonalChheda,AdrianCuevas,ShinjiKatsumoto,and
LizbethMoralesforalloftheirhardwork.

ListofTablesandFigures
Table1
Table2

Figure1
Figure2
Figure3
Figure4
Figure5
Figure6
Figure7
Figure8
Figure9
Figure10

Figure11

Figure12
Figure13
Figure14
Figure15
Figure16
Figure17
Figure18A
Figure18B
Figure19
Figure20
Figure21
Figure22
Figure23
Figure24
Figure25
Figure26

Sampledescription,byparentalstatus
Distributionofresponsesbystates

Threestepstowardparticipationinoptout
Respondentsbygeographicregion
Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?
Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Byregion
Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Byeducation
Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Bypoliticalideology
Howdidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?
Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknow
moreaboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?
Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknow
moreaboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Byregion
Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknow
moreaboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Bypolitical
ideology
Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknow
moreaboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Byteachersvs.
nonteachers
Networkoforganizationsintheoptoutmovement
Networkofhighlyactiveorganizationsintheoptoutmovement
Whendidyoufirstoptoutfromstandardizedtesting?
Haveyouevertakenanyofthefollowingactionsrelatingtooptingout?
Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout(topfivereasons)
Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout(toptworeasons)
Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,bypoliticalideology
Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,bypartyidentification
Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,byteachersvs.non
teachers
Whatgradewouldyougivepublicschoolsinyourcommunity?
Howsupportiveareyouofthefollowingtypesofstudenttests?
%verysupportive
Howsupportiveareyouofthefollowingtypesofstudenttests?
%verysupportiveandsupportive
Howimportantarethefollowingideasforimprovingpublicschoolsinyour
community?
Inyouropinion,whichofthefollowingapproacheswouldprovidethemost
accuratepictureofastudentsacademicprogress?
Whoshouldhavethegreatestinfluenceonthefollowingeducationissuesink12
publicschools?
Perceivedimpactoftheoptoutmovementatthestateandfederallevels

ExecutiveSummary
Duringthepastfewyearstheoptoutmovement,inwhichparentsrefusetohavetheirschoolaged
childrentakefederallymandatededucationalassessments,hasgainedmomentum.Yetmanyimportant
questionsaboutoptingoutremainunanswered:Whoisactuallyoptingout?Whatmotivatesparents
whoopttheirchildrenoutofthetests?Arethosewhooptouttryingtoprotecttheirchildren,ordo
theyhavebroaderpoliticalaims?Thesearesomeofthequestionsthatweaimtoaddressinthisstudy.

DataforthisstudycomefromtheNationalSurveyonOptingOut,whichwasconductedfromJanuary
20,2016throughMarch31,2016.Werecruitedrespondentsonline,throughlinksonthewebpagesand
socialmediachannelsofoptoutgroups.Thesurveywasadministeredelectronically.Thesample
consistedofatotalof1,641respondentsfrom47states.

Somekeyfindingsare:

Theoptoutmovementincludesmorethanjustparentswhohaveoptedtheirchildrenout.
Italsoincludesparentswhosechildrenareinpublicschoolbutdidnotoptout;parentswhose
childrenarehomeschooledand/orinprivateschool;andindividualswithoutchildrenwhoare
supportingthemovement.Aboutfourfifthsoftherespondents(81.5percent)wereparentsor
guardiansofschoolagedchildren.Thevastmajorityofthem(92.9percent)indicatedthattheir
childrenattendedpublicschools.

Approximatelythreequartersofrespondentswhoareparentsorguardiansofschoolaged
children(74.5percent)haveoptedtheirchildrenoutoftesting.Nineoutoften(92.1percent)
respondentswhoareparentsorguardiansofschoolagedchildrensaidtheyarelikelytooptout
inthefuture.

Parentsrefusestandardizedtestseveninstateswhereoptingoutisnotpermittedor
discouragedbypolicymakers.Theshareofparentswhooptedoutislowestinstateswhereopt
outisprohibited(73.2percent)andhighestinstateswhererefusalandoptoutarepermitted
withconstraints(85.7percent).Wefindnosignificantdifferencesinoptingoutbetween
respondentsresidinginstateswhereoptoutispermittedandotherrespondents.

Thetypicaloptoutactivistisahighlyeducated,white,married,politicallyliberalparent
whosechildrenattendpublicschoolandwhosehouseholdmedianincomeiswellabovethe
nationalaverage.ThemovementbringstogetherDemocrats(46.1percent),Republicans(15.1
percent),Independents(33.3percent),andsupportersofotherparties(5.5percent).

Mostparticipantshavecometotheoptoutmovementduringthepast34years,withalmost
half(48.9percent)joiningduringthepasttwoyears.SocialmediaFacebook,Twitter,etc.
playakeyroleinmobilizingparticipants,asdosocialnetworks.Abouttwofifths(38.8percent)
heardforthefirsttimeaboutthemovementthroughsocialmedia.Butpatternsofmobilization
varyaccordingtogeographicregion,politicalideology,andtheprofessionoftheparticipant.

Theoptoutmovementisaboutmorethanjustoppositiontohighstakestesting.Respondents
gavemanyreasonsastowhytheyparticipate.Inparticular,respondentsfeelthatjudging
teacherperformancebystudentsstandardizedtestscoresisunfair(36.9percent).Theyalsoare
protestingthenarrowingofthecurriculum,corporatization/privatizationofeducation,andthe
implementationoftheCommonCoreStateStandards.

Motivationsvary,dependingonwhethertherespondentwasateacherornot.Teachers(45.0
percent)saythattheyareopposedtotyingteacherevaluationtostudentperformanceon
standardizedtestswhilenonteachersweremorelikelytomentionoppositiontoteachingto
thetestandtotheCommonCore.

Optoutactivistsareconcernedwithcurrenteducationalreformsandeffortstoimprove
publicschools.Comparedtothegeneralpublic,theyaremorecriticaloftheuseofdifferent
typesoftestingineducation,especiallyhighstaketests.Also,optoutactivistsviewincreasing
schoolfundsasimportantideaforimprovingschools.Whilethegeneralpublicrankthisideain
the4thplace(outoffive),optoutactivistsrankthisideainthe2ndplace.

Introduction
AssessmenthaslongbeenaninextricablepartofschoolingintheUnitedStates.Beingabletoevaluate
whetherstudentshaveunderstoodandmasteredassignedknowledgeandskillsis,afterall,oneofthe
coreeffortsofthemoderneducationalproject.Butrecentlyassessmentisbackintheheadlinesasahot
buttonissueinAmericaneducationpolitics.Asscholarshavepointedout,theusesofachievementtests
havechangeddramaticallyduringthepastseveraldecades,asassessmentshavemovedfrombeing
predominantlylowstakesdiagnostictoolsofstudentlearningtohighstakesexerciseswithsignificant
consequencesattached.1Lately,standardizedassessmentsthatis,thoseteststhatareuniformintheir
questions,administrationandscoringhavemadeheadlinesasasourceofconsternationand
complaintwithintheAmericanpublic.Unhappywithfederallegislationthatmandatesannual
standardizedassessments,increasingnumbersofcitizenshaverefusedtohavetheirchildrensitforthe
tests.Theseeffortshavecometobeknownastheoptoutmovement.

Althoughreportssurfacedintheearly2000sofstudentsinselectaffluentcommunitiesboycotting
standardizedtests,2thedatashowadramaticuptickintestrefusalduringthepast34years.Thoughit
isbeyondthescopeofthisreporttodeterminethecausalfactorsbehindtheriseoftheoptout
movement,twocontextualfactorscertainlycreatedanenvironmentripeforprotest.First,theCommon
CoreStateStandards(CCSS)anditsalignedassessmentswererolledout,andthefederalgovernment
incentivizedstatestoadoptthestandardsthroughitscompetitiveRacetotheTopgrantprogram.Race
totheTopalsoencouragedstatestojoinoneormoreofthenewassessmentconsortiathatwere
developingCCSSalignedassessments.Veryquickly,45statesandtheDistrictofColumbiahadsignedon
toboththenewstandardsandthenewassessments.Second,manystatesanddistrictswereimposing
newconsequencesforteachers,principalsandschoolswhosestudentswerenotdemonstrating
increasedlevelsofachievement.3InsomestatestheCCSSalignedassessmentswereintroduced
simultaneouslytonewteacherevaluationsystemsthatrequiredthatstudentperformancedatafrom
thenewassessmentsbeusedtoevaluateteacherperformanceandeffectteacherpay.Someinthe

See,forexample,Koretz,D.M.(2008).Measuringup.HarvardUniversityPress.
Zernike,K.(13April,2001).InhighscoringScarsdale,arevoltagainststatetests.TheNewYorkTimes.
3
Foranoverviewaswellasadiscussionofthewithdrawalofstatesfromthetwotestingconsortia,seeJochim,A.
&McGuinn,P.(2016).ThePoliticsoftheCommonCoreAssessments.EducationNext,16(4):XXXX.

statesexpressedconcernsaboutfederaloverreachsomecalledithijacking4ingettingstatesto
adoptthestandards.

Withinthiscontextofupheavalinthek12educationsystem,mediabeganreportingonanincreasing
backlashagainstannualstandardizedassessments.In2012,reportssurfacedthatcertainschoolswere
boycottingthefieldtestingofthenewCorealignedassessments.Someparentsweresaidtobe
concernedaboutteachersspendingclasstimeteachingtothetest;otherswerepurportedlytroubled
aboutdatagatheringandprivacyconcerns.FormerSecretaryforEducationArneDuncanfamously
dismissedthebacklashaswhitesuburbanmomswhoallofasuddentheirchildisntasbrilliantas
theythoughttheywere,andtheirschoolisntquiteasgoodastheythoughttheywereinlightof
studentsplummetingscoresonCorealignedassessments.5

Othereducationofficialsfollowedsuit.TheEducationCommissionerinNewJerseycalledtheoptout
movementasuburbanphenomenonthatsgoingtobecounterproductivetohelpingdisadvantaged
kids.6Unionsjumpedintothefray,movingfromsupportingtheCCSStovehementlyopposingthenew
assessments.Opponentswerevociferousintheirhostilityintyingstudentperformanceonthe
assessmentstoteacherevaluations.Opponentswerereportedassayingthatthenewstandardizedtests
werecausingstressforstudents,eatingupinstructionaltimeforteachers,andnarrowingthe
curriculum.Supportersweresayingthattheassessmentsprovidedusefulinformationabout
achievementgapsbetweenpoorandbetteroffstudents.TheUSDepartmentofEducationwarnedof
potentialsanctions,7indecreasedfundinglevelsandincreasedmonitoring,forthosestatesthatfell
undera95percentparticipationthreshold.Indistrictswhereleadershipsupportedoptingout,the
numbersrefusingtestsclimbed.8

Basedonvariousmediaaccount,theoptoutmovementseemtobeacombinationofunusualpolitical
bedfellows.Thoseontherightwerereportedtobeupsetaboutafederaloverreachintoeducation,an

Banchero,S.(3Jun32010).StatescraftschoolgoalsEducationguidelinesbackedbygovernorsgroupstirs
debateonlocalcontrol.TheWallStreetJournal.A3.
5
Strauss,V.(16November,2013).TheAnswerSheetblog.TheWashingtonPost,onlineedition.
6
Brody,L.(23February2015).NJbattlegroundovertestsofficialsworryaboutstudentsoptingoutasteachers
unionairsadscastingdoubtonexams.TheWallStreetJournal,A19.
7
Brody,L.(11April2015).NYteachersrebeloverstudenttestsunionrobocallremindsmembersthatstudents
canoptout;chancellorfindsmovedisturbing.TheWallStreetJournal.A15.
8
Brody,L.(15April2015).NYtestingisputtothetest.TheWallStreetJournal.A15.

arenathathashistoricallybeenthepurviewofthestates,whilethoseontheleftprotestedthatthe
assessmentregimewassimplyabusinessopportunityfortheassessmentcompaniesandonemorestep
ontheroadtoprivatizationoftheeducationsystem.

