Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MCPS and MSDE: If You Don't Like PARCC, You Can Just Go To Private School

When I told MCPS that my daughter is not taking the PARCC test. I got a legal letter from the Principal telling me that according to recent court cases parents do not have the right to opt out of any part of the MCPS curriculum. The only choice that MCPS alleges parents have is to send their kids to public school or not. Parents don't choose to send their kids to Public schools unless they actually HAVE the choice to send them to private. If this is not possible because of economics or accessibility then there is no choice that is being exercised. In the case of my family, we don't have a choice. We cannot afford, nor do we have any nearby, a private school.

While the PARCC opt out movement is strong in other places, some of us have felt intense pressure from MCPS to have my child tested. While parents don't have any rights, according to MCPS on PARCC testing, students do. The student will have to refuse to take the test in a public declaration at test time then sit in the same room as all the other students for two hours. For some students. this will not be a problem for some, it would be publically humiliating.

My child is refusing today. I just sent her off with a copy of the MCPS letter. Here is the excerpt:

Thank you for writing with your concern about your child’s participation in the upcoming administration of the Partnership for Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments. We are not able to grant permission for students to opt out of taking this statewide test. MCPS is required to administer the PARCC tests to students this year. The Maryland State Department of Education has instructed school systems that students may not be granted
exemptions or waivers to taking these tests.

Public Law 107-110, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires states to annually test all students in grades 3-8 and 10 in reading and mathematics. State COMAR citations 13A01.04.01A, 13A01.04.04A, and 13A01.04.05C describe public school standards that schools and students must meet. The requirement (among others) is that all students who attend a public school (01A) must be assessed in reading, mathematics, and science (04A). Section 05C describes the grades in which students must be assessed. In addition, security COMAR regulation 13A.03.04 and MCPS regulation prohibits staff from excluding students from

Based on a number of court cases, the Maryland State Board of Education has said that while parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they cannot pick and choose the parts of the public education program in which they will allow their children to participate. Since assessment is part of the regular instructional program, local school officials are required to assess the students who are present on testing days and to offer make-up testing for those who are absent. Issues of public education are generally “committed to the control of State and local authorities”.

Please understand that we do not advocate that your child stay home during testing days, and we hope that s/he will participate with the rest of the students in their class. However, we can honor a student’s refusal to take the exam. Once we have offered the exam to your child, s/he may indicate to the examiner that s/he would like to decline the opportunity to test. At that time, s/he will remain in the room until the time of her next course. If the student is participating in either the Algebra 1 or English Language Arts/Literacy 10 assessment, they must complete at least one question in each unit to receive the participation credit to satisfy the Maryland High School Assessment graduation requirement.
A.J. Campbell

1 comment:

  1. I got the same letter from my elementary school; this is about what happened last year (younger child sat in classroom and read silently, and will again this year; ironically, that was when she really began to become absorbed in books and has since been a voracious reader! LOL), but in her 3rd-grade year, when the MSA didn't even count, she wasn't given even that courtesy there (new admin now). My older daughter's middle school test coordinator and I spoke verbally; the past two years the middle school has been respectful about our family's wishes and very cordial and professional in how it's been/being handled. We're still deciding whether she'll take the Algebra1 test (this year she wouldn't have to *pass* it, just to attempt one question, so she may choose that option and then read silently the rest of the time).

    If your child is one who's feeling uncomfortable, my younger one needed a "brain dump" a few days ago and wrote this: http://crunchyprogressivemusicmama.blogspot.com/2016/04/how-does-veteran-parcc-refuser-feel.html

    Hang in there - there are more and more of us refusing PARCC each year!


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