united opt out letter
It is your civil right to refuse the test.

 

 

The following is largely from a parent in the East Newton (MO) School District:
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Last year, even though parents were concerned about Smarter Balance Assessment Consortia and the unvalidated tests their children took in class, many chose not to opt out of the pilot because it WOULD have hurt the school on funding and accreditation. Citizens, parents and teachers worked hard to pass legislation this past year- HB1490. With that legislation, there was a stipulation that school districts will NOT be penalized on their accreditation OR funding that is typically tied to a test score.

 

Watch this recent jaw dropping video of a small school district in Southwest Missouri, East Newton, debate whether or not to let parents opt their children out of the SBAC. After a lengthy debate, one member of the board states that  children could be made to pick up trash and scrub floors in the cafeteria if parents opt them out!!

 

e newton school board

 

You can listen to the discussion here.  The school board member states that DESE has mandated 95% of the students must take the assessments (even if it is a pilot) and if one child opts out, he/she tells friends and the next thing you know, many children will opt out.  The school board member does not say this, but his argument is that the child must take the test for the good of the school; for the collective.  The individual child and parent have lost the rights to decide what the child’s education should look like and what tests (validated or unvalidated) the child should take.

 

This video statement occurred just after the board passed a resolution AGAINST amendment 3 (partially tying teacher tenure to student evaluations) because they are so concerned about teacher tenure.  Don’t they understand that the hammer is about to hit their teachers through the SBAC assessments after this school year?

 

After numerous questions of opting out from parents last year, this past spring Missouri School Board Association (MSBA) sent out a policy change requiring ALL students will take assessments:

 

msba policy change

 

If a district adopts this language, it essentially ties the hands of parents who were trying to protect students and teachers. Many schools adopted the policy. Parents are now requesting to have the policy change back, in favor of parental rights, since it will not affect the school in ANY way with the passage of HB1490.

It should also be noted that MSBA is a private organization supported by dues  from school districts.  These dues are from taxes paid to your district.  Think of MSBA as a state CCSSO/NGA.  It is suggesting POLICY, not LAWS to your school districts for adoption.  Your school district can choose whether to adopt MSBA policy or not.  Regardless, there is no Missouri statute compelling students to take these assessments.  Perhaps parents in this school district should sue the district for underage labor laws if their children who have opted out are forced to perform menial labor for their civil disobedience.  Is the ACLU concerned about the wishes/rights of  the parents over the wishes/rights of the state? There are two main concerns associated with the consortia:

  •   Much of data being collected on students no longer stays at a local level, but is accessed by SBAC and sent to the US Dept. of Ed
  • Up to 50% of the assessment data will be used to evaluate teachers.

 

Teacher evaluations need to stay at a local level where administration and board members understand the dynamics and the socio-economics of a particular classroom. There are many things that affect student performance on assessments and to allow up to 50% of a teacher’s evaluation to be based on unvalidated test scores is misrepresentative of the teaching profession.

What parents hope to do in opting out is to protect the schools, teachers and students. If we allow this kind of abuse to occur,  it fundamentally shifts local control away from school districts. We have a year to say, “No thank you” to the state for choosing to be a part of the SBAC consortia. We bought a window of time with HB1490 and we can and should ‘refuse the test’.

It’s very interesting and appropriate that teachers and school boards have been so vocal in their opposition to Amendment 3. Teachers and administrators need to realize DESE helped write the ballot language for Amendment 3. If tenure is removed, tying a student score to a teacher’s job and using that score to fire a teacher and replace them with a Teach for America teacher will much more easier, won’t it? It’s all tied together.  That’s why it’s called the Common Core State Standards Initiative and is spelled out in the State Fiscal Stabilization Plan that all states signed: the plan for common standards, teacher evaluation rubrics, turnaround schools and data collection all play a key part in the takeover of public schools and local school district power.  I pray parents and teachers wake up and help their schools retain control over the education on their communities.

Opting out will do NOTHING to hurt the school. HB1490 allowed an intentional window of time written to help teachers and students retain sovereignty over their jobs and personally identifiable information, if parents are allowed to use it.  Districts may discover that parents realize they don’t have to have a school board or MSBA approval to exercise their parental rights over their children’s education. 

Read more about refusing the test here.

 

Published October 13, 2014

 

 

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