Tag Archives: optout

Our Right to Refuse Testing in ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act)

In ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) the following is found: “school districts must inform parents of their rights under State law or local policy to opt their children out of any assessments mandated by the Act, by the state, or by the local school district”. That provision is found in two places. The first requires each school district (local educational agency in federal parlance) to notify parents that they may request and will timely receive information about state and local opt-out policies:

Section 1111(e)(2), which reads:
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall notify the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the parents may request, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment, where applicable.
‘‘(B) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.—Subject to subparagraph (C), each local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall make widely available through public means (including by posting in a clear and easily accessible manner on the local educational agency’s website and, where practicable, on the website of each school served by the local educational agency) for each grade served by the local educational agency, information on each assessment required by the State to comply with section 1111, other assessments required by the State, and where such information is available and feasible to report, assessments required districtwide by the local educational agency, including—
‘‘(i) the subject matter assessed;
‘‘(ii) the purpose for which the assessment is designed and used;
‘‘(iii) the source of the requirement for the assessment; and
‘‘(iv) where such information is available—
‘‘(I) the amount of time students will spend taking the assessment, and the schedule for the assessment; and
‘‘(II) the time and format for disseminating results.
‘‘(C) LOCAL EDUCATIONAL AGENCY THAT DOES NOT OPERATE A WEBSITE.—In the case of a local educational agency that does not operate a website, such local educational agency shall determine how to make the information described in subparagraph (A) widely available, such as through distribution of that information to the media, through public agencies, or directly to parents.

The second is in Section 1111(b)(2)(K)m which ensures that State or local laws allowing parents to opt their children out of assessments cannot be overruled by the U.S. Department of Education. Section 1111(b)(2)(K) reads:
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed as preempting a State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the parent’s child participate in the academic assessments under this paragraph.

The ESSA requirement for schools to meet the 95% Participation Rate under ESSA is found at:

Sec. 1111
Annually measure the achievement of not less than 95 percent of all students, and 95 percent of all students in each subgroup of students, who are enrolled in public schools on the assessments described under subsection (b)(2)(v)(I).
‘‘(IV) the weight of any measure or indicator used to identify or meaningfully differentiate schools, under this part;
‘‘(V) the specific methodology used by States to meaningfully differentiate or identify schools under this part;

HOWEVER, ESSA also includes this, which means that meeting the 95% requirement is no longer a pass/fail indicator all on its own if states don’t want it to be. A state could, for example, give a weight of 0.1% to participation rate in evaluating schools and the Department cannot make them do otherwise:

Sec. 1111
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or permit the Secretary—
‘‘(B) as a condition of approval of the State plan, or revisions or amendments to, the State plan, or approval of a waiver request submitted under section 8401, to—
‘‘(iii) prescribe—
‘‘(III) indicators that States use within the State accountability system under this section, including any requirement to measure student growth, or, if a State chooses to measure student growth, the specific metrics used to measure such growth under this part;
‘‘(IV) the weight of any measure or indicator used to identify or meaningfully differentiate schools, under this part;
‘‘(V) the specific methodology used by States to meaningfully differentiate or identify schools under this part;
‘‘(XI) the way in which the State factors the requirement under subsection (c)(4)(E)(i) [the 95% participation rate; see above] into the statewide accountability system under this section; or
‘‘(C) to issue new non-regulatory guidance that—
‘‘(i) in seeking to provide explanation of requirements under this section for State or local educational agencies, either in response to requests for information or in anticipation of such requests, provides a strictly limited or exhaustive list to illustrate successful implementation of provisions under this section; or
‘‘(ii) purports to be legally binding;

Oregon’s Governor Does What Gov. Hassan Refuses To Do: Stand UP For Parental Rights

We told you that California currently has a law on the books that recognizes a parent’s right to opt their children out of the flawed and damaging standardized tests. We also told you that California has lost no federal money in spite of the nauseating threats by Federal and State officials. And lastly we told you that Governor Hassan caved in to the business interests and vetoed HB603 which would recognize parental rights when it comes to excluding your children from the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Good News! Oregon Governor Signs Opt-Out Bill into Law


Despite pressure from the big spenders at Stand for Children and other titans of corporate reform, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed the legislation allowing parents to opt out of state tests.

Federal officials had warned that the bill, which also reduces the consequences for schools where many students skip tests, could lead the federal government to withhold millions in federal education funding.

House Bill 2655, which was strongly backed by the Oregon Education Association, prioritizes the rights of parents to exempt their children from that one aspect of public schooling over the desire of school accountability proponents to get complete reading and math test results for all students each year.

But Brown said she wants Oregon educators to make the case to parents that taking part in state tests is valuable so that they will opt for their children to keep taking the exams.

The new law means that, beginning next spring, schools will have to notify every family at least 30 days before state testing begins about what the tests will cover, how long they will take and when results will be delivered. Those notices will also tell parents they can exempt their child from the tests for any reason.

Friends in Oregon: Forget the governor’s misgivings! Opt out is the best tool you have to protect your children from the current national mania for standardized testing. Opting out will curb the overuse and misuse of standardized testing. Former Texas state commissioner of education Robert Scott memorably said in 2012 that the educational industrial complex was out of control and that testing was “the heart of the vampire”

He also said:

The assessment and accountability regime has become not only a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex. And the reason that you’re seeing this move toward the “common core” is there’s a big business sentiment out there that if you’re going to spend $600-$700 billion a year in public education, why shouldn’t be one big Boeing, or Lockheed-Grumman contract where one company can get it all and provide all these services to schools across the country.

I mean, that’s really what you’re looking at. We’re operating like a business.

The Final Straw: Cancel Our Labor Contracts, We Cancel Your Tests

OPT OUT OF THE STATE TEST: The National Movement posts:

When the State Recovery Board cancelled Philadelphia’s teachers contract, it may have removed the last hurdle to a national opt out movement of standardized testing.

Up to now, teachers have only sporadically refused to administer these fill-in-the-bubble falsely objective, poorly written and cheaply graded tests. The reason: fear of losing employment.

However, now that is not an impediment. When teachers in the 8th largest public school district in the country are forced to accept take-it-or-leave-it terms, there is no longer safety in following the rules.

The Philadelphia decision shows that poor districts can be taken over just because they’re poor and somehow that justifies sweatshop conditions for the teachers and their students.

The main justification the data crunchers use to make this determination is students’ standardized test scores. Not being educators, themselves, they have no other tool to judge success or failure. They blithely ignore the fact that rich kids score higher and poor kids score lower.

Therefore, teachers would best serve their interests and the interests of their students by refusing to provide this data. Moreover, the country’s two largest teachers unions - NEA and AFT – have promised to defend teachers opting out of testing.

A wholesale movement of this kind beginning in poorer schools and spreading to the more affluent ones would force the corporate education reform machine to a halt. It would offer an opportunity for real reform – an attack on the roots of the problem: inequitable funding and abject student poverty.

The last straw has fallen. The revolution is about to begin.

Read more here.