Parents can (and should) consider opting their children out of the Common Core SBAC Tests

FACT #1:

Connecticut parents and guardians have the right to opt their children out of the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Standardized Testing Program

FACT #2:

In addition to all myriad of problems associated with the Common Core Standards, including the concerns that some of those expectations are not developmentally appropriate, the Common Core SBAC Standardized Test is literally designed [rigged] to ensure that the vast majority of students are deemed “failures.”

Late last year, the Malloy administration joined with the other members of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and voted to define the “proficient levels” on the SBAC tests.  The “Cut Scores” were set at a level where about 38 to 44 percent of  elementary and middle school children will meet the so-called “proficiency mark” in English/Language Arts and only 32 -39 percent will reach that mark in Math.

At the same time, SBAC set the cut score for the 11th grade SBAC Common Core Test so that approximately 41 percent will show “proficiency” in English/Language Arts and 33 percent will do so in Math.

This means that the Common Core SBAC Test is designed in such a way as to deem as many as 6 in 10 – and potentially as many as 7 in 10 – children as failures.

The scoring system is nothing short of child abuse.  (For details read: Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!)

FACT #3:   

While the overall waste of taxpayer money and student instructional time associated with the Common Core SBAC Testing disaster undermines the educational opportunities of every public school student, the testing scheme is particularly discriminatory against children who face English Language barriers, children who have special education needs and children who aren’t “excelling” at one to two grade levels ahead of their classmates.

FACT#4:

The only thing that will stop the Common Core and Common Core Testing scam from completely destroying our system of public education will be if our elected officials stand up and fight back against the Corporate Education Reform Industry.

For that to happen, parents need to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC test and send a loud and powerful message to our elected officials that the time has come to put the word “PUBLIC” back in Public Education.

[More on the legislative effort and legislative heroes in an upcoming post]

Here are the other FACTS Connecticut’s school parents and guardians need to know;

According to Connecticut State law, all public schools must administer the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC).  This year the Common Core SBAC test will be given to all students in Grades 3 through 8, and those in Grade 11.

However, there is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests.

To repeat:  There is no federal or state law that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting their children out of these inappropriate, unfair and discriminatory tests AND there is no law that allows the government or local school districts to punish parents or their children if the parent refuses to allow their child or children to participate in the Common Core SBAC testing program.

Last year, a directive issued by Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, instructed local school superintendents and principals that Connecticut parents COULD NOT opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC tests and his memo even provided districts with step by step instructions on how to pressure parents into not utilizing their rights to opt their children out of the tests.

According to the CT Mirror, in an interview with John Dankosky, last spring, on WNPR’s public radio show, “Where We Live” Governor Malloy said that, “federal law restricts students from opting out of taking standardized tests, and if the state were to give students that option, it would put the state at risk of losing millions of federal dollars.”

Malloy’s statement was simply untrue.

When the Chairman of the State Board of Education and Commissioner Pryor were finally brought before the General Assembly’s Education Committee on March 12, 1014 to address concerns surrounding the Common Core and Common Core testing system, Commissioner Pryor admitted that,

On an individual level, I don’t believe that there’s any specific provision in law regarding consequences… To my knowledge there are no state provisions that are specific, or no federal provisions that are specific to an individual student.”

The Chairman of the State Board of Education agreed that there was no legal action that the state or school district could take to punish a parent or child who opted out of the Common Core SBAC test.

While a law clarifying that parents can opt their children out would be helpful, and has been introduced into this year’s General Assembly (more on that soon), a parent’s right to opt their children out cannot be denied.

However, in response to Commissioner Pryor’s directive to local school superintendents, the majority of local schools inappropriately informed parents (and teachers) that students could not opt out of the Common Core SBAC tests.

But regardless of the false information and rhetoric coming from the Malloy administration, parents not only have the fundamental right to opt their children out of the unfair testing program, they should strongly consider doing just that as a way to protect their children, Connecticut’s teachers and our state’s historic commitment to local control of public education.

Finally, after speaking with many local school superintendents and reviewing the correspondence that they sent out to teachers and parents last spring, it is clear that Malloy’s Department of Education also tried to scare local officials into believing that any widespread opt-out or  boycott of the Common Core SBAC test would jeopardize funding for the local school district.

Again, the state government used misinformation in their misplaced and ongoing attempt to mislead local superintendents.

The issue in question is called the “95% Rule”

According to President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), school districts are required to show, every year, that their tests scores are improving and that 95% of all students have taken the standardized tests.

