Welcome Texas Parents and Texas Students!

We hope you find useful information here. Beneath the recent news concerning standardized testing in Texas, you will find letters that you can use to opt your child out of standardized testing in Texas through Section 26 of the Texas Education Code and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment from the U.S. Constitution. Be aware that administrators will try to deny your parental rights. You must be a strong advocate for your child’s education.
We are here to support you. Please feel free to contact us at TexasParentsOptOutStateTests@yahoo.com

Thank you to Edy for hosting this page! She will d
o her best to keep information updated here.

Education Matters Rise Up!

Standardized testing in Texas in the News!

School officials: High-stakes tests failing students

The Texas Tribune
The Texas Tribune

Texas Schools Chief: Testing Has Gone Too Far

by Morgan Smith

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011
Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011

Texas Commissioner of Education Robert Scott speaks at the TASA midwinter conference in Austin, Texas February 1st, 2011
Texas Education Agency Commissioner Robert Scott said today that the state testing system has become a "perversion of its original intent" and that he was looking forward to "reeling it back in."

Addressing 4,000 school officials at the Texas Association of School Administrators' annual midwinter conference, Scott said that he believed testing was "good for some things," but that in Texas it has gone too far. He said that he was frustrated with what he saw as his "complicitness" in the bureaucracy that testing and accountability systems have thrust on schools.

The remarks, which mirrored those he made at a State Board of Education meeting last week, have been his most forceful on the topic since the last legislative session, when lawmakers slashed state funding to public education by $4 billion. The budget cuts have spurred at least four different lawsuits against the state from school districts arguing they have not received adequate funding to meet increasingly high state accountability standards. The cuts come as the state is rolling out a rigorous new state student assessment system in the spring.

Uncertainty around the implementation of STAAR — and whether students and teachers will be able to meet the new requirements with reduced resources — has caused deep anxiety around the state. With the new system, high school students' scores on exams will count 15 percent toward their final grades in the corresponding course for the first time.

Halfway through the school year, many districts are still determining how they will apply that rule to their grading policies, and the variations from district to district were the subject of a recent House Public Education Committee meeting. At the hearing, parents and school leaders expressed concern that the differing policies would hurt students, and questioned the need to apply the new rules in the first year of the test.
Scott said today that if he had the authority — which he said he doesn't — he would waive the 15-percent requirement in the first year as students adjusted to the test.

Scott, who received a standing ovation at the end of his address, also predicted that there would be a "backlash" against standardized testing during the next legislative session. But he said that the new tests, which are course-based rather than subject-based, would be better for students in the long run and that the transition provided a chance to create a new accountability system that accounts for "what happens on every single day in the life of a school besides testing day."

"We have a huge opportunity to move kids farther and better than we ever thought possible," Scott said. "And I do not want to blow that opportunity."

Open rebellion against standardized school tests in Texas


Rodger Jones/Editorial Writer
rmjones@dallasnews.com | [[http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/authors.html#Rodger Jones/Editorial Writer|Bio]]
1:31 AM on Tue., Feb. 14, 2012 | Permalink

Saying high-stakes standardized testing is "strangling our public schools," superintendents of several high-performing North Texas school districts have jointly signed a letter to top state officials and lawmakers warning about the deterioration of the education system.
Call it open rebellion against the 25-year-old testing regimen. Wow.

The letter goes out to back up Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott, according to Coppell Superintendent Jeff Turner. Scott asserted recently that emphasis on high-stakes testing in some places had become a "perversion" of the system that lawmakers had in mind. Scott's comments about testing inflamed Texas Association of Business chief Bill Hammondand put the governor's office on edge.
So the superintendents wrote:

  • We completely agree with Bill Hammond when he writes, "If we do not deliver a quality education system that prepares our students for college and careers, Texas' ability to attract new business, improve our economy and maintain our competitiveness will surely falter. Our very prosperity as a state, its business and its people stands in the balance." However, we completely disagree with the idea that the way to success for all students is through more standardized tests. In fact, we believe that more tests where students memorize and fill out bubble answer sheets in order to graduate will continue to keep us from being able to reach the very goals upon which all Texans agree.

