It was interesting for me to learn the process for opting a child out of testing is quite simple in Washington State. I believe many other states are the same, however, a few are becoming stricter. For Washingtonians, all it entails is writing a letter to your school’s principal. It can be a short one paragraph letter or a lengthier letter explaining your reasons. This is up to you. I suggest sending it as an attachment through email because it becomes a public record. Include your child’s teacher too.
The following link contains answers to most questions parents have about opting a child out of testing, as well as a sample opt out letter: Click (here).
My letter opting my son out of the SBAC, Amplify Testing, and Student Surveys can be found by clicking (here).
I opted to send a lengthier letter because it is important for me to spread information to everyone I can regarding the flaws in the Common Core State Standards, the history of the writing of the standards, the process the standards went through to be validated, as well as the invalidity and lack of reliability of the SBAC test itself. Many educators are just beginning to become aware of these things.
It is surprising to learn how few really know the truth behind the Common Core Machine. If you need a little more history this 40 minute video may be helpful: Building The Machine.
“Many parents have little or no awareness that they have the right to opt their student(s) out of taking standardized tests. At this time, no child may legally be forced to take a state standardized test if his or her parent writes a letter saying that they refuse to have their child take the test and why. Students who are 18 or older may write the letter themselves. There is no penalty to the child if they do not take assessments in grades 3-8. In high school, students will be required to take the Smarter Balanced Tests (once implemented) in 11th grade in order to graduate. If the student attempts to take the test and fails, there are alternate options available to them.” – WEA
The Washington Education Association voted to support the rights of parents/guardians to choose to opt their children out of standardized tests. WEA members are being encouraged to collaborate with parents/guardians to assist parents with assessment options. I personally just became a rep for the Spokane Education Association because of my deep convictions in regards to what is happening to our children as a result of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the SBAC Test, and other assessments seeping in to prepare the students for the BIG Test.
In fact, the push to “get kids to pass” the SBAC test often has districts scrambling, and many are purchasing Interim Assessments with Checkpoint Assessments that go in between the Interim Assessments to prepare them for the SBAC.
Our schools are becoming Test Prep Factories… unless of course, more of us speak up and opt out. I opted my son out of the Amplify Interim and Checkpoint Assessments too. This is a vicious cycle.
I also have grave concerns for the teachers navigating through a tremendous workload because of the CCSS and the impacts the high stakes tests are having upon their classrooms. Quality instruction time is being robbed in order to prepare for the High Stakes Test (SBAC). Many teachers are expressing their concerns. I speak for them.
Justification of Failure in the Name of Rigor
Understanding the kind of questions our children are facing in the name of rigor is another reason to opt out. To me, rigor is not 5 feet over their heads. Rigor stretches children from their personal developmental level, considers normal ranges, and challenges them to take next steps.
Try this problem. Guess the grade level and the Common Core Standard it is meant to mirror.
A text box was underneath this problem where students needed to type the answers to this layered question. No drawing tools were available. The rubric associated with this problem was on a 4 point scale. If, and only if, the child answered every question correctly with an explanation for each question were they scored a 4. For this entire problem, students were given 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 points. They faced this problem after answering 25 other questions, and anywhere from an hour to an hour and 30 minutes into the test.
The rubric associated with this problem was vague and hard to follow. Of the 75 student responses I scored, not one… not one… scored proficient or higher. (Level 3 or 4). The majority scored 0s. There were a small number of 1s and 2s.
WEA is encouraging their locals to connect with and work alongside student and parent leadership groups to raise awareness about opting out of standardized tests including the Smarter Balanced Assessments whenever possible.
I’m a local, mommy, and educator raising awareness in every way I can.
Our children are more than scores.
The following link will take you to the WEA Page. They have several resources to help raise awareness about the issue and to help families navigate the complexities associated with opting students out.
WEA Opt Out Awareness Page… Click (Here).
Do not feel fear in doing this. It is your legal right to do what is best for your child. If you feel threatened in any way, contact WEA. Your child should experience no repercussions as a result of this decision.
Respectfully Written for Parents and Teachers,
RAZ ON FIRE