What Does it Mean to Opt Out?

What does it mean to “opt out”?

Opt out means a refusal to “buy into” something-in this case the stranglehold that high stakes testing has on public education. We believe that the quickest, swiftest, and most effective way to end the destruction of HST is for parents, students and teachers to refuse to participate in these mandated high stakes tests.

However, we also recognize that this measure is easier said than done. Such actions are never simple, easy or without repercussions. Such an approach to our mission would be naïve and impractical.

Opting out of HST in public education can also come in many other forms.

There are three basic arenas where people can engage in resistance: Changing the Public Narrative, Breaking the Cycle, Supporting Alternatives.

We illustrate here some suggested ways to opt out of HST in public education in each of these arenas. These are steps that families, teachers, students, and interested citizens can take now. Some of these involve more “risk” than others. Every action counts!!!!!! No action is ever too small!!!

The only things that can defeat are complacency and resignation.

Other ways to Opt Out of HST in public education:


1) Opting out of the narrative that HST testing: a-is “good” for schools and that b-is necessary to evaluate student progress

2) Opting out of silence. Instead we should speak to friends, colleagues, communities, civic organizations, and politicians about HST’s destruction to public education.

3) Opting out of avoidance. Making the truth public through creative means. Using arts-based, or social strategies to share information (storytelling circles, visit project link “Out of the Box Doll Project” on Facebook, starting flash-mobs, sending postcards with images, posting bumper stickers, passing around our Parent Flyer).


1) Opting out of complicity. Question, challenge, and share everywhere we can. Break the code of blind compliance.

2) Opting out of isolation. You are not alone. Form groups and meetings where you can develop viable and realistic forms of resistance suited to your community. Forming local groups and petitions.

3) Opting out of coercion as a form of education. Fear and isolation as ways to educate children are NOT options we should support!

4) Opting out of assuming those in power “know best.” Meet with your boards of education, school administrators, PTA, congressmen, and community leaders. Talk with them. Challenge the policy “sound bites”! Express your concerns. Ask questions. Seek support.


1) Knowledge is power. Collect and share research from various sources which document success stories of schools that have used alternative forms of assessment to measure student performance. Promote and advertise research that SHOWS what WORKS.

2) Collaborate with educators from all levels and areas. Find schools and teachers who demonstrate the success of meaningful curriculum which is NOT test-driven. Identify and promote models of public classrooms which support our beliefs and do so successfully.

3) Trust in the power of creative collaboration. The best alternatives we can create may not have been invented yet!!! They may emerge through an ongoing process that involves YOU and others-our shared vision.

If we begin, or continue to opt out in any or all of these ways, then taking action (with wisdom, power, resources, and courage it takes of every parent, child, and teacher) to walk out on testing day, and ending high stakes testing for good, and for ALL can become a reality.