Refusing the Common Core Tests

Oneonta Area for Public Education, with support from Worcester Community for Education, will be hosting a Refuse The Test Informational Forum on Saturday, March 21 from 2-4 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta at 12 Ford Ave.  This event is free and open to the public.  Families with children are welcome to this casual event.  Hear from a teacher, a principal, and parents on the benefits of test refusal.  Learn about the role testing plays in education and about your rights to refuse testing on your child’s behalf.

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The grades 3-8 NYS Common Core tests in ELA and math will once again reign supreme over the educational environment for students and teachers in public schools across New York State, stealing instructional time through hours and hours of testing and many weeks of unbearable test preparation. The stress, already present for many, will increase and come home through the sobs and frustrations of children overburdened. With teacher evaluations already tied to student test scores and the looming possibility that the weight of these test scores will be increased if Governor Cuomo gets his way, it has never been more important for parents to exercise their right to refuse to allow their children to participate in these high-stakes tests.

The ELA portion begins on April 14 and will encompass three days of testing with three more days set aside for make-up testing.  The math tests begin April 22 and will take away just as many days away from regular school.

2013 New York State Principal of the Year, Carol Burris’s recent blog at the Washington titled Principal: ‘There comes a time when rules must be broken… That time is now’ illustrates how important opting out can be.

The only remedy left to parents is to refuse to have their children take the tests. Testing is the rock on which the policies that are destroying our local public schools are built. If our politicians do not have the courage to reverse high-stakes testing, then those who care must step in.

Last year more than 60,000 parents boycotted the state tests. The time to end the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing is now. Each refusal punches a whole in the data used to unfairly label our schools as failure factories and our teachers as incompetent. By refusing to allow your child to participate, you are starving a punitive system of the data it needs to unfairly discredit student performance, teacher effectiveness, and school quality.


Refusing NYS testing is easy and starts by sending the following letter to your school:

Dear Administrator,

Thank you for all that you do for our school.

I am writing to respectfully inform you that my child, (name), under my guardianship and advice, will be scored as a “refusal,” with a final score of “999” and a standard achieved code of 96, on all State testing including ELA, Math and Science as described in the 2014-2015 NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual version 10.2 on page 63.  Please note that a “refusal” is not the same as “absent” as they are defined differently and scored with different standard achieved codes on page 63 of the SIRS Manual.  Also note that on page 27 of the 2014 Edition School Administrator’s Manual it is explained that “The makeup dates are to be used for administering makeup tests to students who were ‘ABSENT’ during the designated administration dates.”  My child will specifically be scored as a “refusal,” not “absent,” and therefore my child will continue to receive a free and appropriate public education in his/her regular classroom environment during the administration of all makeup test periods as this letter provides written verification of a “refusal” for all tests.

I would ask that the school please provide an alternative activity for my child during administrative sessions of testing (not makeup tests, as my child will be in his/her regular classroom environment during makeup tests).  However, I understand that an alternative activity is not required on the part of the school.  If you are unable to provide an alternative activity for my child I would ask that you please utilize the provision of the NYS Educator Guide to the 2015 Common Core ELA (Math) Tests which, on page 9 (page 7 for Math), explains “When Students Have Completed Their Tests….that student may be permitted to read silently.”  I am reserving the option of removing my child from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional anxiety state of my child on the day of refusal and whether or not the school will provide an alternate activity for my child.

In addition, my child will not participate in any stand-alone field testing administered through the NYS Education Department.

Thank you very much.  I look forward to a great end of the school year.


More resources about test refusal can be found at the New York State Allies for Public Education website.

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.
This entry was posted in Events, Local Events/ Actions, Local News, Opt Out, Statewide news & events and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Refusing the Common Core Tests

  1. dbpigtail says:

    Reblogged this on Oneonta Area For Public Education and commented:

    Don’t forget: Test refusal forum on Saturday 3/21 from 2-4 at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta at 12 Ford Ave. Learn about your rights as parents to refuse Common Core testing.

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