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OPT OUT INFORMATION

Please note that this information is applicable to children in school. It is not applicable to homeschoolers. Please see below)

Pennsylvania: Parents are permitted to "opt their children out" of state and federal testing. There is a process. Parents must ask to review the tests. After the review the parents must write a letter asking to opt their child out for "religious reasons." See a sample opt out letter from Tim Slekar in his article to the Huffington Post below.

How to request an exemption from PSSA testing:
1) Visit the school to review the test material.
2) If requested, sign a confidentiality agreement not reveal test contents.
3) Give the school a letter addressed to the Superintendent informing him or her that your child is exempt from taking the test because it is in conflict with your religious beliefs. The letter can also be dropped off at the District office. See link, page 12, half way down the page for more information.
Sample letter: Under Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4(d)(5), I am informing the school district that my child is exempted from PSSA testing on religious grounds.
That is all you have to say. You cannot, under law, be questioned about your beliefs or be denied the exemption.

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/document/1319767/pssa_handbook_for_assessment_coordinators_pdf
The school district has to notify parents two weeks in advance of testing that they have this option. The district further has to provide a convenient time, including evenings, for parents to look at the tests. Finally, a parent can request an exemption at any time, not just during the two weeks before testing. You can, theoretically wait until the testing window is almost over. However, you should let the school know that you are planning to do this so that they don't give your child a test booklet by mistake. There is a code that they have to fill in if the child is to be exempted.
Also from that same page: "If the student is excused from the state assessment due to parental or guardian request, school personnel must provide an alternative learning environment for the student during the assessment and complete the “Non- Assessed Students” grid on the student’s answer booklet by marking “Student had a parental request for exclusion from the assessment.”
[Source: Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing - Discussion - Pennsylvania)

Articles

Parent advisory on opting out from PA Superintendent

Opt out parent Michelle Gray's story

Huffington Post articles from opt out parent Tim Slekar

Useful Links

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/09/954268/-My-letter-opting-out-of-NCLB-testing
http://video.foxnews.com/v/4613083/parents-take-stand-against-standardized-testing
http://harmonicmama.com/2011/04/opting-out-of-standardized-tests/

Homeschoolers

While this information may be helpful to families who attend school, it is not at all applicable to home-educators who are legally registered with their school districts.

The only test that PA residents can opt out of is the PSSA, which is given by the schools--Home-educator's are NOT required to take this test. The only reference to opting out is from · PA Code Chapter 4.4(d)(4) which says “If upon inspection of State assessments parents or guardians find the assessments in conflict with their religious belief and wish their student be excused from the assessment, the right of the parents or guardians will not be denied upon written request to the applicable school district superintendent or AVTS director.”
(See http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/022/chapter4/s4.4.html)

This is not a law; it is a code and there is a HUGE difference. Furthermore, the only way for *schooled* children to opt-out is if their parents claim a religious (NOT "ethical") conflict.

If you want to commit an act of civil disobedience, don't register as a homeschooler. Simple as that. But, to register and then say you don't agree with the regulations will only cause undue hardship. Pick your battles, folks.

In PA, you can order one of six (maybe 5 now) tests and administer them in the privacy of your own home. That's not detrimental to homeschooling. Being called to a school board trial to defend yourself is.

There is a lot of helpful information for PA homeschoolers, by a woman who has been homeschooling in PA for years, here:http://home.comcast.net/~askpauline/index.html