Please accept this letter as a record of my decision to refuse for (name redacted for privacy) to participate in TN Ready/TnReady TCAP test and pretests at (school name redacted for privacy) for the remaining school year. My refusal to allow (child's name) to participate is because I believe standardized high stakes testing take away time from the instructional experiences my child might otherwise receive. I want more teaching and learning, and less testing! I am aware that there is no “opt out” clause in the state of Tennessee. But the state has yet to provide any legal documentation that my child may not exercise his or her right to refuse the tests.
I understand that it is state and local policy to require all students to are to be evaluated for proficiency in various subject areas at each grade level. However, I believe that testing is not synonymous with standardized testing and request that the school and my child’s teacher(s) evaluate her progress using alternative measures including project-based assignments, teacher-made tests, portfolios, and performance-based assessments.
(Child's name) is prepared to come to school every day during the testing window with alternative meaningful, self-directed learning activities that support the essential curriculum, or is willing to participate in other meaningful activities as determined by the school or her teachers during testing times. Please let me know beforehand what I can expect as far as instructional experiences (child's name) will experience during testing windows. I am happy to develop material for her if the teachers believe this is appropriate. I have a tremendous respect for (child's name)'s teachers and her school. My issue is with frequent high-stakes standardized testing and the harm it does to children, teachers, and our public schools.
In addition to obviously being an awesome father, Representative Mike Stewart is a lawyer. He was elected to serve part of Davidson County in the TN House of Representatives. And he is exercising his parental right to refuse testing his child, because he is the parent and he knows his rights.
It will be interesting to see how the district and state handles this opt-out. We've had a lot of feedback from parents across the state. Some districts and schools are supportive of opting out, but other districts are being just plain mean to parents and students about it!
In fact, one principal in Shelby County told her teachers in faculty meeting last week that, "it is illegal for parents to opt out" and she instructed her teachers to write children up for discipline referrals if they refused to take the test! OOOOHHHH, we just dare you to punish children for obeying their parents! That's a lawsuit waiting to happen, right there, it sure is! But it goes to show you how far some administrators and districts are willing to push to get children to take that stupid test.
And then we hear that students in magnet/optional schools somehow have a waiver to some or all the test prep. Those students aren't being prepped and prodded on the test like regular public school children are. Schools in affluent areas and magnet/optional schools aren't doing nearly as much test prep as the schools in poorer areas who are desperate to raise test scores. Remind anyone else of separate, but unequal school systems? Testing for the poor kids, and teaching for the rich.
Will this State Representative's child be allowed to opt out, but children in poorer schools won't? Will the State squish this rebellion? Or will parent's voices finally be heard and understood by the Governor and his appointed leaders?
Stay tuned! We'll keep you posted if we hear anything. And, you, dear readers, please keep us posted on your own opt-out experiences in TN, too. We have an easy way you can tell us anonymously on our website (scroll to the survey at the end of the page). Your stories sure are interesting and helpful, and there are a lot of you out there trying to opt-out, from one end of the state to the other! Keep up the great work!