‘I opted my kids out of testing’

Opting her daughters out of state testing seemed like a no-brainer to a law professor mom. They were only in Colorado for a year. The younger girl had suffered test anxiety a few years earlier. They were good students. Why bother?

But the middle and high school administrators put heavy pressure on her to reconsider. The state Education Department said parents aren’t allowed to opt out their children, despite a form that says otherwise. Now she’s frustrated that parents of high achievers can’t opt out without hurting their children’s schools.

About Joanne


  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    I am generally sympathetic to opt-out provisions, almost without reference to the subject or issue. If it’s important, it’s the decision of the parent that the kid be without it. But it’s usually not important.
    That said, the writer didn’t make a solid case against this. Indeed, she said she and her hubby referred to their “gut”.
    Seems to me to be harmless either way.
    From time to time, I get a feeling that certain people take it as a given that they–superior they–need not and should not be subject to that which the rest of us consider routine. The reason being not that there is a defined reason; just that “they” are above such things.

  2. Sharon R. says:

    I just really don’t get why people want to opt out of testing for their kids. To me, that’s like opting out of accountability. As a mom of a kid with Aspergers, testing is our friend – his high standardized test scores prove that he *is* learning the material, even though his homework and classwork are cut down by half or more so that he can get through them.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “I just really don’t get why people want to opt out of testing for their kids. To me, that’s like opting out of accountability.”
      The author indicated that she gets a report card for her kid(s) every six weeks and can follow per-assignment grades on-line. Assuming that she trusts the teacher’s assessment, then one more test isn’t going to give her any information on her kid that she doesn’t already have.

    • Crimson Wife says:

      Grade-level tests tell parents of bright kids NOTHING. I could have my 6th grader sit around playing video games for a year instead of homeschooling her and she’d still be able to pass the 6th grade state reading and math tests.

      What I think should be an option for bright kids is substituting a talent search test for the regular state test. My 6th grader took the SAT last Saturday for talent search. Those scores should IMHO be accepted by her virtual charter in lieu of the regular state test. If she can do okay on the SAT, certainly she will ace the 6th grade level test.

    • People that want to opt out their advanced kids do so because the test covers material mastered two years plus prior. No need to spend hours on handwriting practice. Far better to spend the honors class time on learning new material. For ex. in third grade your child is expected to draw the solution to addition problems. An advanced child did this in preschool and will demoralize his classmates by whipping thru the test in less than half the allotted time (of course the included won’t be in the room as they have a private testing area).

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Schools/States may be able to force children to take tests.

    But they can’t force them to do well.

    I would direct you to a little dialogue I wrote…


    (Joanne, if I’m not supposed to be link-whoring, please feel free to delete.)

    • Mark Roulo says:

      I have often marveled at the stupidity of basing a result that the school cares about on a test that has no effect on the student. I can imagine some kids being forced to take the test choosing to fail it on purpose. Why not? It doesn’t have any downside for them.
      But it probably does. I can imagine the school retaliating in numerous ways:
      *) Sorry, you can’t take honors whatever (or AP whatever).
      *) Nope, no letters of recommendation for you (or, aiming for symmetry, the teacher writes a letter, but recommends against the student … hey, no impact on the teacher!).
      *) You didn’t make the football/basketball/track team. Or the band.
      Short term, I think the kids (and their parents) hold the advantage. Long term, especially for kids who want to go to “good” colleges and/or participate in extra-curricular activities, the school probably holds the advantage.
      What is sad is that thinking about this in game-theory terms isn’t insane … it should be.

    • Michael – I think of you more as a link-courtesan..

      Man, I’ve been in that situation with the kids. I cut em off early; told them it really had no impact to them personally. Of course, if we did bad enough, the staff would get PD’d to death and crabby; so there might have been secondary effects.

      Unfortunately, the “punishment” is so far away for most kids they never see it. Goofing off today is fun. Who want’s to get on the success hamster wheel for something down the road in 10 years? It’s that whole delayed gratification problem.

      Mark: Perhaps we should call it the Student’s Dilemma instead of Prisoners Dilemma.

  4. One of my sons taught Honors Algebra 1 and AP Geometry. The district had them taking benchmark tests every other Friday.

    He really resented it. His students were in the top 5%, and there was no need for these benchmarks. So he goes to the principal, explains how losing 10% of his teaching time will hurt these kids, and get told no.

    The reason: they were the only students capable of raising the average of the school high enough so the principal wouldn’t go onto a “growth plan.”

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      If those “benchmark” tests aren’t testing what he’s teaching, there is an important disconnect somewhere.