Test Refusal / Test Boycott in Idaho

(Be sure to hover over the Test Refusal/ Test Boycott tab to see all of the new resources.)

Most educators do not really understand why a standardized test provides a misleading estimate of a school staff’s effectiveness.” Dr. W. James Popham, Why Standardized Tests Don’t Measure Educational Quality © 1999 by Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development


In turn, parents and the public have been led to believe that a standardized test-based accountability plan is a school reform effort. The education of millions of children has suffered as a result. Nothing to date has stopped the spread of this fallacy. Refusing to let your child be part of Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC / ISAT 2) testing will help end this nonsense!

Threats have been issued and laws made to bind:

Graduation to SBAC high-stakes standardized tests,

Advancement to the next grade level to SBAC high-stakes standardized tests,

School ratings to SBAC high-stakes standardized tests,

Teacher pay to SBAC high-stakes standardized tests,

Grades tied to SBAC high-stakes standardized tests.

None of these applications are fair or justified.

Just because standardized tests are relatively easy to administer and cheap to grade, doesn’t make them the right choice. For decades many parents, administrators, teachers, and concerned citizens have tried to reason with authorities concerning the misuses and abuses of high-stakes standardized test scores (scores tied to rankings, punishments, or rewards), but nothing has worked to stop the unethical testing.

Opting out or refusing testing of your child is a boycott, a demonstration that unfortunately has become a last resort in drawing attention to this incessant and senseless testing.

When testing practices have not followed compliance with the Code of Fair Testing Practices, http://www.apa.org/science/programs/testing/fair-testing.pdf they are unethical. Parents don’t need to explain this to the public education system, the system – particularly lawmakers – owe them an explanation.

Idaho is a local control state.

Local control” is based on “the belief that the individuals and institutions closest to the students and most knowledgeable about a school—and most invested in the welfare and success of its educators, students, and communities—are best suited to making important decisions related to its operation, leadership, staffing, academics, teaching, and improvement.”  http://edglossary.org/local-control/

With that in mind and with much appreciation to United Opt Out (UOO) http://unitedoptout.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Idaho-OPT-OUT-Guide-FINAL-June-30.pdf for contacting the Idaho Department of Education (IDOE) to determine their official response, here is IDOE’s emailed reply to UOO:

Because ISAT testing is used as a graduation requirement and as a measure of a student’s progress, we desire that all students take the ISAT. However, if a parent chooses to not allow their student to test, they need to contact their district/school and ask for the proper protocol, because each district handles it differently. Typically, a letter is requested from the parent explaining that they are refusing to allow their child to test.

As a note, this will be held against the school and could possibly cause the school to not make Annual Yearly Progress in student participation and will not answer the graduation requirement.”

Idaho is vague as to the consequences for not completing all “required” tests because we are a “local control state.” Alternate routes to graduation have been in place for districts to decide that issue since high-stakes standardized testing became a requirement. It is the 10th grade SBAC/ISAT 2 test that counts for graduation. And our state has also added ACT, SAT, or Compass for 11th grade further making the additional SBAC/ISAT 2 requirement seem like overkill.

Alternatives that parents can request from their school board include multiple forms of assessments such as a portfolio review including classroom evaluations of student learning objectives (teacher-created formative and summative assessments).

To assist in the fight against high-stakes standardized testing, this Questionnaire on Testing (provided by John Merrow of Learning Matters) should be provided to your superintendent and school board members as a tool for them to review their testing practices.

If you still are unclear as to what to do, please consider reading Why Refuse the Use of Standardized Testing this Year in Idaho?

Steps in the Test Refusal Process with Sample Letters are provided to help make this process as easy and painless as possible. Thank you. If you have question, so do others. Please contact Stephanie@idahoansforlocaleducation.com

What You Might Be Told When You Refuse Standardized Testing of Your Child

The biggest shame is that lawmakers put parents and students in this position. Shame on them for being ignorant!

For more information and more things to consider, please visit the United OptOut “Get Tough Guide” http://unitedoptout.com/essential-guides/get-tough-guide/

and the guide they put together for Idaho!


Thank you to Vicky Young for putting this together.