by Sandy Stenoff

Parents often ask us for an Opt Out letter that they can give to their school.

You are not required to send a letter. However, if there is no letter, some districts will contact the parent to confirm this is a parental decision and not the child’s decision. This is a disruption to the school’s already tight testing protocols.

As a matter of courtesy, a letter helps the school to plan, making your opt out smoother, especially if you plan to remove your child from the school campus after they have opted out. Teachers appreciate a heads up.

Keep it simple. The first two examples have been kept clear, concise and deliberately simple so as not to invite debate. Citing the law has been deliberately left out of these letters. They will only guarantee that you will receive a letter from your district’s legal department.

Reasons for opting out are varied and personal. These letters are just suggestions that you can edit to suit your own circumstances and beliefs.

Keep in mind:

  • Opting out is an act of civil disobedience.
  • You’re not asking for permission.
  • Sending your letter as a courtesy helps the school to plan better.
  • Schools are not obligated to provide alternative activities for your child opting out.
  • Working with your child’s school politely and respectfully benefits your child.
  • Yes, they have to tell you that you can’t opt out.
  • Yes, we’ve opted out successfully for years.
  • If you receive a bully letter in response, DON’T PANIC.
    Read this: What Does This Bully Letter Really Mean?
  • Don’t be afraid to use the words “opt out.”
  • You can substitute “minimal participation” for “opt out,” but we believe that it detracts from the act of opting out of a test that is being used against our children and schools. We are way past the point of using “soft language” to make the schools “comfortable” with our protest. They have their job to do. We have ours.
  • You can incorporate as much of the paper-based or computer-based refusals from the Opt Out Guide into your letter as you wish.
  • Third Grade is only doing paper-based tests.

To pick up or not to pick up?
You know your child best. Can he sit quietly and not disrupt his classmates who are testing?

It is important to acknowledge that even young children can be taught to be proud to stand up for their beliefs, if we teach them by example and if they understand our decisions.

Talk to them. They get it. They live it every day.

Some children, after opting out for the first time, choose to “sit and stare” as their own silent protest.  We enthusiastically support this action!

Be kind. Everyone is stressed highly now.

It’s just one more reason why we OPT OUT.


1. Staying at school
Date

Dear Principal,

Respectfully, Daniel will opt out of the FSA and has been instructed on how to do this by me. He will not sign the test rules acknowledgement. He will open his test upon instruction. He may read his test if he wishes, close it and slide it away to signal that he is finished participating in this process. If he is prompted to continue, he will politely decline. Prompting more than once may be construed as coercion.  If permitted, he may read quietly for the remainder of the testing time.

For the computer-based test, he will log onto the test. When prompted, he will click: “Yes, start my test.” He will proceed to question 1, and click “End Test.”

Thank you in advance for your cooperation with our efforts to support public education. Should you have any questions, please feel free to call me at ______________.

Sincerely,

Proud Public School Parent


2. Picking Up From School
Date

Dear Principal,

Respectfully, Daniel will opt out of the FSA and has been instructed on how to do this by me. He will not sign the test rules acknowledgement. He will open his test upon instruction. He may read his test if he wishes, close it and slide it away to signal that he is finished participating in this process. If he is prompted to continue, he will politely decline. Prompting more than once may be construed as coercion. If permitted, he may read quietly for the remainder of the testing time.

For the computer-based test, he will log onto the test. When prompted, he will click: “Yes, start my test.” He will proceed to question 1, and click “End Test.”

Shortly after he has indicated that he is finished, I will be at school to request him at the front office, sign him out from school and will return him to campus when testing is finished. Please advise me approximately what time testing will begin so that I can plan accordingly. In order to minimize any disruption to other students who are testing, seating Daniel closest to the door will allow him to leave quickly and quietly.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation with our efforts to support public education. Should you have any questions, please feel free to call me at ______________.

Sincerely,

Proud Public School Parent


3. If you wish to make a statement…
Date

Dear Principal,

I believe that my child’s teacher is a professional and is better able to assess his skills and abilities than any single standardized test on a given day and that his work with his teacher throughout the year counts for more than a single test score.

No child’s performance on any single test should be responsible for their promotion, their teacher’s job security, their school grade, or by extension, real estate values. The high stakes attached to the FSA drive the unhealthy testing culture in our public schools that is detrimental to students, to teachers and to our public schools and I do not consent to it.  The misuse of test data drive a false narrative that our public schools are failing in order to give credence to the need to be rescued by those who would privatize our public schools and I do not subscribe to that notion.

Therefore, respectfully, Daniel will opt out of the FSA and has been instructed on how to do this by me. He will not sign the test rules acknowledgement. He will open his test upon instruction. He may read his test if he wishes, close it and slide it away to signal that he is finished participating in this process. If he is prompted to continue, he will politely decline. Prompting more than once may be construed as coercion. If permitted, he may read quietly for the remainder of the testing time.

For the computer-based test, he will log onto the test. When prompted, he will click: “Yes, start my test.” He will proceed to question 1, and click “End Test.”

Shortly after he has indicated that he is finished, I will be at school to request him at the front office, sign him out from school and will return him to campus when testing is finished. Please advise me approximately what time testing will begin so that I can plan accordingly. In order to minimize any disruption to other students who are testing, seating Daniel closest to the door will allow him to leave quickly and quietly.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation with our efforts to support public education. Should you have any questions, please feel free to call me at ______________.

Sincerely,

Proud Public School Parent


And just so you know… it also can be as simple as this…