Thoughsoccermomswerethedemographicmostoftencitedatthecoreoftheoptoutmovement,
theresearchonwhowasactuallyinvolvedinthemovementislimitedandhasreliedonaggregateddata
asreportedbydistrictsandstatesforitsanalysis.Forexample,Chingosexploresthesocialbackground
ofstudentswhooptoutandfindsthatoptoutratesinNewYorkareassociatedwithsocioeconomic
statusandtestscores.9Heshowsthatrelativelyaffluentdistrictstendtohavehigheroptoutratesthan
thosewithlargerpopulationsofdisadvantagedstudents.Healsoshowsthat,aftertakingsocioeconomic
statusintoaccount,lowerperformingdistrictshadhigheroptoutratesbetween2014and2015,
suggestingthatperhapsdistrictadministratorsand/orparentswereencouragingoptingouttomask
poorperformance.Inametareviewofexistingoptoutstudies,Bennettfindsthatoptoutratesare
highlyvariableacrossstates,districts,andgrades.10InCaliforniatheoptoutratein2015withinall
gradestestedinEnglishlanguageartsandmathwas3percent,whereasinNewYorkstatetheoverall
optoutratewas20percent.Thereviewconfirmsthatresearchtodatehasfoundthatoptingoutis
morelikelyamongwhitesandeconomicallyadvantagedfamilies.

Pastresearch
Thereissomeresearchthathaslookedpublicperceptionsoftestingandtheoptoutmovement.Here,
theresultsaremixed.Resultsfromthe2015EdNextpollsuggestthattwothirdsofthepublic(67
percent)supportscontinuingthefederalrequirementofannualtesting.Slightlymorethanonefifth(21
percent)opposethispolicy.11Thepercentagesofsupportersandopponentsofannualassessmentare
bothslightlyhigherin2015thantheywerein2012,whilethepercentageofthosetakinganeutral
positionhasdeclined.TheEdNextpollreportslowpublicsupportforoptingout.Onlyonequarter(25
percent)ofrespondentslikestheideaoflettingparentsdecidewhethertheirchildrenaretested,while
threefifths(59percent)opposeit.Resultsfromthe2015PhiDeltaKappa(PDK)/Galluppolloffera
differentview.12Inthatsurvey,twofifths(41percent)ofthepublicandclosetohalfofpublicschool

http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2015/06/18chalkboardwhooptsoutchingos
Bennett,R.E.(2016).Optout:Anexaminationofissues.ETSResearchReportSeriesISSN23308516.
doi:10.1002/ets2.12101
11
http://educationnext.org/2015ednextpollschoolreformoptoutcommoncoreunions/
12
http://pdkpoll2015.pdkintl.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/10/pdkpoll47_2015.pdf
10

10

parents(47percent)saidtheysupporttherighttooptout.Publicsupportforoptout,however,varies
byrace.WhiterespondentsweremorelikelytosupportparentsrighttooptoutthanBlack
respondents.PDK/Gallupfoundthatclosetoonethird(31percent)ofpublicschoolparentsindicated
theywouldexcusetheirchildfromtakingoneormorestandardizedtests.

Yettoourknowledgenoonehasaskedtheprotestersthemselveswhytheyareoptingout,orwhatthey
hopetoaccomplishindoingso.Thisstudyaddressesthisgapbygoingdirectlytothoseintheoptout
movementandasksthefollowingresearchquestions:
Whooptsout?
Howdoparticipantsbecomeinvolvedandwhatdotheydo?
Whydopeopleparticipate?
Whatdoparticipantsthinkabouteducationalpolicy?

Conceptualframework
Thisstudyisinformedbypreviousresearchonsocialmovements,whichspeakstothewaysinwhich
groupsmobilizetopursuetheirsharedinterests.Forthepurposeofthisstudywedefinesocial
movementsascollectivitiesactingwithsomedegreeoforganizationandcontinuityoutsideof
institutionalororganizationalchannelsforthepurposeofchallengingordefendingextantauthority,
whetheritisinstitutionallyorculturallybased,inthegroup,organization,society,culture,orworld
orderofwhichtheyarepart.13Thisbroaddefinitionappliesnicelytothecaseofoptingout:parents
acrossthecountrytakepartincollectiveaction;national,state,andlocaloptoutorganizationsprovide
informationandcoordination;andactivistspursuetheirobjectivesmainlythroughnoninstitutional
meansanddisruptionofaccustomedpractices(e.g.,standardizedtests).

Researchonsocialmovementsexploreswhysocialmovementsform,whoparticipatesinthemandthe
facilitatingconditionsunderwhichsuchmovementsoperate.Scholarshipshowsthattheabilityofsocial
movementstocreatechangedependsonthreefactors:(1)theabilitytomobilizeresources;(2)changes
inpoliticalorinstitutionalopportunitystructures,and(3)howthedemandsofthemovementare
framedandcommunicatedtopotentialparticipants.Inthisstudy,wefocusmostlyonresource

13

Snow,D.A.,Soule,S.A.,&Kriesi,H.(2004).Mappingtheterrain(316).TheBlackwellcompaniontosocial
movements.JohnWiley&Sons.

11

ofnetworksandmediain
mobilizatiionparticularlythesociaalbaseofthemovementaandtheroleo
mobilizinggindividualsttotakepartin
noptoutactiivism.

entisimportaantforatleassttworeason
ns.First,the
Exploringthesocialbaseoftheopttoutmoveme
ovideawindoowintothereesourcestheyybringtothe
sociodemographiccharacteristicsofactivistspro
movemen
nt.Thesereso
ourcesaretyp
picallydescrib
bedashumann,social,andculturalcapittal.Forexample,
teachersb
bringprofessionaleducationalexpertisseregardingttheusefulnessofassessmeentsinschools.
Second,th
hesociodemo
ographiccharracteristicsoffactivistscannshedlighton
nclassintereststhatguidee
theirparticipation.Succhananalysisscanalsohelp
prevealtheeextenttowhichthemovem
mentis
representtativeoftheggeneralpublicc.

oftheoptouttmovement,wefollowth
heworkof
Inordertoexaminetheseissuesinthecontexto
Klandermansonthedyynamicsofmovementparrticipation.14FFigure1outlinesourapproachto
mobilizatiion.Thefirststepinvolvessindividualsh
hearingabouttoptout.Weeareinteresteedinthetimiing
andsourcceofthefirstencounterw
withthemovement.Theseecondstepco
oncernsthesttructuresand
d
networksthatrecruitindividualsforaction.Give
enthebackgrroundofthem
movement,w
weexpecttoffind
entgroups.Th
hethirdstepdifferentiateesbetweenm
motivationsan
ndmodesof
variationacrossdiffere
nd/orotherfo
ormsofcivicparticipation..
activism:optingoutan

ptout
Figure1:Threestepsttowardparticcipationinop

Hearing
H
about
optout
o

Mob
bilization
n
toaction

Deciisionto
takeeaction

14

Klanderm
mans,B.(1984
4).Mobilization
nandparticipation:Socialpssychologicalexxpansionsofresourcemobilizzation
theory.Am
mericanSociolo
ogicalReview,49(5):583600
0.
Klanderm
mans,B.(2004)).Thedemandandsupplyofparticipation: Socialpsychologicalcorrelattesofparticipaation
insocialmovements(360
0379).TheBla
ackwellcompa
aniontosocialm
movements.Jo
ohnWiley&So
ons.

12

Methodology
Theresultspresentedherearebasedonasurveyofadults(age18yearsandolder)administeredfrom
January20,2016throughMarch31,2016.ThesurveywasadministeredelectronicallyviaQualtrics
surveysoftware.TheresearchstudywasapprovedbytheInstitutionalReviewBoardofTeachers
College,ColumbiaUniversity(protocol#16089).Respondentswerepresentedwithdetailedstudy
informationsheetthatwasfollowedbyaconsentform.ThefinalsurveywasavailableinbothEnglish
andSpanish.Thestudyreceivednofundingfrompublicorprivatesources.

Becausethereislimitedresearchontheoptoutmovement,wedrewonarangeofsourcestoinform
thesurvey,includingscholarlyresearch,mediacoverage,materialsandartifactsproducedbyindividuals
andorganizationsaffiliatedwiththemovement,andconsultationswithkeyinformants.Someitems
weretakendirectlyfromexistingpublicopinionsurveys(PDK/GallupandEdNext)thathadpreviously
askedrespondentsaboutstandardizedassessmentand/oroptingout.Thefinalsurveyprobedthree
broadareas.Thefirstsectiongathereddataonparticipantengagementwiththeoptoutmovement:
theirsourcesofinformation,reasonsforparticipation,andmodesofactivism(optingoutand/orother
formsofcivicparticipation).Thesecondsectionfocusedonattitudestowardeducationpolicyreform,
andtheuseoftestingandassessmentineducation.Thethirdsectiongathereddataonsocio
demographicinformation(e.g.,sex,race/ethnicity,age,education,andplaceofresidence),political
views,partisanidentification,andorganizationalmembershipandaffiliations.Acopyofthefullsurvey
canbefoundinAppendix1.

Similartopreviousresearchonsocialmovementactivism,anonprobabilitysampleofindividuals
affiliatedwiththeoptoutmovementwasobtainedthroughoptoutgroupsandtheirsocialmedia
platforms.Tominimizesamplingbias,alistofnational,stateandlocalgroupsthatmaintainsocialmedia
channelswasconstructedfromwebbasedqueries.Afterreceivingpermissionfromthevariousgroup
administrators,surveysweresharedelectronicallythroughthegroupsandtheirsocialmediaplatforms.
ThisincludedpostinglinkstothesurveyonFacebookandTwitter.Inaddition,surveysweresharedwith
colleaguesandotherindividualswhoareactiveinthemovement.Toexpandthereachofthesurvey,
messages/postsaboutthesurveyincludedhashtagssuchas#optoutand#optout2016.Thenational
organizationUnitedOptOuthelpeddistributethesurveytostateandlocalchapters.Linkstothesurvey
werealsosenttootherorganizationswitharequesttopostthelinkonorganizationalwebsites.

13

Thestudyhasseverallimitations.First,datacollectionwasconductedexclusivelyonline.Therefore
individualswithoutaccesstotheInternetwerelesslikelytohavetheopportunitytoparticipateinthe
survey.AswithpreviousresearchonthedigitaldivideintheUnitedStates,itisreasonabletoassume
thatindividualsresidinginrurallocations(especiallyintheSouthandSouthwest)and/orindividuals
withlowerlevelsofeducationandincomemaybeunderrepresentedinthesample.Second,because
datacollectionwasfacilitatedthroughoptoutgroupsthathaveanonlinepresence,groupswithoutan
onlinepresencewerelesslikelytohavetheopportunitytoparticipateinthesurvey.Third,thestudyis
basedonselfreportedbehavior(e.g.,optingout),whichissubjecttoresponsebias.

Nevertheless,webelievethestudycontributestothegrowingbodyofknowledgeabouttheoptout
movementbydirectlysurveyingindividualsinvolvedinthemovement.Thetotalnumberofrespondents
was2,140.Afteraccountingfornonresponse,theanalyticalsamplesizeis1,641respondents.In
additiontopresentingaggregatedescriptivestatisticsfordifferentoutcomevariables,wealsopresent
predictedprobabilitiesfordifferentgroups(e.g.,regionandpoliticalviews).Predictedprobabilitiesare
calculatedfrommultivariateanalysis(e.g.,logisticandmultinomiallogisticregression)withthefollowing
controlvariables:sex,race/ethnicity,age,householdincome,education,employmentstatus,political
ideology,andregion.AnalysiswasdoneinStata14.

