ESSA, the new replacement Elementary and Secondary Education Act, has language acknowledging parents’ right to direct the education of their children (Section 1111(b)(2)(K). This should include the ability to refuse to allow ones child to participate in standardized testing. However, ESSA also has language that requires school districts to have 95% participation in the statewide standardized tests and have that figure be used to evaluate the district. These two requirements are at odds with each other and the local interpretations have been falling heavily on the side of requiring students to take the test in order to meet the 95% participation levels.

Nineteen members of Congress have written to Secretary King to clarify Congress’s intent with ESSA.  They state in the third paragraph, “Hundreds of thousands of parents have chosen to keep their children from taking state mandated tests, and these parents have every right to determine what is in their children’s best interest.”

Here is their letter.




The letter they reference from Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Ann Whalen is included below.

ESEA DCL part rate_updated 12 20 15(3)

You can find a detailed test refusal form on the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core website here which includes the Congressional letter among the support material.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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