OPTING OUT – Step by Step

How to Opt Out/Decline/Refuse STAAR

In response to a lot of “how do I do this” questions, we’ve put together this step by step guide on opting out.  This is a general guide of the various steps and forms a parent can follow to Opt Out of the STAAR assessment. If you are looking for an easy, non-confrontational approach, we can’t offer you that. Schools have been instructed to state that they can’t permit it. Some schools go further and falsely claim that state or federal law requires all students to take the STAAR assessments. Others even make implicit or overt threats to parents. So while all of our forms and letters are polite and civil, it is the rare school district that will work with you. As Peggy Robertson of United Opt Out said, opting out is, at its heart, an act of civil disobedience. So join the hundreds and thousands of parents locally, statewide and nationally who are standing up and speaking out against the standardization of our children’s education.

STEP ONE:

Inform the school that you intend to opt out of the assessment. You are not asking them to let you. You are telling them your decision. You can use the Master Opt Out letter, and customize it to your needs.

A lot of parents have asked whether you must tell the school.  If you simply intend to refuse the assessment, you do not.  However, if you want to preserve the argument that Texas law permits you to Opt Out, you must give notice as described in the Opt Out letters.  We also encourage notice so that the school understands that the assessment system is being protested by the parents.

Update for 2017: In addition, it is still unclear whether the revised assessment will comply with the statutory time limits.  Additional data collection on time of assessment will take place this spring.  If you intend to refuse because the assessments do not comply with the state laws on length and independent validation, we suggest you inform the school of such using this letter.

STEP TWO:

You will receive a response from the school telling you they can’t permit it. At that time you can send either the response letter (if they are citing legalities) or a follow up refusal letter (if they simply say they can’t allow it).

STEP THREE:

At this point, unless the school relents, you will need to make a decision. Either (A) Keep your child home on STAAR days or (B) instruct them to write refused on the test booklet and answer sheet, and to make no other marks. If you choose (B) be aware the some schools have told children during testing that their parents just called and said it was OK to take the assessment. If you go this route, create a password that the child must hear before they take the assessment. If the teacher can’t repeat it, the child doesn’t take the assessment.

If you choose (A), you must be aware of not only the test days, but the full testing window. Schools may assess students after the main STAAR administration day as long as it is within the window. Testing windows may be found here.

Some school districts have permitted children to return to class on makeup days without being assessed. They have required that the child and parent come together to the office before school and write “refused” on the assessment. This is a common sense approach to a refusal to test. It keeps the child in class, minimizes absences and meets their requirements. You can request Return to Class on Makeup Days using this letter.

STEP FOUR:

If your child either refuses to complete the assessment on an administration day or if they refuse on a makeup day, you need to send a Do Not Score letter (click Here). The TEA will still score the assessment, but you can demand your letter be included in his academic file. For the more confrontational of you, you can also ask the district attorney to investigate the falsification of data that accompanies the scoring of refused assessments. (See this article).

STEP FIVE:

Some districts want to be punitive. They will threaten truancy charges or send notices about truancy. You should not ignore this. Rather, inform the school that you have engaged in a home school program on the dates of absence. Let them know that your program included reading, writing, social studies, science and citizenship. Once you have done that, you will have layed the foundation for a defense of truancy charges. It is likely that the school district will not proceed further at that point.  For more information on Dual Enrollment Home Schooling, read this.

Update for 2017:   The following addition from 2016 holds true.  We have had no reports of any truancy related charges from opt out parents in 2016.  >>> Update for 2016: Truancy laws have changed.  The threat is no longer as great as it once was, although it has not entirely disappeared.  In particular, the three day in four week provision, which was used to intimidate parents who held their kids out for a full testing window, has been removed! This is great news.  An unvetted comparison of the old law and the new law is here.

STEP SIX:

If your child is in 5th or 8th grade, be sure that you request a Grade Placement Committee meeting.  This is the method by which accelerated instruction is determined and which makes the promotion or retention decision.  Send the request to the principal of the school immediately after the first assessment is refused.

STEP SEVEN:

Report back! We want to hear about any districts that act in a bad manner towards opt out parents. We also want to hear any stories of schools that are understanding and work with you! Use our contact form  to let us know how it goes!

Updated 3/1/17

82 Comments

  1. Jill Gerlufsen

    What do you do when the STAAR test is used to decide if the child is promoted? They use this in 5th and 8th grade.

    1. admin

      The Education Code provides that a child who is retained due to failure to perform satisfactorily on the STAAR assessment can be promoted by a Grade Placement Committee. The GPC is not allowed to only consider the child’s STAAR results in deciding to promote or retain. The committee must consider grades and teacher recommendations also. We have a GPC Meeting Guide for parents posted in our Forms and Resources for more information.

