Majority of BHS juniors opt out of “Smarter Balanced” statewide exams

According to our news partners at The Seattle Times, 95% of Ballard High School juniors are opting out of the state wide Smarter Balanced exams.

The Smarter Balanced English Language Arts (ELA) and Math exams are replacing Washington’s old statewide exams and must be completed by schools before June 15.

According to the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, the state switched to the Smarter Balanced tests for a number of reasons including quicker results, increased accessibility for students with disabilities and English language learners, computer adaptability and connection to higher education.

According to The Seattle Times report, the numbers are decidedly higher than the Seattle Public Schools District opt out prediction of about 50% of students in some schools.

The junior cohort at BHS is not the only group of local students with such a high percentage opting out of the tests that many “see as unnecessary”.

Figures from district officials confirm that no juniors took the tests at Nathan Hale High School. 95% of juniors at Garfield High School and 80% of Roosevelt and Ingraham High School juniors also refused to take part.

The Junior cohort appears to include the majority of students who are opting out of testing as they do not need to pass the Smarter Balanced tests to graduate.

“What really convinced me was, it’s not a graduation requirement,” Kevin Nguyen, a junior at Garfield and president of his class told The Seattle Times. “At this time of the year, juniors especially don’t have that much time to just spend on stuff that doesn’t go toward graduation.”

According to the report, the major testing boycotts seem to be limited to students within Seattle. Bellevue School District has received only six refusals from the 19,000 students within the district.

Although the tests are not a requirement for Juniors to graduate, state schools Chief Randy Dorn is concerned that the high number of student boycotts could effect state funding.

Dorn confirmed that if less than 95% of students in Washington take the state wide tests, the U.S. Department of Education could withhold education funding under the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires mandatory annual testing.

“The decision to refuse testing doesn’t just affect the individual student,” Dorn told The Seattle Times. “It affects students across the state.”

Seattle Public Schools is currently monitoring the four schools that they believe will have the highest boycott rates and will release complete figures when they are known.

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Some of these reasons are quite clear to me as a student.


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