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.