But according the nationally-respected nonprofit, non-partisan, Fair Test organization,

 “No school or district anywhere in the country has ever been penalized for failing to test enough (95%) of its students.

Even more importantly, at least 41 states, including Connecticut, have been given federal waivers that supersede and preempt those provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Instead, Connecticut has chosen to go with a system of categorizing schools based on test scores and a number of other criteria.  According to Connecticut law and regulations, Connecticut categorizes its schools as being (1) Turnaround Schools, (2) Review Schools, (3) Transition Schools, (4) Progressing Schools and (5) Excelling Schools.

Turnaround Schools are defined as the 5% of the lowest performing schools and are subject to state intervention, state takeover, and even a state determination to close them and hand them over to a private charter school company. (The disgraced policy of giving Jumoke Academy control of the Milner School in Hartford and the Dunbar School in Bridgeport)

The next category, according to the State Department of Education, are “Review Schools” and this is where the so-called “95% Rule” might come into play….but not the way the Malloy administration has explained.

Review Schools are, “All schools with [Standardized Test] participation rates less than 95 percent, four-year cohort graduation rates below 60 percent, three-year baseline School Performance Indexes (SPIs) below 64…”

There is no financial punishment for being a “Review School.” In fact, there might even be some financial benefit if the state was actually allocated its funds appropriately.  But even more importantly, a school with a graduation rate of 60% or more has successful proven that it is making progress and no state official would have the audacity to define a school as failing simply because its participate rate fell below 95%, but it was successfully meeting all the other criteria for being a “transitioning school” or “progressing school.”

If parents take the time to examine graduate rates for their schools they will quickly see that the so-called “95% Rule,” is nothing more than a red herring.

As parents look around the nation they will discover that Common Core Testing opt-out and boycott efforts are taking place from sea to shining sea.

In New York States, entire school districts are refusing to even offer the test, a number of courageous teachers in various states are actually refusing to give the unfair and inappropriate Common Core Tests and tens of thousands of parents are stepping up to protect their children by opting them out of the tests.

Connecticut parents should certainly consider doing the same.

In the coming weeks, Wait, What? will be posting more information about how to opt your child out of the Common Core test and the issues surrounding the Common Core SBAC testing fiasco.

For now, here are the primary steps are protecting your children:

Submit a letter to your school principal and your child’s teachers indicating that your child will not be taking the test.

Let them know that you are aware that you are not required to keep your child at home during the testing windows and that your child should be provided with appropriate instructional activities while the Common Core Testing is taking place.

Ask them what arrangements they will make for your child during that time.

Also, here is a sample Opt Out letter follows:

Dear Principal _____________,

Thank you for all you do for my child, ___________ (child’s full name), and for our school.

I am writing to respectfully and formally inform you that ________ is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

Please note that this is not a “request” to be excused from the tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC).

I am aware of Connecticut State Statute 10-14n which mandates that students take a statewide mastery examination. However, as you know, I have the legal right to refuse to allow my child to participate in these tests and neither the state nor the school district has any legal right to punish me or my child for taking this action.

Furthermore, please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently. As such,   _______ will not be required to participate in any makeup tests.

I will be informing ________ that he/she is not to take any tests produced by or related to the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition (SBAC), and that if he/she is given one he/she is not to work on it in any way.

I would ask that the school please provide him/her with an alternative, instructionally appropriate activity during any and call SBAC related testing.

Please confirm your receipt and understanding of this letter.

Respectfully,

______________________

Parent’s name and contact information

Finally, you can also get more information about these issues from a variety of websites including the following:

United Opt Out: Connecticut Page

Truth in America Opt Out Form

Connecticut Against Common Core (and its Facebook counterpart Stop Common Core in CT )

You and Your Children Cannot Be Punished For Opting Out in Connecticut (Common Core in CT Blog)

Fair Test Memo: “WHY YOU CAN BOYCOTT STANDARDIZED TESTS WITHOUT FEAR OF FEDERAL PENALITES TO YOUR SCHOOL

And here are some of the previous Wait, What? Blogs on the Common Core SBAC Testing Scam

Common Core (SBAC) Results May Provoke Shock, Officials Urge Families to Stay Objective

Another reader speaks truth to power about the Common Core SBAC Test

Beware the Coming Common Core Testing Disaster

Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!

A system that labels children as failures (another MUST READ by Wendy Lecker

Greenwich superintendent joins Commissioner Pryor in misleading parents

An Open Letter to Parents from a Connecticut Parent

How much time and money can Malloy and Pryor Waste on the Common Core Test of a Test

The Malloy Administration’s Big Lie: Parents Can’t Opt Out.