14

WhoOptsOut?
Table1presentsademographicoverviewofthewholesample.Themajorityoftherespondentswere
women(85.4percent);slightlymorethanonetenth(11.5percent)weremen,andtherestself
identifiedasothergender(3.1percent).Theaverageagewas35years(standarddeviation=7.9).The
vastmajorityofthesample(91.8percent)waswhite,withthesecondlargestracial/ethnicgroupbeing
Latino/Latina(4.9percent).Asmallminority(4.2percent)identifiedaslesbian,gay,bisexual,or
transgender.Mostrespondents(86.1percent)weremarriedorlivingwithapartner.Lessthanone
tenth(8.3percent)wasdivorcedorseparated,andtherestofthesamplewasnevermarriedorwas
widowed(4.5percentand1.0percent,respectively).Also,aboutfourfifthsoftherespondents(81.5
percent)wereparentsorguardiansofschoolagechildren.

Table1AboutHere

Overall,thesampleconsistedofmostlyrespondentswithahighsocioeconomicstatus,asreflectedin
commonindicatorsofeducation,laborforceparticipation,andhouseholdincome.Respondents
reportedhavinghighlevelsofformaleducation:Almostallrespondentshadpostsecondaryeducation
(97.8percent).Threefifthsofthesample(59.7percent)heldagraduatedegree,onefourth(25.4
percent)heldabaccalaureatedegree,andapproximatelyoneeighth(12.7percent)heldanassociates
degreeorsomeyearsofcollege.

Fourfifthsofthesample(80.5percent)workedforpay,workinganaverageof43.2hours/perweek
(standarddeviation=14.1).Abouthalfoftherespondents(45.0percent)workasteachersoreducators,
withmajorityofthembeingparentsorguardiansofschoolagedchildren(71.1percent).Additionally,
aboutonesixthofrespondents(16.0percent)reportedthattheyhaveteachersoreducatorsintheir
closecircleoffriends.Takentogether,thesemeasuressuggestthatapproximatelytwothirdsof
respondents(64.8percent)havehaddirectcontactwiththeteachingprofession.

Themedianhouseholdincomeinthesurveywas$125,000,muchhigherthanthemedianhousehold
incomefortheUnitedStateswhich,accordingtotheAmericanCommunitySurvey,was$53,657in2014,
thelatestdataavailable.

Politically,halfofthesample(50.6percent)identifiedasliberal,aboutonethird(31.5percent)
identifiedasmiddleoftheroad,andlessthanonefifth(17.9percent)asconservative.Similarpatterns

15

emergedwhenweexaminedpartisanidentification.Closetohalfofthesample(46.1percent)identified
asDemocrats,oneseventh(15.1percent)identifiedasRepublicans,onethird(33.3percent)identified
asIndependents,andtherest(5.5percent)wereaffiliatedwithotherparties(e.g.,theGreenParty,
LibertarianParty).15Almostallrespondentsvotedinthe2012presidentialelections(94.6percent).

Aboutonethirdofthesample(31.4percent)indicatedithasnoreligiousaffiliation.Amongthe
affiliatedrespondents,weidentifiedfourrelativelylargegroups:Catholics(25.4percent),Protestants
(17.4percent),otherChristians(13.5percent),andJews(7.9percent).Thesamplealsoincluded
respondentswhoidentifiedasBuddhist,Mormon,Muslim,UnitarianUniversalist,andSpiritual(each
representinglessthanonepercent).Aboutonefifth(17.5percent)ofrespondentsindicatedtheywere
livinginamultilingualhousehold,withthecommonlanguagesbeingSpanishandFrench.

Aboutfourfifthsoftherespondents(81.5percent)wereparentsorguardiansofschoolagedchildren.
Whenweaskedthoseparentswhatkindsofschoolstheirschoolagedchildrenattended,thevast
majorityofthem(92.9percent)indicatedthattheirchildrenattendedpublicschools.Twothirdsof
thoserespondents(65.8percent)saidtheirchildrenhaveattendedonlypublicschools.

Interestingly,almostonefifthofrespondents(19.5percent)didnothaveschoolagedchildren.Thusthe
optoutmovementconsistsofabroaderrangeofactiviststhanjustparentswhoopttheirchildrenoutof
tests.Themovementincludesparents,parentswhodonotoptout,andparentswhosechildrenarenot
inthepublicschoolsystem,aswellasnonparents.

Respondentscamefrom47states(allexcept:Alaska,Iowa,Wyoming,andWashingtonD.C.).As
reflectedinTable2,twothirdsofthesample(66.9percent)residedinsixstates:NewYork(34.7
percent),Florida(10.4percent),NewJersey(8.2percent),Oregon(5.5percent),Washington(4.7
percent),andCalifornia(3.5percent).16

Table2AboutHere

15

Intheanalysistofollowweusepoliticalideologywhenexaminingdifferencesbetweengroups.Inadditional
analysis(notreported)wealsousepartyidentification.Overall,thepatternsareverysimilar.
16
Ofthesesixstates,NewYork,Oregon,WashingtonandCaliforniawereidentifiedbytheDepartmentof
Educationashavinghadlowerthanrequiredparticipationratesonstateexams.

16

Inadditiontostateofresidence,respondentswereaskedabouttheirzipcode.Respondentsreported
on1,046uniquecodes,withonequarterofthesampleresidingin43differentcodes(eachincludedat
leastfourrespondents).Usinginformationfromthe2010Census,weclassifiedzipcodestothree
groups:urbanizedareas(50,000ormorepeople),urbanclusters(atleast2,500andlessthan50,000
people),andruralareas.17Mostrespondents(87.4percent)liveinurbanclusters.Anadditionalten
percentliveinurbanizedareasandasmallfractionliveinruralareas(2.6percent).

Inordertoexaminegeographicalvariationwithinthemovement,weclusteredstatesintofourregions:
Northeast,South,WestandMidwest.AsshowninFigure2,halfofthesample(49.5percent)residedin
theNortheast,andonefifthofthesample(20.1percent)residedintheSouth.18Thelarge
representationoftheNortheastregioninthesamplemaybeareflectionofthepreviousantitesting
activityintheearly2000s.

Figure2AboutHere

Statepoliciesaboutoptingoutvary.ArecentreportbytheNationalAssociationofStateBoardsof
Education(NASBE)categorizesstatesintofourgroupsbasedontheiroptoutpolicies:(1)optoutis
prohibited(34statesandWashingtonD.C.),(2)optoutispermittedcompletely(2states),(3)refusalis
permittedoroptoutispermittedwithconstraints(10states),and(4)optoutpolicyislefttolocal
districts.19UsingNASBEsclassification,themajorityoftherespondents(76.8percent)resideinstates
whereoptoutisprohibited.Thisgroupincludes,forexample,respondentsfromNewYorkandNew
Jerseywhereallstudentsareexpectedtotakestatetestsandabsencesfromtestsaremanagedin
accordancewithexistingattendancepolicies.Oneinsixrespondents(16.3percent)residesinstates
whererefusalispermittedoroptoutispermittedwithconstraints.Therestresideinstateswhereopt
outispermitted(5.7percent)orinstateswithoutstatelevelpolicy(1.2percent).

17

https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/ua/urbanrural2010.html
Theshareofrespondentswhoareparentsvariesacrossregions.IntheNortheastandtheSouth,85.7percent
and82.6percent(respectively)ofthesampleindicatedthattheyareparents.IntheMidwestandWest,78.8
percentand73.0percent(respectively)ofthesampleindicatedthattheyareparents.
19
http://www.nasbe.org/wpcontent/uploads/Lorenzo_OptoutsbyState.pdf
18

17

Howdoparticipantsbecomeinvolvedandwhatdotheydo?
Whenandhowdoparticipantsbecomeinvolved?
Althoughthereareaccountsshowingthattheoptoutactivismbeganintheearly2000s,most
respondentsreportedthattheyhaveheardaboutthemovementduringthepastfouryears.Asshown
inFigure3,halfofthesample(48.9percent)becameawareofoptingoutduringthepasttwoyears,and
approximatelytwofifthsofthesample(39.8percent)heardaboutthemovementinthepast34years.

Figure3AboutHere

Whenpeoplefirstheardaboutoptingoutvariesbyregion,education,andpoliticalviews.Overall,the
patternssuggestthatthemovementemergedintheNortheastandtheWest,amonghighlyeducated
andliberalindividuals:
Comparedtotheirpeersinotherpartsofthecountry,respondentsintheSouthhaveheard
aboutthemovementmostrecently(seeFigure4).AbouttwothirdsofrespondentsintheSouth
(64.5percent)reportedhearingaboutthemovementduringthepasttwoyears,whileslightly
morethantwofifthsofrespondentsintheNortheast(42.8percent)heardaboutthemovement
duringthisperiod.
Respondentswithhighereducation(bachelorsandgraduatedegrees)heardaboutthe
movementearlierthantheircounterpartswithlesseducation(seeFigure5).
Respondentsholdingliberalviewsweremorelikelytohaveknownaboutthemovementlonger
(fiveyearsagoorearlier)comparedtorespondentsholdingconservativeormiddleoftheroad
views(seeFigure6).
Figures4,5,6AboutHere

Mobilizationthroughnetworks
Socialmovementsmobilizeparticipantsthroughvariousmeans.Toidentifythesechannels,respondents
wereaskedhowtheyfirstheardaboutoptingout.AsshowninFigure7,twofifthsofthesample(38.8
percent)firstheardfromsocialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,blogs,etc.).Onefourth(24.6percent)first
heardfromteachersorothereducationprofessionals.Twoothercommonsourcesincludepersonal
networks:friends,neighbors,andrelatives(12.8percent)andotherparents(8.7percent).Traditional
mediaplayedamorelimitedroleinspreadingtheoptoutmessage;4.6percentfirstheardaboutopting
outfromtelevision,radio,andnewspapers(nationalmedia=3.0percent;localmedia=1.6percent).
Respondentswhowroteinanswersintheothercategory(5.2percent)indicatedthattheir

18

professionalbackgroundsandexperienceasteachersledthemtooptout.Asonerespondentwrote:I
amateacher,Iseethehorribletruthassociatedwithtesting.Anotherwrote:Iamateacherandknew
Ihadparentalrightsregardingmychildren'seducation.

Figure7AboutHere

Next,respondentswereaskedwhichsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadethemwanttoknowmore
aboutthemovementand/ortoparticipateinactivities.Theresponsetothisquestionechoesthe
patternsabove(seeFigure8).20Alargemajorityofthesample(69.8percent)weremobilizedbysocial
media.Theothermainsourceofmobilizationwassocialnetworks.Abouthalfofthesample(49.6
percent)wasmobilizedbyteachersorothereducationprofessionals,andslightlylessthanonethird
(31.1percent)saidtheyweremobilizedbyfriends,neighborsandrelatives.Aboutonequarterofthe
sample(24.6percent)weremobilizedbyotherparentsattheirchildsschool(24.6percent),andone
fifthofthesample(20.7percent)weremobilizedbypublicfigureororganization.Whiletraditional
mediaseemtohavealimitedroleinspreadingthemessageaboutthemovement,itplaysalargerrole
inmobilization,asonequarterofthesample(24.2percent)saidthattheyweremobilizedbytraditional
media.

