Monday, August 26, 2013

2013 Opt Out letter

Here is a copy (with names removed) of our 2013 Opt Out letter.  We were successful in boycotting all local testing (SLO, RTI-AIMSweb) last year using a similar letter.  Our district denied our right to "opt out" of the state assessments in the spring, but we used the "refusal" process to justify the boycott.

(School Admin)

Dear _________________,

Last school year our family “opted out” or withdrew our children _________________ from all mandated assessments imposed on children by state and federal regulations. We truly appreciate the cooperation and professionalism of the _________________ staff in helping our family boycott harmful education policies.

Our decision to opt out in no way reflected on the teachers, administration, or school board. This was not an easy decision for us, but we feel that we had no other choice. We simply see these tests as harmful, expensive, and a waste of time and valuable resources. The explosion of high-stakes tests, student data collection and teacher evaluation systems are draining scarce financial resources from our schools.

This year we will continue our effort to eliminate unnecessary and harmful assessments in our public schools. Our children will not participate in any assessments other than those solely for the use of the individual classroom teacher. We refuse to allow any data to be used for purposes other than the individual teacher’s own formative or cumulative assessment. Any assessment whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction will not be presented to our children.

To be clear, our children will not participate in the following:

• Any state assessment. Our children will “refuse” according to NYSED's regulations covered under the “999” testing code.

• Pre-assessments connected to “Student-Learning Objectives” in all subjects, including art, music, and Physical Education.

• Any surveys, or “field tests” given by corporate or government entities or testing companies.

• Any progress-monitoring or RTI assessments such as AIMSweb, STAR, or DIBELS

• Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for our children’s teachers or their school.

We will be encouraging other parents to stand up against the testing fad and, more importantly, the corporate and government takeover of our schools. We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe that our children’s education should be trusted in the hands of those who are most experienced and who personally know the needs and individual requirements of each child. Teachers already know how to determine those needs and requirements without mandated standardized testing. Ironically we hear the phrase “college and career ready” bantered about quite often, but the current testing madness will not prepare our children for their lives after graduation.

___________ should have a unified policy in place to address children who will be opting out of assessments. Our schools should also send a letter to all homes informing parents of the dates of all mandated testing. Very few parents are aware of the amount of required testing that our children face on a regular basis. Our schools have the obligation to inform the families of our community about all aspects of our children’s education.

Thank you for your time.