This spring, North Carolinians will join tens of thousands of American families who have chosen to exercise their rights as parents and refuse the high-stakes state tests that have done so much damage to American public education.
Families have begun to notify schools that their children will refuse to take this spring’s End of Grade tests.
MecklenburgACTS.org and the members of Opt Out of State Tests – North Carolina call on state and district leaders to address this situation in a manner that puts the interests of children first.
Experience in other states has made it clear that the most student-centered way to handle test refusal is to allow refusing students to engage in alternative activities – such as reading – in spaces not connected to testing.
Experience in these states has also made it clear that it is inappropriate – and possibly illegal – to require students to “sit and stare” in testing rooms while testing is going on. It is also inappropriate to insist that students stay at home during the test and makeup period
We understand that schools are required to administer the tests. However, no law requires schools or districts to go to extreme or punitive lengths to force children to take the tests when their families have formally stated that they will refuse. Efforts to punish or intimidate children because of decisions made by their families would violate any educational ethic.
In addition, we call on the North Carolina General Assembly to take steps to officially mark the refused tests as “refused,” following the procedure used in other states.
Currently, refused tests are scored as though they had been taken, resulting in the lowest possible score. Those low scores are figured into school proficiency ratings, although not into teacher ratings.
Families are prepared to take responsibility for any direct consequences to their children that may result from test refusal. But it would be blatantly unfair for the state to punish schools for those decisions.
North Carolina has no official provisions that allows families to opt out of or refuse tests. However, the Supreme Court has made it clear that parents have the right to make key educational decisions for their children, even when those decisions conflict with state requirements. Opt-out/refusal families have concluded that it is time for us to exercise those rights.
Members of our groups met with State Superintendent of Education June Atkinson on Thursday, April 24, to discuss the handling of test refusal, as well as the problems of testing in general. We had a productive discussion, and look forward to positive actions as a result.
For more information about this effort, please visit the “Opt out/Refusal” section of this website.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that the low scores given to refused tests would be figured into teacher growth ratings as well as school proficiency rates. We apologize for the error, which resulted from our misinterpretation of a NCDPI communication.