Figure8AboutHere

Theroleofdifferentmobilizationsourcesvariesbyregion,politicalideology,andbelonging/proximityto
theteachingprofession:
RespondentsintheSoutharemorelikelytobemobilizedbysocialmedia(seeFigure8).
RespondentsintheMidwestandWestaremorelikelytobemobilizedbyteachersandother
educationprofessionals.RespondentsintheNortheastaremorelikelytobemobilizedbysocial
networks,includingfriends,neighborsorrelatives,andotherparentsattheirchildsschool.
Bothliberalsandconservativesaremorelikelytobemobilizedbysocialmediaandsocial
networks(seeFigure9).Additionally,liberalsaremorelikelytobemobilizedbyteachersand
othereducationprofessionals,andbypublicfiguresororganizations.
Teachersaremorelikelytobemobilizedbytheirprofessionalcommunity(i.e.,teachersand
othereducationprofessionals;seeFigure10).Otherrespondents,whoarenotteachers,are
morelikelytobemobilizedbytheirsocialnetworksandotherparentsattheirchildsschool.

Mobilizationthroughsocialmovementorganizations

20

Inthisquestionrespondentswereaskedtomarkallthatapply,sosumsmayexceed100percent.

19

Socialmovementsorganizations(SMOs)arecrucialinthemobilizationofparticipants.Inorderto
examinewhichSMOsareimportantandhowtheymightbeconnectedtoeachother,respondentswere
askedwhethertheywereevercontactedbyanorganizationtoparticipateinanyoptoutrelated
activities.Respondentswhoansweredpositivelywerethenaskedtowriteinallthenamesof
organizationsthatcontactedthemforanyoptoutrelatedactivities.

Onethirdofthesample(33.4percent)indicatedtheywerecontactedbyatleastoneorganizationand
respondentsidentified237differentorganizationsortypesoforganizationsintheirresponses.Thelist
includedeighttypesoforganizations:generaloptoutgroups(generic/national,state,andlocal),groups
affiliatedwiththeBadassTeachers(generic/nationalandstate),publiceducationrelatedgroups(e.g.,
NewYorkStateAlliesforPublicEducation,SaveOurSchools),otherparentgroups(e.g.,ParentTeacher
Association),teacherunions,testingrelatedgroups(e.g.,MorethanaScore),andCommonCore
relatedgroups(UnitedtoStopCommonCore),andothercivicorganizations(e.g.,LeagueofWomen
VotersandACLU).

Figure12presentsasocialnetworkoforganizationsinvolvedintheoptoutmovement.Eachnode
representsanorganizationthatcontactedindividualstoparticipateinanyoptoutrelatedactivities.The
colorofthenodedenotesthetypeoforganization.Twoorganizationsareconnectedwithalineinthis
networkiftheycontactedthesameindividualtoparticipateinanyoptoutrelatedactivities.Thelabels
ofthenodesarescaledinsizetothenumberofcontactstheyhavewithactivists;largerlabelsreflect
morecontacts.ThefigureisdrawnusingNetDrawinMultidimensionalScaling(MDS)layoutwithnode
repulsionandequaledgelengthbias.21Thisapproachputtwonodesclosertogetheriftheyaremore
similar(intermsoftheirconnectionstoothernodes).Thedistancesbetweennodesandthedirection
(orlocation)areinterpretable.

ExaminationofFigure12revealsthefourmostactiveorganizations:UnitedOptOut(andthe
unspecifiedlabeloptout),BadassTeachersAssociation(BATs),NewYorkAllianceforPublicEducation,
andLongIslandOptOut.22ThecentralityoforganizationsbasedinNewYorkStateisareflectionofour
samplecomposition(onethirdofallrespondentsarefromNewYorkState).Thecoreofthenetwork
includesoptoutrelatedgroups,BATs,andpubliceducationrelatedgroups(includingparentsgroups).

21

Borgatti,S.P.,Everett,M.G.,&Freeman,L.C.(2002).UCINETforWindows:Softwareforsocialnetworkanalysis.
BadassTeachersAssociation:http://www.badassteacher.org;
NewYorkAllianceforPublicEducation:http://www.nysape.org
22

20

Othergroupssuchasteachersunions,testingrelatedgroups,andCommonCorerelatedgroupsare
morelikelytoappearintheperipheryofthenetwork.Thisnetworksuggeststhatthecoreoftheoptout
movementconsistsofactivistsandorganizationsconcernedwithpubliceducationandtheteaching
profession.

Figure12AboutHere

Figure13presentsasocialnetworkoforganizationsthatcontactedtwoormoreindividualsto
participateinanyoptoutrelatedactivities.ThethicklinebetweenUnitedOptOutandBATssuggests
thattheseorganizationsoftenmobilizethesameindividuals.Amongthehighlyactiveorganizations,we
findonlytwoCommonCorerelatedgroups(StopCommonCoreNYSandWashingtonStateAgainst
CommonCore).

Figure13AboutHere

Whatdoactivistsdo?
Perhapsthemostobviousquestioninthesurveyaskedparentrespondentswhetherornottheyhad
optedtheirchildrenoutofanyassessments.Threequartersofparentsofschoolagechildren(74.5
percent)reportedoptingtheirchildrenoutofstandardizedtesting.Twothirdsofparentsofschoolage
children(63.3percent)optedoutalloftheirchildren,andapproximatelyonetenth(11.2percent)opted
outsomeoftheirchildren.

AsshowninFigure14,slightlymorethantwothirds(71.2percent)firstoptedoutinthepasttwoyears,
andapproximatelyonefourthofthesample(24.4percent)firstoptedoutinthepast34years.Further,
abouthalfofthesample(46.9percent)optedoutfromstandardizedtestingatthesametimetheyfirst
heardabouttheoptoutmovement.

Figure14AboutHere

Wealsofindthatoptingoutisassociatedwithgeographicregionandpolicycontext:
Whilehalfoftherespondents(52.0percent)intheSouthoptedout,aboutthreequartersofthe
respondentsinotherregionsoptedout(Northeast83.0percent,West81.0percent,
Midwest73.0percent).
Theshareofparentswhooptedoutislowerinstateswhereoptoutisprohibited(73.2percent)
thaninstateswhererefusalandoptoutarepermittedwithconstraints(85.7percent).

21

Nevertheless,thesepatternssuggestthatstatelawisnotenoughtodissuadeparentsfrom
optingout.Wefindnosignificantdifferencesinoptingoutbetweenrespondentsresidingin
stateswhereoptoutispermittedandotherrespondents.

Respondentsreportedonotherformsofactivismthatconnectedthemtothemovementwhilestopping
shortofactuallyoptingout.Whenrespondentswereaskedtoindicatewhatactionstheyhavetaken
relatingtooptingout,almostallrespondents(97.6percent)hadparticipatedinatleastoneactivity,and
halfofthesamplereportedparticipatinginsixormoreactivities.AsillustratedinFigure15,thefour
mostcommonformsofcivicparticipationwererelatedtodisseminatingthemessageofthemovement
andtryingtorecruitotherparticipants:respondentsreportedpostinginformationonsocialmedia(85.3
percent),discussingwithotherparentsinschool(81.6percent),joiningwebbaseddistributionlists
(73.6percent),andconvincingotherstogetinvolved(72.3percent).Otheractivitiesincludedsigninga
petition(69.4percent),contactingapoliticianorotherelectedofficial(66.0percent),andattendinga
demonstrationorprotest(35.5percent).

Figure15AboutHere

Futureactivity
ToassessthepotentialoftheoptoutmovementinAY2015/2016andinthecomingyears,respondents
wereaskedhowlikelyitisthattheywilloptouttheirchildreninthefuture.Thevastmajorityofthe
samplesaidtheywouldbeverylikely(82.8percent)orlikely(9.3percent)tooptoutinthefuture.
Importantly,aboutthreequartersofparentswhodidnotoptoutinthepast(74.5percent)saidthat
theyarelikelytooptoutinthefuture(verylikely45.5percentandlikely29.0percent).

Possiblequotesforsidebar:
Mychildisininsecondgradetooyoungtooptout.Butwewilloptoutnextyear
(Mother,NewJersey)

Heisonlytwoyearsold.Assoonasheisoldenoughforschool,mywifeandIwillbeopting
himoutofALLstandardizedtesting.Hewillnevertakeastandardizedtest.NEVER!
(Father,California)

22

Whydopeopleparticipate?
Acentralquestioninsocialmovementresearchiswhydopeopleparticipate?Toaddressthisquestion
inthecontextoftheoptoutmovement,respondentswereaskedtochooseuptofivereasonsfortheir
participation(outof16optionsincludingother,seeFigure16).Respondentswerethenaskedto
choosethemaintworeasonsfortheirparticipation(seeFigure17).Thetopsixreasonsforparticipation
were:Iopposeusingstudentsperformanceonstandardizedteststoevaluateteachers(36.9percent),
standardizedtestsforceteacherstoteachtothetest(33.8percent),Iopposethegrowingroleof
corporationsinschools(30.4percent),standardizedteststakeawaytoomuchinstructionaltime
(26.5percent),IopposetheCommonCoreStateStandards(25.8percent)andIopposethe
privatizationofschools(16.0percent).Mostofthesemotivations/reasonsreflectaprogressivecritique
ofthenegativeconsequencesofstandardizedtestingonschoolsandtheroleoftheprivatesectorin
publiceducation.

Figures16and17AboutHere

Respondentswhowroteinadditionalreasonsmostoftencitedoneofthreeconcerns.First,respondents
questionedthefairnessoftestsforstudentswithspecialneeds,forexample:[Iparticipateinorder]to
raiseawarenessaboutstudentswithdisabilities/learningdifferences.Thesetestsaretotallyunfairto
childrenwithlearningdifferences.Second,respondentspointedtoissuesofstudentprivacy,for
example:Transparencyinwhatdataiscollected,whohastheinfo,howwilltheyuseit?Third,
respondentsquestionedthevalidityandusefulnessofthetests:Thereisabsolutelynoproofthatany
ofthesetestshaveanyvaliditywhatsoeverandshouldnotbeuseduntilanycorrelationsareshown
betweengradelevellearningandunderstandingandthesetests.

Thereweresignificantdifferencesinmotivationforparticipationacrosspoliticalideology,aspresented
inFigure18A:
Liberalsandmiddleoftheroadrespondentsweremorelikelytomention:Iopposeusing
studentsperformanceonstandardizedteststoevaluateteachersandIopposethegrowing
roleofcorporationsinschools(36percentand33percent)
Conservativesweremorelikelytomention:IopposetheCommonCoreStateStandardsandI
opposethegrowingroleofthefederalgovernment(45percentand22percent).

Figure18AAboutHere

23

Thereweresimilarsignificantdifferencesinmotivationforparticipationacrosspartylines,aspresented
inFigure18B:
DemocratsandIndependentsweremorelikelytomention:Iopposeusingstudents
performanceonstandardizedteststoevaluateteachers(38.8percentand35.9percent)andI
opposethegrowingroleofcorporationsinschools(30.8percentand29.6percent)
RepublicansandIndependentsweremorelikelytomention:IopposetheCommonCoreState
Standards(35.8percentand26.2percent);Republicansandrespondentssupportingother
partiesweremorelikelytomention:Iopposethegrowingroleofthefederalgovernment
(16.8percentand18.3percent).

Figure18BAboutHere

Inaddition,thereweresignificantdifferencesinmotivationsandreasonsforparticipationbetween
teachersandnonteachers,aspresentedinFigure19:
TeachersweremorelikelytomentionIopposeusingstudentsperformanceonstandardized
teststoevaluateteachers,Iopposethegrowingroleofcorporationsinschools,andI
opposetheprivatizationofschools.
Nonteachersweremorelikelytomentionstandardizedtestsforceteacherstoteachforthe
test,standardizedteststakeawaytoomuchinstructionaltime,andIopposetheCommon
CoreofStateStandards.

