Can parents opt their kids out of state testing? Not without consequences.

I am getting a lot of emails on the timing of this year’s Georgia Milestones exams and I will be sharing some of the concerns of the parents and students who have reached out to me. (One issue: A Milestones end of course high school test overlaps with an AP exam.)

But first I wanted to share something sent to me by DeKalb school board member Stan Jester. This is from his DeKalb Schools Fact Checker blog, and it addresses whether Georgia parents can have their children sit out state exams.

Jester put his questions to Knox Phillips, director of research, assessments and grants for the DeKalb County School District.  (For parents interested in different answers, I suggest you consider the Opt Out Georgia Facebook group, which advises parents on howtestart to refuse the tests.)

Question: Can parents opt out of Milestones testing?

Knox Phillips: The State of Georgia’s legislation does not permit opt-outs from state mandated assessments (Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §20‐2‐281)

Question: Will the school, district or student be penalized for opting out?

Knox Phillips: Yes. The refusal to participate will impact overall school achievement and CCRPI scores. Specifically, State Board of Education Rule 160‐4‐2‐.11, contains the following language that applies when students do not test in a state‐designated promotion/retention grade:

(3)(c) 6. ‘A student’s failure to take the state‐adopted assessment in grades 3, 5, and 8 in reading and/or mathematics on any of the designated testing date(s) or an alternative assessment instrument that is appropriate for the student’s grade level as provided for by the State Board of Education and the local board of education shall result in the student being retained. The option of the parent or guardian or teacher(s) to appeal the decision to retain the student shall follow the procedure set forth in this rule.’

(3)(c) 8. ‘The decision of the placement committee may be appealed only as provided for by the local board of education.’

Designated high school courses require that the Georgia Milestones End of Course (EOC) measures serve as the final exam and that they comprise a defined portion of a student’s final course grade. Specifically, SBOE Rule 160‐4‐2‐.13 states that:

(2)(d). ‘The Georgia Milestones EOC shall be used as the final exam in the courses assessed by a Georgia Mile-stones EOC. Georgia Milestones EOC reports shall provide students, parents, and educators with individual scores on each EOC taken; student scores must be recorded on, in, or with the individual student report card.

(2)(e). ‘For students who entered ninth grade for the first time before July 1, 2011, the numeric score on the Georgia Milestones EOC shall count for 15% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course assessed by the Georgia Milestones EOC.

(2)(f). ‘For students who entered ninth grade for the first time after July 1, 2011, the numeric score on the Georgia Milestones EOC shall count for 20% of the student’s final numeric grade in the course assessed by the Georgia Milestones EOC.

In the absence of the EOC score, the school will lack this portion of the final course grade and would be compelled to calculate that course grade without this required component. Simply put, this would result in a course grade that would not reflect the true achievement of the student.

In addition to the direct impact upon students as noted above, districts and schools receive no credit towards their annual accountability measures when a student does not participate in state testing. This can, in turn, negatively impact both the perception and standing of districts and schools with a broader potential impact upon entire communities. The lack of a test score specifically impacts the required participation rate that schools and districts must meet, along with preventing a complete and accurate picture of the academic performance and quality of instructional programs.

Question: Will the Milestones be required for graduation?

Knox Phillips: Milestones will affect graduation because the End-of-Course assessment for high school students makes up 20% of the final grade in the respective course, which could affect a student’s passing score for required high school courses that are needed for conferral of high school completion and graduation.

Question: Will students in 3rd 5th and 8th grades need to perform at grade level to be promoted?

Knox Phillips: Yes. 3rd, 5th, and 8th grade students must score proficiently on the Reading and Vocabulary components of the ELA End-of-Grade assessment to be considered for promotion. In addition, 5th and 8th grade students must also score at either the Developing Learner, Proficient Learner, or Distinguished Learner achievement level to in mathematics to be promoted to the next grade level (i.e., Levels 2, 3, 4).

Question: If students in 3rd, 5th, or 8th grade opt out, can you use other data points for promotion?

Knox Phillips: Yes. Students in these grade levels will be recommended for retest and summer school due to the lack of available Milestones data. Local schools will begin their local promotion/retention appeals hearings in the month of July. Other data points will be considered by the local school promotion/retention committees and students of parents who refused participation in the Milestones will have to participate in a complementary assessment to measure the skills readiness and provide additional insight into the student’s readiness for the next grade level.

Question: What should parents do if they would like to opt out?

Knox Phillips: According to guidance provided by the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education, Parents who wish to advocate for a change in testing requirements may be encouraged to contact their federal legislators and to work within the legislative process.

As stated earlier, both state and federal laws currently require the annual assessment of all students enrolled in public schools in identified grades and courses and neither law nor policy currently allow for a parent to opt a student out of this requirement for any reason.

Parents in DeKalb can express their concerns to local school principals who, in turn, will forward their concerns to the district director for research, assessment, and grants for an official response and guidance to the parent and school principal on the process and next steps.

 

Reader Comments 0

28 comments
kimsmitty
kimsmitty

Tell me this: where are the forms I need to sign to 'Opt Out' of this craziness and spare my son needless anxiety?

Pam Summey
Pam Summey

Did you get a reply on this my child struggles so bad I think this is bull crap

Denis Ian
Denis Ian

Pssst ... This is America. You can't force people to do such things.

KFountain15
KFountain15

Refering to a parents choice to opt out as "moronic" is completely uncalled for. When your child is doing 3 consecutive weeks of testing and one of these tests (Milestones) essentially doesn't count in any significant way towards their education, then that test is insignificant. And, if this child already has a learning disability and clinical anxiety which is only amplified by the pressures placed on these children over test scores, than opting out of this situation in my opinion is advocating for the overall health and well-being of your child which is your job as their parent. In my opinion, nothing about that is moronic. That child can be evaluated just the same off of the following standardized tests i.e. Benchmarks, CMA's... Opting out of Milestones in no way relates to any future testing as an adult as the Bar Exam was mentioned, this is solely based off of the ridiculous amount of testing required out of students- not one single test.

Milo
Milo

Stay the course parents. Get your kids to testing. Their future competition is dropping by the wayside, as evidenced by the moronic opt out bunch. Let their kids have the 'scrape the poop off walls' jobs. Yours have a clear path to the top!!

Pam Summey
Pam Summey

Milo you are really ignorant telling us that our kids can never do better by not taking the milestones that is BS

Amy Williams
Amy Williams

Wow. I thought opting out was an option. Crazy!

Amy Williams
Amy Williams

my son is in first grade so we aren't quite there but trying to stay informed

Arminda Sue McNeill
Arminda Sue McNeill

I have opted my son out for the past two years. It'll be okay. Don't worry. His school is taking it this week actually. He's busy working on his science project and reading instead.

Cassie Hunt
Cassie Hunt

The question should be why does an 8 year old need to worry about failing. A's and B's all year but this one test determines if they pass. Most 8 year Olds cannot sit still for 2 hours taking a reading test.

kimsmitty
kimsmitty

exactly. thank you! I have a son who is in a high functioning special needs class who is held to the standard of General Ed and expected to take these God Forsaken exams. Nowhere on God's green Earth are these children ever going to use the mathmatical strategies they are EXPECTED to know in REAL life. it is ridiculous and makes a mockery out of our educational system!\


Pam Summey
Pam Summey

Kitty please send me a friend's request I have questions and desperately need advice Pam Summey on Facebook

Ceretta Sheppard
Ceretta Sheppard

So they can opt out but will be retained under no child left behind which means they will be "placed" in the next grade! Hmmm

Dunstann
Dunstann

Parents have more sense than to opt out of testing just to please the unions and their media apologists.

Shira Newman
Shira Newman

wow so many rules. so forcing kids to take tests is the best the state can do? take your kids out of school!!!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

SINCE school systems don't hold kids back anyway, not sure why parents should be so scared of this threat for grades 3, 5, and 8.  And notice he did not mention the other tested grade levels, where,no matter how far behind, kids are not retained.


In terms of high school, many kids will need the EOC 15-20%, but the ones who don't need the points may decide to forego the tests.


I have no problem with some testing although I doubt the validity of anything produced on the cheap in Georgia, but I REALLY don't like the tone of threatening this response seemed to have!  Bullying should have no place in education, although we know it does at times.


Oh, and summer school?  Our system has not held summer school after the school year is out in YEARS, due to lack of money (thank you, state of Georgia).  


FAIL!

teachermom4
teachermom4

@redweather @PattiGhezzi @Wascatlady The math test I gave today took 3 hours. Is there a difference between an 8-10 year old testing for 3 hours and an adult who is following up an education in a chosen field in order to be licensed for employment? I think there is.

PattiGhezzi
PattiGhezzi

@Wascatlady I agree w. this. Parents can and do opt their kids out as an act of civil disobedience or because they think the test will harm their child. If they get a "your child will be retained letter" and are forced to appeal, the appeals process will consider all factors including classroom grades and the child will move on to the next grade. The threatening tone is uncalled for. 

Kathryn Antman
Kathryn Antman

Rich, this has the law about 20% of the course grade is the milestones test.

Natalie Martin Muñoz
Natalie Martin Muñoz

This is disturbing and requires a lot of reading between the lines. Ultimately, the answer is YES, you may opt your child out. Additionally, if you want your child to stop being over tested and want your tax money to go back into the schools and not to testing companies, the opt out movement has to happen. It's really the only way change will occur.