How OPTING OUT protects children, teachers and neighborhood schools
A guide for Colorado families
Thank you to parent volunteers for compiling this information:
THE PROBLEM WITH HIGH STAKES TESTING:
The State of Colorado spent over $78 MILLION in 2015 to prepare, administer and grade standardized tests (Study of Assessment Use in CO Districts and Schools; Augenblick, Palaich & Associates, 2014).
Teachers report spending up to 40% of class time preparing for and administering standardized tests. (CEA Comprehensive Educator Survey, Dec. 15, 2014) Children average 83-153 hours annually on standardized tests and preparation, beginning in primary grades (APA, 2014). The average kindergartener logs 68 hours annually in test prep and exams statewide.
Dollars for the classroom (teachers, the arts/electives, special education, health and safety) are being re-directed towards expensive testing. Your child’s classroom is now more crowded. Young children get significantly less time for recess and lunch breaks due to testing (NAEYC, 2009).
Your children are not practicing higher order thinking (evaluation, analysis and synthesis) because standardized testing emphasizes rote learning and recall.
Your child’s scores on state tests are not available until the following school year, so they are not valuable for instructional purposes.
Your child’s teacher must limit instruction to test-related topics in order to “prove their teaching ability.”
When asked whether benefits outweigh the costs for state tests, 75% of school administrators and 80% of teachers disagreed (Study of Assessment Use in CO Districts & Schools, 2014).
OPTING OUT of HIGH STAKES TESTING IS THE SOLUTION
What does it mean to “opt out?”
Opting out means you refuse high stakes testing for your child. High-stakes tests are used to make important (typically punitive) decisions about students, educators, schools, or districts. These include district, state and federally mandated standardized testing.
Opting out of high stakes testing is the best action parents can take to resist the current takeover of our public schools. Common Core and the resulting “accountability” through high stakes testing are slowly dismantling public education. They have denied teachers the freedom to meet the diverse needs of their students. They have also robbed students of creativity, critical thinking and collaborative learning opportunities. Excellent educators are losing heart and leaving the profession. This national movement is about protecting our children, promoting integrity in education and preserving neighborhood schools.
How does Opting Out help? The privatization movement needs your child’s testing data in order to succeed. By opting out, parents withhold this data and send a message that they will not participate in this education “reform” that is harming public education.
You Are Not Alone: In 2015, over 65,000 Colorado students opted out of standardized testing, a massive increase from the year before. Opt-outs occurred in every district with the rate in several districts as high as 80%.
Opting-Out is Your Right The US Supreme Court has consistently upheld the right of parents to direct their children’s education. Colorado law currently states that parents may opt out their children without negative consequences.
Opting Out Helps Your School Over 620,000 students opted out of testing nationally last year. Despite this, not a single state, school, or district anywhere in the U.S. was penalized by the federal government for failing to test. Additionally, the CDE has declared it will not change any school’s rating or funding based on test scores. (www.cde.org).
Opting Out will NOT hurt your child Recent CO legislation (HB15-1323) expressly prohibits schools from imposing any negative consequences on students or parents who choose to opt out of testing. Failing to test won’t jeopardize college opportunities. Colleges do not consider these tests (TCAP, CMAS, PARCC) for admission. Current research indicates that GPA is a better predictor of success in college.
Opting Out will NOT hurt your teacher Teacher assessments are not tied to test scores.
What is the process for opting out of standardized testing in Colorado?
–Write an opt out letter to the principal of your child’s school stating your refusal. Find sample letters at www.UnitedOptOut.com.
-Your opt out letter should specify any or ALL standardized tests you wish to refuse, including district-created interim assessments and READ Act assessments (K-3). Some tests currently administered include Acuity, MAP, PARCC, CMAS, STAR, AIMSWeb, CoAlt, ACCESS, CogAt, and more. Ask your child’s teacher for more information.
-Opt out soon! Many schools start testing during the first few weeks of school. Ask your child’s teacher for this year’s testing schedule. Your children are tested more frequently than you realize.
–Don’t be bullied! The US Supreme Court has ruled that parents have the right to direct the education of their children. As a result, thousands of parents opt out of high stakes testing each year without any consequence.
Sample Opt Out Letter:
Dear _______: I am writing on behalf of _____ to refuse the (list all test names). He/she is neither permitted to take the exam during mandated testing days nor during designated make-up sessions. If alternative activities are available, my child will be in attendance during testing hours.
For MUCH more information on high stakes testing, and Opt Out, please visit the following websites: