Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I have received many questions about the 95%  participation rate of students tested and what happens to our schools.

I hope my piece and this website will help answer those concerns.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yes you can.


The boycotting of state exams has created many "grey areas" in regards to "can we opt out"?  Our movement has become significant and NYSED officials have been inundated with questions from our local school districts.

A NYSED official sent school officials this memo a few weeks ago stating there is no "opting out".

As a result of this communication, parents across New York State brainstormed NYSED regulations and parental rights and created a "refusal" letter. This letter has produced positive results across New York State as districts are respecting our right to refuse.  The letter has brought forth another NYSED communication that repeats there is no "opt out" provision, but goes on to state the students may "refuse".  Some districts want students to actually sit and refuse.  Ask your district to allow your child read as per the NYS Testing Program Educator Guide to the 2013 Common Core (page 9) that permits a student to read silently while others finish their assessments.  Other schools are allowing students to go to a separate location to read, help younger classes, or complete actual school work once they "refuse the test".

So what should parents do?
  • Boycott by "refusal".  Write a letter to your child's principal, state your reasons for refusal, and request that your child be allowed to read as per the NYS Testing Program Educator Guide to the 2013 Common Core.  Use our example refusal letter as a guide.  
  • Remember that "boycotting" state assessments is new to many administrators.  Education policy is very complex and it is impossible to know all of the details. We are finding that various districts are providing different answers to parents across the state.
  • Understand the difficult situation for school administration, be respectful, but firm. Schools are under much pressure from Albany to comply with regulations that hurt our children. Be aware of this when you communicate with school officials.
  • Know your facts.  The following communication was passed my way.  It contains misleading information and statements that contradict NYSED communications.  Again, this could be a situation where this principal is unaware of all regulations.

"The only way a child would be marked as "not tested" is if the child was absent for the entire 2 weeks of school (testing and makeup period)"- This is not accurate.  Your child may refuse the test and not be compelled to make up the test. Your child does not need to be absent for 12 school days.

"the absences would be marked as "illegal" absences (and cause for educational neglect)" - This remark is troubling.  Students are marked out for "illegal absences" for vacation days with no punishment. "Educational neglect" is for serious cases of truancy and would not apply to being absent from a state test.  Bottom line is that your child should attend school and refuse the test.  School administration should respect the parent's right to "refuse" on behalf of their child.

If you feel your child cannot sit through the entire test period refusing, pull your child after the exam starts.  Several opt outers did this last year.  After the assessment timeframe ended we brought our kids back to school.  Most schools schedule the assessments in the morning, find out the exact time by contacting a teacher or school personnel.

Fight on!  Our children's education is on the line.  The amount of mandated standardized testing will increase dramatically in the future as the PARCC assessments are added to SLO, RTI, benchmark and State Assessments.  

We cannot wait for common sense to prevail.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Testing and Opt Out forum in WNY

For more information on a local group of educators and parents hosting a forum on high-stakes testing and Opting Out.

Western New Yorkers for Public Education will be hosting a forum 
to discuss standardized testing and the opt-out movement. 

The forum will be held on 
Saturday, March 23 at 3pm  
Niagara Branch Library ~ 280 Porter Avenue in Buffalo.

Go to  for more details.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A new opt out letter: "refuse"

2014 Letter here.



After several weeks of information sharing, discussion, debates, and brainstorming in the NY Opt Out facebook group, Eric M. put together this tremendous opt out letter that uses the "refusal" code "999" as the key terminology from NYSED's regulations.  The strength of this letter is that the wording of the state regulations opens up the right to "refuse" for parents and students.


Dear Administrator,

Thank you for all that you do for our school. I am writing to respectfully inform you that my child, ______________, under my guardianship and advice, will be scored as a “refusal”, with a final score of “999” and a standard achieved code of 96, on all State testing including ELA, Math and Science as described in the NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual on page 63. Please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently and scored with different standard achieved codes on page 63 of the SIRS Manual. Also note that on page 20 of the 2012 Edition School Administrator’s Manual it is explained that “The makeup dates are to be used for administering makeup tests to students who were ‘ABSENT’ during the designated administration dates.” My child will specifically be scored as a “refusal”, not “absent”, and therefore my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his/her regular classroom environment during the administration of all makeup test periods as this letter provides written verification of a “refusal” for all tests.

I would ask that the school please provide an alternative activity for my child during administrative sessions of testing (not makeup tests, as my child will be in his/her regular classroom environment). However, I understand that an alternative activity is not required on the part of the school. If you are unable to provide an alternative activity for my child I would ask that you please utilize the provision of the NYS Testing Program Educator Guide to the 2013 Common Core which, on page 9, explains “When Students Have Completed Their Tests….that student may be permitted to read silently.” I am reserving the option of removing my child from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional anxiety state of my child on the day of refusal and whether or not the school will provide an alternate activity for my child.

 Thank you very much. I look forward to a great end of the school year.


Another type of Opt Out.

I knew the data sharing of our children's personal and educational information was part of the plan resulting from New York's Race to the Top agreements, but the the privacy issues go way beyond even what I expected. 

It is time to have a discussion with your local school board about sharing personal information with corporations that are using Race to the Top policy to profit from our public schools. 

I am not a conspiracy theorist in anyway, but I find this program to be very disturbing.

"K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents"

Diane Ravitch: Your child's data now online.

Opt out information from Class size matters.