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Facts for Parents on Opting Out of State Tests

Fact Sheet No: 17-05 April 2017
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As the next round of state tests approach, it is important to review the facts around opting out of state tests. Each year misinformation about the impact of opt outs is presented as fact to parents around the state as school district officials attempt to convince parents to have their children take the state tests. This Fact Sheet attempts to clear up the misinformation by reviewing the federal requirements for participation in the state assessments and potential consequences of opting-out for districts, students and teachers.

Parents and teachers share deep concerns about the standardized tests used by New York State for accountability purposes. Those include: stress on students, in-appropriateness and lack of validity of the Common Core-aligned tests, loss of learning time, misuse of tests for high-stakes decisions, erosion of local control over school decisions and lack of transparency on state test content. Parents who decide it is not in their children’s best interests to take these assessments are part of an “Opt-Out” movement in New York State. Despite recent changes that eliminate certain consequences of the state tests for students and teachers, the tests will still be administered and used for “advisory” purposes. NYSUT fully supports a parent’s right to choose what is best for their children.

The opt out process is different in each district. You should check with your school principal or district administrator to find out the process in your school district. The State Education Department (SED) no longer questions a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state tests. If the district does not have a standard form, send the principal a letter stating the tests you do not want your child to take part in and request the district provide a productive alternative activity. All requests for opt outs should be made in writing to ensure a paper trail should a question arise about whether you requested that your child not take the state tests. The letter should be provided to the school Principal prior to the start of the state testing period. The sooner the letter is provided the less likely the district is to dispute your request. Some parents provide the letter on the first day of school.