Some schools and districts are telling parents that “opt out” is impossible; this is simply intended to confuse the issue.
Students can refuse PARCC testing in Illinois.
Although the IL State Board of Education has said that “Opting out is not an option,” they have also said districts “can develop a policy for those students who refuse to take assessments on testing days.” In 2015, more than 44,000 students in Illinois did not participate in PARCC testing.
Students do not need a written opt-out letter from a parent. However, we recommend that parents send written notification of their child’s refusal ahead of time. Some schools are not forthcoming with testing schedules, and additionally, a refusal letter informs the school of your expectation for how your child will be treated.
Here are two refusal notification letters you may wish to use:
- CPS specific opt out/refusal letter (in English, Spanish and Chinese)
- Refusal/opt out letter for anywhere in Illinois
Students without refusal letters may still refuse the test because the state does not officially recognize a parental role in opting out of PARCC. Students can refuse at any point in the testing window even if they participated in previous testing units. An explanation of student rights is here.
Students who refuse PARCC should be treated with kindness and respect.
Children who are refusing testing should be allowed to do another activity (reading, writing, drawing or, for high school, attending regularly-scheduled classes) in another location outside the testing room and should face no negative repercussions for refusing. No legal requirements prevent schools from allowing this.
Many districts are providing exactly the type of refusal policy described here. If your district is not, we recommend working together with other parents in your district to demand that they do. Some IL districts have backed down from punitive sit-and-stare policies because of parent pressure.
Though some states do have opt out laws or regulations or broadly allow opt out in practice, Illinois does not. As a result, the state tells districts that parents are not permitted to refuse the test on behalf of their children; special needs children, children with anxiety and children as young as 8 are expected to refuse the test themselves. This is one of the reasons why we have lobbied to get an opt out bill passed in IL, HB306.
The bill passed the IL House last May. It is now in the IL Senate but hasn’t been assigned to a committee. Please call Senate President John Cullerton (773-883-0770) and your own state senator to ask them to support this bill moving forward.
We need a clear and humane policy for families that don’t want their children to take PARCC or other state-mandated assessments to prevent bullying by the IL State Board of Education and districts.
Questions? call (413)-3OPT-OUT or email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @MTAS_chicago.