Only if you and We the People let them!
“I gave my school district the Opt-Out form you have attached in one of your previous posts. He basically said they wouldn’t honor it. Can they do that? PLEASE advise. Thank you!”
Over the last couple of years I have heard from many parents across the country wanting to know if and how they can opt out of state assessments, especially those administered online and the assessments that are being piloted by SBAC and PARCC. For about year now I have heard from a number of parents, like the parent who left the above comment, who have requested to opt their child out of state and pilot assessments.
Teachers, principals, schools, school districts, and states are under a tremendous amount of pressure to produce results on assessment tests. Schools get branded and punished if deemed a failing school even though the system is pretty much set up to start schools on a downward spiral from which it is extremely difficult to recover. This pressure may result in parents being told they can’t opt out of testing and having the parents’ requests disregarded. Parents may be told the tests are required and there is no opt out provision. Threats may be made that the parents will be reported to the child protective service agency. In many states, including Washington, the state may mandate the administration of assessments but that does not mandate each student participate in the administration (consider the semantics that may come into play).
Across the country there is a large and growing resistance to assessments. There are opt out websites that may provide a lot of information and advice. If interested, I suggest you search online. Here I will try to present information and suggestions for those seeking to opt out of assessments.
There are a number of opt out forms available online. Completing one and submitting it to the school is not a guarantee the parent’s request will be honored. I see these forms as requests and parents should take responsibility and follow up if they do not want their child to take a state assessment. Here are a few suggested actions for parents to consider:
-if your request as a parent is denied, ask to be shown the statute in state law requiring your child be assessed against your wishes. Better yet, do your homework with regard to state laws prior to making your request. Consider seeking legal counsel.
-keep your child home during the testing period, understand the school may try to administer a make up assessment upon your child’s return
-have your child sit for the assessment but not complete it
-withdraw your child from school during the testing window—have a justifiable reasons for withdrawing—homeschooling, family trip, etc.
Prior to making a request, consider asking school officials to show you the information that your child will be asked to provide as well as the assessment questions and tasks. It is likely they will not allow you to see the material, but in the event they do, it may help you make your decision as to what to do. If you are comfortable with what you see you may no longer object. If you aren’t comfortable with what you see, it may give you more solid ground on which to base your request. And if they won’t allow you to see the material, I would question why not—and become suspicious they are hiding something from me.
The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and PARCC conduct pilots of the assessments they are developing. I would recommend parents not allow their child to participate in these pilot tests. I know some school districts in Washington had some of their schools participate in a pilot with SBAC last year. This raises a number of questions. Is there a statute in state law or school district policy that requires parents to actively or passively consent to their child’s unpaid participation in product development? Are these pilot assessments a measure of student learning or are they a step in the process of product development? Shouldn’t school officials be required to show parents their legal authority for using valuable instructional time to provide what some may see as free child labor for product development?