  2. Anna

    You can take your kid to school on make up days ten minutes too late for them to administer the test. I did this last year. Worked fine. If they give you a hard time you can say you can just keep your kid out for the rest of the day. Make it up to them if they want your kid to be counted as present for the rest of the school day.

    I chose to keep my son out of school on testing days rather than have him write “Refused” on the test because he if wrote anything on the test he would have scored a zero. Since he wasn’t there for testing his STAAR results came back as “NOT SCORED.”

    1. admin

      Parents who choose to do this should be aware that a school can extend testing past the scheduled end of the school day in order to enable completion. Most don’t because they have staffing issues, but it is a possibility.

      As far as a zero on STAAR goes, when was the last time anyone was asked their STAAR scores for any purpose in life? For me personally, a Zero means the same thing as Not Scored.

      1. Concerned citizen

        Unfortunately, it does go against the schools overall rating for it to be a score of zero. So by doing all this you really are hurting the teacher who taught your a child all year, because it makes him or her look like they taught your child nothing. Also, this is hurting the school’s budget, which equals dollars that are taken away from your child’s public education. I’m not sure if it does,if it is simply “not scored.” But the zero does plummet the schools rating and funding from the state. This can also lead to the TEA stepping in and taking over a school for under performance. Sadly, the kids suffer because you basically have to teach to the test all year long when the TEA takes over. I’m saying all this to say, be careful with your advice. Parents want to do the right thing for their children, but is this really helping them?

        1. admin

          Be careful with your own advice. Cite a single documented case of funding cuts, teacher reprisals or school takeover stemming from opt out. You can’t because it has never happened. All those things happen from opt ins. Stop spreading myth and urban legend just to gather more data.

          1. J sims

            I was excited to Read the info in this string until this comment. Unfortunately, all your credibility is lost. Rather than an organization trying to provide information for parents to make informed decisions for the best interest of their children, this shows the true motivation: attack anyone who questions. It’s frustrating because this is a significant issue for my family (and I’m sure many others), and I had been so encouraged that I had found a legitimate source of information.

          2. admin

            Oh I see, one comment you deem intemperate means none of the information provided is good. No refutation of it, you just didn’t like my attitude? That’s your choice. But sadly in the last three years at exactly this time of year, people either anonymously or with their “title” come to this site and make baseless claims and talk about horrible potential consequences, that have never happened. In the Northeast, there are opt out number 25 times greater than Texas. They have never lost federal funds due to opt out. If someone comes on here making claims, as the site I owner, I am fully entitled to demand proof of their claims. That’s so you can make an informed decision. Maybe you found his post interesting and concerning. I found it a boring repeat of claims that have been made for the last three years with zero evidence to support them. If you want a legitimate source of information, I think you would like to see some proof that those claims actually have merit. I’m sorry, but after three years of this, I don’t have a lot of patience with scare tactics from anonymous commenters.

          3. Marsha

            This comment is not talking about opting out. It is talking about writing on the test and receiving a score of zero. I can attest that schools and teachers are harmed when scores are low. I’ve lived through two schools being reconstituted, had a dozen friends lose their jobs because the scool had to cut a certain percentage of faculty. Let me be clear, I SUPPORT OPT OUT. I just think you shouldn’t hurt the teachers by writing “refused” and getting a zero.

          4. admin

            Then it is up to the schools not to threaten and intimidate parents who opt out by keeping their kids home. Again, the things that you cite did not happen as a result of opt outs.

          5. BWaggoner

            This site has sited not one single “law” protecting a child or parent’s right to opt out without the fear of the school district exercising IT’S rights as protected by out State Laws. I hate the STARR test with a passion and feel it is an awful waste of time our children could be using to REALLY learn subjects and not to simply learn how to prepare for testing on them. However, an equal it not bigger waste of time is the junk this site promotes and feeds your parents who would rather listen to someones twisting and spinning of the Texas Education Code not to mention many laws governing or supporting said codes. Wake up people…this site is doing nothing but feeding off your fears…

          6. admin

            Actually, we cite 26.010 of the Texas Education Code. We also specifically note the possibile consequences of opting out. We also relay actual data to parents regarding such things as retention rates. Unlike the schools, which claim that 5th and 8th graders MUST pass STAAR to be promoted, we tell the actual facts. Unlike schools that tell 5th and 8th graders that they must go to summer school if they fail STAAR we inform parents of how the actual AI is determined.

