OPT OUT 2015: Chicago Teachers Union declares Opt Out is a right of all parents and children!... 'The CTU reiterates its wholesale opposition to the PARCC test. This test has no educational value...'

[Editor's Note: The following information was distributed by the Chicago Teachers Union on March 6, 2015. Sadly, some principals (not all) have been trying to stop children from opting out, and threatening teachers who provide professional support to children who are opting out. But not all principals are as silly as the principals of Edison and Taylor elementary schools (two of which we have documented at Substance) and we believe as of March 7 that most principals are following the courageous examples of the principals of Blaine and Nettlehorst. George N Schmidt, Editor.]

The Opt Out movement in 2015 is the largest in history, and will end the testing mania that began in Chicago under mayoral control in 1995 and went national under Arne Duncan and Barack Obama after 2009. CTU: PARCC Opt-Out Guidelines


It is our understanding that CPS is not issuing instructions to schools for how to work with students who are refusing the PARCC tests. In the absence of such guidance, the CTU asks our members to adhere to the following instructions:

The CTU reiterates its wholesale opposition to the PARCC test. This test has no educational value, is completely untested, and is part of a broader effort to punish students, teachers and schools with punitive high stakes tests.

All students who refuse the test or for whom the teacher has a written refusal from a students parents should be treated kindly and with respect.

ISBE has suggested that a student must individually refuse to take the test. However, in the past many schools have accepted written notice from a students parent as sufficient refusal and we believe this to be the more humane course of action. We urge teachers to request that the administrations at their schools consider written notice from a parent as sufficient notice of refusal.

ISBE has suggested that students must refuse each unit of the test, but we believe this to be unusually punitive and argue that a single refusal fulfills the refusal requirement. We urge teachers to request that a single refusal be considered sufficient.

Students should not be required to handle paper test booklets or sign into online tests after indicating their refusal. There are no guidelines from the state that require this. A verbal refusal is sufficient, and creating a show of breaking the test booklets, etc. is political theater that has no place in an educational setting

Refusing students should be provided an alternative setting during testing periods. This setting should have educational activities available and should not be punitivesuch as sitting in the office while other children take the test. Under no circumstances should a student be asked to sit and stare. We urge teachers to request that such alternative student activities be allowed.

Teachers are not required to provide alternate instruction for refusing students, but students should be allowed to do classwork and/or homework during testing. Students should also be allowed to read a book, work on a math puzzle or an art project, or do other academically useful individual activities. We urge teachers to request that such alternate student activities be allowed.

No student should be badgered or coerced into taking the test by anyone on staff.

No parent should be badgered or coerced into having their child take the test by anyone on staff.

A students decision whether or not to take the test should not influence grading or future classroom placement.

ChicagoTeachers Union members have been resisting the overtesting for more than 20 years. Among those opting out in 2015 are the children of Substance editors George and Sharon Schmidt and the sons of CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.Students are allowed to talk to other students about their right to refuse the test during school hours and on school grounds. Students are allowed to wear buttons, t-shirts or stickers in school to indicate their opposition to the test. Teachers are allowed to talk to parents and students about their personal opinions of the test on non-work time.

No incentives of any kind should be awarded to or withheld from students based on their participation in the PARCC test.

No CTU member should be disciplined for following these guidelines. They are the bare minimum our students and parents should expect from the educators they trust every day.

In addition, several parent and teacher groups around the city are hosting informational meetings on student and family rights in relation to: standardized testing, special education accommodations in testing environments, and other relevant topics. Click the button below for a list of such sessions. If you would like to host a session, email the CTU Organizing Department.


March 10, 2015 at 11:31 AM

By: Neal Resnikoff

On the testing front. Some news

To enable maximum concentration on the Common Core PARCC tests, instruction has been reduced at the Chicago Arts High School with late start for sophomores, juniors and seniors. Their start times are 11:00 Wednesday and Thursday and 10:00 on Friday.

The reason given for the late starts is that personnel has to give their full dedication to the freshmen taking PARCC and the school has to be quiet for those taking the test. How many other Chicago public schools are doing this? More classroom time lost to the testing mania.

Two parents in Villa Park were told their young elementary school children would not be allowed to have any materials while they were opting out of the tests. As a result of negotiations, they were finally told the children could have a book to read.

An ABC report indicates that students opting out in at least one Oak Park school, not named, were ordered to sit and meditate or nap.

Some parents who have subsidies to pay for internet access for their childrens coursework have been threatened with removal of that money if their children opt out of taking the PARCC tests.

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