As we enter a new school year, state tests are pretty far away. But it doesn’t hurt to do your homework now and get prepared for the spring.
First, every single state in the U.S. of A requires some form of standardized testing to comply with No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Schools are required to show annual yearly progress (AYP) to prove that their students are gaining knowledge and skills appropriately. A lot of emphasis is put onto these tests, and how the students are scoring.
Many parents feel strongly that their children are being over tested. Between state tests, school required benchmarking tests, and regular classroom assessments, students are spending a TON of time taking tests every year. Many parents also feel helpless in the face of tests that they do not want their students to take.
You have a choice: Opt Out
What does opting out mean? It means submitting a formal letter to your school’s administration requesting that your student be considered exempt from testing.
If you decide to go this route, know that this is your legal right. You, the parents, ultimately hold the reins in your child’s education and the direction it takes. You have the right to homeschool your child, enroll her in private school, to request an IEP evaluation, and to withdraw your child from mandated testing.
Schools don’t always want to share this information, for a variety of reasons.
First, there is the fear of retribution from the state and federal governments based on the 95% rule. NCLB requires that 95% of the student body participate in the tests in order to maintain AYP. But unless your school receives Title 1 funding, your school is exempt from repercussions. Additionally, if you are in one of the 41 states (plus DC and Puerto Rico) that offer waivers, your school is safe unless they fall into the lowest 5% of districts.
If your school is in a non-waiver state, almost all schools are already failing to meet the 100% proficiency standard set by NCLB. There are no additional penalties for continuing to not meet AYP. Therefore, you can withdraw your child from testing without fear.
There is some truth to fallout from continually failing to make AYP, but it is hard to enforce. Essentially, schools that fail to make AYP for two or more years must set aside some Title 1 funds to provide tutoring or transport to a non-failing school. But, according to fairtest.org, this has become unenforceable due to the high percentage of failing schools.
Your Legal Rights
I am not telling you to opt out of any test, ever. I am telling you that there are options legally available to your family in regards to testing.
Be wise, use your best judgement as a parent, do what is in the interests of your child.