Figure19AboutHere

Possiblequotesforsidebar:
Asaneducator,Iseetheendresultofincreasedtestinginprimaryeducationoverthelast
decadeandamappalledattheresultingdamagetestcenterededucationhasdone.Thereis
alsoagreatdegreeofconcernoverdatagatheringconductedviatesting.(Teacherresponse)

AsaprotestmovetoshowthatIdonotliketheamountoftimedevotedtotestprep.(Non
teacherresponse)
Asascientistmyself,Ididnothaveconfidenceinthereliabilityandvalidityofthemeasures
(Nonteacherresponse)

24

WhatdoparticipantsthinkaboutUSeducationpolicy?
WhilepoliticalparticipationintheUnitedStatesisgenerallyconsideredtobeinshortsupply,optout
activistsareselfidentifiedasparticipantsincivicandpoliticallife.Wewereinterestedtoseewhether
optoutactivistshadviewsoneducationpolicythatweresimilarto,ordifferentfrom,memberofthe
generalpublic.Inordertodoso,weincludedseveralitemsaboutviewsoneducationpolicyintheopt
outsurveythatweretakenfrompreviouslyfieldedpollsofthegeneralpopulation.Inthissection,all
comparisonsofoptoutactiviststothegeneralpublicaremadeusingpollingresultsfromprevious
PDK/Galluppolls.23

Evaluationofschools
ComparedtothegeneralpublicintheUnitedStates,optoutactivistshaveamorepositiveviewof
schoolsintheirowncommunity(seeFigure20).Morethantwothirdsofoptoutactivists(68percent)
gavetheirschoolsagradeofeitherAorB(25percentand43percent),whileabouthalfofAmericans
(51percent)gaveschoolsagradeofeitherAorB(13percentand38percent,respectively).Theretwo
possibleexplanationsforthispattern.First,thequalityofpublicschoolsintheUnitedStatesisclosely
linkedtolocalpropertytaxes.Withthemajorityoftherespondentsbeingmiddleanduppermiddle
classfamilies,itispossiblethattheyhaveaccesstogoodpublicschoolsandthustheirpositive
evaluation.Second,thehighevaluationofschoolmightbeseenasarejectionofthecurrentnarrativeof
failingpublicschoolsthatisusedtojustifyeducationalreformsinthepastthreedecades.

Figure20AboutHere

Supportfordifferenttypesoftesting
Asexpected,optoutactivistsaremorecriticaloftheuseofdifferenttypesoftestingineducationthan
thegeneralpublicintheUnitedStates(seeFigure21).Nevertheless,evenamongoptoutactiviststhere
isconsiderablesupportforsomekindoftestsandevaluation.Morethanthreequartersofrespondents
supportteststhatareusedtoawardhighschoolstudentscollegecredit,suchasAPexams,andtests
thatareusedtodeterminewhetherachildhasmasteredacertainbodyofcurricularcontent(76
percentand74percent,respectively).However,therearelowerratesofsupportforothertypesof

23

ThePDK/GalluppollisanannualpublicopinionsurveyofAmericanadultsconductedusingtelephoneandweb
basedsurveymethodstocollectdata.ParticipantsaredrawnfromtheGallupPanel,aproprietary,probability
basedlongitudinalpanelofU.S.adults.Dataareweightedtomatchnationaldemographicsofgender,age,race,
Hispanicethnicity,education,andregion.

25

tests,includingcollegeentrancetests(51percent),teststhatdetermineifthestudentshouldbe
promotedfromonegradetothenext(30percent).

Figure21AboutHere

Howcanschoolsbeimproved?
ThegeneralpublicintheUnitedStatesandoptoutactivistsagreethatthequalityofteachersmatters
mostforpubliceducation(seeFigure22).Thisapproachisendorsedbyavastmajorityofthegeneral
public(95percent),whereasaslightlylowerpercentage(82percent)ofoptoutactivistsendorsethis
approach.Withrespecttotheuseofeducationalstandardstoimproveeducation,67percentofthe
generalpublicsupportstheuseofstandards,while53percentofoptoutactivistssupporttheuseof
standards.ComparedtothegeneralpublicintheUnitedStates,optoutactivistsviewschool
finance/budgetasamoreimportantideaforimprovingpubliceducation(66percentand45percent
support,respectively).Importantly,bothgroupsrejectstandardizedtestingasapolicysolutionfor
improvingschools(only19percentofthegeneralpublicand6percentofoptoutactivistssupportthis
idea).

Figure22AboutHere

Howshouldschoolsevaluatestudentsacademicprogress?
Theoptoutmovementchallengesatakenforgrantedpracticeofevaluatingstudentslearning:
standardizedtests.Thus,weaskedthemwhichotherapproachestheythinkcouldprovideaccurate
pictureofastudentsacademicprogress(seeFigure23).Amajorityofrespondents(90.0percent)
supportusingexamplesofstudentswork,andapproximatelyfourfifths(78.0percent)supportusing
writtenobservationsbyteachers(78.0percent).Slightlymorethanhalf(55.0percent)saythatgrades
awardedbyteacherscouldprovideaccuratepictureofastudentsacademicprogress.

Figure23AboutHere

Theroleofthegovernment:Federal,State,Local
Respondentswereaskedtoindicatewhichunitofthegovernmentfederal,state,localschoolboard
shouldhavethegreatestinfluenceonfiveeducationissuesink12publicschools.Optoutactivistsand
generalpublicholdsimilarviewswithrespecttopayingforthek12publiceducationsystem(seeFigure
24A).However,theyholddifferentviewswithrespecttofourotherissues;inallofthemoptout
activistsassignlessresponsibilitytothefederalgovernmentandmoreresponsibilitytostateandlocal

26

authorities.Thegapbetweenoptoutactivistsandthegeneralpublicareprofoundintwocases:holding
schoolsaccountableforwhatstudentslearn(seeFigure24C)anddeterminingtherightamountof
testing(seeFigure24D).Twothirdsofoptoutactivists(67percent)saythatthelocalschoolboard
shouldberesponsibleforholdingschoolsaccountable,butonlyonethirdofthegeneralpublic(33
percent)agreeswiththisdirection.Similarly,fourfifthsofoptoutactivists(80percent)saythatthe
localschoolboardshouldberesponsiblefordeterminingtherightamountoftesting,butonlyonethird
ofthegeneralpublic(33percent)agreeswiththisdirection.

Figure24AboutHere

Twointerestingpatternsemergewhenweexamineviewstowardtheroleofthegovernmentacross
politicalideology:
Liberalsandmiddleoftheroadrespondentsintheoptoutmovementaremorelikelythan
conservativestoviewthefederalgovernmentresponsibletothefollowingthreeissues:
o

Payingforthek12publiceducationsystem;

Decidingwhatistaughtintheschool;

Settingeducationalstandardsforwhatstudentsshouldknow.

Thereisnosignificantdifferencebetweenliberals,conservatives,andmiddleoftheroad
respondentsinthelocusofresponsibilityofthefollowingissues:
o

Holdingschoolsaccountableforwhatstudentslearn;

Determiningtherightamountoftesting.

Perceptionsoftheimpactoftheoptoutmovement
Finally,weaskedtheoptoutactivistsiftheythoughttheiractionswerehavingapolicyimpact.A
majorityofrespondentsviewtheoptoutmovementashavinganimpactonbothfederalandstate
assessmentpolicy(seeFigure25).RespondentsintheNortheastaremorelikelytoviewtheoptout
movementashavinganimpact,especiallyonstateassessmentpolicy.Thispositivesentimentaboutthe
efficacyofthemovementismorecommonamongrespondentswhooptedoutandrespondentswho
arenotparents.

Figure25AboutHere

27

Conclusion
Whiletheoptoutmovementhasgeneratedintensemediainterestoverthepastseveralyears,the
identityoftheactivists,theirgoalsandmotivationsarenotwellunderstood.Inordertoaddressthis
gap,wedesignedandimplementedanationalsurveyonoptingoutofstandardizedtests.Thefindings
fromthesurveysuggestthatthemovementisperhapsmorecomplexthanpreviouslyunderstood.In
thislastsection,webrieflyrecapanddiscusssomeoftheresultsandraisequestionsforfurther
research.

Whooptsout?Themovementiscomprisedofmorethanjustparentswhooptout,italsoincludes
parentswhodidnotoptoutandindividualswhoarenotparents.Almostonefifthofrespondentswere
notparents.Coupledwiththoserespondentswhoareparentsbutwhosechildrendonotattendpublic
schoolsandthoseparentswhosechildrenaretooyoungtobetested,weseethattheoptout
movementisaboutmuchmorethansimplyoptingoutoftesting.Respondentsarenotsimply
concernedwiththeirchildrennotscoringwellonthetestsonly4.9percentofrespondentswere
concernedabouttestperformance.

Thesocialbaseofthemovement,however,isnarrow.Thevastmajorityofsurveyrespondentsare
white,middleclass,highlyeducatedparentswhohavechildreninthepublicschoolsystem.These
participantshavetheresourcestodevotetimeandenergytoactivism.Thedemographicsresultsecho
thedominantnarrativeinthenewsmediaaswellasthoseofpreviouspublicopinionsurveys,inwhich
nonwhiterespondentsaremoresupportiveoftheuseofstandardizedtests.24Theseresultsbegthe
questionofwhethernonwhiterespondentsareadequatelyrepresentedinthesampleorwhetherthe
samplereflectsacleavagealongraciallines.Indeed,leadingcivilrightsorganizationshavecomeout
stronglyinsupportofstandardizedassessmentsascriticaltomeasuringdisparitiesinstudent
performanceandasatoolofaccountability,especiallyforschoolsthatservelowincomestudentsand
studentsofcolor.

Teachersandeducators,butnecessarilyteachersunions,playacentralroleinthemovement,
comprising45.0percentofrespondents.Ontheonehand,thissuggeststhattheclaimsoftheprotesters
areheavilyrootedintheprofessionalexpertiseofteachersandeducators,whichshouldlegitimizethe

24

PDK/Gallup2014and2015

28

stancesofthemovement.Ontheotherhand,teachersthemselvesareopposedtonewmodelsof
evaluationthatarebasedonstudentsperformanceonstandardizedtests(modelsthathavebeen
criticizedbyvariousacademicgroups).Thus,theirparticipationinthemovementcouldbeseenasa
responsetothegrowingpressureofaccountability.

Asalowerstatus,highlyfeminizedprofession,teacherexpertiseisoftendisregardedinthepolicy
makingprocess.Indeed,whenrespondentswroteinadditionalcommentsonthesurvey,theyoften
usedlanguageaboutgettingteachersandeducatorstothepolicymakingtable.Forexample,a
respondentfromCaliforniawrote:Ibelievethereissomeroleforstateandfederalgovernmentto
guideandmonitorstudentlearning,butitiscurrentlybeingdonevery,verybadly.Ithinkexpertsinthe
fieldofeducation,andnotpoliticians,shouldberesponsibleforshapingpolicy.

Howdoactivistsbecomeinvolvedandwhatdotheydo?Socialmediaisthemainchannelthrough
whichactivistslearnabouttheoptoutmovementandbecomemobilizeforaction.Thischannelis
especiallyimportantforthosewhohavelimitedconnectionstoteachersandeducatorsandtothose
whoresideinareaswheretheprotestisstillsmall(e.g.,theSouth).Thecentralroleofsocialmediaisa
clearstrength,butgiventhedigitaldivideintheUnitedStatesoverrelianceonsocialmediamightlimit
thepossibilitiesforrecruitment.