I posted a transcript two weeks ago of Scott's "perversion" comments. He made them to the State Board of Education and repeated them later to a meeting of the Texas Association of School Administrators. The strain among top education leaders is over how to break in a new set of exams, known as the STAAR tests. They include the first end-of-course exams for high school kids. And, for the first time, a statewide test will figure in to a student's final grade, though most districts haven't figured out how.
Texas Tribune had a piece quoting a letter from four state senators, including Plano'sFlorence Shapiro, who want there to be some give for local districts as they break in the new tests. That's just what Hammond doesn't want to see.
It's hard to figure the alliances here, or where this goes.
One thing is clear -- the momentum belongs to those who object to the way tests have come to dominate school life. The Robert Scott comments were an opening that they didn't want to let get away.
Take a look at the following email, which State Board of Education member George Clayton sent me after I posted the Scott transcript. Clayton, who works for DISD, illustrates the money and the pressures involved in high-stakes testing in a state as large as Texas. Powerful stuff:

From an editorial in the Dallas Morning News on 2/14/12, “Open rebellion against standardized school tests in Texas.”

George M. Clayton, memberTexas State Board of Education, District 12 Chairman, Committee on Instruction

"As an educator and an education official in this state, I have made it my crusade to expose and ultimately end this travesty in our schools."
-George M. Clayton, memberTexas State Board of Education, District 12Chairman, Committee on Instruction

  • The exchange between Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott and myself dealt with the heavy burden state mandated testing has on effective teaching and learning in Texas classrooms.Because of the vigorous punitive measures taken against districts, schools and teachers when scores are below minimum expectations, most districts have created a test based local curriculum. In many school districts, mandated common assessments directly linked to the state exam are required to be given every two weeks. In a school with 1,500 students and four core subject areas, that multiplies out to 108,000 tests.
  • Add to that the state required standardized tests, district benchmark tests, district mid and end of year testing, test warranted by the teacher’s actual lessons and a battery of test dealing with our immigrant population, you will get a picture of how education has devolved into a mire of testing, data disaggregation, and more additional frustrations for dedicated teachers.
  • What drives this kind of education? In Texas, it might be the one hundred million dollars paid every year to the test publisher.

  • Last year, the first year of a new state five-year contract with Pearson Educational Measurement–the publisher–Texas taxpayers paid out that sum. The same amount was paid for this year’s test.

  • By the end of the current contract, Pearson will have been paid one half billion dollars. All of this is happening at a time of deep budget cuts in education, school closings, overcrowded classrooms and, worst of all, teacher dismissals.

  • So, you see, it is not a perversion; it is a reality.

North Texas Regional Consortium Participating School Districts - Letter to Texas Legislature

Allen 􀁑 Coppell 􀁑 Frisco 􀁑 Highland Park 􀁑 Lewisville 􀁑 McKinney 􀁑 Plano 􀁑 Northwest 􀁑 Richardson

February 6, 2012
Members of the Texas Legislature:
Standardized, high stakes testing is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have
to transform a traditional system of schooling into an educational opportunity that prepares our students to be
competitive on a global stage.

We are writing as members of the North Texas Regional Consortium (NTRC), a group of high performing districts
that includes Allen, Coppell, Frisco, Highland Park, Lewisville, McKinney, Plano, Northwest, and Richardson, to
weigh in on the debate regarding Commissioner Robert Scott’s comments at the TASA Midwinter Conference about
the over emphasis on high stakes testing, and the subsequent response by the Texas Association of Business. We join
Commissioner Scott in his continuing support of high standards and local accountability.

We completely agree with Bill Hammond when he writes, “If we do not deliver a quality education system that
prepares our students for college and careers, Texas’ ability to attract new business, improve our economy and
maintain our competitiveness will surely falter. Our very prosperity as a state, its business and its people stands in
the balance.” However, we completely disagree with the idea that the way to success for all students is through more
standardized tests. In fact, we believe that more tests where students memorize and fill out bubble answer sheets in
order to graduate will continue to keep us from being able to reach the very goals upon which all Texans agree.

