Support Idaho Teachers. Opt Out Now!

Filed in Uncategorized by on January 16, 2014 5 Comments

There are good teachers.  Lots of them.  And parents recognize a good teacher when they see one.   Right now these good teachers are stuck in a system that won’t allow them to do what they do best how they best know to do it.    Google it and you find stories all over the internet of teachers who loved their profession, loved feeling like they could affect positive change in a child’s or a youth’s life, but who quit because they felt caught in a system that wouldn’t fully realize their students’ potential and may even be harmful.  And the way the system is set up teachers can’t work around it.  Because of the emphasis on high-stakes testing being tied to teacher evaluations they are forced to use their time teaching to a test.  We’ve recently had a group of superintendents speak out against this.

Last spring Stacey Knudsen had a phone conversation with Supt.  Luna.  He told her parents could absolutely opt their children out of the tests.  Too bad there isn’t a recording of that interchange because now parents are being told that opting out isn’t an option.   Amidst all the confusion I contacted a district superintendent and asked him.  Here is his response:

The answer is parents definitely have the right to opt out their children from the SBAC test.  I made sure to opt out my two daughters. They will NOT be taking the SBAC test this year or ever and I have asked the high school administration to provide alternative educational options for my girls while others are testing.
As Superintendent, I am neither advocating for or discouraging parents in my area from this option. Professionally I felt there were no valid educational reasons for anyone to have to take the test, especially one that lasts over 8 hours.
All a parent has to do is write and sign a letter to the administration (much like signing kids out for a dental appointment) indicating they are opting their children out of the test.
In my opinion, this state obsession with standardized testing must come to an end.  Testing consumes vast amounts of legitimate computer usage and classroom instructional time for no valid reason.

In a follow up email he added,

I feel parents need to know all the options and then exercise their best judgment.
In my opinion, the SBAC test is not educationally beneficial except to the testing companies.
 Be prepared for a little push back when you take in your opt out form.   Districts are getting a lot of pressure to make certain that 95% of their students get tested. It will affect the schools star rating as parents opt their children out. Here are a couple of things that might make it easier:
1-Use a letter that you know works for Idaho. (See below.)
2-Have a buddy (there is strength in numbers)
3- Have a script regarding the policies.  If the principal tells you that all students are required to take the test, tell them you’d like to see where the policy is stated.  If the principal tells you it’s not official policy, but that your child could be penalized grade-wise or retained, ask to see the policy that addresses grades, retention and promotion.

Here is the opt out form used by the above mentioned superintendent.

Let Idaho teachers know that you know they are much more than  the sum of a standardized test.

 

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  • Jim

    If we are enrolled in a online charter school, and signed an agreement for our children to take standardized tests, do we still have the ability to refuse? We obviously did not know about SBAC when we signed that agreement.

    • http://idahoansforlocaleducation.com/ Idahoans for Local Education

      I would opt out letting the school know that at the time you signed the agreement you were unaware of the SBAC tests. Virtual charter schools are particularly sensitive to the testing.

  • countrygurl

    Has anyone looked into wether or not the schools can withhold diplomas for students that refuse to take the SBAC?

    • http://idahoansforlocaleducation.com/ Idahoans for Local Education

      Sorry it is taking so long to get back to this, we’ve been doing a little research, but haven’t been able to come up with anything definitive. However, in other states parents have been asking the schools to supply their child with an alternative. I am still working on an answer for you.

    • http://idahoansforlocaleducation.com/ Idahoans for Local Education

      Here’s what one superintendent told me.

      That would be a decision rendered by the local School Board.
      However, I cannot imagine any board imposing that restriction as we want
      to help students graduate.

      Typically,
      alternative graduation routes may be developed and in the case of the
      SBAC since it has not been determined to be a valid test (and since we
      will not see the results), I can easily imagine legal action being taken
      to counter any board foolishly choosing to withhold diplomas.