Whydoactivistsparticipate?Thatthemovementisaboutmorethanoppositiontotestingisborneout
inthesurveyresultsinotherways,whererespondentsexpressedtheiroppositiontoawholerangeof
educationpoliciesandapproaches.Theoptoutmovementisnotonlyaforumtogivevoicetoconcerns
abouttheroleofstandardizedassessmentinAmericaneducation.Theoptoutmovementisalsoa
proxyforthelargerconflictsaroundthedirectionofeducationpolicy.Indeed,alargeshareofthe
samplesaidtheytakepartinthemovementbecausetheyopposethegrowingroleofcorporationsin
schoolsandbecausetheyopposetheCCSS.25

Whatdoactiviststhinkabouteducationalpolicy?Respondentscallforlessrelianceonstandardized
testsinschools.TheyarenotsupportiveofhighstaketestsinK12schools,butaresupportiveofcollege
relatedtests(i.e.,testsusestoawardhighschoolstudentscollegecreditandcollegeentrancetests).

25

ThisechoesthefindingsandlanguageofaterrificreportbytheConsortiumonPolicyResearchinEducation
(CPRE)onthebacklashagainsttheCommonCore.Seewww.hashtagcommoncore.com.

29

Largemajorityofrespondentsendorsealternativemodesofevaluationexamplesofstudentswork
andwrittenobservationsbyteachersasprovidinganaccuratepictureofstudentsacademicprogress.
Beyondspecificpolicy,optoutactivistsviewthegovernment(stateandfederal)asresponsiblefor
payingforK12publiceducationandforsettingeducationalstandards,andthelocalschoolboardas
responsiblefordecidingaboutthecurriculum,holdingschoolaccountable,anddeterminingtheright
amountoftesting.

Surveyrespondentsbelievethattheyarehavinganimpactthroughtheiroptoutactivism,andmostof
themsaythattheyareimpactingpolicy.Indeed,boththeDemocraticandRepublicanpartyplatforms
forthe2016presidentialelectionincludelanguageaboutstandardizedtesting.TheDemocraticplatform
wasrevisedtoincludelanguagethatsupportstheparentalrighttooptoutofstandardizedtesting,while
theRepublicanplatformpraisesthosestatesthatrejectexcessivetestingandteachingtothetest.26
Thetwolargestteachersunionsalsoopposehighstakestesting.Andevenwhenstatesoptoutpolicies
prohibitoptingout,protestersaregoingaheadandrefusinganyway.Whilenoneofthesetranslatesinto
specificpolicychange,takentogethertheysuggestthatattheveryleasttheoptoutmovementis
reshapingthepublicdiscourseabouttheroleofstandardizedtestinginpublicschools.

Thisstudyoffersafirstglimpseintotheperspectiveofoptoutactivists.Giventhepossibleeffectofthe
optoutmovementoncurrentreformmovement,moreresearchisneededonthistopic.Future
researchcoulddevelopinatleastthreedirections.First,scholarscoulduseindepthinterviewswith
leadersandactivistsinordertobetterunderstandthedecisionmakingprocessofparentsactivists
whentheyconsideroptingtheirchildrenfromstandardizedtests.Interviewswithactivistswhoare
racialandethnicminoritiescouldshedlightonthelackofdiversitywithinthemovementandthe
drivers/barriersthatshapethedemographiccompositionofthemovement.Second,scholarsacross
differentstatesandlocalitiescouldcollaborateinordertoextenddatacollectionusingquantitative
surveys.Thisapproachwillnotonlyincreasesamplesizeandcoverage,itwillalsoallowforcomparison
acrossstateswhereeducationalpoliciesandissuesvary(includingpoliciestowardparentalrighttoopt
out).

26

Democraticplatform:https://www.demconvention.com/platform/
Republicanplatform:https://www.gop.com/the2016republicanpartyplatform/

30

Table1:Sampledescription,byparentalstatus

Total

Parent(yes)

Gender*
Man
Woman
Other/Refused

Numberofchildren

Age*

Race/ethnicity
AmericanIndian/AlaskaNative
Asian
Black/AfricanAmerican
Hispanic,Latino,orSpanishorigin*
NativeHawaiian/PacificIslander
White/Caucasian*
Other

Sexualorientation
Heterosexual
LGBT
Refused

Maritalstatus*
Married/livingwithapartner
Widowed
Divorcedorseparated
Nevermarried

Religion
Catholic
Protestant
OtherChristian
Jewish
Unitarian
Otherreligion
Buddhism
Mormon

Non
Parents
(n=293)

(n=1,647)
81.5

11.5
85.4
3.1

35.00
(7.87)

1.1
1.3
1.9
4.9
0.1
91.8
2.8

87.8
4.2
8.0

86.1
1.0
8.3
4.5

25.4
17.4
13.5
7.9
1.3
1.2
0.5
0.5

Parents
(n=1,354)

14.9
83.4
1.7

42.50
(10.10)

2.0
1.7
.7
2.7
.3
94.9
1.3

85.2
6.7
8.1

67.9
2.4
14.1
15.5

23.5
21.1
6.5
6.8
2.0
1.4
1.0
0.7

10.7
85.8
3.5

2.04
(.87)

33.39
(6.25)

0.9
1.3
2.2
5.3
.
91.2
3.1

88.4
3.6
7.9

90.0
.7
7.1
2.2

25.9
16.6
15.0
8.2
1.1
1.1
0.4
0.5

31

Total

Non
Parents
Parents
ChristianOrthodox
0.3
0.3
0.3
Moslem/Islam
0.2
0.0
0.2
Nondenominational
0.1
0.3
0.1
Ihavenoreligiousaffiliation
31.4
35.7
30.4
Spiritual
0.3
0.7
0.2

*
Religiosity
2.09
1.98
2.13
(.99)
(.99)
(1.00)

Education*

Highschoolandless
2.2
1.0
2.4
Associatedegree/somecollege
12.7
1.4
15.2
Bachelorsdegree
25.4
16.6
27.2
Graduatedegree
59.7
81.0
55.2

Workforpay(yes)
80.5
87.4
79.0

Averagehoursperweek
49.62
41.70
43.25
(13.57)
(13.85)
(14.14)

Workineducationfield(yes)*
45.0
68.6
39.7

Income*

Below$50,000
8.2
12.6
7.2
Between$50,000and$74,999
15.4
22.7
13.8
Between$75,000and$99,000
20.8
21.7
20.6
Between$100,000and$149,999
28.4
25.9
28.9
Morethan150
27.3
17.1
29.5

*
Politicalideology

Liberal(13)
50.6
73.4
45.8
Middleoftheroad(4)
31.5
19.6
34.0
Conservative(57)
17.9
7.0
20.2

Politicalparty*

Democrat
46.1
57.2
43.8
Republican
15.1
6.5
16.9
Independent
33.3
33.3
33.4
Otherparties
5.5
3.0
5.9

Votedin2012Presidentialelections(yes)
94.6
95.6
94.4
Note:*Differencebetweenparentsandnonparentsisstatisticallysignificant(p<.05).Forcategorical
variables(e.g.,gender)weusedchisquaretest,andforcontinuousvariables(e.g.,age)weused
independentttest.

32

Table2:Respondentsbystates
State
Number
Alabama
6
Alaska
Arizona
4
Arkansas
1
California
59
Colorado
34
Connecticut
28
Delaware
5
Florida
176
Georgia
33
Hawaii
8
Idaho
2
Illinois
25
Indiana
47
Iowa
Kansas
4
Kentucky
10
Louisiana
9
Maine
12
Maryland
7
Massachusetts
18
Michigan
31
Minnesota
21
Mississippi
1
Missouri
2
Montana
2

Percent
0.4%
0.2%
0.1%
3.5%
2.0%
1.7%
0.3%
10.4%
1.9%
0.5%
0.1%
1.5%
2.8%
0.2%
0.6%
0.5%
0.7%
0.4%
1.1%
1.8%
1.2%
0.1%
0.1%
0.1%

State
Nebraska
Nevada
NewHampshire
NewJersey
NewMexico
NewYork
NorthCarolina
NorthDakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
RhodeIsland
SouthCarolina
SouthDakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
WestVirginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
DistrictofColumbia

Number
2
5
2
140
21
588
14
6
50
9
93
40
8
3
1
15
13
5
2
38
79
2
15

Percent
0.1%
0.3%
0.1%
8.3%
1.2%
34.7%
0.8%
0.4%
2.9%
0.5%
5.5%
2.4%
0.5%
0.2%
0.1%
0.9%
0.8%
0.3%
0.1%
2.2%
4.7%
0.1%
0.9%

33

Figure2:Respondentsbygeographicregion

Midwest
12.2%

West
18.5%

Northeast
49.4%

Sotuh
20.0%

34

Figure3:Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?(Q7)

42.1%

39.8%

11.3%
6.8%

Withinthepastyear

12yearsago

34yearsago

5yearsagoorearlier

35

Figure4:Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Byregion(Q7)

South

Midwest

10.1%

54.1%

6.8%

46.9%

West 5.3%

Northeast 4.5%

30.1%

37.7%

42.0%

38.3%

Withinthepastyear

41.8%

44.5%

12yearsago

34yearsago

5.8%

8.6%

10.8%

12.8%

5yearsagoorearlier

36

Figure5:Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Byeducation(Q7)

Graduatedegree 4.9%

11.7%

43.0%

40.4%

Bachelor'sdegree

6.4%

45.9%

38.6%

9.1%

Somecollege

6.5%

46.3%

38.3%

8.9%

Associatedegree

12.0%

Highschool

11.4%

26.6%

56.6%

27.7%

55.8%

Withinthepastyear

12yearsago

34yearsago

4.8%

5.1%

5yearsagoorearlier

37

Figure6:Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?Bypoliticalideology(Q7)

Conservative

Middle

35.6%

49.1%

7.6%

40.2%

44.1%

5.9%

Liberal 5.3%

42.0%

41.7%

Withinthepastyear

12yearsago

34yearsago

7.7%

9.9%

11.0%

5yearsagoorearlier

38

Figure7:Howdidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?(Q1)

Socialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,listserv,email)

38.8%

Teachersorothereducationprofessionals

24.6%

Friends,neighborsorrelatives

12.8%

Otherparentsatyourchild'sschool

8.7%

Other

5.2%

Media(TV,radio,newspaper)

4.6%

Publicfigureororganization

3.8%

Schoolcommunications

0.9%

Mychildrenortheirfriends

0.7%

39

Figure8:Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknowmore
aboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?(Markallthatapply;Q5)
Socialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,listserv,email)

69.8%

Teachersorothereducationprofessionals

49.6%

Friends,neighborsorrelatives

31.1%

Otherparentsatyourchild'sschool

24.6%

Media(TV,radio,newspaper)

24.2%

Publicfigureororganization

Mychildrenortheirfriends

Other

Schoolcommunications

20.7%

10.0%

9.9%

7.3%

40

Figure9:Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknowmore
aboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Byregion(Q5)

73%71%
69%68%
58%
56%
44%45%
35%
24%

27%27%

30%
21%

26% 24%
20% 21%

15% 13%

Socialmedia Teachersorother
(Facebook,
education
Twitter,listserv, professionals
email)

Friends,
neighborsor
relatives

South

Northeast

22% 23%
17%
13%

Otherparentsat Media(TV,radio, Publicfigureor


yourchild's
newspaper)
organization
school
Midwest

West

41

Figure10:Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknowmore
aboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Bypoliticalideology(Q5)

73%

71%
65%
53%
48%
40%
32%
31%
26%

23%21%
21%

23%24%25%

24%
15%16%

Socialmedia Teachersorother
(Facebook,
education
Twitter,listserv, professionals
email)

Friends,
neighborsor
relatives
Liberal

Otherparentsat Media(TV,radio, Publicfigureor


yourchild's
newspaper)
organization
school

Middle

Conservative

42

Figure11:Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknowmore
aboutand/orparticipateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?Byteachersvs.nonteachers(Q5)

71% 70%
57%

42%
37%
32%
26%

24%
14%

Socialmedia Teachersorother
(Facebook,
education
Twitter,listserv, professionals
email)

