Archive for the ‘Can I opt out of testing?’ Tag

Florida Legislative Testimony: Utah’s and Florida’s AIR/SAGE Tests Not Valid   7 comments

Florida, which bought and uses Utah’s SAGE/AIR test, has taken the phenomenally reasonable step of assessing its assessment: testing the standardized test–  something that Utah has not done.

Florida hired Alpine Testing and EdCount to assess its (and Utah’s) assessment instrument –to see if the SAGE measures what it claims to measure.  The simple question was:  Is the test valid?

The answer that came back was “NO.” The independent company, Alpine Testing and EdCount, who testified at length to the Florida legislature, said that SAGE is not measuring what it claims to measure.  (See that legislative testimony here.)


Now, two members of Utah’s largest school district (Alpine) have published a letter  summarizing Florida’s findings on SAGE.  Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart wrote:

“What Alpine Testing said in their comments to Florida is astounding. I have outlined some key points from the video:

At 44:50- Many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested.

At 47:70: Test scores should only be used at an aggregate level.

At 48:15 – They recommend AGAINST using test scores for individual student decisions.

At 1:01:00 – They admit that “test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”

At 1:20:00 – “There is data than can be looked at that shows that the use of these test scores would not be appropriate”.

Alpine Testing was the only company that applied to perform the validity study for Florida. Once awarded the contract, they teamed with EdCount, the founder of which had previously worked for AIR.

So, what we have is a questionably independent group stating that this test should not be used for individual students, but it’s ok for the aggregate data to be used for schools and teacher evaluations. If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. If it’s been shown that this test isn’t good for students, why would we be comfortable using it for the grading or funding of our schools and teachers? The sum of individual bad data can’t give us good data. Nor should we expect it to.

What more evidence is needed by our State Board, Legislature or Governor to determine that our students shouldn’t be taking the SAGE test? This test is a failure. How much longer will our children and our state (and numerous other states) spend countless time and resources in support of a failed test, or teaching to a failed test?…”    (Read the whole letter here.)

Why is this so important?

Any test–  a pregnancy test, a drug test, a breathalizer test– should probably actually measure what it claims to measure. People should be able to solidly trust a test that’s used as a foundation for labeling, rewarding and punishing students, teachers and schools.

If there’s no validity test, SAGE is nothing more than a gamble with children’s, teacher’s, and taxpayer’s time, money and futures.  Without validity, we’ve just conscripted every public school student in the state to be unpaid, uninformed, academic and psychological lab rats.)

Fact: Utah stubbornly refused to do a validity test on SAGE, despite pleading, prodding, and even a $100,000 reward offer for proof of validity testing –yet, as it turns out, that’s okay now. Since Florida uses Utah’s SAGE test, Florida’s research on SAGE directly, unquestionably, reflects on Utah’s test.  So we finally have a Utah validity test.  And SAGE failed its test.

If you haven’t already done so, opt your children out.


Frequently Asked Questions About Opting a Child Out of Common Core (SAGE) Tests   Leave a comment

Reblogged from Wendy Hart’s blog.

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(Wendy Hart is a current member of the Alpine School Board, Alpine, Utah.  She is running for re-election.  Please, if you live in ASD District, vote for her, as she is one of the few truly courageous, truly principled, outspoken and extremely knowledgable school board members in the entire state of Utah.)


