OPT OUT MOVEMENT 2015: PARCC isn't the only test being Opt Outed... Seattle and Palo Alto students in massive Opt Out from 'Smarter Balance...' in California and Washington...

There are two natioinal testing programs working to lock America's public schools into the Common Core straight jacket. In Chicago (and Illinois) and other states, the test is the PARCC. But in many states it is the SBAC -- for "Smarter Balance..." testing program. Both are controlled by corporate America and have been pushed by the U.S. Department of Education's bribes to states that adopted them -- "voluntarily" according to Arne Duncan and Barack Obama -- after being told they would not be eligible for Race To The Top money if they didn't. The stories about how Common Core was foisted upon most of the states by the combination of the corporatists at the U.S. Department of Education and the corporatists whose money, mostly from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been widely told and will be told again and again since the majority of Americans are still being fed the ruling class propaganda that these are "our standards" and were adopted by a democratic process.

There are now dozens of cartoons devoted to the absurdity of corporate "education reform" in the USA, and more creativity being devoted to Opt Out and related issues every day.But Opt Out from SBAC has been as serious as Opt Out from PARCC, as the story from the April 28 Seattle Times and from Palo Alto show. First, Seattle, then California...:

Big wave of Seattle juniors skipping new high-school tests, Seattle Times, Originally published April 28, 2015 at 7:54 pm. The number of high-school juniors in Seattle declining to take a new state test keeps growing, with 80 percent or more at four high schools exercising their right to opt out.. By Leah Todd Seattle Times staff reporter

The number of high-school juniors in Seattle refusing to take state exams continues to grow, with reports of very high opt-out rates in three more schools.

Last week, district officials reported that not a single junior took the tests at Nathan Hale High in North Seattle. On Tuesday, they said 95 percent of juniors at Garfield High and 80 percent at Roosevelt and Ingraham high schools also have refused to take the exams, called Smarter Balanced, which are replacing Washingtons old statewide exams.

District officials initially thought about half the students at those schools would opt out, but the numbers clearly are much higher than that, with many students protesting what they see as unnecessary testing.

What really convinced me was, its not a graduation requirement, said Kevin Nguyen, a junior at Garfield and president of his class of about 400 juniors. At this time of the year, juniors especially dont have that much time to just spend on stuff that doesnt go toward graduation.

Shes also concerned that most of the students who take the test this year may do poorly. Based on results from pilot tests across 21 states, between 60 and 70 percent of students are expected to fail.

To have to take a state-mandated test that youll probably not even pass thats not what you want to do, she said.

The boycotts appear to be limited just to juniors, who dont need to pass any part of the Smarter Balanced tests to graduate from high school.

And the protests in Washington state dont appear to extend beyond Seattle. Bellevue School District, for example, has received just six refusal forms across the district of about 19,000 students.

But similar tests have sparked protests elsewhere in Oregon, New York and New Mexico, among other states.

In Seattle, the protests continue to grow despite warnings that they could put the states federal funding at risk.

In a statement Friday, state schools chief Randy Dorn reiterated his view that if fewer than 95 percent of Washington students take the state tests, the U.S. Department of Education could withhold education funding under the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates annual testing.

The decision to refuse testing doesnt just affect the individual student, Dorn said. It affects students across the state.

At Garfield the site of a 2013 testing boycott led by teachers that gained national attention student-government leaders visited classrooms to explain that the test was not required for graduation for juniors, and that students could fill out a refusal form at the school counseling office at any time.

They did not focus on sophomores, Nguyen said, because those students are taking the reading portion of the tests as a graduation requirement.

In 2013, the boycott centered on a district-required test, not a state one.

Nguyen said some members of Garfields student government talked with students organizing similar efforts at Roosevelt, Ingraham and Nathan Hale but didnt plan any coordinated events between the schools.

Earlier this year, teachers at Nathan Hale High initially decided to boycott the exams but backed down under pressure from district administration and after warnings from Dorn.

To date, the district has been monitoring only four schools where it had heard opt-outs might be high, a district spokeswoman said. Complete numbers wont be available until the testing window closes.

Smarter Balanced testing in Washington must be finished by June 15.



Where is everyone? Students opt out of Smarter Balanced test. by JEANETTE WONG and EMILY HWANG. Published April 27, 2015

Students pack up in Room 856 after taking the Smarter Balanced test this afternoon. Of the 30 juniors scheduled to take the test in the room, only 15 were present. Photo by Jeanette Wong.

Under 50 percent of Palo Alto High School juniors took the state-standardized Smarter Balanced test today, according to Dean of Students Adam Paulson.

According to California Education Code 60615, parents are allowed to let their children opt out of California standardized tests, such as the Smarter Balanced test, by simply signing a form. However, Paulson said students who were not previously excused from the test are expected to retake the test at a to-be-determined date.

Our participation rate was expected to be somewhere around 50 percent which is disappointing, Principal Kim Diorio said. We were hoping for a larger turnout, but we certainly understand that parents and students have a right to opt out of these kinds of tests. Were seeing a trend across the nation of parents and students exercising that right.

Given the small number of test takers, the data collected may not accurately reflect the proficiency of the junior class on the subjects that were tested. With less than 50 percent of students taking the Smarter Balanced test, the data is statistically insignificant, which does not accurately give the school benchmark information, Diorio said.

Because it is Palys first year for implementing the Smarter Balanced test, the school and the school district will not be affected by the scores in any way, according to Diorio. However, Smarter Balanced scores next year will count towards the schools score, which will be a reconstituted version of the Academic Performance Index score, Paulson said. Thus, Palys score next year will depend on test participation.

Typically, its around 95 percent of the students that they [the CA Dept. of Education] want you [the school] to test, Paulson said. Obviously, today we didnt get there. We need most kids to participate so we can get an accurate score.

Despite how test participation did not fulfill ideal circumstances, the school benefitted from the test administered today, according to Diorio.

Its a good practice run, Diorio said. I think teachers will learn a lot from proctoring it and administering it. Having seen the questions and getting a better sense of what its asking students, theres definitely value in it.

The test is divided into two sections, with a 10-minute break in between the sections. Some changes were made today regarding the scheduled breaks during the test.

Students were given two hours to complete around five short answer questions, according to junior Joseph Kao. Kao says many students completed the first section of the test in approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Because the test took a shorter amount of time than anticipated, Diorio and Paulson released students about an hour before their scheduled break time.

We did not expect that [the length of the test], which is why we made the executive decision to let you [the students] out, Diorio said. I walked around to five or six classrooms and I noticed that everybody was done. I found Mr. Paulson, and we decided to make some adjustments and give the students a break. We dont want you sitting there with an hour, or hour and a half, with nothing to do. Thats not fair to the kids who did show up.

Public school participation in the Smarter Balanced test is encouraged by the California Department of Education, according to Paulson.

As a public school, we need to offer the tests, and we encourage full participation, Diorio said. Im very thankful for all the kids that are here. It will help us get some good data.

Although the Smarter Balanced test does not help with admission to college, it can potentially save students time by acting as a placement test for colleges in the California State University system and community college system.

Many students did not show up to take the test because they felt it had no meaningful purpose, according to junior Nick Guardino.

I think a lot of people didnt come because it [the Smarter Balanced test] doesnt necessarily affect their future, Guardino said. They probably didnt think it was worth their time. Its monotonous and seems irrelevant.


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