A brief article titled As Students Refuse Tests, Washington Superintendent Warns Of Consequences has an audio clip with parts of an interview with Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Dorn.
The article says SPI Dorn does not like the phrase “opt-out”. He uses the term “refusal”. Other school officials across the country have started using refuse instead of opting out.
Let’s examine the terms a little here before getting into some of the other issues. For the purpose at hand, I am using The Free Dictionary online.
Opt is defined as to make a choice or decision and opt out is defined as to choose not to participate in something. Some synonyms for opt are choose, decide, prefer, select, elect, and see fit. It is indicated that opt does not equal reject, dismiss, exclude, eliminate, rule out, turn down, or preclude.
Refuse is defined as to indicate unwillingness to do, accept, give, or allow. Some synonyms for refuse are decline, reject, spurn, and rebuff. It is indicated that refuse does not equal accept, take, or have.
Parents in Washington have the legal right to have their child not participate in state assessments. In exercising their legal right, they are making a choice or decision to not have their child participate in something. They are exercising their option, or opting out. SPI Dorn and others can call it what they want, and it may be splitting hairs, but opting out seems to be a more positive term than refuse. It may depend on one’s perspective. Those opting out may see their action as a positive while school officials likely see this action as a negative and opt to use the term refuse.
SPI Dorn is quoted as saying and can be heard on the audio as saying,
“It’s really a refusal to take an assessment that’s required by the federal government.”
Let’s be clear on the issue of the assessment being required by the federal government. No Child Left Behind requires states to administer state assessments. That is the requirement of the federal government. Requiring state assessments to be administered does not mean that every student has to participate. So, to restate, it may be mandatory for schools to administer assessments, but that does not mean it is mandatory every child take the assessment.
SPI Dorn is also quoted as saying.
Can you imagine how it will play out if there is an investigation?