The real work of delivering a quality education begins by changing what goes on in our classrooms every day.
As the leading educators in our districts, we believe in the tenets of Creating a New Vision for Public Education in
Texas (copy attached), and we are working through the Texas Association of School Administrators’ (TASA) newly
formed Visioning Network (TVN) to transform our districts. Our Vision is that all students be engaged in relevant
learning activities that provide for student choice and embrace the concept that they can be more than consumers
of knowledge. Only by creating classrooms where innovation, creativity, problem solving skills, collaboration,
communication, and critical thinking are celebrated will we actually make progress toward the very skills desired by
the TAB.

Relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts in order to enhance performance on the test
is stealing the love of learning from our students and assuring that we fall short of our goals.

We are not against accountability. In fact, our students have performed well on every test the state has developed.
The system of the past will not prepare our students to lead in the future, and neither will the standardized tests that
so dominate instructional time. They block our ability to make progress toward a “world-class education system” of
Student-Centered Schools, Future-Ready Students.


Jeff Turner, Coppell ISD
Ken Helvey, Allen ISD
J.D. Kennedy, McKinney ISD
Dawson Orr, Highland Park ISD
Richard Matkin, Plano ISD
Rick Reedy, Frisco ISD
Karen Rue, Northwest ISD
Steve Waddell, Lewisville ISD
Kay Waggoner, Richardson ISD


Two 4th Grade Boys Enjoying Learning Science in the Outdoor Classroom instead of Benchmark Testing

We opted two 4th grade boys in Austin, Texas out of two days of benchmarks testing in November 2011.
Proof that Opting Out can influence school decisions: Our school had planned to administer district mandated "benchmark" tests every day this week. These two 4th grade boys opted out on Monday and Tuesday. The school informed us today that they were going to postpone the rest of the tests (reading, math and science) until a later date. It's a small victory, but the boys sure had fun in the new Outdoor Classroom!
We used the letter below to notify the principal of our intentions to opt out. It was successful! The boys enjoyed active science in the new Outdoor School in the green space behind the school instead of filling in bubble sheets. The school decided to stop benchmarks testing after 2 days. The school will do more benchmarks testing in December and we plan on opting out again.

2. Parent Letter to Principal to Opt Out

Use the letter below to opt your children out of high-stakes testing in Texas.

Dear [Insert Principal]
This letter is to inform you respectfully of my intention to have my child excused from all mandated standardized testing during the remainder of the school year. I do this in recognition of my parental rights and obligations under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and of the Texas Education Code (Title 2, Subtitle E, “Students and Parents, Section 26, “Parental Rights and Responsibilities”). It is my parental right to choose to “opt my child out” of curriculum or instruction that is harmful to children as stated in the Texas Education Code CHAPTER 26. PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES Sec. A26.010.EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. (a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent ’s child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent ’s religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent ’s child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. I believe it is morally wrong to put children through the ordeal of a week of pointless testing. I also believe the practice of high stakes standardized testing is morally wrong. High stakes standardized testing:

AFFECTS SOCIO-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING: Our system of constant testing seems designed to produce anxiety and depression.

KILLS CURIOSITY AND LOVE OF LEARNING: Actually limits and reduces the amount of QUALITY learning experiences. Rather than focusing on a child’s natural curiosity, testing emphasizes (and drills in) isolated facts limiting teacher’s ability to create environments that stimulate a child’s imagination.

REDUCES A CHILD’S CAPACITY FOR ATTAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE: If children cannot actively make connections between different topics of study, they don’t remember what they learn from day to day. Most standardized tests are still based on the recall of isolated facts and narrow skills. (www.fairtest.org).

REPLACES HIGHER ORDER THINKING WITH SKILL, DRILL AND KILL: Most tests include many topics that are not important, while many important areas are not included on standardized tests because they cannot be measured by such tests. Teaching to the test does not produce real and sustained gains on independent learning measures. (www.fairtest.org)

NARROWS THE CURRICULUM: The loss of a rich curriculum has been documented in research, in the media, and in teacher testimony. Forget art, music, science and PE (in spite of the decades of research that correlates student overall school achievement to participation in these experiences). State-wide testing generally focuses only on math and reading. And with these critical subjects, teachers are forced to focus only on those test-taking strategies that reflect the way material is presented on the tests.