            As an “expert” can you cite a single court decision which contradicts our interpretation of any Texas statute. Of course you can’t because you would have done so in your little tirade. And of course if there were any such case law, we would have it cited already. By the way, you should read the Texas Supreme Court decision noting thay school districts have no “rights” – which is a very basic legal concept that you clearly don’t understand. Perhaps you should post stories of parents who followed the steps on this site and suffered terrible consequences. Oh wait, you can’t do that or you would have. Maybe you should tell them about how we posted a process to let parents view their child’s STAAR assessment that doesn’t work. Oh wait, it does work. Damn. You almost had us there. Maybe you should discuss the 300+ times the Education Code defines the STAAR as a test and not an assessment. Ah damn, I had that backwards. Sorry. Honestly, other than whiny vitriol, do you have anything to contribute. Maybe you should identify yourself so we can assess your credibility.

        2. Tired of tests

          Good! i am burned out with this bs test and some of these schools. I have begged for help and only when your child fails a benchmark do they decide more help is needed. Standardized test does not promote smarter children. Texas has a ridiculous expectation and we are very low rates in the us. They are doing plenty wrong starting w this test!!! Many kids can’t pass it and they don’t deserve punishment I am disgusted they hold students with disabilities to the same standards and refuse to support earlier on when a difference could be made. I personally have signed under ard to accept scores as is. The principal is now doing that for all special educational students. They only have to write their names and be considered in compliance as “participated”. Much better approach for special Ed. While that doesn’t help my younger child who is expected to take it this year in third I plan on using tools on here to opt him out.

          1. Heather Allen

            So how do we get out of summer school if they fail the test twice? Hate STAAR! Mine are SpEd.

        3. priscilla

          I am a Texas teacher. If a student does not take the STAAR test that in no way hurts me professionally nor does it affect the school budget or funding. I’ve been an educator for 26 years and parents need to opt out, opt out, opt out! Teaching is nothing but STAAR centered. Texas children are not receiving a quality education when all they’re taught is how to pass this standardized test.

          1. aek

            Thank you for supporting those of us who feel we have to take a stand for our children and their education.

  3. Justanotherguy

    Just as a side note, teachers in a lower performing elementary school in Wichita Falls, Texas were warned at the beginning of the school year that teachers that did not produce acceptable scores would be fired. Teachers are forced to “write off” students who won’t make the cut, and concentrate on those on the borderline. Of course, those who exceed expectations sit idly by, stalled in neutral when they could have achieved so much more. Teachers are in survival mode.

    1. Sara Wichert

      Well isn’t that lovely! I live in WF and unfortunately my daughter goes to the worst elementary school in the district. My poor 10 yr old is crying, can’t sleep and has horrible stomach cramps tonight, the night before this f*****g test!

        1. Bgonzalez

          At my elementary where I work and my 2nd grader attend . I in front office have to call any kids who are absent and get their parents to bring them to school unless they have fever… and our admins are willing to gonpick them up.. my daughter also gets stomach cramps and headaches during start.. so sad I feel so bad for these kids

      1. Ticked off mom

        Exactly pity the teachers who cares what stress and anxiety it is causing on children! This is why I have zero respect. They only care Abt themselves not Abt the poor kids who are having break downs over the pressure of this stupid test! Freaking strike teachers!!! Boycott the test! There’s an idea! If everyone hates it so much we all need to get off our butts and go with teachers to Austin and protest. We pay the taxes! Think they will listen when no teachers are in the classroom? I bet they will. But so far no one is willing to put up a fight to change it or the few who are don’t get back up. But give the kids help when their parents are begging for it. Just try writing off my children. Already died one district I’ll do it again!

        1. Cheryl

          The thing is SO many people talk but will not actually do anything about it. If every parent would stand up to the state then they would have to do something. I know there is not one person who loves this testing. I agree there needs to be sort of accountability but not a pass or fail.

    2. April Brinegar

      My son is one of those that exceeds expectations. He is quickly bored and uninvolved when the same thing is done over and over and over just to get everyone to test standards. His grades suffer for it as well as what he could be learning and his enjoyment in learning it. That all started this year. I found out at Christmas (not from his teacher) that his reading level was atrocious. He can take a book I read and dissect it; noun, verb, adverb, prepositional phrase but he could not read the majority of it. That is an absolute disgrace and miscarriage of what our education system is supposed to do. He has been absolutely bent up, this whole semester, over these redundant assessments and benchmarks. I finally sat him down and explained that he is an OPT OUT kid and what that meant. He has been a completely different kid and student. To the point of his teacher’s making good comments about his attentiveness and vigor in the classroom, now.

  4. Paula Schroeder

    The state of Texas requires five STAAR exams (Algebra 1, English 1 & 2, Biology and US History) in order for a student to graduate. By opting out of these tests in high school aren’t you preventing your student from receiving their high school diploma?

