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Opting Out of Standardized Tests
FAQs on Your Legal Rights as a Public Educator
1. Can I support or promote opt out during working hours? If yes, how?
a. Yes…with limitations. You can promote opt out with colleagues during break periods or lunch periods (when colleagues are also on a break period). Your free speech rights during working hours are limited, however. If your school district determines that your “speech” is disruptive to district policy or the educational process you will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal.
b. If a parent/guardian asks you about opt out you can provide information about the right to do so, reasons for allowing opt out and the district process for doing so.
c. If a student asks you about opt-out, your safest course of action is to direct them to on-line resources and ask them to have their parent/guardian contact you. You will want to be mindful about unduly influencing a minor.
2. Can I encourage parents/guardians to pursue opt out for their children during working hours? During non-working hours?
a. There is not an easy “yes” or “no” answer to the first question. As a general rule, school employees should NOT use work time to encourage parents to pursue opt out because the state department of education and all school districts require standardized testing. One exception could be providing opt out information to parents of disabled students who you teach.
b. You can encourage parents/guardians, during non-working hours, to pursue opt out.
3. Can I support and promote the right of parents and students to opt out of standardized tests?
a. Yes. Parents, legal guardians and students 18 years of age and older can opt out of testing because of religious beliefs or disability (OAR 581-022-1910); and, you can support and promote their right to do so.
4. Can I speak out publically in support of opt out?
a. Yes. You have a “free speech” right to speak out publically in support of opt out.
b. You have a right to speak out as an individual during NON-WORK hours in public forums such as school board meetings, organized rallies, sporting events, directly to the media and other forums.
5. Can I be disciplined for talking about opt out with my parents?
a. The answer is yes if doing so during working hours; and no in most cases when talking to parents during non-working hours; but, it depends upon the circumstances in each situation. Free speech rights have much greater limitations during working hours. (see answer to #1 above)
6. Can I have opt out forms in my classroom and distribute these forms to parents/guardians?
a. If these are official school district opt out forms, the answer is yes. If they are not official school district forms, do not keep and pass them out at school without getting permission from the district.
7. What are the consequences if I choose/refuse to administer standardized tests?
a. You will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal unless it involves a student whose parents/guardians have opted out and the district has given you notice of the opt out. It has long been school district policy and a job duty of school employees to administer standardized tests. Refusing to administer these tests would be considered a violation of district policy and insubordination. Based upon current law and school district policies regarding testing, school employees should NOT refuse to administer standardized tests without knowing and understanding the consequences.
8. What if I believe that a test is particularly stressful to a student or group of students?
a. Do not change or modify the testing protocols. School employees including school administrators have been disciplined and/or dismissed for changing test protocols or offering assistance to students involved in standardized tests.
9. Will my students’ test scores be a part of my evaluation in the 2014-15 school year?
10. Will student test scores be a part of our school and/or district rating in the 2014-15 school year?
11. Are my students at risk of not graduating if they/their parents/guardians opt out of the new assessments (SBAC – SMARTER BALANCED)?
a. No. As long as your student has demonstrated proficient in the Essential Skills required for high school graduation by successfully completing OAKS or one of the other approved assessment options for meeting the Essential Skills before 2014-15. In, 2014-15, the Grade 12 retest opportunity for OAKS Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Assessment will only be available for 12th graders who have not yet met or exceeded the achievement standard for the Essential Skills. From: Essential Skills and Local Performance Assessment Manual, Updated September 4, 2014.
12. Can my principal get into trouble if too many parents opt out?
a. No. Parents have a legal right to opt out their student out.