REDUCES SOCIALIZATION AS A CENTRAL CORE OF LEARING: The opportunity to learn to socialize through recess, and collaborative classroom activities reduces children’s opportunities to develop healthy social skills. Being seated alone at a desk all day isolates children from learning how to develop community-based problem solving skills they will need as adults.

WASTES VALUABLE EDUCATIONAL TIME SPENT TAKING TESTS: Texas Public Schools will spend one of every five days or nearly 20% of the school year conducting tests. According to the Texas Education Agency, Texas public schools will spend 34 out of the 185 day long year conducting tests mandated by the state government. This does not include the regular testing in schools such as six-weeks tests, quizzes, and final exams. (State Board of Education Member Bill Ratliff, Sept 12, 2011)

VIOLATES ALL CHILDRENS’ RIGHTS TO A FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION: High stakes testing leads to under-serving or mis-serving all students, especially the most needy and vulnerable, thereby violating the principle of ‘do no harm.’ For example, students living in poverty, who already lack critical access to books and free reading, are condemned to test prep instead of having opportunities to read. Monies desperately needed for vital school resources such as clean drinking water, supplies and roofs that don’t leak are being spent on testing materials. Texas spends $44 billion per year on public education, of that $1 billion is spent just on testing days. (Ratliff, 09/12/11) Texas Education Agency spent $88 million on Pearson standardized test products, such as TAKS tests, in fiscal year 2010 for testing grades 3-11 with plans to spend $470 million over the next 5 years. Pearson is part of a London-based media conglomerate, Pearson PLC. Our needed tax dollars for Texas schoolchildren go to London. (Egan (2010) Retrieved from http://austinnovation.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/pearson-taks/)

VIOLATES FAIR LABOR STANDARDS ACT OF 1938: If a child is given work or assessments to do in the classroom that will eventually determine the income of a teaching professional, that student is providing the catalyst for the pay. In Texas, administrators and teachers are paid “bonuses” or additional stipends through “strategic compensation” programs that are dependent upon the school-wide TAKS (standardized tests) growth or other student performance goals. This breaches the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which states that sixteen is the basic minimum age for employment. It also says that when young people work, the work cannot jeopardize their health, well-being, or educational opportunities.

Parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten "liberties" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399). The immorality of high stakes testing in the public schools, as stated earlier, constitute an unreasonable state interference in the operation of public schools.

The right to opt out of standardized test ought to be an option for every child’s parent or guardian — the right to say, without being pressured or penalized by state or local authority, “Do not subject my child to any test that doesn’t provide useful, same-day or next-day information about performance.”

With consideration of the Texas Education Code, Chapter 26, and the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, I would appreciate your cooperation in securing my right as a parent to opt out my child of standardized testing.

Thank you,

3. English/Spanish Version of Parent Letter to Principal (short form)
Use the letter below to opt your child out of testing.


Dear (principal’s name) (date)

This letter is to inform you respectfully of my intention to have my child excused from all mandated standardized testing during the remainder of the school year. I do this in recognition of my parental rights and obligations under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and of the Texas Education Code (Title 2, Subtitle E, “Students and Parents, Section 26, “Parental Rights and Responsibilities”).

I have carefully considered this action, and undertake it for the following reasons.

My child’s education and future are being harmed by mandatory tests that result in drills that are intended only to improve test scores, and not to further my child’s education.

Students are being drilled in reading and elementary mathematics to the exclusion of other, at least equally important areas The present curriculum does not include music, art, social sciences, health science, general science, or physical education, among other important, but deleted subjects.

My right and my responsibility as a parent are to seek a better and broader education for my child than is possible in the present high-stakes testing environment.

To have my child excused from the harmful mandated standardized tests is, I am convinced, the responsible and morally correct action on my part.

