Advisory to Principals from the Superintendent of Schools on Grade 3-8 Testing
We are all aware of a movement among our parents to have their child/ren opt out or refuse to take the State exam next week. I have worked with our attorneys and have read all of the relevant State issued documents and on the basis of this information would like you to share with your parent leadership the following information so that they are fully informed of the School District’s position and their options.
The School District has taken the position that it will do everything that the law and regulations require for the administration of the State 3-8 assessments. This means that when they arrive at school children will be taken to their classroom or testing center. Even if parents provide us with an “opt out” letter, their child/ren will still be asked to join their classmates and listen to the opening State-scripted directions. All students will be asked to put their names on their test booklet and all students will be told at the end of directions to begin the exam. At that point, if a student refuses to take the exam, the teacher will check to see if the School District has been notified in advance by the parent that they support the child’s refusal to take the exam. If the student’s name is not on any list, the teacher will notify the office. The office will make an attempt to verify that the parent knows the child is refusing to take the assessment. When it has been verified that the child is refusing to take the exam with the parent’s permission, the teacher will collect the exam and allow the child to read silently.
If the parent/guardian cannot be reached we will encourage the student to take the exam. If the student continues to refuse, we will honor that refusal.
Since there is a good deal of misinformation concerning this matter, principals will meet with their PTA leadership to fully inform them of the School District’s intended actions and their rights as parents as we understand them. We are fully cognizant of a movement underway among parents to have their child/ren opt out of the exam, but parents need to know that there is no opt out provision in New York State law. However, the School District will respect and honor a family decision for a child to refuse to take the exam.
If parents have decided to have their child/ren refuse to take the exam, we are asking that they contact the school as soon as possible.
Feel free to share this information with your parents. If there are questions about our procedures that need further clarification, please let me know.
William H. Johnson