Thursday, March 26, 2015

If You Want to Opt Out, Be Sure You Know How in Seattle Public Schools

It has come to my attention that just submitting a signed, date form requesting your child to opt out of SBAC testing may not suffice at some schools.

The SBAC page at SPS says this:
Families who refuse to allow their children to participate in assessments, including Smarter Balanced, must submit the refusal in writing, signed and dated, to go in the student's permanent record file. Parents or guardians must submit this refusal annually. Families may use THIS FORM or submit a clear written and signed document.
That's rather interesting wording in red as I might perceive they mean it has to be hand-written, not typed.  Why that would be, I don't know.

Here's the SBAC page at SPS.   I note that when you hit the spot for the form to refuse, it does NOT take you to the form.  It takes you to yet another page.  Here's the link to the SBAC form.

In the SBAC form, I'm supposing they want you to realize, in humiliating detail, how you are failing your child.  I also have to laugh at stating "my reason" - honestly, it's not SBAC or SPS' business.

I will ask if the SBAC form is the only one being taken by schools or are principals allowed to make anything up that they want. 


Cha Ching! said...

"The district bought 15,000 licenses for software that teaches keyboarding to students."

The district claims a budget gap of $11m. How much did these licenses cost?

SBAC will be given to obtain BASELINE scores. Did the district pay for SBAC tests?

Anonymous said...

WA State's guidance on Parent/Student refusal:

just fyi

Melissa Westbrook said...

Cha, that's a good question.

SBAC and PARCC are privately owned so states have to license to use them. It is basically free to do so BUT I can't believe there is not a cost to districts.

Interesting side note, I was researching something in MA and found out that only 54% of the districts there are using PARCC; the rest are using the old state test. Amazing that they got the choice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just FYI, interesting and yet ANOTHER form.

These people need to make up their minds (or maybe they want to sow confusion).

From OSPI:

Let parents know that they can request to see their child’s completed state assessment after the tests are scored. To do this, parents submit a written request to the state assessment office at OSPI, and the booklets or link to the child’s online tests are sent to the district assessment director who then contacts the parents to schedule the viewing. Information about this is at

seattle citizen said...

Off topic, I know, but can someone start a thread on the Times' ridiculously endless propaganda pieces in the last week? They just tonight published another one, the fourth? fifth? this from State Sen. Mark Mullet and State Sen. Jamie Pedersen, and headlined (I kid you not) A modest proposal to restore local control of $40 million from No Child Left Behind waiver

Doesn't the Times, and these two august senators, understand that "A Modest Proposal" is Jonathon Swift's great satire? Don't they realize that their story satire AND farce, with a straight face telling us to just in order to, you know, get rid of the "distraction" of that $40 million so the august legislature can get on with the important business of discussing education in Washington....evidently the legislature is too...distracted to do anything noteworthy about 1351 or McCleary, which might include spending state money to take care of the students these two senators purport to be concerned about.
Pure satire, pure irony, a "modest proposal" indeed.

In the piece, as well, they flat out lie, saying that Seattle, at least already includes test scores as part of the teacher evaluation, when, in fact, test scores are only trigger mechanisms: If a teachers scores were low, they would trigger closer scrutiny but not factor into the evaluation itself.

Melissa Westbrook said...

KPLU is reporting that Hale has backed down on giving SBAC to 11th graders. More to come.

Anonymous said...

If Hale has backed down because of Nyland's threat to yank teachers' certification, I hope all Hale's families send letter to Nyland saying they are opting out because of him. I'm going to.
Why do we need a superintendent at all? What is he doing to earn his salary?


Anonymous said...

Dammit. I hate it when bullies win.


Anonymous said...

The mandated swirlies for all students must be administered!


seattle citizen said...

Thank goodness that Gates, the state, and Arne Duncan can now fully assess the compliance and subservience of ALL of Washington's school districts. The SBA is doing its job already.

seattle citizen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

FRIENDS, IT IS EASIER THAN THEY WANT YOU TO KNOW. And Parents, the important thing for all of us to remember is that you are doing the best you can, in the moment you are in. Be gentle with yourselves. Flat.

