The Opt Out movement – the parental decision to keep their children from taking national or state exams in deference to locally flavored assessments of learning – is a bit boggling when placed side-by-side with the expectation that U.S. students need to be prepared to compete in a global, fast paced, volatile economic environment. Such a position begs the question – How exactly does that happen when one’s head is in the sand vis-à-vis competitive capability? Stated differently, if everyone else (state, national, and worldwide) is taking myriad assessments to measure competitive capability, how can we expect our students to know where they stand competitively if they are measured against homegrown, success biased assessments tailored to agree with local politics and a narrow response to testophobia. It goes back to the old saw – “I thought I was at the top of my class until I got to university and found that everyone else had also been captain of the XXXX team, editor of the yearbook, and voted most likely to succeed.”

Look, we all like to hear that our students are “head of the class, top notch, market ready, highly competitive” etc. We are a nation of achievers and innovators – entrepreneurship is embodied in our dreams of the future for our children. So, why would any parent, or student of a correct age for that matter, not want information on what skills they’ve perfected and what level of knowledge they’ve acquired in direct relation to the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a V. (volatile), U. (uncertain), C. (complex), and A. (ambiguous) world?

Put more succinctly in a recent article in the September 2015 edition of td Magazine by Annmarie Neal and Daniel Sonsino titled “Talent Management Disrupted:”

“Never before has the world been marked by such turbulence, complexity, ambiguity, and relentless speed. An insatiable pursuit of technology is propelling a new era of globalization, economic value creation, innovation, and discovery.”

The article further states that “for global businesses, these factors necessitate a shift in how, where, by whom, and with whom business is done, how leadership is leveraged, and how individuals self-organize to increase productivity while creating new forms of value. This pace of change demands an accelerated need for innovation and business agility – and, for many, a significant redesigning of the workforce.”

For every test taken, the taker walks away with invaluable intrinsic, cerebral, and confidence focused information that will help shape his/her decision making process as s/he formulates a game plan on how to successfully compete in a V.U.C.A. world. For every test not taken, that wealth of information is left on the side of the road. That is why, as a parent and educator, I encourage an “opt in” philosophy. To end with another old saw – “you don’t know what you don’t know” – and without the courage to find out what you don’t know, you risk floating in a Neverland of uncertainty and poor decisions.

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