Tag: refuse

Bubbling All “A” on STAAR is a BAD Idea

For reasons that are not clear to me, we’ve seen a sharp increase in “helpful” parents suggesting the answer to STAAR is to go along and bubble all “A” or all “C” or make some random design.  PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT SUGGESTION!  Bubbling all the same answer will produce data.  That data will them be displayed across numerous axes and presented in a manner that demonstrates the deficiencies of your child academically.  The teachers and staff will then develop a plan to remediate your child based on this data you have so helpfully created.  Electives will be dropped and special state funded remediation classes will be added to your child’s schedule.  And when you go to complain, there will be data demonstrating exactly why they are doing what they are doing.

Now, maybe you will convince them to actually look at the answers and see that she chose the same answer. (P.S. If you actually tell your kid to bubble randomly you are stuck with the data – WORST ADVICE EVER).  Maybe that will convince them to drop the nonsense, but don’t count on it.  Because following the data is the safe play of the lazy and weak-minded.  They are safe professionally to just do what the data says than to think independently and say “this student was making a statement when they chose all the same answer.”  (Incidentally, you can’t choose all the same answer, because STAAR choices alternate between starting with A and F – now try explaining your strategy when you have to meet with the school!).

 

So what can you do to effectively refuse the assessment?

If taking a paper administration:

1) Bubble nothing

2) Bubble at least two choices for every question

Both of these options will produce no data other than the raw score.

If taking an online administration:

Page through to the end and submit the assessment.  Once the submission is confirmed, you are done.  The STAAR Test Administration manual indicates that there are three steps to successfully submitting the test:

We also recommend giving your child pre-written notes or cards indicating that they are refusing (by whichever method you wish) and asking the teacher to contact the parent if they have any questions but not to pressure the student to disobey the parent.

Comment on this article on the TxEdRights Forum!

Stop Waiting for Permission; Make Your Own Decisions

If you are asking about Opting Out, as a parent you have already reached certain conclusions. Maybe you believe the STAAR has had a negative effect on curriculum and you can’t support it. Maybe you find it developmentally inappropriate. Maybe you have seen the physical and emotional toll it takes on kids and don’t want to subject your child to that. Maybe you just don’t like outsourcing the assessment of Texas school kids to a foreign corporation. Whatever the reason, if you are asking about Opting Out, you’ve either reached those conclusions, or you are concerned enough about some issue to want to take action. So what are you waiting for?

If you are waiting on permission from your school before deciding to Opt Out of the STAAR test, let me save you some time. You won’t get it. The TEA has given districts their marching orders. They are to tell all parents that it is not permitted, ever, under any circumstances. Nevermind the hundreds or thousands of parents who opted out last year. Never mind all the voices who post on this forum and will tell you they Opted Out with no consequences. If you want your school’s permission, you don’t really want to Opt Out. What you want is to be excused. You want the school to do your job for you. They are usually all too happy to parent your child for you. That is, as long as it fits their rules. Since Opting Out doesn’t fit their rules, they won’t handle that part of it for you. You have to do the hard work.

2016 Update: At least in Houston ISD, there is now a formal opt out process.  That alone should tell you that it is permitted and the decision to actively oppose you is a local decision.

What’s the hard work? The hard work is being a parent. The hard work is giving the school more respect than they give you and letting them know your decision. The hard work is listening to them lie and say that parents can’t opt their child out. The hard work is politely telling them that you weren’t asking their permission but have already decided. The hard work is letting them know that you understand the state ties their hands – that you don’t hold that against them and that you are sure they don’t hold your decision against you. The hard work is figuring out whether to refuse by staying home or by telling your child just not to fill out the test forms. The hard work being an advocate for your child if the school is upset by your decision.

The hard work is informing yourself and not taking any threats at face value. If they tell you your child will be retained, ask them why their retention rates don’t match their STAAR failure rates. Answer: because 90%+ of kids don’t take or don’t pass STAAR are still promoted. If they tell you that your child has to be tested on a makeup day, tell them you know it’s a district option and that you want your child in class even if it means they “grade” the refused assessment. If they try the truancy scare tactics, the hard work is telling them you aren’t concerned because you are home schooling on those days. If they tell you that you have to withdraw your child to avoid STAAR, tell them you know that’s not true. They can’t show you a law or regulation that says so.

2016 Update: Due to amendments to the truancy law, if the student otherwise has good attendance, missing a week of school for Opt Out will not put you at risk of truancy.

We are here to support you. We’ll fight for you if you want. But what we can’t do is give you the backbone to do what you already know is right. Only you can do that hard work. You’ll have amazing support and cheering crowds. Your kids will have what they deserve. But not if you wait for permission. You don’t ask the school for permission on any of your other child rearing decisions. Why do you want it now?

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.

 

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. (Kids taking the computer administration should be instructed to page to the end, submit it and confirm their submission). 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.

Note for 2020-2021
: The TEA has expanded online testing windows to five weeks, which makes staying home almost impossible unless you choose to withdraw your student. On the positive side, for virtual learners, the TEA has decreed that the student must come to campus to be assessed, so as a parent, you can simply keep them home. They will also be score O for other instead of A for absent if this happens. Not a big deal practically, but it does give us a tool to measure opt outs this spring!

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 laid 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:

This step used to talk about how 5th and 8th grade parents had to fight threats of retention.  Great news!  Promotion is not dependent on STAAR results in ANY GRADE!  There is a recent change in the law which requires schools to provide 30 hours of tutoring (in a 3:1 ratio) for each STAAR assessment not passed.  (HB 4545).  Parents can opt out of this (see letter) and schools are not permitted to remove a child from foundation or enrichment curriculum to tutor them (i.e. no loss of electives!).  Review schools forms and enrollment documents carefully.  NEVER waive the 3:1 tutoring ratio unless it is part of an agreement that you are satisfied with to minimize or eliminate tutoring.  Never sign it as part of general enrollment documents.

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 1/12/22