Monday, January 11, 2016

Parents Be on the Lookout: Districts Are Sending Opt Out Info Thanks to HB 2655!

Thanks to the efforts of all who helped to pass HB 2655 in this past legislative session, districts now have to inform parents of their right to opt out of state summative testing (currently SBAC) for any reason.  Parents have always had that right, but HB 2655 forces districts to inform parents of this right rather than go through "testing as usual"--where parents really had no idea they could opt out, and districts and the state hoped parents didn't ask--and if they did, the process wasn't always easy or straightforward.

Districts are now at their first requirement of having to hand out opt out information to parents prior to testing.  As these letters to parents come home, parents are being made aware of the opt out process and the availability of the (terribly) and newly created state opt out forms they can use.  They are also being told that the tests are important and that opting out can hurt school resources--not exactly objective information from the Oregon Department of Education (but when your state website about "communication resources" on testing puts information by Stand for Children as part of their information to parents, one can only wonder whose interests ODE is serving--a "non-profit" bent on pushing their corporate reform agenda-- or parents whose only agenda is to have happy, healthy, and successful children)?

Hopefully parents will question and understand that SBAC tests aren't that informative (teachers know best, not a computerized test), waste hours of instructional time, are still high-stakes, and are expensive!

Unfortunately, the ESSA still requires that students test annually in grades 3-8 and 11, values a 95 percent participation rate, and threatens schools with the lowest test scores as being labeled as failures.  Opting out is important as it starves the state and federal government of the incomplete or narrow data they misuse to wrongly label some of our schools, students, and teachers as failing (usually our schools and teachers serving high poverty neighborhoods with grossly inadequate funding and supports.)

We at Oregon Save Our Schools have updated information on how and why one should consider opting their child out of high-stakes testing at our "one-stop opt out center" at Opt-Out Oregon. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!