Opting Out

Why we refuse NYS Standardized Assessments

Opting-out is the process of refusing to participate in state and district testing programs for grades 3-8.

  * Parents can write and submit a refusal letter to refuse their children from taking the NYS Assessments grades 3-8.  
   *What is the difference between “opting out” and “refusing?” In practice, nothing.  But the official term to use in your letter is “refuse.”
   *Districts MUST accept parents’ refusal letters since it is a parent’s right to opt out of the NYS assessments.

NYS Assessments 2018/19 Summary

  • NYS is required to submit the federally required 95% participation rate number that includes all students who take ELA and math assessments. This number includes score results for all students, including those not tested.
  • There will be two indices measuring student performance; one that is submitted to the Federal government and one that is used for accountability in NYS.
  • NO, your district will not lose funding for opting out.
  • NYS is required to submit the federally required 95% participation rate number that includes all students who take ELA and math assessments. This number includes score results for all students, including those not tested.
  • There will be two indices measuring student performance; one that is submitted to the Federal government and one that is used for accountability in NYS.
  • NO, your district will not lose funding for opting out.

Opt-Out FAQ


TEST REFUSAL & IMPACT ON SCHOOLS

The formula the state uses to figure out school rankings is quite confusing. As a result, there are schools with high opt-out rates that have remained in good standing and schools with low opt-out rates that are placed on the CSI (Comprehensive Support and Improvement) list.

This happens as a result of using multiple measures/indicators to determine CSI and TSI (Targeted Support and Improvement) schools, including, but not limited to students who opt-out of the state assessments.

For a more detailed explanation, see the next question, “How are schools identified and rated?”

TWO OTHER POINTS WORTH CONSIDERING

1.  How do we define a “good” school?  What is the measure of school, “ranking”? test scores? which ones? Should we rank schools based on standardized tests that are inappropriate, poorly constructed and come with hidden agendas? If we settle for these as a measure of a “good school” what else are we simply “settling” on?  What becomes of a curriculum that is deep and rich with meaning, thought provoking and creative?  Does it go by the wayside because it cannot be measured on a standardized test?  

2.  Also, consider the sources of who is pushing parents to “opt in,” those who are afraid of the perception of a dip in school ranking?  the consequence of paperwork?  Again, what does that actually mean?  We need to dig down deep and ask ourselves if it’s worth sacrificing curriculum that speaks to a well-rounded, whole-child for the sake of a curriculum that narrowly focuses on teaching to a standardized test because of, rankings. 

The original purpose of the 95% rule was to ensure that schools did not selectively exclude low-performing students and students with special needs from taking state assessments; it had nothing to do with parents exercising their rights to refuse the tests.  Furthermore, there is no language in the law that states schools will be financially punished for failing to meet the 95% participation rate as a result of refusing to take state assessments.

 
How Will Schools be Identified?
1.  Compute the “Weighted Average Achievement Level” of a school’s ELA, math, and science Performance Indices and assign a level 1-4 to this weighted average.


2. 
Combine the Weighted Average Achievement Level with the Core Subject Performance Level to create a Composite Performance Level.

3.  Rank order the schools on the Composite Performance: Level: Identify the lowest 10 percent (Achievement = 1).

4.  Rank order the schools on the three-year average Mean Growth Percentile (MGP): Identify the lowest 10 percent (Growth = 1).

5.  Sum the Composite Performance rank and the growth rank: Identify the lowest 10 percent (Combined Composite Performance & Growth = 1).

6.  Use the table below to identify schools for CSI.

Your district superintendent would be responsible for filing reports and corrective action plans. Most districts on Long Island have a very slim chance on making receivership.  See our ESSA page for more details

For schools that are more concerned with achieving high scores on state tests rather than developing well-rounded curriculum for students, then yes, the curriculum can become more narrowly focused on “teaching to the test.”  Thoughtful whole-child developed education that incorporates how to ask questions, thinks through big ideas, works in a team, develops leadership skills, becomes more inquisitive learners gives way to “drill and practice” test prep.

TEST REFUSAL & IMPACT ON MY CHILD

Students who refuse will be coded as “not tested” and will not receive a score.  There are no legal consequences for refusing the NYS Assessments.

HOW TO REFUSE (“Opt-Out” of) THE STATE TESTS

The process is different in each district; some may have a standard form to fill out, others will require something in writing.  If your district does not provide a form, feel free to use the following sample letter. (If you choose to write your own letter, we recommend using the word “refuse” because technically there is no provision for “opting out.”)

Many schools request that letters are sent in as soon as possible so they may make necessary provisions based on the number of opt outs they receive (alternate location, activities etc).

New York State has no formal policy regarding opting out of state assessments at this time. However, since a new provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts to inform parents and guardians of opt-out policies, and affirms a parent’s right to have their children opt out of statewide standardized tests where state and local policies permit,  SED (State Education Department) no longer questions a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state tests. 
       [ESEA III2 (e)(2)(A)]“IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall notify the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the parents may request, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment, where applicable.
Feel free to use this information to point out to him/her or contact us for help with this matter (if you’re not in our district, we can put you in contact with and education advocate in your area)

HOW TO OPT OUT OF STATE AND LOCAL ASSESSMENTS

In addition to the NYS Assessments, depending on the district, there are also local standardized assessments given to our children throughout the school year.  Use the following documents to learn more about the different assessments and how to opt out of them.