    1. admin

      SB 149 is currently revisiting this requirement. However, review our article entitled “What About High School” for more information on options for parents of high school students.

      1. Esmer

        So do they need to pass the staar test to graduate? My son is a senior and hasn’t been able to pass one of the staar test. They said he has one more chance to pass it or else he won’t graduate.

        1. admin

          If your son has passed three of the EOCs he can graduate by Individual Graduation Committee. You need to tell the school you want his Individual Graduation Committee to meet.

          1. admin

            Thanks for the resource! I am posting it, although I have not vetted it. Sometimes schools add things that aren’t in the rules.

    2. LRather

      I was told that since my son has failed one of the English tests (last years), that he had to at least ATTEMPT the test each and EVERY time it was given or he couldn’t qualify for the meeting to decide whether to grant him a diploma or not even thought he is an A/B student and has a good GPA. Our school has no give and will NOT agree to opting out without giving parents all kinds of grief! It’s all about the money they can get.

      1. admin

        That is a misinterpretation of the law. SB 149 requires that they attempt it at least once. If they intend to substitute TSI scores, they must have attempted it twice. The school is required to continue to offer it. That is all. Also, there is no requirement that the school wait until the last possible administration to convene an IGC.

  5. Cwillis

    Do we need to send all the letters and deal with the school, or can we simply let them stay home those days?? Then they just never take it. Just curious. (My son is in 7th)

    Thank you!

    1. admin

      You can certainly just stay home. The letters are an effort to do two things: (1) comply with the existing statute and (2) make clear the reasons for our civil disobedience. Since the schools deny the statute lets you opt out anyway, you can certainly save yourself the hassle of dealing with them. You will lose the opportunity to fight over what the statute actually means if you do that. Either way, make sure you let someone know (like your state reps) why you did it! It will take momentum to make changes here in Texas.

  6. GettinToOld4This

    I suspect there are lots of parents who have been demonstrating their civil disobedience for years by simply keeping their kids home from school on those days.
    It would be interesting to see the number of absences (excused and unexcused) for those days. The reality is that opting out is a war that will take YEARS of fighting before a satisfactory conclusion is reached. By the time the statue changes, their kids will be long out of school.
    My oldest son graduated HS 5 years ago(from public school) and the “state testing wars” that started before he even entered elementary school is still going on.
    I am giving serious consideration to homeschooling my youngest through the remainder of his middle school years (just as i did with my oldest for middle school) and possibly through high school.
    I hate to say it, but it would take something DRASTIC (such as a huge failure rate across most grade levels, say 70% or more statewide) before statute changes due to a huge outcry and enormous pressure on politicians. That is when parents would finally be allowed to opt out without coercion to their families. Most people forget that politicians, leaders, decision makers at the upper echelons of our public educational system most often have kids that don’t even attend public school (if they have kids at all). They don’t want their kids caught in the public school political and funding MESS. They certainly don’t want to deal with TRUANCY threats at the first sign of a cough.(yes they attempt to level charges even against children with legitimate illnesses). These are your decision makers folks.
    As for a co homeschooling & public schooling situation, working to satisfy truancy charges–highly doubtful. The reality is that judges can interpret the education code as they see fit and there is nothing in that education code that makes accommodation for a dual enrollment situation.
    Homeschoolers have been fighting for YEARS for the right to be allowed to co-enroll for the purposes of playing sports and taking a select number of classes in public school. Its a battle that has been waged for years. Yet to this day homeschoolers are not allowed to attend a handful of classes in public school or play sports along with other PS students during school hours.
    Sadly, i’ve even heard of parents so battle worn that they’ve resigned themselves to simply take the Class C misdemeanor charges along with the $275.00 fine for truancy and then worry about expunging the charges once their child graduates high school.
    Oh and yes they are bringing charges against PRE- SCHOOLERS now, along with kindergartners, first graders, second graders etc. Frisco ISD and ALLEN ISD were featured in a Dallas Morning News article entitled “Petite Perps” last year.
    No one has studied the psychological impact of bringing a child as young as a preschooler and kindergartner before a judge as if they are a common criminal. I suspect the potential damage is a lifetime of anxiety issues and panic attacks not to mention depression and an overall hatred of school/learning.
    My advice-
    1. HOMESCHOOL your child if at all possible (not just during the staar)
    2. Enroll them in private school FROM HOME if you cannot afford regular private school attendance.
    3. If you can afford it, send them to private school if possible.
    4. Some private schools allow for dual enrollment with homeschool (this cuts down your cost)
    5. Graduate your child in 3 years instead of 4 years of high school.
    My son,nephew and niece were virtually all done with their HS graduation requirements by 11th grade (except for one class) yet they were all FORCED to take a full load of classes because the district required at least 6 classes in senior year for the purposes of funding(warm bodies in those chairs). RIDICULOUS.
    6. GED (General Equivalency Diploma) its still an option and from what ive heard more challenging than the regular high school academics/diploma.

