March 30, 2017 4:54 pm

Opt-out of testing for better public education!

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By Monty Neil, FairTest Executive Director

As federal and state-mandated tests start across the nation, hundreds of thousands of parents and students, often with teacher support, are refusing to take them.

Opting out is a critical part of campaigns to end the misuse and overuse of testing and pave the way for better forms of assessment and learning. These changes require overhauling state laws and policies. Mass opting out can play a vital role in persuading policymakers.

Opting out can be simple. You can write a short letter to your principal, such as, “Dear Principal [name], I want to let you know we do not want our child, [name], to take part in the [name the standardized exam] this year. Please arrange for [him or her] to have a productive educational experience during the testing period.” Some states or districts have specific forms. Eight states explicitly allow opting out; no state has a law against it. And the federal government does not require states to impose any penalties on schools if large numbers of parents and children opt out.

For more information, see these opt out FairTest fact sheets, available at

 Just Say No to Standardized Tests: How and Why to Opt Out.

Why You Can Boycott Standardized Tests without Fear of Federal Penalties to Your School.

Federal Law and Regulations on Opting Out under ESSA (plus info on requirement to test 95% of students).

FairTest has many other fact sheets you can use in your testing reform campaign. Recent ones include Personalized Learning or Continuous Online Testing? plus two updated pieces on high school graduation tests (from a high of 27, just 13 states use these exams now).

We will soon have new fact sheets on testing young children (written with Defending the Early Years) and testing students with disabilities.

By educating and organizing toward clear testing reform goals, we can win.