Opt-Out FAQ


TEST REFUSAL & IMPACT ON SCHOOLS

The formula the state uses to figure out school rankings is quite confusing. As a result, there are schools with high opt-out rates that have remained in good standing and schools with low opt-out rates that are placed on the CSI (Comprehensive Support and Improvement) list.

This happens as a result of using multiple measures/indicators to determine CSI and TSI (Targeted Support and Improvement) schools, including, but not limited to students who opt-out of the state assessments.

For a more detailed explanation, see the next question, “How are schools identified and rated?”

TWO OTHER POINTS WORTH CONSIDERING

1.  How do we define a “good” school?  What is the measure of school, “ranking”? test scores? which ones? Should we rank schools based on standardized tests that are inappropriate, poorly constructed and come with hidden agendas? If we settle for these as a measure of a “good school” what else are we simply “settling” on?  What becomes of a curriculum that is deep and rich with meaning, thought provoking and creative?  Does it go by the wayside because it cannot be measured on a standardized test?  

2.  Also, consider the sources of who is pushing parents to “opt in,” those who are afraid of the perception of a dip in school ranking?  the consequence of paperwork?  Again, what does that actually mean?  We need to dig down deep and ask ourselves if it’s worth sacrificing curriculum that speaks to a well-rounded, whole-child for the sake of a curriculum that narrowly focuses on teaching to a standardized test because of, rankings. 

The original purpose of the 95% rule was to ensure that schools did not selectively exclude low-performing students and students with special needs from taking state assessments; it had nothing to do with parents exercising their rights to refuse the tests.  Furthermore, there is no language in the law that states schools will be financially punished for failing to meet the 95% participation rate as a result of refusing to take state assessments.

 
How Will Schools be Identified?
1.  Compute the “Weighted Average Achievement Level” of a school’s ELA, math, and science Performance Indices and assign a level 1-4 to this weighted average.


2. 
Combine the Weighted Average Achievement Level with the Core Subject Performance Level to create a Composite Performance Level.

3.  Rank order the schools on the Composite Performance: Level: Identify the lowest 10 percent (Achievement = 1).

4.  Rank order the schools on the three-year average Mean Growth Percentile (MGP): Identify the lowest 10 percent (Growth = 1).

5.  Sum the Composite Performance rank and the growth rank: Identify the lowest 10 percent (Combined Composite Performance & Growth = 1).

6.  Use the table below to identify schools for CSI.

Your district superintendent would be responsible for filing reports and corrective action plans. Most districts on Long Island have a very slim chance on making receivership.  See our ESSA page for more details

For schools that are more concerned with achieving high scores on state tests rather than developing well-rounded curriculum for students, then yes, the curriculum can become more narrowly focused on “teaching to the test.”  Thoughtful whole-child developed education that incorporates how to ask questions, thinks through big ideas, works in a team, develops leadership skills, becomes more inquisitive learners gives way to “drill and practice” test prep.

TEST REFUSAL & IMPACT ON MY CHILD

Students who refuse will be coded as “not tested” and will not receive a score.  There are no legal consequences for refusing the NYS Assessments.

HOW TO REFUSE (“Opt-Out” of) THE STATE TESTS

The process is different in each district; some may have a standard form to fill out, others will require something in writing.  If your district does not provide a form, feel free to use the following sample letter. (If you choose to write your own letter, we recommend using the word “refuse” because technically there is no provision for “opting out.”)

Many schools request that letters are sent in as soon as possible so they may make necessary provisions based on the number of opt outs they receive (alternate location, activities etc).

New York State has no formal policy regarding opting out of state assessments at this time. However, since a new provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires districts to inform parents and guardians of opt-out policies, and affirms a parent’s right to have their children opt out of statewide standardized tests where state and local policies permit,  SED (State Education Department) no longer questions a parent’s right to opt their child out of the state tests. 
       [ESEA III2 (e)(2)(A)]“IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall notify the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the parents may request, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or parental right to opt the child out of such assessment, where applicable.
Feel free to use this information to point out to him/her or contact us for help with this matter (if you’re not in our district, we can put you in contact with and education advocate in your area)

Top Three Reasons Why Parents Don’t Opt-Out
(and our response)

I want them to take tests. It’s good practice for the SAT’s/Regents.



OUR RESPONSE
Some parents believe that standardized testing in 3rd through 8th grades is good preparation for standardized tests they will face in high school and beyond. However, the NY State tests are not similar to the SAT’s or any other standardized exam. The format, content, answer choice patterns, question types and patterns, and duration are all different with different purposes for each one. Each one requires its own analysis and practice in terms of breaking down question types and answer choice patterns.

It doesn’t matter, I don’t see the need to opt out.

OUR RESPONSE
It does matter. Refusing to take the state assessments is about a persistently calling attention to how standardized testing is tied to corporatization and privatization of public schools, narrowing curriculum that results in “teaching to the test,” and evaluating teachers based on test scores. It moves people to action and in turn, places pressure on our elected officials by demanding deeper more thoughtful whole-child education, not a one size fits all regurgitation of information.

I like to see how my kids are doing

OUR RESPONSE
Every year we post SEVERAL examples of NYS Assessment questions that are above grade level, poorly constructed, and developmentally inappropriate. A better, more reliable way to to see how your child is doing is to check in with his/her teacher and simply ask. Weekly assessments that are created by their teachers, developmentally appropriate and used to guide instruction will also tell you how your child is doing.