MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Over the next month, school-age children in 43 states will be taking a standardized test linked to new federal education guidelines known as Common Core. Educators say the exams are designed to measure proficiency in math and language arts. There has been a backlash against the new standards and some parents are having their kids opt out of the exam.
New Jersey mom Sarah Blaine is one of them. She says her 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth's homework is focused more on preparing for the state's standardized test and less on real learning.
"I started asking my daughter, 'are you doing social studies in school?'" said Blaine. "And her answer was pretty much, 'what's social studies?'"
Blaine has decided to join a nationwide opt-out movement of parents who say that they will not allow their children to take the exam.
"I do not have any problem with measuring how strong a child is in reading or math," said Blaine. "What I do have a problem with is when the test starts to drive everything else that is happening in school."
For fourth-graders the test is eight to ten hours long, and is taken over multiple days. Many questions are complex, requiring several steps to get to the correct answer. Educators say it's designed to deepen critical thinking and enhance problem solving skills.
But Sarah Blaine, who is an attorney, says she took the test herself and found it complicated and confusing.
"There is a distinction between what is really critical thinking and what is setting a kid up to fail," said Blaine.
But former Millburn, New Jersey, school superintendent Jim Crisfield says opting out should not be an option.
"We cannot have the concept of opting out applied to public education more broadly," said Crisfield. "This isn't an a la carte operation."
Many states prohibit or discourage opting out of the assessments. A handful, including California and Utah, have legislation that allow it and 19 states have introduced legislation to either halt or replace Common Core.
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