Monday, February 24, 2014

Our 2014 Refusal Letter

Please note that our family has boycotted the state assessments for the past two school years.  Feel free to modify the wording if this is your first year "refusing".



{ School Administrator/Superintendent/Principal name(s) }

Dear { School Administrator name }

We are writing on behalf of {child 1, 2, 3... names} to refuse the New York State Assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics this spring. As we have expressed numerous times in the last two years, our family is very concerned about the direction of education in our state. The increase in mandated standardized testing is having a significant negative educational impact on children and contributes to the financial crisis facing districts across the Empire State. Thank you once again for listening to our concerns.

We have no issue with properly written tests that monitor our children's progress but the current assessment system does not help parents or educators achieve that goal. Despite what state education officials repeat ad nauseam, teachers are provided with very little data from the state assessments to “inform instruction”. Parents receive a vague score report that does not assist families in assessing our children's academic progress. The secretive nature of the state assessments contributes to the need for significant reversal in education policy in our state and nation. It short, the current New York assessment system has no educational value for the students of our state.

Regarding the state assessments, we respectfully direct your attention to the NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual[1], which directs that our children be scored as a "refusal," with a final score of "999" and a standard achieved code of "96" on ELA and math. Please note that a "refusal" is not the same as "absent" as they are defined differently and scored with different standard achieved codes[1]. Also note that "The makeup dates are to be used for administering makeup tests to students who were “absent” during the designated administration dates."[2] Children scored as "refusal" rather than "absent" should continue their education in the regular classroom environment during the administration of makeup test periods. We are reserving the option of removing our children from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional state of our children on the day of refusal.

We ask that, if possible, the school please provide an alternative activity for our children, as well as others who are refusing the tests, during administrative sessions of the assessments. We are willing to partner with the school to find appropriate activities that will not exert undue stress on the teacher and/or classroom. We understand that an alternate activity is not required on the part of the school. If you are unable to accommodate an alternate activity for our children we would ask that you please utilize the provision of the Educator Guide which explains "... that student may be permitted to read silently."[3]

Please understand that this refusal is in no way a reflection on the school district, administration, staff, or teachers. Our purpose in sending this letter is to provide a written record of our family’s refusal request, should it be needed. We truly appreciate the accommodations the {school name} staff has made for families who have decided to refuse the state assessments in the past. Thank you again for all you do!


{parent(s) name}

[1] NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual, page 63.
[2] 2013 Edition School Administrator's Manual, page 25.
[3] NYS Educator Guide to the 2014 Common Core English Language Arts Test (page 9) (ELA) and Mathematics(page7)