Why I Opted Out

From the Facebook group Texans Take Action Against STAAR, an opt out kid now at Texas A&M reflects on why she went from Mastering her STAAR assessments to refusing to take them!

SUCCESS! Twin success in Splendora!

by JPS

🥳 Second year of opting out, first year for a flawless process!! Splendora ISD.

No pushback, a simple call from the principal stating the twins will be offered STAAR but understand they will decline. Assessment will be submitted as S for score, and that is that! Picked my boys up at 9:30 this morning after they were counted present for the day. Quick backstory, one of my boys (pictured left) has an IEP and severely dyslexic along with a few other challenges. My other son is a straight A student (picturesd right). If it wasn’t for my sons disability, I would have never known just how unreasonable STAAR is. Children are not one sized fits all! Keep fighting parents 💪

Next stop, declining HB4545 once offered! 💫

SUCCESS! School acknowledges opt out for STAAR and AI!

From DS

SUCCESS!!! After being told my son HAS to take the 4th grade STAAR, and going thru step 1 & 2 of your process, the principal just called me and stated that that she is required to offer the opportunity to take the STAAR. But if my son chooses to not even open, the computer, that is OK. His assessment will be submitted with a “S” and he will be added to a list for HB4545. They will call me in June to offer the additional instruction, and at that time I can opt him out of that as well. Yaaaaay!! Thank You! Please feel free to add this to one of your success stories on your webpage We are in an elementary school in Magnolia ISD.

SUCCESS! Unreasonable District Suddenly Gets Reasonable!

Sorry for the length! You asked for responses and details…😅
We live in Northwest ISD. We have kids at PVE and CTMS. We’ve lived in the district 7 years, but homeschool off and on as we see fit. All the while following the Texans Take Actions Against STAAR facebook page and preparing ourselves. This is our first year having to deal with STAAR “opt out”… We had very high hopes of easy cooperation from the schools, but that was not the case. After sending our tailored opt-out letters from TXEdRights.net to each of our kids’ teachers/principals, we were replied to by the assistant principals from each school with their own form letter provided by the district. We replied with the Step 2: response letter from TXEdRights.net along with some of our own choice words. At this point, PVE quit responding, but not CTMS. The AP replied back, doubling down on their stance and “explained the consequences for students who refuse to take the required exams.” ending with “I have shared these requirements with you so you can make an informed decision for your family. I hope you will reconsider your position and allow your children an opportunity to take the required exams.” We REALLY didn’t appreciate the implication that we are uninformed or attempts at intimidation with threats of consequences. You can see our reply in the screenshot below:

She replied back again saying “I have heard your concerns.” and the school district has no choice and laying out again the consequences we will face if we follow through.🙄 It was getting very annoying feeling like we were dealing with a brick wall who could do nothing but repeat back the same talking points and not process new information given to them, but we tried again. We attached the Julie Cole emails and pointed out that she clarified students are not even required to be presented the assessment. We ended with: “We see 3 viable options proceeding forward: 
1. You honor our parental rights and concede our children will not be presented with the STAAR.
2. Our children are absent on the initial administration day. You refuse to acknowledge our rights and try to present it to them upon their return. They will tab through to the end, submit a blank assessment, and return to class to continue learning.
3. We pull our children from school altogether and continue homeschooling, as we have for the majority of their schooling careers, and you miss out on that funding that is tied to them.
Under no option, will our children answer a single STAAR question or be subjected to a single hour of Accelerated Instruction, (but that is a disagreement we will settle when the time comes to not convolute the matter at hand).”
At this point she quit replying to us. Finally, weeks later my husband approached the head principal at Open House night and was told to take it up with a contact at the district. He emailed us her information. So we emailed her CC-ing each school’s principal & assistant principal. By this point our patience was very thin and we weren’t up for starting another pointless back and forth so we went all in upfront.
We gave her our background and followed with: “We cannot overstate how disappointed we have been since we notified both of the schools our children attend that they will not be taking the STAAR and the response we have gotten from each: identical responses that are obviously coming from someone other than the individual principals we are dealing with.
I know you don’t know our children so I’ll share a little about them. Two are in GT/GATES. The other is not, not because she doesn’t qualify, but she has always refused assessment. She’s just not interested in that particular pursuit. They all perform extremely well on the MAP assessment and it even predicts they will score “Masters” on the STAAR. Sadly, we know this only further incentivizes your stance as you see that purely as a bolster to the district’s performance level/grade. Our disagreement with the STAAR is multifaceted and not JUST about our children personally, but also about the overall injustice of the entire state assessment system. 
We have been encouraged in the past when the district itself spoke out against the STAAR accountability system on the Facebook page and pointed out our kids’ are more than just one score. Again, how disappointed we’ve been to find you’ve decided to cave and just fall in line. We know the law/TEA has stated “you cannot opt out of a test”. We also know the STAAR is NOT a test. It is an assessment. We know schools are required to give each student an opportunity to take it. We are not “opting out”. We are informing you of our intent to refuse. We also know Julie Cole (from the TEA) has clarified and given instructions on how to handle such circumstances and sadly that has not been the case of our interactions with the schools. Attached we will include the emails from Julie Cole, just in case that is news to you, and also a form from another ISD that is a MUCH better way to handle this situation than what we’ve been met with. 
We, as a society, are always encouraging and teaching the generations, starting with the books for small children saying: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” and “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” We intend to do more than just repeat these quotes, but show our children by example that change takes action, even if it’s uncomfortable. We realize the system is set up against not only the kids, but the teachers and districts as well. We are not trying to fight you, but rather fight for you. It was very discouraging, but not defeating, to be met with the response we’ve gotten. Maybe you were unaware of Julie Cole’s instructions. Maybe you didn’t know you could create a form to facilitate parents with our beliefs. Now you do. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” We look forward to being worked with on this matter going forward, instead of being fed misinformation, attempts at intimidation, and being dictated to. 
We are also aware that HB4545 requires the schools to offer 30 hours of AI to students who do not score well enough on STAAR. We are also aware of our rights on this and seeing as our children are in no way underperforming in their classes and will never take STAAR, they will be in no need of AI and we will be refusing that as well. We would appreciate your immediate cooperation on this without a back and forth fight. This is the hill we have come to die on.”
She replied: “Thank you for reaching out to us and advocating for your children. We at Northwest ISD must follow the state and federal laws and policies regarding testing and assessment. If your children attend school on a testing day, they will be in a classroom with other students that are testing on that day. The teacher will read the directions to the class. If your children do not take the test, the teacher will verify with your child that they are not taking the test. We will submit the blank test as “S” for scorable, as Ms. Cole explained in the emails. Your children can quietly read a book for the remainder of the testing period.”
🎉FINALLY a little respect and reason. We followed up “Thank you for your prompt response. Should our children attend on the administration days that will be an acceptable handling of the situation.
 Most likely we will keep them home as we feel they can have a more educationally enriched day outside of the assessment environment rather than being forced to sit in silence for hours. When they return to school the following day, we see no reason for them to even be presented the assessment at that point. As Julie Cole states, that is unnecessary. We expect our numerous emails on the topic sufficient for the local documentation required, and they will be allowed to go directly to class and not be pulled from instruction. Can we get confirmation this will be the case? Again, thank you so much for your help in this matter.”
Getting her reply: “On a make-up day, the CTCs will verify with your children that they are not testing. The blank test will be submitted with an “S” score for scorable. Your student will then go to class. The entire process will take under 5 minutes.”  We verified this with each campus.
We tried to continue the fight and ensure a better response for us and others in the future, but the district representative did not reply to our email regarding that. For now we are taking our win and so grateful for all the help of Scott and everyone else behind the scenes at TXEDRIGHTS and Texans Take Action Against STAAR!
Eric & Sarah J

SUCCESS! Putting it in the File!

From DC

This is our 3rd year of Opting-out of STAAR. This is the first year where we have had true success and no fightback.
 My middle son is in 4th grade and this will be his second year of STAAR. Last year I kept my son home during the assessments only because he was not capable of standing up for himself, always afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. After a bit of debate, the principal agreed to put the refusal letter into my son’s file. This year, the principal asked if I was letting Colt take STAAR which I declined. He said it was not a problem and that all he needed was my refusal letter so he could file it.
My oldest is in 7th grade and new school. He also has an IEP and in a SPED program. I have fought this so hard for the past two years with much resistance. Luckily Alex has no problem defying authority figures and laughed when he wrote refuse on the assessment. This year, all I had to do was send in my refusal letter. The principal said thank you and that he would put the letter in my son’s file.