    1. admin

      With respect to co-enrollment, we really won’t know until a case is (a) filed and (b) litigated with competent counsel. There are school districts that allow co-enrollment, but they don’t advertise. The entire premise of “there is nothing in the Code that allows it” is backwards. The Texas Constitution gives all students the right to a free public education. There is no prohibition on that which says you must forego private education if you enroll in public schools. That is the proper analysis, not the reverse.

      That said, if you enroll in public school, you will have to comply with the 90% rule and if your absences cause you to miss tests or other required classwork, you may be penalized. As far as truancy, I would love to hear any actual report of a child under age 12 being charged (not the parent) because that is completely contrary to statute.

  7. laura rangel

    I wished I had known about these steps. I feel like I have failed my kids. I feel as if I don’t let them test, that all the Hard work and extra work that they have been given is all a waste of time and effort on their behalf. At our School in Somerset Tx, the school has Stopped teaching Science and History, due to only working on Reading, writing, and math skills. This truly concerns me. On one hand I want to see how well my kids have done but on the other hand I don’t care if they passed the dang test or not. Just feeling so lost.

  8. Data Frausto

    I have a 8th grader who went to private school until last year her private school only went to 6th grade so the whole thing was a huge change from about 12 in class to 30 she was in Pre AP class’s to start we pulled her out of the math it was just to fast and not learning the rest of the class’s where pre ap and she/we worked hard for these class’s with tutoring in school and outside her daily work is great but when comes the CA’s they do here in Arlington TX. and exams she does not do well her math was after the first semester 80’s-90’s but test were low and her other class’s which were the pre AP class’s were 75-89 but when it came to the starr test she did not pass and now they want to make her take a starr class which to be able to keep the gym and band they have put her in zero hour which starts at 7:30-8:30 and then the rest of the till 4 they said that she has to take this starr class my question is does she and can we opt out of the starr test this year and she still be prompted to the 9th grade next year.

    We are even looking at private school again it is just I want her to know how it is going to be come college and small private schools.

    Can they make her take this Starr Class

    Thanks for your time

    Data Frausto

  9. Data Frausto

    We are wanting to Opt Out of this Testing for this next year but want to make sure she get to go on the 9th grade

  10. Concerned

    do you have any advice for parents with kids that are on IEP’s or have developmental challenges? my son is in the 5th grade and will receive accommodations when taking the STAAR. however, he failed his 4th grade star and I’m concerned that his dyslexia will prevent him from passing this year and will be remanded. should we just opt out? he’s been on an IEP since kindergarten and has been promoted every year. while he isn’t at grade level on some subjects, he passes all his subjects.

    1. admin

      My recommendation is, if you decide to permit your child to be assessed, to make a written request that all of his classroom and testing accommodations be given to him at the time STAAR is administered. They will respond that they are only allowed to give certain accommodations. You should then respond in writing, informing them that under federal law your child is entitled to whatever accomodations they are denying. It won’t change their approach, but it will protect your rights if you have to take further action.

    2. Inkedtexaslady

      I am in the EXACT same situation. Have you decided what to do?
      It has actually brought my son to tears because he’s so stressed and afraid of the staar test.

    3. Tired of tests

      Yes if they take the test tell the ard committee u want to accept scores as is and they will cite a law. Tell them your student has participated. That is what they claim is the law/requirement to participate. Then if they fight u tell them that if their supports were working your son would have passed. If they are still insistent after that demand crazy supports for your child. I did that and now they simple have kids in special Ed sign their name to the test and accept as participation. Being special Ed it is up to the ard committee on pass/fail not up to test scores and you are part of that committee. Refuse to check accept if they don’t do what u want

  11. Ann Merrill

    Our children attend Glen Rose ISD. The superintendent has been extremely helpful to the best of his ability according to the TEA that binds our district. Our students are allowed to attend on testing and retesting days after an specific amount of time.
    For example, last school year the high school students were required to have 5 hours to take the STAAR. With our high school releasing at 3:35pm, students are allowed to show up to school after 10:36 am without any repercussions. The score is marked as “A” for absent.
    Lower grade levels have time requirements as well, allowing students to attend the remainder of the day after a certain time.
    This is just a reminder that it is possible for students to still attend on assessment days.

