empowered parents
A parent empowers other parents: put schools on notice regarding threats to withhold IEP services from their children.


A parent sent this into Facebook about testing issues regarding a parent’s autistic child:

The school is threatening this family- saying they will remove the child’s IEP if he opts out of tests. (I know this has to be illegal -obviously breaks IDEA- but what can this family do? Is only option getting an attorney?)

thanks in advance!

Letter from school:

Thank you for the written communication confirming your request for your 3 children, to be exempt from any state or federal standardized testing for the 2014-15 school year. This is our confirmation to you that we received your request to opt out of Federal and State testing.

As such, your children will not be tested for the following:

PARCC – Common Core Assessment

CMAS – Common Core Assessment

DIBELS – test used to qualify student under the State Read Act

Special Education Assessments – State and Federal mandated to qualify for Individual Education Plan (IEP)
They would participate in Northwest Evaluation Assessment (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress assessments, which is a local decision and an assessment AVA chooses to use to track student progress.
Because of the exclusion of DIBELS and Special Education testing, we may no longer be able to provide XX the additional services for reading (as pertaining to the legislated READ ACT) nor have enough relevant data to continue IEP services. If this was not your intent, please let me know and we can discuss the specifics in more detail.


The parents are concerned that special education services will be withheld from their child if certain assessments are not taken.  A New York parent advocate with a special needs child responded to this Facebook post and suggested the parents send the school the following letter:


Your Name


City, State Zip

SPED Director’s Name

School District


City, State Zip

Dear Special Education Director’s Name,

It has come to my attention, via a response from the district that the district is attempting to change my request opting out of state and district wide assessments. According to 34 CFR § 300.302 Screening for instructional purposes is not evaluation.

The screening of a student by a teacher or specialist to determine appropriate instructional strategies for curriculum implementation shall not be considered to be an evaluation for eligibility for special education and related services.

Therefore, we are opting out of screenings including;

* PARCC – Common Core Assessment

* CMAS – Common Core Assessment

* DIBELS – test used to qualify student under the State Read Act and not evaluations related to special education.

Should the district attempt to remove my child from special education, it will be done so illegally and we will file against the district for denial of  Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and retaliation for exercising our rights. Under no circumstances is my child to be removed from special education, and if you threaten to do so again, we will file against the district with the state Department of Education as well as the office of civil rights for this retaliation.

Furthermore, the DIBELS has not been deemed valid and reliable, technically sound by the American Psychological Association (APA) and therefore cannot be used to determine special education for a child with a disability as it does not contain any psychometrics.

There are several reading assessments that are approved by the APA that can be used in place of the DIBELS. These include; Wood-cock Johnson III Tests of Achievement (WJ III) Letter-Word Identification subtest, and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, Revised/Normative Update (WRMT-R/NU) Word Attack subtest. These sub-tests include word lists involving real words or non-sense words where the examinee is required to read a series of words that are presented in isolation (Flanagan et al., 2006). The most commonly used tests used to assess reading comprehension include: WJ III Passage Comprehension and the WIAT-II Reading Comprehension subtests. Common measures of reading fluency include the WJ III Reading Fluency subtest, the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Second Edition (KTEA-II) Word Recognition Fluency subtest, and the Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency (TSWRF) subtest. For a comprehensive list of basic reading subtests, reading comprehension subtests, and reading fluency subtests school psychologists and other educational professionals are encouraged to consult Flanagan et al. (2006). Flanagan et al. (2006) also detail the norm-referenced instruments that can be used by school psychologists to assess for writing problems. The most commonly utilized tests to assess basic writing can be found in the Test of Written Language, Third Edition (TOWL-3), the WJ III, and the Test of Early Written Language (TEWL-2). The basic writing subtests focus on evaluation of one’s spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. The most commonly used tests to assess written expression can be found in the WIAT-II and the Peabody Individual Achievement Test, Revised/Normative Update (PIAT-R/NU). For a comprehensive list of basic writing subtests and written expression subtests, school psychologists and other educational professionals are encouraged to consult Flanagan et al. (2006).

All of these evaluations are valid and reliable, technically sound, and can be used to determine appropriate services and supports to a child with a disability. Screenings are not used in such a manner. Therefore, we are simply opting out of screenings which are used only for instructional purposes in the general education curriculum and have nothing to do with special education. If at any time the district makes a unilateral decision to remove my child’s IEP and related services and supports I will file against the district for denial of FAPE among other procedural safeguards. I hope this letter clarifies our request.


The advocate advises parents on completing the letter and who should receive a copy:

  • fill it out
  • print it
  • sign it
  • copy the superintendent
  • keep a copy for your records
  • send two letters (to the school and superintendent) certified return receipt

If you are a parent of a special needs child and requested your child be opted out of assessments, contact MEW in the comments section and let us know if you have received similar letters from your school district.  There are many parents concerned about what the Common Core Initiative means for their ‘uncommon’ children.   Parents increasingly are learning their rights and do not appreciate having their child’s IEP services being threatened and are taking the actions necessary to continue appropriate services.


Published on September 14, 2014





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