Parents intending to opt out this spring by staying home during the assessment window need to be aware of the expanded window for online administration. This year, the TEA expanded the window for online administration to two weeks for most STAAR assessments. The paper administration window continues to be one week. Be aware that if you return your child on the second week, they may be set in front of a computer to complete the STAAR. The TEA assessment calendar is available here. We should also note that makeup exams are still a local option. No school is required to offer any makeups or to offer them for the full period. If you school decides to end all assessment after the first week, that is entirely within their rights.
Still, to prepare for the possibility of a two week online window, we have the following recommendations:
- ARD Parents Should Have Paper Administration Written into the IEP. By making paper administration the only permissible method of assessment, you can assure your child is going to only have a one week assessment window to deal with.
- Work with school on refusal. If your school is willing to work with you, consider asking to refuse (preferably on paper) and return to class on the first makeup day of the assessment window. Once your child has refused, they cannot administered the assessment in any other form.
- If your school does paper administration and won’t agree to facilitate a refusal as suggested above, consider same day refusal. The common refusal technique used by parents is to keep the kids home on the day of assessment and then refuse on a make up day. This does open the kid up to individual targeting by teachers. One option to limit this may be to attempt refusal on the first day of the assessment. Because of the demands of test security and administration, there is much less a school can do if a student refuses in the assessment room. Is your child capable of sitting there for the assessment and then turning in a blank assessment? If so, this may be a better option than trying to refuse on a day when fewer students are being assessed.
- Train Refusal Techniques. If the school is not cooperative, you may have to train your child to refuse. For some students this is stressful, and it always is a chance for the school to try to force assessment against parental wishes. If you go this route, I would suggest several strategies. First, use the card and password system. Second, inform the administration of your intention and try to obtain promises that they will not interfere. If they can’t give you that promise, you need to think hard about going with this method. Engage your district trustees about this issue and your expectation that the schools respect your decisions.
- Withdraw for the entire assessment window. You have an absolute right to withdraw for the assessment period and re-enroll after the assessment window closes. You can do that with every single assessment opportunity.
- Our district doesn’t do online administration. If they have access to the online system, they can still sit a returning student down in front of a computer during the second week. Do not be lulled into a sense of security by the fact that the normal method of administration is not online.