SUCCESS: Success Everywhere with Everything!

From CWade

I have 3 children. My opt out began in 2019.  Why? Because my oldest (in 4th grade) had developed acute cerebella ataxia. Although at the time we didn’t know it. Took us months to find the right neurologist to diagnose him. (From a strep infection, no less).  This made his brain not function well. He couldn’t stand up without losing his balance, dizzy all the time, couldn’t concentrate, had a hard time comprehending instruction, multitasking, etc. Loud noises and brightness were hard on him. School became a difficult time for a once very healthy kid.


We decided to place him in a Medical 504, with the urging of his neurologist. Who happened to tell us Jacob doesn’t have to take STAAR. (Dr. Josh Rotenberg). He did not tell me about your group, just said he doesn’t have to take it.


I decided to do some research. We successfully opted him out in 2019.  Briargrove Elementary, HISD.


I know in 2020 it was an option, but we still opted out him and his brother, Zachary, who was in 3rd grade and now supposed to take STAAR. Neither child did. (5th grade & 4th grade). Also, their teacher, Ms. Nicole McDonald, 4th grade is awesome. She has had both my boys now and ready. By this time (2020), I had found this group on Facebook. I watched, I read, I followed.


2021, my oldest is now at Tanglewood Middle School (HISD) for 6th grade and I thought I would get push back. I turned in the letter available from this group. School had no issues. We made a plan for where Jacob would go during testing, and he could still attend. (Due to his ataxia, he does miss some school and I would not let the school have me keep him home. There’s plenty of schoolwork he can do on campus). I made sure to send the letter to the Dean of Innovation (school broken into 2 groups), cc’d each subject teacher, the school counselor (I think she wears many hats, ie testing coordinator??), and the principal. I was not going to have a staff member say, “we didn’t know”. Tanglewood was very respectful and did not push back once.


2021, my middle, Zachary had Ms. McDonald, 4th grade, and she was patiently waiting for my letter. (Briargrove Ele. -HISD). I also sent the testing coordinator, each subject teacher, principal and vice principal my letter.


*side note* between 2020-2021 we had Zachary tested for dyslexia from a previous teacher reaching out to us and recommend it. He was placed on a 504 for Dyslexia.


2020-2021, my daughter, Lauren is now in 3rd grade. I sent the same letter to her teacher and the same players as Zachary, a different teacher though. No push back here.


I was also approached for HB4545 for Zachary (2020/2021: can’t remember exact year). Let me tell you, Mrs. Berlin (Briargrove) was very sneaky about this: all sweet and innocent stating it will help him in the areas he needs help in. Thankfully I took it home and read and reread it. Right about the time this page was talking about it. Finding information from this page, I said absolutely not. Then made sure the 3:1 teacher ratio was clicked. (It was not and I changed it immediately for all 3 of my kids).


2021-2022, bad year for Zachary at school with teachers not cooperating in his 504 accommodations and not taking what I explained to them to heart (ie, how kid operates, what motivates him, etc.). I’m fighting to advocate for him. I made formal complaints.


But I was still able to successfully opt him out. Same letter, dated for that year and all the same players.


Lauren gets to 4th grade and she has Ms. McDonald. We LOVE her! She reached out to check if we are opting Lauren out and I said yes, she said “I’ll wait for your letter”.


So, for all my kids, I have sent the same letter you guys provide with all the legal verbiage. I change according to year and kid. I also make sure I send HB4545 for each of them at the beginning of the year.  This year, for my 5th grader, the new testing coordinator requested that I fill out a form for STAAR opt out, which I posted on Texans Against STAAR asking for some advice as the letter was not all correct.  I crossed out the points that were not correct and initialed that and signed the letter along with requesting them to make sure a copy of the Opt Out Letter I sent it to be placed in her school file.

