A Parent Opts Out in California Posted on February 20, 2012 by admin

This post was first shared at www.aarynbelfer.com .

February 16, 2012
Bill Kowba
Superintendent of Schools
San Diego Unified School District
4100 Normal Street, Room 2219
San Diego, CA 92103

Dear Mr. Kowba,

Please accept this letter as our request to excuse our daughter, Ruby, from participation in standardized achievement testing as is allowed in §60615 of the California Education Code. This request includes the state mandated assessments of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment program (STAR/CAT 6), which will begin for our daughter in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the San Diego Unified School District Benchmark Exam program.

We believe such testing to be unjust, counter-productive, and harmful to the education and development of our daughter; we do not see any intrinsic value in our six-year old spending time transcribing her answers from a test sheet to a Scantron. Timed, one-chance tests do not show regard to variables in context or circumstance affecting student performance on the days of testing. This is further underscored by the fact that, as a student of the Language Academy, our child is currently forced to take tests in English, a language she isn’t yet learning to read.

In addition, we do not wish to participate in mandated programs that coerce school districts into compliance with punishments that adversely affect the resources, standing, and operations of our locally controlled pubic schools. The state oversteps its bounds and does a disservice to the public when it ignores professionals in local schools, arbitrarily making educational decisions (funding, status, and otherwise) based solely upon these one-chance tests.

As parents, we resent being held hostage to tests—which cannot be cheap to administer—while simultaneously suffering absurd cuts to our school, cuts that continue to decimate our staff and much-needed resources.

We understand that it is an educator’s professional duty to assess the learning of each student in the classroom and we fully support our teachers, our principal and our staff. This request is not intended to restrict professional assessment (formative or summative) by the classroom teacher to which our child is assigned. On the contrary, we believe our talented teacher is our child’s benchmark, and that she has the skills and training to do what standardized tests cannot.

Best regards,
Aaryn and Sam Belfer
San Diego, CA

cc: [Our Principal]
Mr. John Lee Evans, President, San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees
Mr. Tom Torlackson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction


5 thoughts on “A Parent Opts Out in California”

  1. Laurie Forsman on February 20, 2012 at 11:50 pm said:Wonderful! Congratulations. A six-year-old should not be doing these tests anyhow.Reply ↓
  2. Leslie on February 21, 2012 at 5:11 am said:Thank you so much. People like you are what this country is all about.Reply ↓
  3. aaryn b. on February 24, 2012 at 1:15 am said:Opting out is not only a parent’s right (even, I believe, in states where the law doesn’t say so), but it’s getting to the point where it is our responsibility. I feel really, really good about our decision and wish more people—parents, teachers and administrators—would join us.Thank you, United Opt Out, for the letter template.Reply ↓
  4. Jill.E on January 7, 2013 at 9:34 pm said:We opted out of standardized testing throughout our daughter’s elementary and secondary school experience. During testing time, we made it a point to do really fun, creative, educational things with her: nature hikes, recording the stories of community elders, roadtrips to the sites of some of her favorite books… She got into Sarah Lawrence College.
A Parent Opts Out in California

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