Asserting our rights as parents and/or guardians to ensure the most nurturing, beneficial and productive manner of educating our own children -- that is the fundamental goal of folks who opt-out their student from the Colorado Standardized Assessment Program (CSAP) test.
This year I have personally received more telephone calls and email inquiries about how to "get my child out of CSAP" than ever before.
The primary concern is over the oppressive and demoralizing effects on students of hour after hour, day after day, week after week of testing, test preparation, CSAP propagandization (pep rallies, banners, contests), and heavy-handed administrative pressure demanding performance ... or else.
The problem this testing regimen highlights: teachers not allowed the creativity to teach nor the freedom to innovate curriculum for their students because ... CSAP scoring demands rigid, tightly controlled production of data primarily for the use of administrators, educrats and politicians.
When the effects of the current top-down 'No Child Left Behind' and 'Race to the Top' educational policies become detrimental to encouraging the joy of learning for your child, then it becomes the obligation of parents and/or guardians to take charge and to at least just say 'no' to CSAP.
To this end, I am pleased to reproduce here what seems to me to be the 'definitive' CSAP opt-out letter, penned originally by a concerned and involved parent frrom northern Colorado. I say definitive because it provides sincerity and sound research so school principals can clearly understand the rights of parents.
Feel free to cut and paste the letter into your word processing program and modify it to suit your own particular situation.
This is written notification that ____________ will not be taking the CSAP this year.
Colorado Revised Statutes 22-1-123-(5)(a) states that students cannot be tested or evaluated without written consent. I do not give my consent for my child to take the CSAP.
I have thoroughly researched the issue. One of the things I keep hearing from many uninformed/misinformed people is that my student's CSAP score of a zero (for opting out) would negatively affect her class/the school/district – not so. Please see the following:
“There is no federal law prohibiting a parent from opting their child out of CSAP testing.” -- Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of EducationParental 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).
“Students who do not test, including those who do so due to parental refusal, are counted as non-participants when determining participation rates for state and federal accountability purposes.” -- Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education
“For calculating performance, non-participant data are not counted as zeroes – they are excluded from the calculation... So the calculations are performed on the basis solely of students that took the test and had valid scores on it.” -- Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education
“School academic performance ratings (SAR) will no longer be assigned for Colorado schools. The Education Accountability Act of 2009 (SB 09-163) repealed previous SAR law. Negative weights for Unsatisfactory and No Score percentages are not in effect anymore.” -- Angela Engel, Family Leadership Training Institute Facilitator, Policy Adviser, past Denver school teacher and administrator
As for my reasons to opt my children from CSAP, see the following:
CSAP costs Colorado $50,000,000 plus annually. $50 million plus is what it costs to prepare, administer and grade CSAP. Why not invest that money in our kids, teachers and schools?School/District accountability is great. Over-testing, over-stressing, and placing absolute value of my child’s capabilities on one flawed standardized test is not.
Colleges could care less about CSAP scores. Transcripts, ACT and SAT scores count.
Since the implementation of NCLB and CSAP, graduation rates (especially for minorities) have not increased, instead they have declined.
Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and CSAP, more resources have placed into money, time for: preparation, implementation, and updating for CSAP. Yet, the ratio of students per teacher is increasing; not to mention cuts to classes such as art, P.E., and music, or diminished time in which students can eat their lunch.
Please know that I have expressed my concerns to my elected representatives as well.
It is very unfortunate, that legislation such as NCLB and demand for over-testing children has taken a life of it’s own to the point that it pins schools and parents against each other – it should not be so. Obviously, our federal officials recognize the current system as it stands is flawed, thus, legitimizing my concerns.
In closing, please know that a parent from another school afforded me the opportunity to read the District’s Administrative memo to principals which referred to “Talking Points” when dealing with opt-out parents. I was very disappointed but not surprised that District Administrators have issued a script for principals. I will not be coming in for a meeting regarding this issue and I will not be signing any additional papers relating to this matter.
As far as I am concerned, No simply means No.
Also see: www.TheCBE.org