I have not had any push back for practice/interim assessments.  All three of my kids go to school on those days and we have a plan in place.  To work on school items or read or something that is quiet and constructive.  They all are placed in a conference room with a staff member checking on them.   (I do this because the 2021-2022 school year, my 5th grader and4th grader were placed in the hallway during the entire assessment time and when I found out, I let the school have it, politely of course, but placing kids in a hallway with no one around for 4 hours is unacceptable in my books.  So now, I make sure they have a comfortable place to be other than a hallway).


Now, next year I will have high school to worry about so I am saving and reading all I can from this website.  I cannot thank all of you enough for this.   On the note of high school, my son was able to get into Westside High School Engineering program with his Matrix score (over 900) WITHOUT the STAAR scores.  It goes to show you, it is not valid.  (Even when I spoke to Lamar High Scholl and Westside, I asked about the STAAR and explained to them that my children do not take it and how do I make sure he has a chance for a seat?  They both told me, they will go by Matrix and the 7th grade year report card).


This is my success story.  (I have 2 kids on a 504 and one GT and they do not take STAAR).  I am respectful, polite, yet firm and I don’t back down.  It is due to this group that I gained the confidence to stand my ground and advocate for my children.  It was very nerve wracking at first but once I turned in the first letter and the school understood I was not going to budge, I did not receive any push back.

SUCCESS! In person refusal and out of testing area!

From AG

6th Grade.  Granbury ISD. I sent in our opt out letter last week and received a phone call yesterday from the principal and testing cordinator. They are going to comply with our opt out! I was expecting some pushback, thankfully not! My child will need to refuse on testing day and she will be moved to a non testing area. I call this a win! I also went ahead and sent in our HB4545 refusal so that her electives aren’t taken from her when school starts back in the fall. Another mom in the group got the same response (we’re in the same district if she wants to comment I’ll leave that up to her 💙💜)!

SUCCESS! No Password; No STAAR.

From MMC

They will always tell you it’s “required;” they tried forcing us the first year. I knew my rights, I sent a letter, she did not attend in testing days. When it was make up dates she went in. They handed her the test, she handed it back, they then handed it back to her saying it was not complete. She then handed it back and said “I’m good.” They released her to class.

We had a password set up because they did try to tell her I said for her to just try it. She asked for the password, they didn’t have it. She said I need to go see my mom in the office. Needless to say, they don’t try either of us anymore. Now, she just misses the 2 test days, her principal has it noted, and she never is offered the makeup test. They even called me this year to check to see if she could play what they call “STAAR War” games since they know how I am about STAAR. It was just like group games for review. She played them. But they knew they better confirm with me first.

SUCCESS! Middle school STAAR and AI Opt Out!

From JD

I was successful of opting both sons 7th and 8th graders out this year again at Somerset ISD. Did so since the beginning of the year and although principal tried to give me a hard time at the beginning of the year of opting out of the tutoring classes offered to those who didn’t pass STAAR (can’t remember what they’re called lol), I stood my ground and he was removed within a day. My son will be a freshman next year and the education administrator I think that was what she said was her position in the district said he can’t opt out in high school. I laughed and told her it was lies and that I’d get to that when my son enters hs in the fall. Thank you and to this wonderful group, I’ve gotten more knowledge than I ever knew was available to parents

SUCCESS! Principal Accepts Refusal, Won’t Present Assessment

From CS
I am feeling great! 🎉🎉🎉
– I submitted the opt out letter to the school on Monday.
– I received a generic response letter from the school on Wednesday telling me I couldn’t opt out.
– I then sent the STAAR follow-up refusal letter and by the end of the day today, I received a phone call from the principal informing me that she WOULD NOT present the assessment to my child the day of “testing” or any day after. 🎉
She was very appreciative of the documentation I sent because I also sent copies of the emails from Julie Cole. The principal confirmed that she would submit a blank score for him and he would spend the day with second graders that are not subjected to STAAR. THANK YOU SO MUCH TxEdRights! Because of you, I feel kick ass! 😂 I didn’t ask too many questions on here but instead, followed your step by step instructions and watched your videos! 🙏🏼♥️🙏🏼. My job is not done. I will be following up the day after testing to confirm my child’s score was submitted. Then we will do this every year, to which the principal already seemed to understand. 😃. You can do this parents! Don’t back down!

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