Here's How to Opt out of Common Core Testing

Common Core educational standards were instituted in 2009 and parental discontent with both its math and language arts curricula has grown. While there’s not much you can do about the changes as a whole, more and more parents have opted to protect their children from the assessment and testing component of the program.

The reasons parents decide to remove their children from Common Core’s assessment and testing schedules vary, from distrust of the digital data mining and privacy intrusions to fears of unnecessary test anxiety, to simply protesting the concept of teaching to the test. Whatever the reason, the grassroots movement to opt out of testing has grown considerably.

Two corporations design and administer the tests: Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The tests require computer competence, take up to 10 hours to complete, and are administered once a year. Children in grades 3 to 5 may spend up to 7 hours completing their testing each year.

As testing requirements have increased, so have reports of psychological and physiological problems in young children. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing reported an increase in young children’s test anxiety from 10-25 % to 33% in the most recent decade. Stress reduces a child’s ability to retain knowledge. Prolonged stress undermines brain development. Symptoms of test anxiety include nausea, dizziness, crying, vomiting, panic attacks, tantrums, headaches, loss of bowel or bladder control, near-fainting, sleeplessness, refusal to go to school, “freaking out,” meltdowns, depression, suicide threats, and suicide attempts.

The legality of opting out of testing may vary state-to-state so it’s advisable to consult local opt-out organizations for specific information. Parents should educate themselves beforehand because unfortunately, some schools have intimidated parents on this issue.

Here are some general guidelines to follow if you would like your children removed from what some call a “surveillance tool”.

1. Prior to requesting an opt-out, ask to see the assessment tools used in your school. Ask for a copy of the “validity and reliability report” for tests used. Ask for a sample “results report”. Why should you allow your child to be tested unless you know that the test has proved reliable and valid? Common Core programs currently lack the evidence to back up their tests’ validity and reliability.

2. Understand that even though most state laws do not articulate an opt-out provision, the law does not require every student to participate in assessments. Parents should require that their school show them the law in writing that requires their child to be tested. Do not accept a verbal statement.

3. Make your opt-out request in writing early in the school year. Opt-out forms are available online. Be specific about your requests by naming the tests, or requesting an opt-out of all online testing. Some parents request that their child not be given any test that is not written by their classroom teacher. Some parents request that their children not be given any tests or assessments until they have read the tests themselves.

4. If the school denies the request to remove their child from testing, ask the school to show—in writing—the law that requires a child to be assessed against the parent’s wishes. Hopefully, you’ve done your homework and know that there is no such law.

5. At this point, the school may request a meeting. Check your local state laws to see if you are required to attend such a meeting. If you are required, here are some guidelines to remember: Be polite and non-confrontational and remember that your school officials work for YOU. Record the meeting or consider taking a legal representative with you. You may end the meeting whenever you wish. It would be prudent also to write up your account of the meeting afterwards.

6. The school is likely to ask you why you don’t want your child tested but keep in mind that you are not obligated to give a reason. They will likely try to convince you that it is in your child’s best interest. You can then ask for evidence that assessment will help your child’s academic content knowledge.

That last point is really the crux of the matter for parents… Does the extreme testing regime serve learning at all?

Tags : education   school   common core   

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