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To Test or Not to Test?

I am a retired teacher/grandmother and I grieve for all children who suffer because of standardized tests. If you parent a child who becomes anxious, nauseated, or sleep deprived due to stress over the test, you may consider opting your child out of the state assessment. If you do so, please double-check all information in this post with the education agency of your state.

Reasons to Oppose or Opt Out of the Test

  1. State exams do not measure the material we want students to learn. Unfortunately, schools tend to teach material being tested.

  2. High stakes tests promote racial bias since test vocabulary differs from the language of many minority students.

  3. Tests do not provide fair or accurate assessments of second language students or those living in poverty.

  4. Pressure from tests actually invites lying and cheating.

  5. Tests fail to indicate how much a student actually knows or how well a teacher teaches.

  6. Tests and test preparations reduce time for valuable instruction. Often schools eliminate art and music.

  7. Some students experience extreme stress because of tests.

  8. Emphasis on the yearly test reduces excitement, curiosity, and imagination.

Steps to Opt Out

  1. Meet with the testing coordinator at your school to inform the school that your child will not take the state exam.

  2. If administrators resist, ask if they plan to retain your child. (Retention based on lack of a test score should never occur.)

  3. Send a written statement by certified mail to prove that you informed the school about your intention to opt your child out of the test. (Contact Edy Chamness at <> to request a sample letter to use as a model.)

  4. In a worst case situation, withdraw your child and say you plan to homeschool. Readmit the child after the final testing window. The testing window includes the actual test day and days provided for make-up tests.

Information About Refusal to Take the Test

The state does not have a law that forces your child to take the test. The school district may not penalize your child. Your child can even opt out of benchmark tests since they do not contribute to your child’s grade.

Although grades five and eight require testing in order to be promoted, a grade placement committee actually makes this decision.

In most cases, graduation depends on successful completion of state mandated course exams. Schools have the flexibility to issue a certificate of completion if the student successfully finishes the course curriculum. If you actually withdraw your child prior to graduation, request a home school diploma. As a parent, you can submit final grades.

Final Thoughts

Today, parents face challenges that I never considered when I was a young mother. Although I will never advise parents about whether to opt a child out of your state’s high stakes test, I encourage parents to consider the impact tests have on your child. Going against the system will be difficult. Taking the best action for your child may require courage. There are no easy answers and I wish you well.

Work Cited

Chamness, Edy. “Testing Opt-out Refusal Guide for Texas.” United Opt Out. 2012.

Garland, Sarah. “Three Reasons Students Should Opt Out of Standardized Tests. The Hechinger Report. 2015.

“Opting Out of Standardized Tests.” Texas Association of School Boards, Inc. TASB Legal Services. 2014.


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