Tag: district

Carroll ISD Formally Recognizes Parental Refusal Rights

This is a big one folks!  To be clear: it doesn’t change the law or  TEA positions.  This is simply an almost word for word regurgitation of what the TEA has been permitting for three years now.  It does not break new ground.  It communicates existing guidance and options.  But it is a BIG ONE!

Why is it big?  Because it is in writing, publicly available, and set out in clear, straightforward language.  It is an example of how EVERY DISTRICT IN TEXAS should engage with its parents.  And it comes from a district that ordinarily is a big beneficiary of the STAAR assessment program.  Carroll ISD is a high income, high achieving, suburban school district.  Across the district, campuses are awarded accountability ratings of “A.”  They boast of great quality in public schools. The district has the facilities and resources that many districts can only imagine.  It has active, engaged parents and an engaged school board.  And it just so happens to have a school board president who has had enough of STAAR madness.  After nearly getting a resolution passed to refuse state dictated field testing (the vote failed 3-3), the district decided to face parental pushback on STAAR head on.

So how did they address parents who have concerns over STAAR assessment and want to opt out?  No threats.  No intimidation.  No lies.  Just the plain truth — and they put it right on their website.

Parents may refuse STAAR testing and Accelerated Instruction

This is the opening to the district’s departmental accountability page!  And it is true.  We’ve known it is true for over a decade and for the last three years, the TEA has been telling districts that they don’t have to fight with parents, that they don’t have to threaten parents, that they don’t have to try to trick kids to disobey their parents just to create assessment data.  And while a number of districts have, often after contentious discussions with parents, started to employ this approach, it is still a moving target in many districts.  In part, this is because the TEA has failed to give clear guidance.  Instead of spelling it out like Carroll ISD does, the TEA says things like “the district must offer the child the opportunity to be assessed.  What that looks like may vary district to district.”  The answers are found in various unpublished emails and response logs, only available by public information request. Only when asked directly will the TEA directly tell a district that they don’t have to put an assessment in front of the kid or that they can accept parental refusal and submit the assessment from scoring based only on the parental refusal letter.

But right on the Carroll ISD website is the pure unadulterated truth for parents:

After giving notice (either by email, letter or district created form) the district will honor and respect the parental refusal:

  • Carroll ISD will not present a child with a STAAR assessment on an initial testing day or on a make-up testing day if a parent refusal has been received.
  • Carroll ISD acknowledges the rights of parents to refuse the STAAR and HB1416 on behalf of their child.
  • When a parent refuses STAAR assessments for their child, the child will receive a raw score of zero.
  • STAAR assessment score is not used to promote a child to the next grade level.
  • The zero does not impact your child’s GPA.
  • Carroll ISD is not allowed to encourage refusal of STAAR or of HB1416 Accelerated Instruction.
  • CISD will always support parents in their educational choices for their children.

How different is this approach from many of the district responses we see?  How straightforward is this approach?  No need to threaten, lie or create fake consequences.  And on high school issues, even though the district refusal form is not fully accurate, again, the webpage talks about substitute assessments and links parents to the commissioner’s substitute assessments that are available to meet graduation requirements.

TPERN congratulates the Carroll ISD parents who have engaged their district to bring about this change.  But we particularly want to honor and appreciate the district leadership, both administrative and elected, that have decided that they will not be defined by STAAR, that they will not place themselves above parents in determining what is the best educational approach for a child, and that they will deal with their parents honestly and openly in presenting the true options available to parents and districts in responding to state assessment requirements.

STAAR Madness: TEA or Local Decisions

This is a tough time for Opt Out parents because the assessment is happening and there is a lot of pushback. When complaints come, the natural response is to blame the TEA or the legislature.  But is that fair?  Is that accurate?  Everybody here understands that the TEA tells schools how to administer the assessment and to score refused assessments. Everyone here understands how promotion and graduation work. What people fail to acknowledge is that, apart from that, schools and districts have wide latitude in how they choose to respond to parents who refuse assessment and the actual experience of the students.  There are many things I have seen excused as TEA “requirements” that just aren’t.

NOBODY requires schools to lie to parents about consequences.
NOBODY requires schools to benchmark, practice assess and otherwise do full or mini-assessments as prep for STAAR multiple times a semester.
NOBODY requires schools to try to impose tutoring and other test prep before, during or after school hours based on their local benchmarks.
NOBODY requires schools to go beyond the instructions and add restrictions on to the students (like requiring them to sit for four hours after finishing/refusing assessment).
NOBODY requires schools to threaten retention
NOBODY requires schools to pretend passing STAAR is the only way to get promoted to the next grade.
NOBODY requires schools to not check if substitute assessments have already satisfied some EOC requirements.
NOBODY requires schools to try to bully A/B students into summer school (I mean test prep) because they didn’t take STAAR.
NOBODY requires principals to try to intimidate parents into submitting their kids for assessment.
NOBODY requires schools to wait until August to promote kids by GPC if they refused STAAR.
NOBODY requires schools to harass parents of kids who aren’t at school on STAAR day.
NOBODY requires teachers to tell students they their jobs depend on how the student does on STAAR.
NOBODY requires schools to lock down the building and ban visitors on STAAR days.
NOBODY requires schools to tell students they can’t talk to their parents about STAAR.
NOBODY requires students to eat sack lunches at their desk on STAAR days.
NOBODY requires schools to keep non-testing kids inside and ban recess on STAAR days.


NOBODY requires schools to offer even a single make up day for STAAR, much less a two week window!!!

These are all local decisions and it is not off limits to talk about. We opt out because we want you to have the freedom to teach. But we expect local districts to do what they can (and that’s a lot) to make sure that it does not make the STAAR environment worse than it already is. If your school or district is doing any of those things, and you try to blame the TEA for it, then you are going to get pushback here, because it’s false information.


Opt Out Wall of Shame – The Districts

Nominate your district: txedrights@gmail.com

Round Rock ISD

In order to entice a refusing student to take STAAR, an assistant principal told a 5th grade student that she had just spoken to his mother who had called and wanted him to take it.  The child was only at school because the mother had called and asked if there were makeup tests that day.  After putting her on hold, the office told her there were no makeup.  The school denied that she ever called, but was confronted with cell phone records detailing the call. (2014)

From 2020 to 2022, the district has given incorrect information to parents about the use of substitute assessments to meet EOC graduation requirements, even featuring the false information on its website.  Emails to the district’s general counsel complaining of the errors have not produced any change.

Medina Valley ISD

Upon hearing that a parent might not let her 3rd grader take STAAR, the teacher first advised the child that she had no choice and would have to take STAAR.  After the parent told the child that wasn’t true and just to direct the teacher to speak with the parent.  The teacher told the child that her mother would be arrested if the tried to help the child avoid STAAR. (Fall 2019)

Opt Out Hall of Fame – The Districts

Updated: 2/14/22

Waco ISD

The district worked with parents to create on campus alternate activities to STAAR testing.

Houston ISD

Created a district refusal procedure that promises no adverse action against students for opting out.

Austin ISD

Created in office refusal for opt out kids, allowing them to refuse assessment with parent witnessing, and return to class on the first makeup day.  This was a negotiated agreement after parents retained counsel.

Peaster ISD

A campus principal called an opt out parent whose kid was on campus on a make up day to let the parent know that they needed to pick the child up to avoid having the assessment presented to the child.  Recently, the Superintendent called our Gov. Abbott’s campaign rhetoric on parent’s rights noting that his administration had never supported a parent’s right to opt out of STAAR and calling for the elimination of STAAR based accountability.