Earlier this week, a Troutdale parent who objected to signing the form sent an inquiry to the Oregon Department of Education's Interim Director of Assessment Holly Carter objecting to the language and asking if instead of signing it, she could submit an opt out letter. She was told that she would need to use the state's form. She communicated this to another parent, who communicated it to Eugene parent Jerry Rosiek. (Yes, that's right: parents are sharing information. They are angry and they are organizing.) Below is Mr. Rosiek's letter to Ms. Carter.
Jerry Rosiek here. I am the parent of a 4th grader in an Oregon public school, the founder of Eugene Parents Concerned about High Stakes Testing, and a professor of education at the University of Oregon.
(An) email exchange (between ODE and a Troutdale parent) has been forwarded widely among those of us considering opting our children out of the SBAC tests this year. I read it with interest and have some questions.
The official state form includes the statement “I understand that by signing this form I may lose valuable information about how well my child is progressing in English Language Arts and Math. In addition, opting out may impact my school and district’s efforts to equitably distribute resources and support student learning.” I consider these statements to be false. They are empirically false—in that these consequences have never followed parent voluntary withdrawal from the testing process anywhere in the nation. They are in principle false, given that the reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act removes federal penalties for low participation rates in these tests.
Are you saying that I am required to sign a form saying I accept as true what I believe to be false statements before I can opt my daughter out of the SBAC tests?
Are you saying that if I complete the form, with the offending statement redacted, you will not honor my wishes? Does this mean you will instruct superintendents, principles, and teachers to force my daughter to take the test over my express objections?
I respectfully request a simple yes or no to each of those questions.
The following reply was received in return:
From: CARTER Holly [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2016 8:26 AM
To: Jerry Lee Rosiek
Subject: RE: ode opt out questions--web page link not working as well
Dear Mr. Rosiek,
Thank you for your inquiry. To clarify, if you wish to opt your child (sic) from participating in the statewide math or English language arts tests, you will need to sign and submit the ODE-developed opt-out form to your child’s school. If you feel you must redact language on the form at the time of signature, the school will still honor the form, but the form is needed.
Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance. Regards,
Interim Director of Assessment
Office of Learning | Inst., Stand., Asmt, &Acc. Unit | Oregon Department of Education
Phone: 503.947.5739 | Fax: 503.378.5156 | *firstname.lastname@example.org
So get out your pens, redact away, and opt out.