  12. TeacherMom

    I’ve read this answer before so I apologize for being redundant…not having any luck finding the answer now that I need it! My question is this…If my 6th grader opts out in 6th grade, can he be forced to take remedial classes in 7th? (His teacher, in as many words, threatened that he won’t get to play football because he will have to take remedial math.) He has average/above average grades in his 6th grade math classes. I wish to opt out on principle as well as in support of my son who has huge anxiety thinking about taking this test. (We’ve opted out in the past but now football is “on the line.”)Thanks.

    1. admin

      There is no legal requirement that the student be placed in remedial classes. If the school is threatening this, you will have to fight them on it.

  13. Teri dunn

    I wanted to know what about kids that take staar alt. There is a window of testing that I would have to keep her out of. The school has already denied my letter. Do I have to keep her out the whole window?

    1. admin

      Tragically, the TEA greatly expanded the STAAR-Alt window to a point where a parent really has only one good alternative if their school is not cooperative. That alternative is to withdraw the student from school for the entire assessment window and re-enroll after the window closes. If you decide to go forward with assessment, you should request in writing that all classroom accommodations be provided on STAAR, because TEA rules do not currently allow this. You should put them on notice that you consider that to be a violation of your child’s rights under federal law and that if any adverse action is taken as a result of unaccommodated assessment, you will seek to enforce those rights.

      1. Sandi

        My daughter is in 8th grade and has never under stood math! Last year I unenrolled her for 2 weeks and the day she went back they sent me to court’ my ? Is she is beyond stressed to where she has chest pains and is sent home from school’ she’s depressed because she knows she can’t do it’ ‘ this year I will more than likely do the same with her’ she don’t need that stress in her life she’s to young and had a heart mummor! I guess my ? Is who is the decision up to if she don’t take the test? Is it the principal because she and the assistant principal are beyond against her going in and making all the other kids not want to take the test! Which is y I kept her home

    2. Cat lady 5

      The alt test is very low stress compared to the others. They are very casual and I see no harm in them. They are just like taking probes on IEP goals. At the students pace with frequent breaks.

      1. admin

        Many SpEd parents disagree. And whether the administration is casual or not, they students are still assessed and the results used to rate schools and teachers. The STAAR-Alt remains inappropriate for many of the students who take it, and the passage rate is abhorrent. But obviously, compliance is a decision for each family to make on its own.

  14. E. Heinz

    I am not a fan of testing. However, when you choose to send your children to public school, unfortunately state testing is a part of it. What are you teaching your children? If you don’t like something, you can simply refuse to do it? So, if they don’t like a book that they are required to read, they simply can opt out? If they don’t like a writing assignment, they can opt out? They don’t want to take a test, it’s ok, you can simply stay at home? Or, better yet, like one parent I know, we can just go to Disney World. This is what is wrong with so much of our workforce today. Too many employees have the attitude that they only have to do what they like to do and work should be as they please. Testing has gotten out of control. However, if you don’t like it, homeschool or go to private school! Don’t put the teachers and schools in a position, the majority are simply trying to educate your children and do the best they can to assure that your children are educated.

    1. admin

      I’m not teaching them to be an unquestioning sheep, that’s for sure. There are plenty of you out there already. Why are you even on this page if you are sold out to the testing agenda? Let’s just deal with your “objections” one by one.

      I am not a fan of testing. However, when you choose to send your children to public school, unfortunately state testing is a part of it.

      I missed the part of civics that said we need to unquestioningly follow and do exactly what the government tells us to do. I’ll go back and re-read my constitution.

      What are you teaching your children? If you don’t like something, you can simply refuse to do it? So, if they don’t like a book that they are required to read, they simply can opt out? If they don’t like a writing assignment, they can opt out? They don’t want to take a test, it’s ok, you can simply stay at home?

      You are teaching your child that there are some things that are more important than compliance. A book, a writing assignment, a classroom test — those things are not, individually, turning the entire K-12 educational system into automatonic, bubble-filling, test preparation courses. Reading books is replaced with “close reading”. Writing assignments are replaced with 26 line “essays” that must stay within the box. In fact, your citation to those kind of assignments that are rapidly disappearing from our classrooms shows how uninformed you are about how the test-prep, drill and kill, assessment based curriculum has warped our public schools. So, yes, there are some things important enough to draw a line in a sand. It’s not about any one assessment, or any one assignment. It’s about the impact that corporate testing has on the public schools.

      Or, better yet, like one parent I know, we can just go to Disney World. This is what is wrong with so much of our workforce today. Too many employees have the attitude that they only have to do what they like to do and work should be as they please.

      My kid isn’t your employee, and if we think school is about training people to be little employees, we have the wrong idea. The economy doesn’t turn on workers bees. We need worker bees, but we also need leaders, innovators, artists, paradigm shifters and people who know how to think outside the box, or outside the bubble. We are losing that end of education, and that’s way more important than whether the state collects data on my child this spring.