Very respectfully,

(your name, parent of _)


Estimado (el nombre del director): (la fecha)

Esta carta es para informarle a Ud. respetuosamente, de mi plan de excusar mi hijo/hija de los exámenes regularizados durante el resto del año escolar. Yo hago esto según mis derechos y obligaciones paternales en la claúsula debido al proceso de la Enmienda No. 14 de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos y del Código Educacional de Texas (Titulo 2, subtítulo E “Estudiantes y Padres,” Sección 26, “Derechos y Responsibilidades Paternales”).

He considerado cuidadosamente esta acción, y emprendo esto para las razones siguientes.

La educación y el futuro de mi hijo/hija están dañados por los exámenes obligatorios que resultan en hacer ejercicios que sirven sólo para ganar puntos en los exámenes y no sirven para mejorar la educación de mi hijo/hija.

El tiempo que los estudiantes usan para practicar ejercicios en lectura y matematicás rudimentarias excluye la oportunidad de aprender otras materias de igual importancia. El actual plan de estudios no incluye la música, el arte, los estudios sociales, no incluye la salud ni ciencia general, ni educación física, ente otras materias escolares importantes ya eliminadas.

Mi derecho y mi responsibilidad como padre/madre es buscar una mejor y más amplia educación para mi hijo/hija, que no es posible en este ambiente de exámenes de altos riesgosá

Para tener mi hijo/hija excusado de los perjudiciales exámenes regularizados de alto riesgo, estoy convencido que esto es responsible y moralmente correcto por mi parte.

Muy respetuosamente,

(Su nombre, padre/madre de )

4. 9th Grade Parent Info about the STAAR - 15% of Course Grade & your child's GPA
News Flash!!! Update: Feb 17, 2012 Robert Scott and TEA waived the 15% rule for 2011-12 only!

Moms and Dads of 9th Graders:
Are you angry that Texas legislators, influenced by the six Pearson Testing Corporation lobbyists 1, came up with an unfounded mandate that could hurt your child’s GPA and thus their class ranking? Federal law (NCLB) does not require that 15% of your child’s course grade come from his/her performance on an end-of-course examination (STAAR) nor that these tests be used for promotion or graduation. Texas legislators came up with this formula based upon intensive lobbying efforts from the Pearson Testing Corporation based in London, England. 2 Very few of us are on the Pearson Testing Corporation money train. We do not gain anything from these tests and they harm our children. Your child’s ability to get into top-flight colleges is based upon his/her GPA that determines his/her class ranking. Standardized tests such as the STAAR are poorly constructed and thus are not reliable or valid indicators of content knowledge. Whether your child receives an A or B may depend on their performance on this test. THIS IS WRONG AND HARMFUL TO OUR 9th GRADERS.

There are plenty of bad and ambiguous STAAR test questions. We invite you to check them out at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/staar/.

Your child’s GPA will be dependent upon STAAR tests that are poorly constructed.

➢ Texas Education Agency spent $88 million on Pearson standardized test products, including the TAKS tests, in fiscal year 2010 for testing grades 3-11 with plans to spend $470 million over the next 5 years on the STAAR tests.2 Pearson is part of the London-based media conglomerate, Pearson PLC. 2 A portion of Texas taxpayer money intended to help Texas schoolchildren goes to London.
➢ Federal Education Policy No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates only annual testing in reading/math in grades 3-8 BUT Texas tests in grades 3-11 in more subjects. Note: TAKS/STAAR is the largest statewide educational testing program in the United States.

1. How private companies are profiting from Texas public schools https://www.texasobserver.org/cover-story/the-pearson-graduate
2. Egan (2010) Retrieved from http://austinnovation.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/pearson-taks/

We are harming our children’s futures so that some folks can line their pockets from Pearson lobbyists.

How could Texans allow this to happen? Well…. We Texas Parents are going to do something about it. We are going to shut down the STAAR test, MAR the STAAR, by “Opting Out.” If at least 6% of students “opt out” at a school, the state’s statistical measures will be invalidated making the tests useless for course grading purposes and labeling students or schools. That will send a clear message to the Texas legislature and the Texas Education Agency [TEA] that these STAAR tests are unacceptable to Texas taxpayers.