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

Commissioner Pryor’s agency tells superintendents to mislead and lie to parents – and they are

Parents can opt their children out of the standardized testing frenzy and school superintendents should be supporting them

  • Free market filly

    Opting out of the testing is step 1. Opting out of the Longitudinal Data System, where they collect personal data on your child and your family, is step 2. Step 3 is getting rid of Common Core, a developmentally inappropriate propaganda machine that will retard your child’s education by 2 years, while at the same time promoting anti-American ideas and values.

  • Jason Morris

    Don’t forget, the CMT’s for science are still around too Jon. Would recommend tossing that in there. Great piece!

  • Gobsmacked133

    Just typed my letter. Changed it a tiny bit, but it’s pretty good. Thanks for the statute; I didn’t have to look for it! By the way, as an educator, I never had issue with CMT or CAPT.

    • jonpelto

      Going to put a whole bunch of different letters up for people to use – please consider adding yours – just send it on over jonpelto gmail

    • cindy

      At least the CMT could actually point to where a student had a problem. Who knows exactly what the SBAC is assessing. When my child got the correct answer to a simple math problem, but got it marked wrong because she did not describe her thought process well, I knew there was a big problem. Huge. No one has the right to judge how a child thinks, and fix it if they think their process is wrong.

  • Parent

    My child came home yesterday saying, “Am I going to take the SBAC test this year?” My child did not take it last year. He/she continued on, “I want to take it this year because I don’t like having to go to a different classroom and just read. It makes me feel funny doing something different than everyone else.”. My heart dropped. I don’t want my child to take the test, but I don’t like him/her being singled out and feeling like an outcast either.

    • jonpelto

      i’m so sorry to hear that…. it is certainly understandable. Of course, you need to do what is best for your child. You might remind them that many African Americans were told to move to the back of the bus and refused before it turned into one of the defining moment in American history…. no one remembers the names of all those people who refused before Rosa Parks – but those people still played a huge role in trying to make our nation a better place. Those who refused to move back and those who did but understood that a day would come when they wouldn’t. When our children opt out – they are also speaking up for all those children who shouldn’t be forced to take this unfair, discriminatory test but don’t have parents who will back them or don’t have the ability to speak up for themselves. Any child who says no to the test is hero. If not this year, then maybe they will want to next year and they will just as much a hero then…

      • CTedFromTheTrenches

        Just imagine if students themselves launched a twitter or instagram campaign against SBAC. The test would be DOA.

    • CTedFromTheTrenches

      Your child has the power to spark a difference in his or her school.

      • Nikkibisquits

        I have opted out my granddaughter from CC testing. I have also let her know that anytime her teacher places anything in front of her that she has not been taught she was free to let her teacher know that she cannot be expected to do what she has not been taught. Thank God my husband and myself are supplementing her education. Just yesterday she shared with me that her teacher set before her and her classmates a paper that was not age appropriate for 3rd grade and said” do this I want to see how smart you are”. Some of the homework that has been sent home for her to do has caused me to be too angry to cry.I have attended all of the meetings to explain CC to parents who are not doing their own homework. Thank goodness some parents have an ear to hear whats going on .Still their are others who just say “whatever lady”.These meetings are nothing more than a marketing scam similar to sitting in on timeshare meeting. I have shared with the superintendent that he should be ashamed of himself however because of the amount of blood money on his hands he cannot go back.Some parents just want to get o work and don’t have the time to do the research. Parents are having to Google the homework being sent home with their kids.We all know when the students ready the teacher shows up ,however in this case the student showed up but no one is there to teach.I am so thankful that we are raising our granddaughter. I could not imagine her growing up in an environment where she would have to face this alone. She just said today ” grandma I fell so empowered to tell them what is unacceptable and not be afraid.” She has also become the go to kid in her class when other children don’t understand what’s happen. So many behaviors in her class room. Kids are screaming out “I don’t understand this” “I don’t know what to do”. Kid’s want to learn. This attack on our children is scandalous absolutely scandalous. Let’s Talk about bullying. CC has become the ultimate terrorists of education They want to hold our children hostage to ignorance and begin at the youngest group K-12. As a believer I do not have the option of being silent.This situation is happening across the board in our nation. I have not been called to be conformed to this system but to be transformed by a renewed mind. As a parent. The gauntlet has been dropped and for such a time as this we all need to cry loud and spare not. In this case it does take a village to raise a child. Your child is my child and visa versa.