Yes, You Can Opt Out of Common Core Tests   41 comments

Good news: after sending an opt out letter (seen below) I received three letters back, from my high school student’s principal, math teacher and English teacher.

Each letter said that my child may take a paper-and-pencil alternative to the Common Core tests without any academic penalty. The school is apparently not enforcing the absurd current state law which states that schools must punish the student who opts out with a non-proficient score. Hooray!

I’m sharing this, so that anyone may create or adapt this letter for their use, if they like.


Dear Principal and Teachers,

Thank you for all you do for our kids. I sincerely appreciate your hard work, dedication and caring.

I am writing to let you know that ___________ my 11th grade child, will not be participating in the state’s new AIR/SAGE tests this year or next year. These are the Common Core aligned tests that feed into the federally funded State Longitudinal Database System and measure not only math and English, but also nonacademic, personal information including behavioral indicators (according to recent state law) and are to be used in grading schools.

I would like my child to have a pencil and paper alternative that is to be used ONLY at the school level, and not sent to the district or state levels.

I believe that this choice may be hurting this high school’s “school grade” so I apologize. It is not my wish to harm this excellent school in any way. I am also aware that it may hurt my child’s academic grade. Rather than getting an opt-out score, a non-test taker may get a non-proficient score. This is a tragedy for students and schools.

Our state leaders have created this situation that punishes schools and students when parents opt out of the tests.

(–You can quit reading here. But if you are interested in why I am writing this letter to opt my child out of the tests, please read on.)

Attached are PDF copies of the original bill SB175 and the amended bill put forth by the USOE at the Aug 2. meeting. On line 164 of the amended bill is what the USOE added. This is the part of the bill I find morally wrong.

164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with 165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent 167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.

A parent should be able to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing without the child receiving a non-proficient score, after that child has spent an entire year in school and has received grades for the work that could easily determine proficiency.

A single test should not determine the success of a child’s school year in one swoop, any more than it should determine the grade for that school for the year. There are too many variables to consider yet testing is the only criteria by which a school (or student?) will be seriously graded. I realize there are other minor components that will factor into the grading of a school, but the main emphasis will be on the test scores.

There are many things wrong in education not the least of which are laws that tighten control over our children while telling parents what’s good for them. I should not have to pull my children out of school in order to protect them from invasive and experimental testing.




1. The AIR/SAGE/Utah Common Core tests, which test math and English, are nontransparent and secretive.

2. I don’t believe in the Common Core standards upon which these tests are based. They are experimental. They snub classic literature. They dilute classical math. They were developed and copyrighted by two D.C. private clubs who have no accountability to me as a teacher or as a voter– (the NGA and CCSSO). They give power to a centralized system that is contrary to the constitutional concept of separating powers and empowering local control.

3. The tests feed the national data collection beast via the 50 nationally interoperable State Longitudinal Database Systems (SLDS), feed the P-20 child tracking/surveillance program, and will gather nonacademic, private information on students, including “behavioral indicators” according to Utah state law HB5.

4. It’s nobody’s business, even in Utah, how my individual child does in math and English –except the teacher’s business, and mine. My child’s not to be counted as the government’s “human capital” and the government’s not an invited “stakeholder” in my child’s education, career, or life. Too bad for Governor Herbert’s darling, Prosperity 2020! Remember this: business leaders, governments and legislatures don’t have authority to use tests and data collection to snoop on any child (or adult) for “collective economic prosperity” or for any other reason.

5. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts kids and wastes instructional time.

6. Overemphasis on high-stakes testing hurts teachers. They will be controlled by how students do on the tests; this limits teachers’ autonomy in the classroom and is an insult to teachers’ professional judgment.

41 responses to “Yes, You Can Opt Out of Common Core Tests

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  1. Can this also be used for other states? I would like to give this to schools my kids (grades 7 and 9) attend.

    Thanks, Kevin

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  2. Just a grammatical FYI about your excellent letter…..fourth paragraph is missing one word; should read “I believe this choice may BE hurting this……..”

  3. I wouldn’t have my kids take the pencil and paper test unless it is a graduation requirement. In Washington State they have to at least attempt the tests once and if they fail (a zero from not answering any questions on the test would count) they can use a SAT or ACT score instead. I opted my youngest daughter out of the state NCLB tests until she was in high school. If a bunch of parents would start opting their kids out (and letting them get zero) the test results would become invalid (I believe schools have to have 95% of the students take the tests for their results to be valid). Maybe then our schools would no longer revolve around useless tests (our state tests give me absolutely NO valuable information) and our kids’ educations would go back to educating them in things they might actually need in the future instead of being solely test prep.

  4. amen to that!!

  5. Do you know if the SSM1-3 competency exams to be released in February is the same thing as the AIR/SAGE testing? Ugh. If so, just another stupid issue we are dealing with for high school graduation for those who want to use the traditional math system instead of the state standards. Please tell me they are separate.

  6. Is the DIBELS tests for 1st-3rd grade and the CRT tests for 4th-6th grade administered by AIR/SAGE this year? I homeschool, but because of dual enrollment my children are required to take these tests quarterly throughout the year. As far as I understand, I do not have to do any other end of year testing. Just wondering if I should opt out of those tests….and if I can?

    • Hayley,
      I homeschool also (but going through Harmony Ed this year…), and am also wondering about the same thing?! What else do you know? Keep me posted if you find out any further information on AIR/SAGE administering these tests, and if/how to opt out.