      Testing has gotten out of control. However, if you don’t like it, homeschool or go to private school! Don’t put the teachers and schools in a position, the majority are simply trying to educate your children and do the best they can to assure that your children are educated.

      You can choose to quit and give up on public education if you like. I choose to fight and to return to teachers and local schools the power to truly educate, not test train our kids.

    2. MadMom

      E. Heinz –

      My child is an English Language Learner, adopted internationally with only two years of English. He is expected to take the same assessment native-speakers take. The “accommodations” built into the assessments for ELL students are shown by the TEA’s own research to not work. Any assessment of my child is not about content knowledge, because the language gap prevents accurate assessment by standardized test. Why should I subject my child to a system that has pre-determined the outcome by its means of assessment? The assessment violates his rights under federal law, especially when the outcomes are used to impose punitive educational outcomes. You can send your kids if you want, but my decision not to has nothing to do with just deciding we don’t feel like being assessed.

    3. Moore Fam

      Being a parent of 5 beautiful children who are all individually intelligent I have to disagree with opting out of standardized tests sends the message you are indicating. Two of my children have special needs. One makes A’s and B’s on report cards; however, bombs assessment tests. From outer appearance it is hard to see that she has ADHD and suffers HIGH Anxiety. These tests send her over the edge. They beat her self esteem down and she feels like a failure although she has worked her buns off all year. The schools have been great with accommodations…such as small group testing etc…..but the results are the same.

      My youngest child is ADHD and DYSLEXIC. He is highly intelligent. High IQ. But he learns and tests different then other children. Without going into the reasons why not all children fit into the mold of these tests I simply just want to say these tests are not a true indicator of what accomplishments a child will make in their lifetime or what type of employee they will be in the workforce; nor are they an indicator of how good or bad a teacher was.

      And finally I have yet to meet a teacher in the last 5 years that are for the STAAR or any common assessment test.

    4. Natasha Rutherford

      There is a huge difference between illegal testing and a strong work ethic. Illegal testing for funding is a complete violation of a student’s rights, a strong work ethic is something you morally instill in your child

  15. Concerned For My Child

    Thank you for gathering all of this information. Could you tell me more about unenrolling before STAAR and then re-enrolling after it’s over? I have a 4th grader now but I wonder if this would work for 5th when they must pass to advance. Would you keep this a secret or tell the school that you are doing it? What is the worst case fallout of unenrolling to avoid the test?

    1. admin

      If they are absent, no. If they go, and refuse the assessment in person, it is scored to the minimum scale score. Does it matter? Do you think a “zero” on an assessment that you didn’t attempt means anything? Do you think colleges, employers, or futures spouses will inquire about your child’s STAAR score?

      The threat of a “zero” is nothing but a school effort to intimidate parents who were raised with the myth of the permanent record. It is a shame it still works.

  16. Steven Heckler

    “My recommendation is, if you decide to permit your child to be assessed, to make a written request that all of his classroom and testing accommodations be given to him at the time STAAR is administered”

    My apologies, what is or are, “classroom and testing accommodations?”

    Steve Heckler.

    1. admin

      Students with IEP and 504 plans usually receive certain accommodations in the classroom and in testing to permit them to fully participate in their education notwithstanding their disability. For example, a dyslexic student might have passages read to them and then they answer the question. A student with ADHD might take their tests in a quiet setting. There really are no limits on what accommodations students might need. It is an individualized decision. A parent of a student with an IEP/504 plan should request in writing that they be allowed to use the same accommodation for STAAR that they receive in the classroom.

  17. Wendy Williamson

    I have never in my life dealt with a more difficult school than Hutto ISD. I think they spend more time threatening the kids than they do educating them. We tried to opt out & since then every single time my child is absent for a true illness we get threatening letters & harrassed. One 17 year old boy was removed from school by the principal last week due to absences. He was told to go get his GED, that they would no longer allow him to be enrolled there & the local judge here granted the schools petition. Now that I have more knowledge & a better understanding of my rights, Im going to fight this tooth & nail.

    My other child attended Connections Academy, which is a K-12 online school. We also tried to opt out of the state testing & I received an email from the Connections Academy principal stating my child would be immediately unenrolled if we refused the test. Education has gone down the tubes since I was in school. I feel very sad for my children, and their children, if something isnt done to bring back the old school ways of education.

    Thank you so very much for this website. Its given me a glimpse of hope and courage to let my voice be heard & to do what I know is best for my children.

