Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Opting Out Updates

I asked the district:

Is it true that opting out your kids can get them removed from the Spectrum/APP seats?

The answer, via Advanced Learning, was a flat "no." 

So if your teacher/principal is saying this, tell them you checked with the district.   If you continue to hear this, I would write to your region's Executive Director because it is wrong to give out misinformation about SBAC testing.

Nationally, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, endorsing opting out (at least in her home state of New York).  Her statement yesterday via Twitter,

We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA.

@lacetothetop et al have asked what I’d do if I had kids in NYPS—based on what I’ve seen, if I had kids, I’d opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr.

I may have put this up before but I think it worthy of a repeat: it's the Smarter Balanced "Guidance for Social Media Monitoring during field test."  

I was a bit taken aback by the encouragement of inviting students to join a school Facebook page.  Again, kids should not be signing up for on-line interactions without parental knowledge. 


Anonymous said...

Will SBAC be used (as MAP was even though the company, NWEA explicitly told the district that it should not be used) as a gatekeeper for students/families trying to get into advanced learning?

-Interested Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good question. Right now, we know opting out can't be used to exit any HC student from any program.

NW mom said...

That would certainly be a good way to get people to take the test, wouldn't it.

Anonymous said...

NW mom, it may be a good way to return trust to our children's teachers, who know firsthand better than anyone if a child a good candidate for a HC program. Teacher recommendations should be held in high regard, much, much higher than a test score.


Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you there AS.
Often the quiet but very intelligent and conscientious kids slip under the teachers radar. They are doing fine (finding the work easy), causing no problems in class, and not necessarily drawing attention to themselves. Or they may be on the teachers radar as troublemakers- inattentive and bored, disrupting the class once they have done their work.
Not all HCC kids necessarily want or ask for more or harder work - many would happily coast along doing (easily) just what is required to get by.
Even the best teachers are not going to pick up that these kid are capable of a whole lot more, when they are among a class of 25-30 kids of varying needs and temperaments.
Yes, some kids will stand out to teachers as being suitable for the program but many of them will not - either because they are not standing out in the crowd or because they come across as naughty, inattentive etc rather than (but because of their) high IQ. Plus some teachers have their own biases toward advanced learning, self contained programs etc.
I personally think objective, quantitative data trumps subjective opinion in this instance. (Not the SBAC of course though - rather something intended for the purpose).
Teachers opinions should have some weight and may be valuable for kids who just perform poorly in tests but do not replace objective scores in this area in most cases.


Anonymous said...

Gee - here's one reason not to tie teacher evals to tests - AP story out of Atlanta

<a href="http://www.kirotv.com/news/ap/general/11-atlanta-educators-convicted-in-test-cheating-sc/nkkDn/>11 former Atlanta educators convicted in cheating scandal</a>

<i>In one of the biggest cheating scandals of its kind in the U.S., 11 former Atlanta public school educators were convicted Wednesday of racketeering for their role in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams.

The defendants, including teachers, a principal and other administrators, were accused of falsifying test results to collect bonuses or keep their jobs in the 50,000-student Atlanta school system. A 12th defendant, a teacher, was acquitted of all charges by the jury.</i>


Anonymous said...

ack - sorry the link didn't turn out right - still interesting story!


Anonymous said...

Here's a link to the story about the verdict in Atlanta today: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/verdict-reached-in-atlanta-school-testing-trial.html

Roosevelt Dad

Anonymous said...

I attended gifted school as a child (5th - 8th) and was selected for an IQ test to get into the gifted program from a score on the Iowa Basic Skills test. I would never have been able to go to the gifted program if it had been through teacher recommendations because I was a coaster. I think the best gifted programs work on a two part selection, either by test scores or by teacher recommendation.


Anonymous said...

Are you a teacher? I am, and I work with them everyday. We work together, we collaborate, we talk about students and glean insights from one another through observing children and sharing our thoughts and findings. You are flat wrong with "often the quiet...slip under the radar." We notice the quiet, the obnoxious, the typically developing. That is what we do! In some instances, should a parent chose to opt their child out of an exam that is being used as a gatekeeper to a program, teacher recommendation will suffice. It has for years.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I know that long ago, either a teacher and/or parent could nominate a child.

The reason I would want to include teachers is that many parents may not perceive their child's abilities as a teacher in the classroom every day. It might also encourage parents of color if a teacher says, "Hey, your kid is really bright and may benefit from this program."

Lynn said...

Teacher Bias in Identifying Gifted and Talented Students

It's fine to use teacher input as additional information - but definately not more than test scores.

I think AS is overrstating the weight given to teacher recommendations by the district. I've heard of only one case where a student didn't meet the cut scores for APP and was allowed to enroll in the program anyway. As I recall, the child was only a point or two off in one category and their twin sibling was already in the program.

Maureen said...

Does anyone have an official citation that says that students age 16 and up can opt themselves out of exams? My email exchange with our testing coordinator indicated that there was no "opt out" option, but that there was such a thing as "parent refusal" and "student refusal." The District form is set up for a parent/guardian signature, which makes sense for little kids, but I'm pretty sure 11th graders (at least) can refuse all on their own. Independent confirmation would be appreciated. (Not that I expect my kids teachers to drag any students in to take the test.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, students have to be 18 and over.

That said, they can just refuse to take the test. I'm sure they might be questioned about why (and you might get a call) but they cannot force anyone to take a test.

Maureen said...

Melissa, do you have a source for that? I can't find anything specific about age (16 or 18 or whatever) with respect to test refusal online.

I also don't understand the difference between "That said, they can just refuse to take the test." and them signing their own forms--parents aren't allowed to "opt out" either--they are "refusing" as well.

I believe a kid can drop out of HS at age 16, why couldn't they sign their own forms?

Melissa Westbrook said...

i believe I found it at the WEA webpage on testing.

I guess that's true - why not sign the form versus just verbally refusing.

Maureen said...

Ahh, thanks!


The first doc on the list says:

Do students and parents/guardians have the right to opt-out their child from state testing?
Yes. While not addressed in state legislation, adopted agency policy allows students or parents to refuse to participate in state assessments. This policy requires either the student or parent to put this request into writing and for it to be kept on file at the school or district office. Requests should specifically list any tests you wish to opt-out of including interim (practice) tests or make-up tests.

So no age limit at all is indicated.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate that teachers have a lot of experience with different kinds of learners. I don't believe that makes them able to diagnose as well as testing does.

I am not the only parent who was told by teachers that my child was just lazy, for years when we should have been remediating for a disability. I wish those teachers had been humble enough to say they didn't know instead. It is now too late for that kind of remediation.

Teachers also didn't think my kid was gifted, the psych-ed testing showed IQ above 99th percentile.