In June of 2015, Governor Kate Brown signed legislation that allows parents to opt their children out of high stakes standardized tests, and now many parents are doing just that. The form letter created by the state has been called threatening and intimidating by some because in addition to asking for pertinent information about the student, it states in bold print:
I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English Language Arts and Math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning.
Those statements are debatable to say the least. The SBAC offers little information about how well a child is progressing. In addition, the state is bound to equitably distribute resources to support learning regardless of test scores. This type of saber-rattling has been echoed by the Oregonian to discourage parents and students from opting out of tests. Critics of high stakes testing at Oregon Save Our Schools have gathered an abundance of resources to answer questions about opting out of "the test."
Click on the image above to upload the parent-friendly opt out form.
“Testing is not a substitute for curriculum and instruction. Good education cannot be achieved by a strategy of testing children, shaming educators and closing schools.”– Diane Ravitch
Watch as Diane Ravitch explains,
The first thing you have to know is that we've never done well on international tests. International tests have been around now for 50 years. The first one was given in 1964. We came in last. Over the last 50 years we are typically either at middle or the bottom quartile. Now, how did we get to be the most powerful nation in the world when our test scores were so low. It's because the test scores have nothing to do with predicting the future of the economy . . . We are the most powerful country inthe world, and so what if we have mediocre test scores. It doesn't seem to make any difference because our economy has been buoyed by creativity, imagination, ingenuity, risk-taking, the kid who has a computer and a bright idea and does something no one's ever done before. And what we're asking kids to be judged by now is, 'Can you pick the right box?' That's not a test of the things that matter most. If you look at those international scores, the thing that drags us down again and again is the fact that kids are poor. If you look at kids in our affluent homes, they're doing very well indeed."
The parent-friendly version of the Opt Out form strives to provide a more honest alternative. Although it looks similar to the form developed by the state, there are stark differences in content and perception. Hopefully, parents seeking the truth about testing will appreciate the alternative. Currently, the state says its form cannot be altered and must be used. However, parents can refuse the tests in writing in any way they deem appropriate. Opting out was supported by constitutional law before HB2655 was passed. Eve though there is nothing in that bill that stipulates that the state form be submitted to opt out, parents should be aware that they may encounter resistance when submitting the parent-friendly form.