Friends,
neighborsor
relatives
Others

22%

22%
17%

Otherparentsat Media(TV,radio, Publicfigureor


yourchild's
newspaper)
organization
school

Teachers/Educators

43

Figure12:Networkoforganizationsintheoptoutmovement(Q19)

Legend:
Black=OptOutgroups(national,state,andlocal)
Green=BadassTeachers/BATS(national,state,andlocal)
Blue=Publiceducationrelatedgroups(e.g.,SaveOurSchools)andparentsgroups(e.g.,PTA)
Grey=Testingrelatedgroups(e.g.,MorethanaScore)
Purple=TeachersUnions(includingunspecifiedunions)
Red=Commoncorerelatedgroups(e.g.,UnitedtoStopCommonCore)
White=othergroups

44

Figure13:Networkofhighlyactiveorganizationsintheoptoutmovement(Q19)

Legend:
Black=OptOutgroups(national,state,andlocal)
Green=BadassTeachers/BATS(national,state,andlocal)
Blue=Publiceducationrelatedgroups(e.g.,SaveOurSchools)andparentsgroups(e.g.,PTA)
Grey=Testingrelatedgroups(e.g.,MorethanaScore)
Purple=TeachersUnions(includingunspecifiedunions)
Red=Commoncorerelatedgroups(e.g.,UnitedtoStopCommonCore)
White=othergroups

45

Figure14:Whendidyoufirstoptoutfromstandardizedtesting?(Q9)

37.2%

34.1%

24.4%

4.4%

Withinthepastyear

12yearsago

34yearsago

5yearsagoorearlier

46

Figure15:Haveyouevertakenanyofthefollowingactionsrelatingtooptingout?(Markallthat
apply;Q12)
Postedonsocialmedia

85.3%

Discussedwithotherparentsinschool

81.6%

Joinedanemaillist,anonlinechatforum,orablog

73.6%

Triedtoconvinceotherstogetinvolved

72.3%

Signedapetition

69.4%

Contactedapoliticianorotherelectedofficial

66.0%

Attendedameeting

55.1%

Takenpartinademonstrationorprotest

35.5%

Donatedmoneytoasocialorpoliticalactivity

21.5%

Sentalettertotheeditortoanewspaper
CalledintoaliveradioorTVshow
Raisedmoneyforasocialorpoliticalactivity
Other

18.7%
13.4%
8.9%
6.5%

47

Figure16:Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout(Markuptofivereasons;Q23)
Iopposeusingstudentsperformanceon

82.3%

Iopposethegrowingroleofcorporationsinschools

73.1%

Standardizedtestsforceteacherstoteachtothetest

66.0%

Standardizedteststakeawaytoomuchinstructional

61.3%

IopposetheCommonCoreStateStandards

53.8%

Iopposetheprivatizationofschools

50.2%

Iopposethegrowingroleofthefederalgovernment

31.7%

Standardizedtestsareunfairforracial/ethnic

22.7%

Todisrupttheusageofstandardizedtests

11.5%

Mychildrencomplainedaboutstandardizedtests

6.5%

Toraiseawarenessaboutpubliceducation

6.0%

Other

5.1%

Mychildrendontdowellonstandardizedtests

4.9%

Todemonstratethepowerofnonviolenceasa
Mychildrenaskediftheycouldoptoutfrom
Togainknowledgeofeducationalissues

4.5%
2.0%
1.2%

48

Figure17:Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout(Marktoptworeasons;Q24)
Iopposeusingstudentsperformanceon

36.9%

Standardizedtestsforceteacherstoteachtothetest

33.8%

Iopposethegrowingroleofcorporationsinschools

30.4%

Standardizedteststakeawaytoomuchinstructional

26.5%

IopposetheCommonCoreStateStandards

25.8%

Iopposetheprivatizationofschools

16.0%

Iopposethegrowingroleofthefederalgovernment

8.6%

Standardizedtestsareunfairforracial/ethnic

7.5%

Todisrupttheusageofstandardizedtests

2.7%

Mychildrendontdowellonstandardizedtests

1.9%

Mychildrencomplainedaboutstandardizedtests

1.6%

Other

1.4%

Toraiseawarenessaboutpubliceducation

1.3%

Todemonstratethepowerofnonviolenceasa 0.7%
Mychildrenaskediftheycouldoptoutfrom 0.6%
Togainknowledgeofeducationalissues

0.0%

49

Figure18A:Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,bypoliticalideology(Q24)

45%
36%39%
26%

35% 34%
31%

33%
29%
22%

30%
23% 25%

24%
16%

9%

Ioppose Standardized
using
testsforce
students teachersto
performance teachtothe
on
test
standardized
teststo
evaluate
teachers

22%

19%
4%

8%
2%

9%

4%1%

Iopposethe Standardized Iopposethe Iopposethe Iopposethe Standardized


growingrole teststake
Common privatization growingrole testsare
of
awaytoo
CoreState ofschools ofthefederal unfairfor
government racial/ethnic
corporations
much
Standards
inschools
minorities
inschools instructional
time

Liberal

Middle

Conservative

50

Figure18B:Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,bypartyidentification(Q24)

38.8%
35.9%
29.8%

34.4%
33.5%
32.2%
26.5%

20.4%

Ioppose Standardized
using
testsforce
students teachersto
performance teachtothe
on
test
standardized
teststo
evaluate
teachers*

35.8%
35.0%
30.8%
29.6% 30.5%
28.0%
26.2%
26.1%
24.0%
23.3%
22.8%
16.9%

Iopposethe Standardized Iopposethe Iopposethe Iopposethe Standardized


growingrole teststake
Common privatization growingrole testsare
of
awaytoo
CoreState ofschools* ofthefederal unfairfor
Standards*
government racial/ethnic
corporations
much
inschools* minorities*
inschools* instructional
time

Republican

18.3%
15.4%
14.4% 16.8%
13.9%
8.6% 6.3%
8.3%
4.9%
4.3%
1.7%
1.2%

Democrat

Independent

Other

51

Figure19:Reasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout,byteachersvs.nonteachers
(Q24)

44%
27%

36%
30%

Ioppose Standardized
using
testsforce
students teachersto
performance teachtothe
on
test
standardized
teststo
evaluate
teachers

32%
27%

29%
22%

27%
18%

15%
10%

4% 4%

6% 5%

Iopposethe Standardized Iopposethe Iopposethe Iopposethe Standardized


growingrole teststake
Common privatization growingrole testsare
of
awaytoo
CoreState ofschools ofthefederal unfairfor
government racial/ethnic
corporations
much
Standards
inschools
minorities
inschools instructional
time

Others

Teachers/Educators

52

Figure20:Whatgradewouldyougivepublicschoolsinyourcommunity?(Q25)

43%
38%
31%
25%

22%
13%
9%

8%

4%

2%
NationalSurveyonOptingOut
A

4%

PDK2015
B

Ref/DK

53

Figure21A:Howsupportiveareyouofthefollowingtypesofstudenttests?(Q29)
%verysupportive

53%
46%
38%

35%
29%

27%

12%

10%

7%

Collegeentrance Teststhatdetermine Testsusedtoaward


Testsusedto
Testsusedto
tests,suchasSATor ifthestudentshould highschoolstudents determinewhethera determinewhethera
childhasmastereda
ACT
bepromotedfrom collegecredit,suchas studentcanbe
certainbodyof
onegradetothenext
APexams
awardedahigh
curricularcontent
schooldiploma
NationalSurveyonOptingOut

PDK2014

54

Figure22B:Howsupportiveareyouofthefollowingtypesofstudenttests?(Q29)
%verysupportiveandsupportive
91%
80%

78%

78%

76%

74%

51%
44%
30%

Collegeentrance Teststhatdetermine Testsusedtoaward


Testsusedto
Testsusedto
tests,suchasSATor ifthestudentshould highschoolstudents determinewhethera determinewhethera
ACT
childhasmastereda
bepromotedfrom collegecredit,suchas studentcanbe
certainbodyof
onegradetothenext
APexams
awardedahigh
curricularcontent
schooldiploma
NationalSurveyonOptingOut

PDK2014

55

Figure23:Howimportantarethefollowingideasforimprovingpublicschoolsinyourcommunity?
(Q31)
95%
82%

67%

66%

66%
61%

53%
45%

19%
6%

Qualityofthe
teachers

Expectationsforwhat Effectivenessofthe Howmuchmoney


studentsshouldlearn
principals
theschoolshaveto
spend
NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Usingteststo
measurewhat
studentshave
learned

PDK2014

56

Figure24:Inyouropinion,whichofthefollowingapproacheswouldprovidethemostaccurate
pictureofastudentsacademicprogress?(Markallthatapply;Q32)
100.0%
90.6%
90.0%
78.0%

80.0%
70.0%
60.0%

55.0%

50.0%
40.0%
30.0%
20.0%
10.0%

3.9%

1.3%

0.0%
Examplesof
studentswork

Written
Gradeawardedby
Scoreson
observationsbythe
theteacher
standardized
teachers
achievementtests

Other

57

Figure25:Whoshouldhavethegreatestinfluenceonthefollowingeducationissuesink12public
schools?(Q27)

Figure25A:Payingforthek12publiceducationsystem

46%46%
30%26%

24%23%

4%
Federal
government

State
government

Localschool
board

NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Ref/DK
PDK2015

Figure25B:Decidingwhatistaughtintheschool

62%
56%
30%28%
9%

15%
1%

Federal
government

State
government

Localschool
board

NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Ref/DK
PDK2014

58

Figure25C:Holdingschoolsaccountableforwhatstudentslearn

67%
44%
29%

33%

19%
4%

4%
Federal
government

State
government

Localschool
board

NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Ref/DK
PDK2015

Figure25D:Determiningtherightamountoftesting
80%

42%
31%
21%

19%
6%

6%
Federal
government

State
government

Localschool
board

NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Ref/DK
PDK2015

Figure25E:Settingeducationalstandardsforwhatstudentsshouldknow

49%
43%
28%
16%

35%
28%
1%

Federal
government

State
government

Localschool
board

NationalSurveyonOptingOut

Ref/DK
PDK2010

59

Figure26:Perceivedimpactoftheoptoutmovementatthestateandfederallevels(Q22)

51.1%
44.6%

25.8%
20.3%

19.7%

19.2%
10.4%

8.9%
Optoutmovementimpactedfederalpolicy
StronglyDisagree

SomewhatDisagree

Optoutmovementimpactedstatepolicy
SomewhatAgree

StronglyAgree

60

Appendix1:NationalSurveyonOptingout

Q1Howdidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?
Teachersorothereducationprofessionals
Friends,neighborsorrelatives
Otherparentsatyourchild'sschool
Schoolcommunicationssuchasawebsite,emailornewsletter
Media(TV,radio,newspaper)
Socialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,listserv,email,etc.)
Mychildrenortheirfriends
Publicfigureororganization
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q2Youindicatedthatyoufirstheardaboutoptingoutfromthemedia.Didyouhearfromnationalmediaorlocal
media?
Nationalmedia
Localmedia

Q3Youindicatedthatyoufirstheardaboutoptingoutfrompublicfigureororganization.Didyouhearfrom
national,stateorlocalpublicfigureororganization?
Nationalpublicfigureororganization
Statepublicfigureororganization
Localpublicfigureororganization

Q4Whendidyoufirsthearaboutoptingout?
Withinthepastyear
12yearsago
34yearsago
5yearsagoorbeforehand

Q5Whichofthefollowingsourcesprovidedinformationthatmadeyouwanttoknowmoreaboutand/or
participateinactivitiesrelatingtooptingout?(Markallthatapply)
Teachersorothereducationprofessionals
Friends,neighborsorrelatives
Otherparentsatyourchild'sschool
Schoolcommunicationssuchasawebsite,emailornewsletter
Media(TV,radio,newspaper)
Socialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,listserv,email,etc.)
Mychildrenortheirfriends
Publicfigureororganization
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q6Areyoucurrentlytheparentorguardianofachildunderage18?
Yes
No

Q7Ifyes,howmanychildrenunder18areyouresponsiblefor?