You can opt-out on a post-it, written in the car, in a hurry.

On the bus, on the back of a grocery receipt.

While waiting in line somewhere, on a scrap of paper.

You can opt out after testing has started--pull your kid mid-field. I have.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), even says that you can opt out VERBALLY, no written form needed. Do you want the document that reveals this? Let me know, via this blog, and I will send it to you.

Don't cave. Parents have incredible power, we just need to harness it, utilize it. Our votes outweigh their money, no doubt about it.


Unknown said...

I hope that masses of parents opt out their kids. We need to send a message to Superintendent Shrug.

-Opted Out in W. Seattle

Anonymous said...

Some serious attempts to scare parents out opting out there. Speaking of scary - that Laurelhurst portables thread has gotten seriously out of hand!


Maureen said...

My 11th grader is opting out. It's a super easy decision: she has met her graduation requirements and she needs the class time so she can learn enough History to pass her IB HL History exam next year.

Can an 11th grade parent explain to me why they would even consider having their kid test?

Anonymous said...

Can the Hale students self opt-in to the test? Test site and schedule set-up - but students of their own free will excuse themselves (absences excused) from class to intentionally take the test?

The school will then be administering the test as required, but students self-opt themselves out?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Step J, yes, students can opt themselves out. There's a whole protocol about that at OSPI but if the student stands firm, they don't have to take the test.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 47, I checked the Laurelhurst thread; thank you for the heads up. Interesting thing, most of it was fine but one parent seems to want to push the envelope.

Anonymous said...

What might be more effective than opting out..... taking the test and answering A for every question. Nothing like a bunch of screwed up test to screw up the baseline.


Maureen said...

Reader I thought of that, but would they have to sit there for the whole period and then show up for all eight periods to access all of the parts of the test? I don't know how it works. Can someone describe the process?

Kate said...

I heard earlier that this week from what I thought was a credible source that almost all Hale parents had opted their kids out. (Hence making Nyland's threats moot.) Does anyone have any information on this?

Anonymous said...

No matter how you feel about the test, purposely messing with the test results is simply wrong. If you truly object to the test, refuse, or tell your child they have the option to refuse. If they start taking the test and decide they don't want to continue, they can verbally refuse. My child half wanted to throw the test one year, knowing that scores could be used against a teacher (and my child didn't have a favorable opinion of the teacher's performance). It would have been wrong in that case as well. Take the high road and simply refuse.


Anonymous said...

A Friday Open Thread question - is the Social Studies 6-8 materials adoption on schedule? Preliminary materials are supposed to be at JSCEE March 27 - April 15 for public review.


Anonymous said...

Report from my girlfriend at TOPS is parents opted out in droves. Maybe someone who goes there can confirm? It's the first I've heard of another big opt out school. I opted my 3rd grader out, but I was in the minority at my school. The issue was not on most parent radars.

Antitest Mom

Anonymous said...

I went to the opt-out meeting on Wednesday (the one in Columbia City with Jesse Hagopian and Dr. Wayne Au). According to the folks at the meeting:

1) Although there is a form that you can use to opt out, you don't have to use it to opt out.

2) you don't have to use any specific language to opt-out (there were some rumors swirling around that you needed to say exactly what's on the form--you don't)

3) it can be hand-written.

4) high schoolers 16 and older can opt themselves out. Of course, below 16 kids have to be opted out by the parents.

5) in accordance with #4, there was a little bit of discussion (including with some kids at the meeting) about the concept of the kids just refusing to take the test, regardless of parental notes.

Roosevelt Mom

Anonymous said...

Yes, a significant number of parents at TOPS have been opting out, though I can't give you an exact count. Instead of taking the test, parents volunteered to help the 3rd and 4th graders who opted out learn about children in foster care and make kits for them with toiletries, school supplies, toys, games and handwritten notes. It was a great learning experience that was consistent with the school's social justice mission.