      • Natalie, I am also going through Harmony Ed. I was reviewing my paperwork as far as the testing goes, there was no information (that I could see) that explained whether or not the DIBELS or CRT’s will be administered by AIR/SAGE or if you can opt out of them. I also saw, which I missed during enrollment, that my kindergartener who goes 1 day a week for 3 hours will also be mandated to an electronic assessment. I emailed my coordinator to find out more information, but haven’t heard back yet. When I do, I will let you know. I saw on Harmony’s website that they say the **do not** participate in Dual Enrollment…which confused me even more (under FAQ’s).

        • Thanks Hayley! I appreciate you keeping me posted. I’m sure we could opt out of ANY testing, really? Yes, I would have to say NO WAY to my KINDERGARTNER taking some electronic assessment. It is so truly NOT NECESSARY or even RELEVANT to the development or education of a child that age. UGH! Thank you for keeping me posted about what you find out!

  7. My superintendent stated that a child would get a non-proficient score.

  8. At what age/grade level do they do testing???

  9. Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  10. There is a form you can download at Utahns Against Common Core for opting out. It’s called: State National CAT / Data Collection Opt-Out Form and here’s the link:

  11. Pingback: Opt Out Form And Miracles | COMMON CORE

  12. Three words: Cognitive Child Abuse.

  13. Pingback: The Weekly Update: Predatory capitalism, privatization, sequestration and our children, Common Core Standards and opting out | Seattle Education

  14. can anyone show me WHERE in HB5 this “behavioral indicator” thing is? I am finding NOTHING.

  15. What happens when the student gets a ‘non-proficient’ score. What does that mean for them for college, etc.?

  16. Pingback: Multiple States Deny Parents the Right to Opt a Child Out of SLDS Tracking | COMMON CORE

  17. have you considered a simple statement declaring that you opt out, without the philosophical diatribe? this is how you alienate people by coming off as pompous and self-righteous.

  18. Pingback: Illinois Parents take control of their kids education and opt out of common core test | The Education Report - your source for education news, updated all day

  19. My kid is 5th grade. He always scores 99% on standardized tests. We’re shooting for 30% on the Common Core test.

  20. Pingback: School Counselors Required to Push Common Core | COMMON CORE

  21. Does anyone know if the state of Michigan has the option to opt out of the common core testing? I have a special needs son that has cerebral palsy, in which I’m very concerned how common core will affect him and I have two grand children in elementary
    school, grades 1st and 2nd.

  22. Is there any opt out information for Tennessee? My kids are back into the public school system and are not doing very well with the common core, but at the same time I don’t want to encourage them in any way to do less than their best.

  23. This may help: Alpine School Board (Alpine, Utah) member Wendy Hart’s FAQ on opting out of testing:

  24. I actually took this exact test with this exact prompt today and while everything in the pictures that was mentioned was true, and was in fact part of the article published on the test, they left out the very important fact that they DID have positive facts about reading, several full length articles to be exact. The prompt asked students to write an argumentative essay on which they thought was a more beneficial medium: books or video games. The article that the girl took pictures of is actually just something the author of the test made up as an example of a fictional counter argument! The rest of the test had very solid and good information (again several articles) on why reading is much more intellectually simulating than video games! One article talked about the way your blood flows to your brain when you read vs. playing video games and how it enhances your concentration, comprehension and attention span! In the same article as the pictures posted above, the author goes back and disagrees with everything he said and talks about the beauty of reading and being able to use your imagination. Using the information this test gave me I wrote a strong argument FOR books!! I strongly disagree with common core but the facts need to be set straight! I am in 11th grade attending Lehi in Utah and this is the epitome of a biased article.

  25. The “behavior indicators” can be found in the Statewide Adaptive Testing, H.B.15, passed in 2012
    Line 59

  26. If some one needs to be updated with hottest technologies after that he must
    be go to see this web page and be up to date daily.

  27. I am going to write a letter to the school also here in illinois. I have a question. Can they opt out of the PARCC Testing also?????????? Also, can you send a letter so your child can be opted out of surveys taken throughout the school year that are not relevant and are only a part of the common core?

    • Yes. You can opt out of any survey, test, or anything. You are the parent. You are the primary authority over your child’s life. Just ask for a pencil and paper alternative to anything you find objectionable. Also, let the school and school district know that you do not allow them to upload scanned data to the state longitudinal database system.

      • I should add, however, that the state database itself (SLDS) at least in my state has no provision for individuals opting out of the entire tracking program. Talk to your legislator about having that option created by law. Talk to your legislator about having a written definition in law that says, “Data belongs to the student, not to the state.”

  28. Also, is PARCC the standardized testing? or is there different standardized testings?

    • It depends on your state. PARCC is in some states; SBAC is in others; in Utah, it’s AIR/SAGE testing. Find out by calling your state school board how Common Core standards are being tested and then send a letter to your principal that you are exercising your right as a parent to opt your child out of the tests.

  29. Thank you so much,if i have more questions i will for sure be on here periodally.I haven’t ever did this before so i do not even know on how to go about or whio to send something to as far as the legislator in illinois?????

  30. Utah update: Sorry it took so long– but it’s good:

    A good law was passed this past spring that means a school can’t punish a child’s grade if he/she opts out of the Common Core test. 53A-15-1403

    “(9)(a) Upon the written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse the student from taking a test that is administered statewide or the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”

  31. Pingback: Why Refuse? | stopcommoncorenys

  32. I am trying to find out if Michigan requires standardized testing in order to graduate highschool. If so, which tests are included. currently my children take the NWEA tests. I could not find this information. Thanks.

  33. Our school district in New Mexico has told parents they are not allowed to Opt out of the PARCC testing due to federal law… Anyone know how accurate this is?

  34. I would like to know if this is true for Florida students. In Pinellas County Schools, we are told that if our children do not take the test, they will fail for the year and be forced to be in the same grade again. Does anyone know how to stop this?

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