It seems wealthy communities in California know all about exercising their opt out rights under California Education Code 60615:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, a parent’s or guardian’s written request to school officials to exclude his or her child from and or all parts of the assessments administered pursuant to this chapter shall be granted.”
[Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations further provides that parents or guardians may annually submit a written request to the school to excuse their child from any or all parts of the CAASPP for the school year. See 5 C.C.R. §852(c).]
Parents or guardians in communities where English is not the first language may not know their rights. Additionally, low-income communities may lack information access to many online resources. It’s a matter of education equity that all parents and guardians be given crucial information about their rights regardless of socioeconomic status or language spoken at home.
While there are guidelines for teachers to speak with parents and guardians about this, it’s the responsibility of the California Department of Education to inform all families with school-aged children of their rights with multilingual materials that explain opt out, testing and student privacy concerns, and the scope of protection under state student privacy laws. Please SIGN OUR OPEN LETTER to Governor Brown and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to urge them to do so!
There are probably as many reasons for parents and guardians to opt their children out of these tests as there are children. These include:
- college-bound children already face a round of tests that determine their child’s college readiness – including, but not limited to, the SATs, the ACTs and various Advanced Placement Exams.
- this computer-based testing program lacks a proven track record. The secrecy and non-transparency of the tests is a factor here. Parents, guardians, teachers and students are not given the opportunity to review the questions after the tests have been administered — decreasing their educative value and making it harder for parents and guardians to determine that these tests are fair, reliable, valid and unbiased. There are unanswered questions about cut scores and whether the tests are developmentally appropriate.
- children with learning disabilities are being tested on material that is beyond their IEP (Individualized Education Program), whereas parents and guardians of children enrolled in accelerated programs are subjected to tests on material already covered in previous years.
- concern about about the privacy and security of the tests. Many object to the fact that private, for profit corporations are data mining their children with few specifics about how these companies can use this information in the marketplace. Others are concerned that the testing companies routinely monitor schoolchildren on their social media to uncover discussions about the tests. These vendors ARE NOT covered by the SOPIPA (student privacy) law signed by the governor in September of 2014 because the law covers contracts signed with school districts as of January 2016.
- children who are sick, emotionally disturbed, suffering from personal or family trauma are already experiencing too much stress. Testing is one more stressor and it is unlikely that the test results will reflect their children’s abilities.
- tests have only served to narrow the curriculum — de-emphasizing the so-called ‘non-testable’ subjects that include the arts, PE, vocational studies, foreign languages, recess and other important components of a comprehensive education. Many do not like the fact that these high stakes tests have created an atmosphere of ‘teaching to the test’, focusing on ‘drill and kill’ rote activities over ‘hands-on’, project-based learning.
- time and money spent on the testing programs which extend beyond the administration of the tests. They see allocations for test prep materials, teacher training programs, tech support, and most significantly, expensive educational technology diverting money from other essential programs.