TOPS Parent

Anonymous said...

Here's a repost from the APP/HCC blog where testing is also a hot topic. Apparently many opt outs at Lincoln. I hope the parents at my child's different HCC school decide to look into this issue. My kid isn't taking it.



I am not anti-testing. I am anti-8 hour testing on 8 year olds. That's too much. My MCAT was significantly shorter. The fact that my child tells me how they spend class time test prepping to beat the test ("when you answer an essay question always start your essay restating the question as a statement in your first essay sentence so that you incorporate key words and show you are answering the question to the reviewer's satisfaction" - eeew) is disheartening. Call me crazy, I would rather they spent that precious language arts instruction time actually teaching language arts, you know, things like grammar paragraph structure, rather than test-taking strategies. And when the children have finished being coach on test taking strategies, they then carry on language arts blocked time to go to the computer lab to type. They are hunting-and-pecking to try and type their meager stories, instead of spending time drafting, editing and polishing their writing. My older child had a very different 3rd grade experience in the same building a few years ago. I blame the SBACS. It is NOT the teachers' fault. The teachers are wonderful. It's the intrusion of these tests into the 3rd grade (recall, the MSP was 2 subject areas in 3rd grade, not 3).

Anonymous said...

I've received pushback from the school regarding the signed and dated form my son delivered.

"Our school is asking parents/guardians to fill out the form for our records."

To which I responded "You may ask but I'll follow district policy on this one, thanks."

Haven't heard back from them again.

Roosevelt Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wondering, it was reported at the Board Work Session on the budget that the Social Studies adoption is on-track and budgeted for.

opted out said...

As an elementary school parent, the concept of "you need to take this so your kid can have practice for high school" carries no weight. Given the rate of change in state tests, I doubt they'll be taking this test at all.

I opted out using just an email - but also checked with the principal to be sure nothing more is needed. If something more is needed I'll provide it.

I've been organizing other elementary school parents to opt out. I've had the most success in one-on-one conversations. No pressure, just a question, "are you opting out?" or a statement "we opted out." So many parents are already angry about these tests or the district in general, so often it's just a matter of giving them a form. Or showing them the test.

Anonymous said...

I opted out at APP@Lincoln without using the official form. In response to my initial opt-out email, the test coordinator replied asking me to fill out the form, but I declined, explaining that I found the form offensive and that I believed I was not required to use it. They checked with the District, confirmed the form is not required, and accepted my email opt-out.

-Bad Form

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, I understand that the school will push back. They are supposed to according to OSPI (and likely, the district).

But it's wrong to have each school do its own thing. It is a legal option for parents and students and that should be respected.

Anonymous said...

I submitted the opt out form for my 7th grader last week but I'm frustrated to learn that her Math teacher is devoting time to test prep in class. Any other parents noticing this? Is test prep still required for kids who have opted out? What's the alternative?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Pagefive, I'm afraid that you are stuck. They can say that test prep is direct instruction for your child and something he/she should know whether or not he/she takes the test.

Anonymous said...

@ wondering,

I contacted someone at the district and was told there was a slight delay with a portion of the SS materials that were supposed to be available for review today, so they expect everything to be available Monday.

They are also apparently working to make them available to review online. I was told they are planning to send out an email that explains everything on Monday.


Ms. Kari said...

I don't understand all of this. You guys are opting out but what about the consequences? I just talked to a lady at the district office in Lake Stevens, Wa. and if I opt out my 4th grader it could be hard to get him in challenge classes for middle school. They said that they go by the test to place. I was also told that if I don't have my high school student take it then they would not be able to get into a 4 year and would have to start at a Jr. college and take remedial classes. Is this what you are hearing? I want to opt out but am scared of the consequences.

Cheryl said...

I opted my boy out of MAP testing and I was misled on a standardized test my daughter took in high school. I was so mad when I found out what I thought was a test in her algebra class turned out to be a standardized test. Very frustrated at the shifty and dishonest approach by the school.