Parents – Just say NO to the 2017 SBAC Testing Scheme

SBAC  testing will begin soon in Connecticut’s schools.

FACT:  Parents have a fundamental and inalienable right to REFUSE to have their children take the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test – Period, End of Story.

Do not be bullied into believing that you have lost your right to protect your children from the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory “test and punish” SBAC testing system.

When considering the refusal (opt-out) issue it is critically important that parents understand that there is no federal or state law that eliminates a parent’s right to refuse to allow their children to take the SBAC test.

While there are federal and state laws that direct states and school districts to try and achieve a 95 percent participation rate for the standardized tests, the State Department of Education’s own instruction on the matter makes the truth clear.

In a February 29, 2016 PowerPoint presentation entitled “Improving Participation Rates on State Assessments,” the Connecticut State Department of Education states;

There are no penalties for students and families for not participating, however, there may be unintended consequences that have an effect on students and families in the school district

As to these consequences, the Connecticut the State Department of Education has informed districts that they will take action if a school district falls below 90 percent two years in a row.  However, no district has ever lost funds due to a high opt out rate.

And in New York, where opt out rates exceed 25 percent of all students, no district has ever lost money or been punished due to its failure to get students to take the unfair tests.

So remember, while federal law continues to “expect” participation rates of greater than 95%, there is no legal requirement – what-so-ever – that any individual student must take the SBAC test.

The following is a template letter that parents may want to use when opting their children out of the SBAC test:

Student:           _________________________          School: ___________________________

Teacher:          _________________________          Grade: ____________________________

Date:  ___________________________

Dear ____________________,

We are writing today to formally inform the district of our decision to refuse to allow our child __________________, to participate in the 2017 Connecticut Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test for grades 3-8

Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. This was not an easy decision for us, but we feel that we have no other choice. We simply see these tests as harmful, expensive, and a waste of time and valuable resources.

We refuse to allow any data to be used for purposes other than the individual teacher’s own formative or cumulative assessment. We are opposed to assessments whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction.

We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occur in our child’s school. We hope our efforts will be understood in the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by the school, and to advocate for what is best for all children. Our schools will not suffer when these tests are finally gone, they will flourish.

We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience or scrutiny that this decision may cause the administration, the school, and staff.

Sincerely,

Steps to opting your child out of the SBAC test: 

STEP 1:  SEND A TEST REFUSAL/Opt-Out LETTER TO YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL

STEP 2: THE SCHOOL WILL USUALLY RESPOND WITH A LETTER STATING THERE IS NO PROVISION TO ‘OPT OUT’ OF CONNECTICUT’S SBAC EXAM. This is true, but the lack of a provision specifically providing for an opt-out does not negate the fact that parents have a fundamental right to refuse to have their children participate in the test.

In Connecticut, thousands of students were opted out of the testing in 2015 and 2016.  In New York, over 230,000 students refused to participate in that state’s annual standardized testing program.

If you’re being told that opting out isn’t an option, you’re being lied to.

STEP 3:  SEND FOLLOW UP LETTER AS NECESSARY 
Depending on the response you receive from your school district, you may need to reiterate your decision.  Opting your child out – that is refusing to allow them to participate – is your fundamental right.  The school district can make it difficult or bully you but they do not have the right to prevent you from protecting your children from this testing scheme.

STEP 4: CLARIFY TEST DAY ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER.  PREPARE YOUR CHILD Depending on your school’s policy/procedure, prepare your child for what will happen on test day.  Be certain to keep in touch with your child’s teacher so that details are worked out in advance.

And remember – you have the right to instruct your school district that you want your child removed to a safe area during the testing periods where they can do school work or read a book.

The official SBAC requirements specifically dictate that only students taking the test may be in the testing room.  The SBAC manual states;

Students who are not being tested, unauthorized staff, or other adults must not be in the room where a test is being administered.

Connecticut Comprehensive Assessment Program Test Coordinator’s Manual For Summative Testing 2016–2017 Published January 3, 2017

Please share your questions, concerns or experience via [email protected]