  18. Denise

    My son is in 4th grade at a state school. Can I opt out for only writing STAAR, and allow him to take the reading and math? (He completed visual therapy and still needs to catch up on writing, when he writes, he struggles and I don’t want him to struggle for hours).

    There is three make-up days for STAAR this year, if my son misses (stays home) on March 29th. Do I need to keep him at home for three more days during the make-up days?

  19. Rosa

    I have put my son in a dual credit high school. He has been home schooled for 4 years, he was accepted to the dual credit high school for 9th grade thru 12th. They basically told me he has to take a Starr test to be able to start with the dual credit programs. If he didnt pass at least 3 of them, then he would not qualify for dual credit. How do we go about opting out of this one?

  20. Yolanda

    I sent two opt out letters for my 9th grader taking STAAR English 1 tomorrow. I have decided he can take a field trip to the museum in Dallas instead. This is the last email response from the high school principal below:

    As stated in the letter sent out; students who are in attendance on the day of testing and choose not to participate or refuse to mark their answers on the answer document or in the online form and who are in grades 3-8 or are taking an EOC for the first time, will have their tests submitted for scoring as is, resulting in not meeting the required standard.

    Local public school districts lack the authority to exempt students from STAAR testing, a state-mandated assessment. Further, Section 26.010 does not allow a parent to remove a child from school to avoid a test, and a moral objection cannot exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements under state or local standards.

    House Bill 5, 83rd Legislative Session, added new TEC §28.0217 to require each school district to provide accelerated instruction in the applicable subject area each time a student fails to perform satisfactorily on an end-of-course (EOC) assessment instrument.

    This is a state decision, not a local decision.

    Your thoughts on this?

  21. Mia Moss

    Today my son went with the letter to school and he was pulled aside by the principal who told him his mama was wrong, threatened him with retention if he didn’t erase the “refused” and do the test. I with my attorney will address how they thought bullying and scaring a boy with autism into erasing his “answer” was acceptable. They said any student present on testing day must take the test; I corrected them and said I understand they must GIVE/ADMINISTER the test but you cannot force a child to write and forcing them to erase answers (even if it is “refused”) is illegal and a mistest.

    1. admin

      Details on the school and grade level? Do you have a lawyer. This is so wrong! Please email me details at txedrights@gmail.com, including attorney contact! Outrageous – that principal needs to be reported to TEA for testing irregularities

  22. CHRISTINE Y SAMBRANO

    Thank you, I have been discussing these issues with my son’s school district. So glad to hear there are advocates out there. My son incurred a TBI, is on homebound teaching, has very little working memory, thankfully has learned to write again, remembers some multiplication tables, can read & provide his own hygiene. His physicians ordered “No Testing” of any kind…we know he has deficits. BUT…they showed up anyway with STAAR test in hand. The teacher was turned away – this was confusing & stressful for my recovering son.

    Thank you again for your article. It will be followed & presented to the director of pupil services for my district.

  23. Julie

    My mother was a principle and an educator for almost 40 years and she recently told me that action is being taken seriously and that next year her principle friends say that they are positive that testing will be done away with in the State of Texas. Let’s hope so!

  24. Chris Randall

    I live in Rockport, TX. My wife works for the school district. If a senior refuses to take the STAR test, there are no conditions where they will be allowed to graduate. Also, ACISD is very strict on truancy, they have multiple parrents and students fined and jailed for missing school.

    1. admin

      Well this is simply not true, in that the TEA has substitute assessments available. Also, under SB 149, since a senior only needs to pass 3 of 5 to graduate, they could refuse the other two and still graduate.

      I hope your school district has educated itself on the new truancy laws and is not making bogus threats about “3 unexcused absences in 4 weeks.”

  25. Another Concerned Parent - NO STAAR

    Hi,

    Are there any updates to the content posted on this site, such as what happened to the letter sent by the Representative regarding parental rights and ESSA?

    If someone can refer me to more recent updates (post Nov 2016), I would greatly appreciate it.

    Good site – glad I found it.

  26. Amanda

    My child is in 5th grade. If I opt her out of the STAAR test, I know that I can fight the accelerated summer school. However, are there any resources to help me fight the remedial math class that they will make her take in 6th grade. She will have to give up her only elective. Thanks!

  27. Mae

    My child is in 5th grade and has taken the first administration of the STAAR. He is now getting ready to take the 2nd round because he failed both math and reading. My question is this if he does not pass the math and reading will he have to go so summer school and then take the 3rd round of STAAR testing? What can I do to prevent this from happening? I feel that 2 times are enough. He gets all A’s and B’s on his report card. Please help!

  28. Amand C

    I have a junior that the school is telling him he can’t graduate without passing the staar. Does all this information pertain to him as well?

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