Know the laws and your parental rights in Texas:

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE - The law - 15% rule

(c) …The agency shall also adopt end-of-course assessment instruments for secondary-level courses in… a student's performance on an end-of-course assessment instrument for a course listed in this subsection in which the student is enrolled to account for 15 percent of the student's final grade for the course.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE- Your Parental Rights to see the Tests

Sec. 26.006. ACCESS TO TEACHING MATERIALS. (a) A parent is entitled to:
(2) review each test administered to the parent's child after the test is administered.
(b) A school district shall make teaching materials and tests readily available for review by parents.

Did you know that it is your parental right by the Texas Education Code Section 26 to see all tests after they are administered? If you ask to see the STAAR test, that will be part of your child’s grade, your request will be denied until TEA releases it online.

TEXAS EDUCATION CODE – Your Parental Rights To Opt Out

Sec. A26.010.EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. (a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent’s child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent’s child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is Opting Out really an option for Texas Parents?

A: Yes. According to Texas Education Code 26, parents can opt out. That is clear. Our organization, Texas Parents Opt Out State Tests, believes our parental rights are clearly stated in Section 26 of the Texas Education Code and through the 14th Amendment Due Process Clause to protect the integrity of our children’s education. Your school district and the Texas Education Agency will tell you different. We believe their interpretation is not accurate. As united taxpaying citizens and parents of school-age children, we will let them know otherwise. If at least 6% of students are absent the day of the tests, the state’s statistical measures will be invalidated and scores from these tests will be meaningless. That sends a clear message to TEA that this is unacceptable! Harmful actions to our children require strong reactions. We have a moral right to protect our children who are vulnerable.

Q: Will be my child be punished if he misses the STAAR test?

A: No, your child cannot be punished if he/she is absent on the day of the test. The district will be required to provide a multitude of make-up test days that will become logistically and financially impossible for districts to sustain. By unifying as parents, we can prevent the punitive actions that districts use to threaten our children.

Q: What will happen if I decide not to “Opt Out” my 9th grade child?

A: Your 9th grade child’s GPA and class ranking will be affected by poorly constructed, often inaccurate “experimental” STAAR tests. Your child’s teachers will continue to be forced to teach to the tests, thereby degrading the curriculum. Test preparation is not education!

THE ONLY ANSWER: Opt Out together and refuse to have your child be part of this unfair 9th grade experiment!

Why not ask the Texas Education Agency and school district officials and legislators to take the STAAR tests? If they don’t pass, their jobs are at stake. Let them experience the terror that they put our children through. Watch them be anxious, stressed, even nauseated from fear of failing. Hold their feet to the testing fire! Perhaps then they will understand the importance of parents protecting their children from the harmful effects of high-stakes testing. End the state-sanctioned bullying of our children.

When Adults take the Tests: See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/when-an-adult-took-standardized-tests-forced-on-kids/2011/12/05/gIQApTDuUO_blog.html#pagebreak

5. A North Texas School District, Coppell ISD that is Opting Out of the STAAR!
See: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/07/texas-school-opts-out-standardized-testing/
Coppell, TX – One North Texas school district is doing its part to change the way the state tests students, MyFoxDFW reports.
The district decided to participate in a Senate bill that would allow a handful of schools to opt out of the state’s standardized testing known as STAAR in favor of randomly testing students. It’s not shocking that New Tech High School signed on for the program because they already engage in very innovative classroom and teaching styles.

As opposed to having teachers write on chalkboards in front of rows of students, they instead favor project and group based learning.

“My learning isn’t limited to what I have to learn, so I can connect outside things. I can connect things I learned in Biology class to English class,” one student said.

The Senate bill would allow twenty schools to opt out of STAAR and instead randomly test students. Supporters say this new bill will accomplish two things: free educators from the dreaded “teaching the test” which involves cramming specific information in a short amount of time, and still allow the school the accountability of education it desires.

