What is opting out?

What is Opting Out?

Opting out is refusing to participate in state- or district mandated testing.


  • Opting out is an act of civil disobedience.

  • Opting out is a boycott of excessive standardized testing.

  • Opting out sends an important message to the state that we’re sick of the strangle-hold testing has over our schools.

  • Opting out will not harm your child or your child’s school.

Parents and their children have been opting out of standardized testing in small numbers over the past couple of years, but until recently it did not gain much attention and it didn’t have much of an impact. But this past year, the number of opt-outs surged. An estimated 10,000 students, with the guidance of their parents, refused to participate in this past April’s state tests and other forms of standardized testing that use our children to evaluate teachers & schools. Oneonta Area for Public Education is one of many groups across the state promoting this grassroots effort to ease the testing burden on our children and reclaim public education from ‘edu-crats’ and testing companies. We’ve all reached the same point: We’re sick of authentic education being replaced with excessive testing.

You might be told that you may not opt out—that there is no opt out provision. There is no legislation at all in NYS regarding this issue. The state education department governs schools, not parents, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld that parents possess “the fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children” (Piece v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35).

You might be told that opting out will have negative financial consequences for your school if your school does not meet a participation rate of 95% as mandated by the state Ed. Dept. We have found this to be more of a fear tactic than anything else. The details surrounding this mandate are complicated, but your school will not lose money. In certain situations, only 5-15% of Title I grant money is set aside for the school to use for improvement programs, but the money stays in the district. Although there is more to it than that, it is important to know that there were many schools across New York State that did not fulfill the mandate last year because of opt-outs. To date, there have been no reports of any schools losing money due to students refusing the tests.

The decision to opt out is unique and personal. Talk to your child, the classroom teacher, and the school. Find out which tests your child will be facing and what they will be used for. There are many tests that have no bearing on your child’s grades, promotion, or graduation; These are tests that unfairly use your child to judge his/ her teacher and school. Talk to your child’s teacher to find out which tests are useful for informing instruction, or for determining if your child is in need of special services. Ask questions, find out more, and make an informed decision about opting out within your comfort zone.

Remember, YOU are your child’s best advocate!


About Betsy Bloom

Betsy is an Associate Professor of Education at Hartwick College in Oneonta NY. She is also a parent of two, a nine year veteran middle school social studies teacher and the current president of the NYS Foundations of Education Association, an organization dedicated to achieving social justice through public education.
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2 Responses to What is opting out?

  1. Pingback: Why opt out? | Oneonta Area For Public Education

  2. Pingback: Ready to opt out! | Oneonta Area For Public Education

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