Q8Haveyouoptedoutyourchild/childrenfromstandardizedtesting?
Yes,Ihaveoptedoutmychild/children
No,Ihavenotoptedoutmychild/children

61

Q9Whendidyoufirstoptoutfromstandardizedtesting?
Withinthepastyear
12yearsago
34yearsago
5yearsagoorbeforehand

Q10Pleaseusethetextboxbelowtosharewithuswhyyoudecidedtooptout.

Q11Whenyouhaveoptedout,didyouoptoutallorsomeofyourchildren?
Ioptedoutallofmychildren
Ioptedoutsomeofmychildren

Q12Haveyouevertakenanyofthefollowingactionsrelatingtooptingout?(Markallthatapply)
Attendedameeting
Takenpartinademonstrationorprotest(e.g.,heldabanner,handedoutleaflets)
CalledintoaliveradioorTVshowtoexpressanopinion
Contactedapoliticianorotherelectedofficialtoexpressaview
Discussedwithotherparentsinschool
Donatedmoneytoasocialorpoliticalactivity
Joinedanemaillist,anonlinechatforum,orablog
Postedonsocialmedia(Facebook,Twitter,Tumblr,etc.)
Raisedmoneyforasocialorpoliticalactivity
Sentalettertotheeditortoanewspaperormagazine
Signedapetition
Triedtoconvinceotherstogetinvolved
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q13Youindicatedthatyouhavecontactedapoliticianorotherelectedofficialtoexpressaview.Whichlevelof
thegovernmentdidyoucontact?(Markallthatapply)
Nationallevelofficial
Stategovernmentofficial
Localgovernmentofficial

Q14Pleaseusethetextboxbelowtosharewithuswhyyoudecidednottooptout.

Q15Howlikelyisitthatyouwilloptyourchild/childrenoutofstandardizedtestingthisyearorinthefuture?
Verylikely
Somewhatlikely
Somewhatunlikely
Notatalllikely

Q16Howmanyparentsofschoolagedchildrendoyouknowwhooptedtheirchildrenoutofstandardizedtesting?
None
One
Between2and5
Between6and10
Morethan10

62

Q17Howmanyoftheseparentsdoyouconsiderclosefriends?
None
Few
Some
Many
Most

Q18Haveyoueverbeencontactedbyanorganizationtoparticipateinanyoptoutactivities?
Yes
No

Q19Ifyes,whichorganization(s)havecontactedyoutoparticipateinanyoptoutactivities?Usethetextbox
below.

Q20Haveyoudiscussedoptingoutwithyourchildren?
Yes
No

Q21Inyouropinion,whatproblemdoestheoptoutmovementtrytoaddress?Usethetextboxbelow.

Q22Pleaseindicatehowmuchyouagreeordisagreewiththefollowingstatements:

Strongly
Somewhat
Somewhat
Strongly
Agree
Agree
Disagree
Disagree
Theoptoutmovementhasimpactedfederal
assessmentpolicy

Theoptoutmovementhasimpactedstate

assessmentpolicy

Q23Peoplehavedifferentreasonsforparticipatinginactivitiesrelatedtooptingout.Inthisquestion,weare
interestedinthemainreasonsforyourparticipation.Pleasechooseuptofivereasons.[RandomizedOrder]
IopposetheCommonCoreStateStandards
Iopposethegrowingroleofcorporationsinschools
Iopposethegrowingroleofthefederalgovernmentinschools
Iopposetheprivatizationofschools
Iopposeusingstudentsperformanceonstandardizedteststoevaluateteachers
Mychildrenaskediftheycouldoptoutfromstandardizedtests
Mychildrencomplainedaboutstandardizedtests
Mychildrendontdowellonstandardizedtests
Standardizedtestsareunfairforracial/ethnicminorities
Standardizedtestsforceteacherstoteachtothetest
Standardizedteststakeawaytoomuchinstructionaltime
Todemonstratethepowerofnonviolenceasavehicleforsocialchange
Todisrupttheusageofstandardizedtests
Togainknowledgeofeducationalissues
Toraiseawarenessaboutpubliceducation
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q24Fromallthereasonsyoumentioned,whatarethemaintworeasons?

63

Q25Whatgradewouldyougivepublicschoolsinyourcommunity?
A(1)
B(2)
C(3)
D(4)
F(5)

Q26Thinkingabouttheschoolagechildrenforwhomyouarecurrentlyresponsible,whatkindsofschoolshave
theyattended?(Markallthatapply)
Publicschool
Charterschool
Privateschool
Homeschool
Parochial/religiousschool

Q27Whoshouldhavethegreatestinfluenceonthefollowingeducationissuesink12publicschools?
Federal
State
Local

government government schoolboard


Payingforthek12publiceducationsystem

Decidingwhatistaughtintheschool

Holdingschoolsaccountableforwhatstudentslearn

Determiningtherightamountoftesting

Settingeducationalstandardsforwhatstudentsshouldknow

Q28Howimportantisitforyoutoknowhowthestudentsinyourcommunitysschoolsperformonstandardized
testscomparedtothefollowing:

Very
Somewhat
Notvery
Notatall
important
important
important
important
Studentsinotherschooldistricts

Studentsinotherstates

Studentsinothercountries

Q29Howsupportiveareyouofthefollowingtypesofstudenttests?
Very
Somewhat

supportive
supportive
Collegeentrancetests,suchasSATorACT

Teststhatdetermineifthestudentshouldbe

promotedfromonegradetothenext
Testsusedtoawardhighschoolstudentscollege

credit,suchasAPexams
Testsusedtodeterminewhetherastudentcanbe

awardedahighschooldiploma
Testsusedtodeterminewhetherachildhas

masteredacertainbodyofcurricularcontent

Notvery
supportive

Notatall
supportive

64

Q30Doyouthinktheteachersinyourchilds/childrensschoolsgenerallysupportoropposestandardizedtesting?
Stronglysupport
Somewhatsupport
Neithersupportnoroppose
Somewhatoppose
Stronglyoppose

Q31Therearemanyideasabouthowtoimprovethequalityofpublicschools.Howimportantarethefollowing
ideasforimprovingpublicschoolsinyourcommunity?

Very
Somewhat
Notvery
Notatall
important
important
important
important
Qualityoftheteachers

Expectationsforwhatstudentsshouldlearn

Effectivenessoftheprincipals

Howmuchmoneytheschoolshavetospend

Usingteststomeasurewhatstudentshavelearned

Otherfactors(ENTERTEXT)

Q32Inyouropinion,whichofthefollowingapproacheswouldprovidethemostaccuratepictureofastudents
academicprogress?(Markallthatapply)
Examplesofstudentswork
Writtenobservationsbytheteachers
Gradeawardedbytheteacher
Scoresonstandardizedachievementtests
Other

Q33Howwouldyouclassifyyourpoliticalviews?Pleaseuseascaleof1to7,where1isextremelyliberal,4is
middleoftheroad,and7isextremelyconservative
1Extremelyliberal
2
3
4middleoftheroad
5
6
7Extremelyconservative

Q34Generallyspeaking,doyouusuallythinkofyourselfasaRepublican,Democrat,Independent,orsomething
else?
Republican
Democrat
Independent
Other:(ENTERTEXT)

Q35In2012,youmayrememberthatBarackObamaranforPresidentontheDemocraticticketagainstMitt
RomneyontheRepublicanticket.Doyourememberforsurewhetherornotyouvotedinthatelection?
Voted
Didnotvote
Dontremember

65

Q36Ingeneral,howoftendoyoudiscusspoliticsandpublicaffairswithothers?
Everyday
Atleastonceaweek
Atleastonceamonth
Lessthanonceamonth
Never

Q37Peoplesometimesbelongtodifferentkindsofvoluntaryorganizations.Pleaseindicatewhetheryouhave
participatedintheactivitiesofanyofthefollowingorganizationsduringthepasttwelvemonths.(Markallthat
apply)

Yes
No
Churchorreligiousorganization
Sportorrecreationalorganization
Art,musicoreducationalorganization
Laborunion
Politicalparty
Environmentalorganization
Professionalassociation
Humanitarianorcharitableorganization
Consumerorganization
Civilrightsorganization
Anyotherorganization(writein)

Q38Haveyoueverparticipatedinanyactivitiesrelatingtothefollowingissues?(Markallthatapply)
AntiWar/Peace
Civilrights
Ecologyandenvironment
Gunrights
Familyvalues
Labor/workersrights/fairwage
LGBTrights/marriageequality
OccupyWallStreet
TeaParty
Womensrights/prochoice
Antiabortion/prolife
Otherprotests(ENTERTEXT)

Q39Whatisyourgender?
Man
Woman
Other(ENTERTEXT)
Iprefernottoanswer

Q40Whatyearwereyouborn?

66

Q41Whatracial/ethnicgroupbestdescribesyou?(Markallthatapply)
AmericanIndian/AlaskaNative
Asian
Black/AfricanAmerican
Hispanic,Latino,orSpanishorigin
NativeHawaiian/PacificIslander
White/Caucasian
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q42Whatisthehighestlevelofeducationyouhavecompleted?
Lessthanhighschool
Highschool
Associate/communitycollege/nursingdegree(AA/AS)
Somecollegebutnodegree
Bachelorsdegree(BA/BS/AB)
Graduatedegree(Masters,M.D,J.D,orotherprofessionalordoctoratedegree)

Q43Doyouconsideryourselftobe:
Heterosexualorstraight
Gayorlesbian
Bisexual
Other
Iprefernottoanswer

Q44ThisresearchstudyfocusedontheoptoutmovementintheUnitedStates.Whatstatedoyoulivein?

Q45Yourcurrentresidenceisinwhichzipcode?

Q46Whatisyourcurrentmaritalstatus?
Married/livingwithapartner
Widowed
Divorced
Separated
Nevermarried

Q47Whatlanguage(s)otherthanEnglishdoyouspeakathome?(ENTERTEXT)

Q48DoyouhaveaccesstotheInternetorWorldWideWebinyourhome?
Yes
No

Q49Areyoucurrentlyworkingforpay?
Yes
No

Q50Doesanyoneinyourclosecircleoffamilyorfriendsworkintheeducationfield?
Yes
No

Q51Doyouworkintheeducationfieldasateacheroraneducator?
Yes
No

67

Q52Whatkindofworkdoyoudoforyourmainjob?(ENTERTEXT)

Q53Inanaverageweek,howmanyhoursdoyoutypicallyworkinyourjoborjobs?(ENTERTEXT)

Q54Whatreligiondoyouconsideryourself?
Catholic
Protestant
OtherChristian
Jewish
Muslim
Someotherreligion(ENTERTEXT)
Ihavenoreligiousaffiliation

Q55Wouldyoudescribeyourselfas:
Veryreligious
Moderatelyreligious
Slightlyreligious
Notreligiousatall

Q56Thelastquestionisforclassificationpurposesonly.Consideringallsourcesofincomeandallsalaries,what
wasyourhouseholdstotalannualincomein2015?
0$19,999
$20,000$29,999
$30,000$39,999
$40,000$49,999
$50,000$74,999
$75,000$99,999
$100,000$149,999
Morethan$150,000
Other(ENTERTEXT)

Q57Weareinterestedinyourthoughtsaboutoptingoutortheotherissueswehaveraisedinthissurvey.Please
usethetextboxbelowtoaddanyadditionalcomments.(ENTERTEXT)