SAGE State Tests


Can I opt out of testing?  I was told that it was required that my student take the SAGE test. The schools are legally required to administer the test (  The parents are not legally required to have their kids take the test.  You may also cite matters of conscience, if you so choose, in opting your child out.
If I opt out, will my student receive a non-proficient score?
Yes and no.  Yes, the state will provide the districts with a score of a 1 for all opt outs on SAGE.  The districts can remove this information before inputting it into their computer system.  Alpine School District will remove the non-proficient score.  For more information on this question, click here. In short, the non-proficient score will not be used in any way by the district that could negatively affect your kid.
Will schools become failing schools?  What does the 95% participation rate mean?
Students who formally opt out and aren’t just absent for 6 weeks, will NOT affect the 95% participation rate required under the federal No Child Left Behind law.  Students who are absent will affect the participation rate.  If a school doesn’t obtain a 95% participation rate, they are considered failing under No Child Left Behind.  (So opt out.  Don’t just keep them home for 6 weeks.)
Does opting out punish teachers or schools?
Unfortunately, yes.  However, the State Office of Education has indicated they will adjust their grading system if enough kids are opted out that it negatively impacts teachers and schools.  So, if your student opts out and would normally pass the test, instead of getting whatever score they normally would receive, the State Board has indicated a 1 (non-proficient) will be used in place of a non-score for purposes of teacher and school grades.  This is unfair, wrong, and completely inaccurate.  If you opt your kid out, contact the State Board and ask them to change their grading system.  Reassure your teacher that you are doing this, and ask him/her to contact the State Board as well.
Will my school lose funding if I opt out?
Schools do not have any funding tied to the tests.  There are No Child Left Behind consequences should a school fall below the 95% participation rate (see above).  But opting out doesn’t affect that rate.  While state law requires school and teacher grading, there is no funding WHATSOEVER tied to those grades. How do I opt out? Communicate with your teacher(s) and your principal(s) about your wishes, in writing.  Ask the teacher(s) how they would like to handle it.  In one instance, a teacher provided a paper and pencil final exam to my kid.  In another instance, I was provided the testing schedule and asked to check my student out.  Be willing to do whatever the teacher requests, as he/she is working to fulfill your desires in your child’s best interest.  Alpine School District has provided an opt out form on the website (
Will the teacher lose his/her job?
No. Any district or charter school that would incorrectly assign blame to a teacher for the actions of the parents exercising their natural rights to direct the education of their child in this matter has a board and an administration who need to be replaced. The State Office of Education (see above) has indicated they will change the rules on school grading (something the State Board of Education could do at any time) should it negatively impact schools and teachers.
Why won’t the State Board change their grading system now?  Why are they waiting?
There is no formal reasoning that I’m aware of.  This is the way it’s always been done.  Ask them why they won’t.  If they won’t do it, my only possible conclusion is they want to force parents to comply with taking the tests, and are using the teachers and schools as leverage against parents. It also creates a bad system where they are, unfortunately, creating adversaries of the two entities, parents and teachers, who should be working together for a child’s education.  Explain this to your child’s teacher.  Please write the State Board and ask them to change the grading system.
With all these hoops and pressure, why do some parents want to opt out?  Why not just go along?
There are many reasons why parents would want to opt out.  Some of them are:

  • Data privacy isn’t guaranteed.
  • Opposition to high-stakes testing.
  • Opposition to teacher/school grading, based on a single test
  • Inability to view test questions
  • Discomfort with the mission and contract of our test provider, American Institutes for Research
  • Concern of the possible use of behavioral indicators (not prohibited by state law or by the contract)
  • Concern that a teacher’s professional judgement and interaction over 180 days in a classroom will be reduced to a single set of scores on a test that parents don’t control
  • Reducing classroom instruction to teaching to the test, or ONLY to the standards.
  • Individual concerns: student IEP’s, test anxiety, etc

Just because a parents doesn’t want their student to take the test doesn’t mean that we, as a society, must agree with  and approve of that parent’s reasons.  State Code says: ” Under both the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, aparent possesses a fundamental liberty interest in the care, custody, and management of the parent’s children.” It is your right and your responsibility to properly care for your child.  In a free country, that means you shouldn’t need the State’s permission to decide your child won’t take a test.

References: March 11, 2014 Alpine School Board Study Session: (Additional Media, Study Session, bottom of page) Sept. 10, 2013 Alpine School Board Study Session: (Additional Media, Study Session, bottom of page) State Office of Education Guidelines on Student Test Participation
Thank you, Wendy Hart.
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