Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back To School Parents: Opt Out

Its back to school time for students and parents!  The most effective way to protest the excessive state testing is to OPT OUT.  Information necessary to do that can be found below.  Included below are the four things parents need to know about Opting Out of the PSSA's.
1.  Why opt out
2.  When to opt out
3.  How to opt out of PSSA's (Keystone exam information HERE) and PSSA refusal
4.  How to opt out of test prep such as CDT's and Study Island 
Why Opt Out?
There are many reasons to opt out of the PSSA's and they are listed below.  Before you go to the list, I urge you to read this blog post: PA: Ugly Cut Scores Coming by Peter Greene.  He explains how the cut scores came to be for the 2015 PSSA's scores.  The test scores are manipulated AFTER the scores are in by a small group of people in Harrisburg and they are politically and financially motivated.  These scores are NOT a determination of a students abilities, knowledge or achievement.
1.  The tests are developmentally inappropriate for grade level and age (usually 2 grades, or more, levels higher)
2.  Scores come back in September when students are already promoted to the next grade and new teacher(s)
3.  Teachers, students and parents do not get any student specific information from these tests.  The results are a word and a number.  For example: Student Name; 1568; Proficient.  That is it!
4.  The tests are not graded by teachers, or people with an education background!  The only qualification required is proof of a college degree.  More information HERE
When to Opt Out?
You can start the process to opt out any time during the school year.  Many parents opt out in the beginning of the year so they can also opt their children out of test prep, such as Study Island and CDT's.  More information HERE.  NOTE:  Opt out letters can be emailed or mailed, I would email so you have record of when it was sent.

How to Opt Out of the PSSA's

STEP 1:  
Parent request in writing to the building principal to review exam within two weeks of exam.  Sample letter:

 Dear Superintendent/Principal,
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [NAME], excused from PSSA testing because of religious beliefs.
Two weeks prior to the testing window, exams must be made available for review.  School districts must provide a convenient time for the review.  Parents will need sign the 'Parent Confidentiality Agreement' that simply states they will not share what is on the test with anyone

STEP 2:  
Parent reviews test at school (usually in April, within 2 weeks of test administration).

STEP 3:  
Parent provides written request to be excused from test to the Superintendent. Can be worded same as first letter, stating that that you reviewed the exam.  Sample letter:
Dear Superintendent,
On [Date] I had the opportunity to review the PSSA test and pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [Name] excused from Keystone testing because of religious beliefs.  
STEP 4:  
Superintendent reviews the request - this request cannot be denied.

School personnel must provide an alternative learning environment for the student during the assessment and complete the “Non-Assessed Students” grid by selecting “Student had a parental request for exclusion from the assessment.”

How to Opt Out of Test Prep

When you write your Opt Out letter, include in it that you are also opting out of test prep.  Sample letter:  
I am writing to inform you that [student's name] be excused from PSSA test prep, including but not limited to, ALL the CDT and Study Island computer assessments.  If there is a PSSA related assessment she is required to take I would like it to be informed prior.  While I have concerns with the educational value of the CDT and Study Island assessments, I am also concerned with the time spent test prep because of lost instructional time, data collection and privacy.  

1 comment:

  1. we will have these letters during the school districts E Day back to school event and hope to do more for parent strike on 9/17!! thanks for sharing Dawn!!