It will take at least four to five years until the new model would be approved.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/07/texas-school-opts-out-standardized-testing/#ixzz1fj88QuGM

6. Superintendent encourages parents to take a stand for their children's education by opting out
John Kuhn, Superintendent in Perrin-White, Texas writes:
I am heartened to see the dawning of a united national effort to oppose the continued perversion of public education that the corporate testing agenda has wrought. It is important for parents to know that school administrators nationwide have no choice but to comply with state and federal testing mandates, even when those mandates require the clearly detrimental over-testing of our children, the indefensible narrowing of the curriculum, and the theft of precious resources from teaching and learning so that they can be invested instead in measuring and labeling. But parents and students have the power to say when enough is enough. Corporate lobbyists speak more loudly than educators—that is clear—but I am convinced that parents and students can speak much more loudly than these deep-pocketed lobbyists with their protests, their opting out, and their votes.

In Texas, we now invest 45 out of 180 school days administering standardized tests. We also have a $500 million contract with Pearson to develop tests, even as $4 billion was cut from education and our class sizes are growing. Texas lawmakers have chosen to save the tests but not the teachers. In all 50 states, “testing for its own sake” has grown through the garden of learning like a kudzu vine, and it is choking to death flowers that are far more worthy than itself: music, art, history, and science are withering under its encompassing weight.

Testing corporations have hijacked public education and have increased their profits dramatically in doing so. As these testing giants continue to lobby for more tests, new tests, and ever more expensive tests, it is apparent to me that there will come a day when teachers must be renamed testers, the classroom must be called the testing room, and the little red schoolhouse will finally become the little red widget factory, pumping out standardized children who know nothing beyond what was on the test. That is not the vision I have for my children, my students, or my nation.

Public school teachers once served the children. Today, we are all the servants of the test. You can help by standing up for your child and saying, “Enough is enough. Less testing, more teaching.” See Superintendent Kuhn’s comments at http://unitedoptout.com/?page_id=501

7. Photo Essay -Opting out in Austin Texas- Use of the Outdoor Classroom
We love our community here in Austin, Texas. Every morning my 7 year-old daughter, 9 year-old son and I ride our bikes to our neighborhood public school. The school is in a middle-class suburban area and it was built in 1992.
This is our son’s classroom. The portable building is probably about 20 years old. There are nineteen 4th grade students in his class. His teacher does an absolutely amazing job teaching and managing so many students in such a small space.
About one hundred yards past the portable, there is a wonderful green space that we refer to as the Outdoor Classroom. It is an unbelievable treasure trove filled with the beauty and wonders of nature. Throughout the years, many different parent volunteers at the school have tried in vain to bring science and outdoor education to our campus. Our science lab is filled with delightful but rarely used materials that include binoculars, magnifiers, and colorful field guides that feature the native plants of Central Texas. Unfortunately, high-stakes testing, rigor and accountability have rendered this learning environment invalid and not very conducive to high test scores.

We opt out of state tests because we refuse to perpetuate this system of testing that wastes taxpayer money and harms children. Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code protects our rights as parents to opt our children out of any activity that we feel is immoral or against our religious beliefs.

A few months ago (November 2011) we opted our 4th grade son out of 5 full days of district-mandated “benchmark” testing (writing, writing, reading, math & science). Opt out days are the perfect opportunity to explore the Outdoor Classroom.
Sometimes we are able to group up, but mostly we stand alone on the issue of opting out. Our actions of civil disobedience tend to make school personnel feel slightly nervous and uncomfortable. Classmates, parents and teachers question our motives. I reply, “We want to improve the quality of education at our school. Standardized testing interferes with our freedom and right to learn.”

Aren’t these American Beauty Berries lovely? Our son discovered them and took this photograph.
We were also drawn to the intricate loveliness of this lace cactus.
Our 2nd grade daughter felt a little envious of our learning activities, so we included her on one of our opt out days.
We were also joined by a local invertebrate expert from the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center which is just down the road from our school. She pointed out this neat praying mantis pod:
There will be 5 more days of district-mandated benchmark testing coming up again in February. We prefer to look at opting out as a learning opportunity, a chance to explore the beautiful world around us.

8. Useful Links

9. Face Book Pages / Groups (Texas)

10. Face Book Pages (National)

11. Articles for Parents and Teachers:

12. Additional Resources