Administrators of United Opt Out National would like to bring attention to a recent web-based memo that was placed on our Facebook page on January 25, 2012. It can be found in our documents at our Facebook site. The memo is addressed to Indiana Superintendents and Principals and discusses the recent inquiries the DOE has received from parents regarding opting out. The topic of the memo is listed as Assessment Opt Out Guidance.
It begins with the following:
In recent weeks, we have had several inquiries from schools and corporations about parents who have requested—or in some cases demanded—to opt out their students from participating in state assessments (ISTEP+, IMAST, IREAD-3, ECAs, LAS Links) . There are several social media sites that are promoting the idea of opting out in Indiana. These sites imply that parents may opt out their children from state testing. Indiana law has no such provision.
Our response: Our site does not imply, our site is clear in saying that under the protection of the 14th amendment, parents have the right to opt their child out of state mandated high stakes testing.
We have clearly stated the following:
HOW High Stakes Testing UNDERMINES OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
VIOLATES THE 1st and 14th AMENDMENTS: The 14th amendment to the Constitution protects our rights to religious/spiritual freedom and this federal law supersedes state in regard to parental control over one’s child. Many school administrators, desperate for funding, try to intimidate parents from opting out of testing to keep federal funding for site participation; school participation is a requirement for federal funding under NCLB.
VIOLATES FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT OF 1938: If a child is given work or assessments to do in the classroom that will eventually determine the income of a teaching professional, that student is providing the catalyst for the pay. This breaches the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which states that sixteen is the basic minimum age for employment. It also says that when young people work, the work cannot jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities.
VIOLATES ALL CHILDRENS’ RIGHTS TO A FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION: High stakes testing leads to under-serving or mis-serving all students, especially the most needy and vulnerable, thereby violating the principle of ‘do no harm.’ For example, students living in poverty, who already lack critical access to books and free reading, are condemned to test prep instead of having opportunities to read. Monies desperately needed for vital school resources such as clean drinking water and roofs that don’t leak are being spent on testing materials.
The letter from the DOE continues with the following (DOE quotes are all in italics):
The following are points you may want to discuss with parents considering opting out their students:
Test scores provide a valid measure of how well students have mastered grade level standards.
Our response: These tests have been shown NOT to measure students’ academic abilities in valid and reliable ways. The only VALID way to measure mastery is by direct observation of a fully qualified classroom teacher or by instruments developed by teachers that are unique to each child, school and distinct locality.
ISTEP+ test scores allow us to estimate how much students have grown each school year by comparing the achievement patterns of students with very similar patterns of content mastery.
Our response: Achievement patterns are not indicative of growth. In fact the entire idea of “estimating” growth is at best in the early stages of experimentation. Most experts on growth measures agree that they are highly unreliable and lack the sensitivity to control for factors outside the influence of teacher and student interactions. Therefore using growth estimates amounts to human experimentation. We don’t believe parents agreed to have their children participate in these types of experiments.
The empirical research on both the above points has been done. Start with www.fairtest.org to find citations.
At the high school level, opting out denies students the opportunities guaranteed to them by law to demonstrate the needed mastery of Algebra I and/or English 10 required to earn a high school diploma.
Our response: Demonstrating mastery of Algebra I and English 10 does not require the use of a commercially produced standardized assessment. There are numerous ways to demonstrate mastery that are not standardized. In fact authentic assessments are a more valid measure of mastery.
This is clearly a scare tactic.
Below you will find our policy on the topic of opting out of state assessments, as well as important reminders for parents and for schools.
Indiana Standardized Testing Policy Regarding Opt-out and Absences
Unless a student falls within the very narrow exemptions for homebound instruction and/or medical necessity, Ind. Code 20-32-2 provides that all students enrolled in an Indiana-accredited school are required to participate in state assessments. Indiana does not have an opt-out policy. If a student is absent on the scheduled testing days but attends school on any other days in the test window, the school shall test the student as a“make up.”
Our response: Parental rights are upheld by the Supreme Court which supersedes the state of Indiana. Indiana’s lack of an opt-out policy makes no difference.
Parents should be reminded of Indiana’s Compulsory School Attendance Laws, Ind. Code 20-33-2. Specifically, section 28 of the compulsory school attendance chapter provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail, neglect, or refuse to send the parent’s child to school for the full term, and section 27 of the statute provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail to ensure that his/her student attends school as required under the compulsory school attendance chapter and establishes the process of initiating an action against a parent for violation. Finally, section 44 provides that violation of the compulsory school attendance chapter is a Class B Misdemeanor. Any absence by a student on scheduled testing dates for the purpose of avoiding testing constitutes an unexcused absence and may constitute a violation of the compulsory school attendance laws.
Our response: Attendance laws were never put in place to enforce mandatory state testing. These are two separate issues and should be addressed in that way.
Schools should be mindful that student participation in state assessments is part of the calculation for A-F category designations. Moreover, lack of participation by any subgroup may have particular negative consequences for accountability calculations.
For additional information, please contact the Office of Assessment at 317-232-2050.
This can be viewed as a threat. It is important for parents to remember that the DOE works for you. Your tax dollars are being used to fund the high stakes testing and the privatization occurring in Indiana. United Opt Out National demands a whole and equitable education for all students. High stakes testing is rapidly creating re-segregation and feeding the school to prison pipeline. High stakes testing is being used to punish students, teachers, schools and communities.
The federal constitution does give parents the ultimate authority over their child’s education.
It is unfortunate that Indiana’s Department of Education is protecting high stakes testing rather than the children they are meant to serve.
- Administrators of United Opt Out National
(note: we called that phone number provided in the memo – it takes you to FSSA – Family Social Services Administration revenue recovery)