Sample Opt Out Letters

In order to opt your child out of standardized testing, the only thing you need to do  is write a letter addressed to your school principal or testing coordinator. It can simply state that they will not be taking whatever tests you’re opting them out of, or it can provide some information about your reasons for doing so. The following letters were used to opt children out of standardized testing in CPS.

If you have written a letter that you’d like to share publicly, please forward it to info@morethanascorechicago.org and we’ll add it to our samples.  The more samples we have, the easier it is for other parents to write letters opting their children out of testing.

Sample 1

The following was written by Linda Schmidt and Andre LeMoine, whose children attend A.N. Prizker School and the Whitney Young Academic Center. The letter was initially submitted to the appropriate teachers and administrators via email, with a follow-up hard copy sent to school the next day.

We, the parents of [student], are writing to inform you that he will not be participating in NWEA MAP, REACH, or ISAT testing during the 2013-14 school year. There are many reasons why we are opting him out of these tests, but our primary reasons are as follows:

• We believe that the testing and related activities such as test-prep drilling, school pep rallies promoting testing, rewards for performance, and the posting of test data on classroom walls, all have a negative impact on our son’s social-emotional wellbeing.
• We object to the classroom disruption and loss of instructional time caused by standardized testing and related activities, and we do not believe that the tests add value to [student]’s educational experience. We trust that his teachers can adequately assess his progress by grading his projects and homework, administering unit-based quizzes and tests, and interacting with him on a daily basis.
• We simply cannot allow our child to be subjected to testing for the purpose of evaluating his teachers, principal, and school.
• As taxpayers, we abhor the fact that millions of (supposedly scarce) dollars are devoted to administering standardized tests and purchasing test-prep tools and software.
• We are aware that CPS and the State of Illinois will share student information with inBloom, and we find this release of sensitive student data to be reprehensible.

We have chosen to send [student] to [school] for many years because we believe it provides him with a rich educational experience. But the culture of testing as it currently exists within CPS puts quality education at great risk, and we as a family cannot in good conscious contribute to it.

We trust that during times when the rest of the class is participating in testing, [student] will be allowed to engage in an alternate activity such as silent reading, homework, or assisting school staff in some useful way.

If any teacher believes that one of the tests named above would provide valuable information about [student] and enhance his education, we will be happy to discuss the issue directly with that teacher. We can be contacted at the email addresses listed below.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sample 2

The following was written by Julie Fain and Jesse Sharkey, whose children also attend A.N. Prizker School.

We are writing to inform you that we are exercising our right to exempt our children, [names] from all non-state mandated tests for the current school year. This includes, but is not limited to: NWEA/MAP, REACH, DIBELS, and mCLASS. We will permit [name] to take the ISAT. In addition, please do not place the grades, ISAT scores, or results of previous standardized tests of either of our children on display in the classroom, hallway, or other public place.

During whole class standardized testing we understand that our children will be provided with appropriate accommodations in order to engage in quiet, self-guided activity like silent reading, drawing, writing, or other appropriate activities so as to not disrupt the classroom in any way.

We do not take this decision lightly given the high stakes attached to performance on these tests for everyone involved—our children, our school, and our teachers. Unfortunately we do not believe these tests to be in the best interests of our children’s education and cannot continue to allow them to participate.

We have become alarmed at the incredible increase in high stakes standardized testing at CPS. This year our kindergartener is scheduled to take fourteen standardized tests. Our fourth grader is scheduled for twenty-four tests, including the ISAT, which is spread over 8 sessions, and REACH assessments in PE, library, music and Spanish. It’s simply too much, and too much of a drain on scarce resources at our schools.

These tests carry significant consequences for students, teachers and schools, and we see the effects of this. The curriculum becomes narrowed to cover what is on the tests. Teachers and students become stressed and demoralized. Ceaseless testing is driving out creativity, curiosity, and independent thinking.

We note that elite private schools have no use for standardized tests of any kind. They trust their teachers to assess students’ progress with authentic, multiple measures and intense attention given to each student. We are concerned that CPS is going in the opposite direction—towards larger classes with more standardized testing. We also do not support a competitive culture around testing where prizes are given for results or students’ scores are posted in public (a clear violation of their privacy).

We look forward to the time when our schools can nurture the natural inquisitiveness and love of learning all children should have instead of seeing them as data points on charts and spreadsheets. We are proud, grateful members of the Pritzker community. We look forward to many years of working together to improve our children’s education.

We are happy to discuss this matter further.

Sample 3

The following was written by Cassie Creswell and Matt Beal, whose child attends Goethe School.

We are writing to notify you that our daughter [name] will not be participating in any standardized testing for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year. As we understand it, this will include the NWEA MPG, mClass Math, DIBELS, TRC, REACH, and Quarterly Benchmark Performance Tasks. Please let us know if this is not an exhaustive list, as we do wish to opt her out of all remaining standardized test administrations.

During whole class standardized testing we understand that [name] will be provided with appropriate accommodations in order to engage in quiet, self-guided activity like silent reading, drawing, or writing so as to not disrupt other students.

We are opting [name] out for several reasons. First, the standardized testing being administered to children age eight and under in the Chicago Public Schools, whether required or just strongly recommended by the district, is not in accordance with the recommendations of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s position statement on “Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation” (http://naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/pscape.pdf).

In addition, we do not want [name]’s performance on any standardized test to be used in the evaluation of her classroom teacher, her principal, her school, or her school district. We feel this is an inappropriate, inaccurate, and, frankly, unethical use of these tests. Finally, we have fundamental philosophical and moral objections to the overuse and misuse of standardized testing in the public education system in the US—a problem that has become ever more acute in recent years. Particularly in large urban districts like our own, standardized testing has had negative effects on the emotional and mental health of children, has narrowed the curriculum, and has been used to deprive of resources, punish, and close schools in the very communities in most need of educational resources. We will not perpetuate this system by continuing to allow our child to participate in it.

We are happy to discuss this matter further with anyone at CPS.

Sample 4

The following letter was written by Anthony Nicholson to opt out his child from testing in the preschool program at Pulaski.

We are the parents of [name], a student enrolled in Ms. […]’s Pre-K afternoon class. The purpose of this letter is to specifically deny parental permission for [name] to participate in any Kindergarten Readiness Tests, at any time during this school year. Our reasoning for this is two-fold.

First, we believe that there is no evidence that subjecting four- and five-year-olds to lengthy standardized tests produces any reliable signal of what a child has learned, or how they will perform in Kindergarten.

Second, and most importantly, this testing process robs teachers of an unacceptably-large amount of instructional time, for dubious benefit. We are outraged that Ms. […] must take hours out of her award-winning, child-centered Pre-K program to administer a canned, standardized test that neither she nor anyone at Pulaski has had any hand in crafting.

We are happy to discuss this with you in person, if necessary.

One response to “Sample Opt Out Letters

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