Of course, this is a personal decision, and every family's circumstances are unique. But if you do want to refuse testing, you need to put it in writing and let your school know. Standardized testing will start soon, if it hasn't already.
If you had a refusal letter last year, just print out a new copy and send it in to your child's new teacher. If you don't have one, a great place to start is at www.unitedoptout.com where you'll find State Opt-Out Guides, Sample Templates, and even a Get Tough Guide in case you get pushback.
Here are some Opt-Out / Refusal Letters we found on the internet you are welcome to use:
To whom it may concern:
I would like to begin this letter by expressing my gratitude to the staff of _______________________ ______________________________School. They have successfully created a positive and welcoming environment that allows students to learn and thrive. I have been very pleased with all of the efforts made by staff members to create an optimal educational environment.
The purpose of this letter is to officially inform you that I am refusing to have my child(ren), _____________________________________, participate in any and all tests designed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), Next Generation Assessments, Pearson, or any other state or national assessment equivalent in nature for the 2015- 2016 school year.
I feel very strongly that being forced to take these tests will negatively affect my child(ren) emotionally, psychologically, and possibly even physically. I have been advised that my concerns meet the criteria for honoring my request under the 14th amendment of the Constitution, which protects my right to direct the upbringing and education of my child(ren). This right has been broadly protected by the Supreme Court since 1923.
Here are research-based reasons why I do not want my child(ren) to participate in high stakes testing:
- Multiple-choice tests & short-answer tests are poor, unfair measures of student achievement, particularly of the ability to understand and use complex material, or of creativity in any field.
- Test scores are not reliable. A person’s score may vary from day to day due to testing conditions or the test-taker’s mental or emotional state.
- Standardized tests are not objective. Decisions about what to include, how questions are worded, which answers are “correct,” and the uses of results are all made by subjective humans.
- High stakes tests cause the curriculum to be narrowed to just what is on the test, and educational quality suffers as subjects like art, music, & phys. ed are reduced or eliminated.
- Tests do not reflect current knowledge and research that we have about learning. Tests are based on outdated assumptions that do not match the research we have about how students learn.
- Students of color, second-language learners, and students with disabilities have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the high stakes testing culture which has fueled the school-to-prison pipeline, making it more likely that these students will become incarcerated.
- There are established and researched ways to evaluate achievement and ability that are MUCH BETTER, such as teacher observation and documentation of student work and performance over time by classroom teachers. (From http://refuseofcuyahogacounty.webstarts.com/ & fairtest.org)
Using student test scores to evaluate teachers and staff is wrong. It is unfair and creates a high-stakes environment.
During the scheduled testing times, I request that my child(ren) be allowed to participate in an academically beneficial alternative activity. I feel that silent reading, art, catching up on class work, or getting ahead on homework would be a positive use of that time. If for some reason this is not possible, I will make other arrangements for my child(ren) during testing.
Please provide a timely written response acknowledging the receipt of this letter, as well as confirmation that blame or consequences will not be placed upon my child(ren) by any staff members in the school or district for not taking these tests.
Thank you for your cooperation and consideration. If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
There are a TON of opt-out letters on the internet. There is even an Opt-Out Conference in February in Philadelphia. The Opt-Out movement is growing and won't stop until the abusive, excessive, and unnecessary standardized testing that puts profit over children's best interest is stopped. Join the movement and make a difference!
PS - Have you signed and shared the petition calling for Testing Transparency in Tennessee, yet? It is a super-easy to have your voice heard!