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Friday
Apr042014

OPTING OUT OF TEXAS' STAAR-EOC TESTS -- 2.17.14

If people opt their children out of the STAAR/EOC's (which are Type #1 exams that by law had to be based upon the Type #1 TEKS), how will parents be able to prove that their children were taught the Type #1 TEKS OR ELSE WERE TAUGHT the Type #2 CSCOPE/TASA iCloud, Safari, or other such 21st Century Learning curriculum?

Texas parents must remember that our Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) and accompanying STAAR/EOC's are vastly different from the Type #2 Common Core Standards and the accompanying PARCC/SMARTER Balanced assessments. Yes, parents need to opt their children out of those Common Core Standards Initiative Type #2 assessments, but I would not encourage Texas parents to opt their children out of the Type #1 STAAR/EOC's.

Please take the time to listen to this audioclip, and you will understand how different Texas is from the other CCS states:

2.13.13- PODCAST - Donna Garner gives the historical background on Hillary Clinton, NCEE, Common Core, English Success Standards (curriculum standards written by teachers for teachers), inexpensive tools parents can use to teach their children to read/spell/write/compute -- https://soundcloud.com/alice-linahan/women-on-the-wall-radio-choice

*In giving a personal example in the interview, I failed to go on to say that through much hard work my husband successfully completed his master's degree, mid-management certification, and taught for 36 years. Our two sons successfully learned to read/spell/write/compute and graduated with solid GPA's from Texas A&M University, College Station.

Blessings,

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

Friday
Apr042014

FW: OPTING OUT OF TESTING IN TEXAS -- BY JEFFREY WEISS - DMN - 3.26.14

[In the interview and also in his article (http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140325-trickle-of-texa s-parents-choosing-to-opt-children-out-of-state-testing.ece ), Jeffrey Weiss does not even mention the Common Core Standards Initiative which is the real reason so many parents across the country do not want their children to participate in the CCSI testing agenda to which 45 states and D. C. have committed. CCSI is the federal takeover of the public schools (ObamaCore) by the Obama administration and is similar to the federal takeover through ObamaCare. Texas' testing program is built upon a completely different philosophy of education (Type #1) while the CCS assessments and curriculum are Type #2. Texas' testing program (STAAR-End-of-Course) tests are largely fact-based and objectively scored with right-or-wrong answers. The CCS are subjectively scored by the federal government. - Donna Garner]

3.26.14 - Dallas Morning News

<http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-reques t-to-opt-out-of-tests.html/> http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-request -to-opt-out-of-tests.html/

Waco ISD responds to the request to opt out of STAAR tests

By <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/author/jeffreyweiss/> Jeffrey Weiss JWeiss@dallasnews.com <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-reques t-to-opt-out-of-tests.html/> 8:42 pm on March 26, 2014 | <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-reques t-to-opt-out-of-tests.html/> Permalink

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If you've been following the story, you know that Kyle and Jennifer Massey told Waco ISD this week that they want to hold their fourth-grade son out of the STAAR tests upcoming. Read the details, plus context, <http://www.dallasnews.com/news/education/headlines/20140325-trickle-of-texa s-parents-choosing-to-opt-children-out-of-state-testing.ece> here.

Waco ISD replied today with a no and a yes.

After consulting with the Texas Education Agency, Waco says it has no authority to grant an opt-out. But if the boy refuses to take the test, he'll "participate in a conference" where he will be given the opportunity to complete a "Refusal to Test Form." His test will be "scored" and he'll be put in a room where he will be given "meaningful activities."

So Waco ISD now has a procedure under which a student can not take the tests.

To which the Masseys replied: Not so much.

"The process you outline downloads responsibility for decision-making to, in our case, a 4th grade student. According to your letter, you plan to present William with the test and only if he refuses to take the test will he be allowed to return to educational instruction. Our son is nine years old and is not in a position to make such a decision, not should you force him to do so. As his parents, it is our responsibility to make such choices. We have made our decision and have informed you as required by law. We expect our decision to be respected and our parental rights upheld."

A lot more on both sides. You can read it all on <http://kyledmassey.com/waco-isd-responds/> Kyle Massey's blog, here.

And as a bonus, here's a video of me talking about this morning's story with KXAS-TV Channel 5 news.

VIDEO OF JEFFREY WEISS FOUND AT:

http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-request -to-opt-out-of-tests.html/

Friday
Apr042014

KELLER ISD ASKED TO ALLOW STUDENTS TO OPT OUT OF STAAR -- DMN - 3.27.14

3.27.14 - Dallas Morning News

http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/add-kellner-isd-to-the-north-tex as-districts-asked-to-allow-students-to-opt-out-of-staar.html/

Add Keller ISD to the North Texas districts asked to allow students to opt out of STAAR

By <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/author/jeffreyweiss/> Jeffrey Weiss JWeiss@dallasnews.com <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/add-kellner-isd-to-the-north-te xas-districts-asked-to-allow-students-to-opt-out-of-staar.html/> 10:45 am on March 27, 2014 | <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/add-kellner-isd-to-the-north-te xas-districts-asked-to-allow-students-to-opt-out-of-staar.html/> Permalink

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If you haven't been following the ongoing discussion about parents trying to pull their kids out of the STAAR tests, <http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/03/waco-isd-responds-to-the-reques t-to-opt-out-of-tests.html/> here's a link that will get you up to speed.

I'd known about Waco ISD and Celina ISD dealing with the requests. Add Keller ISD to the North Texas districts where at least one parent has formally asked to have students excluded from STAAR. Here's how Keller responded:

350 Keller Parkway Charles T. Carroll Keller, Texas 76248 Chief Academic Officer

Dear Parent,

Thank you for inquiring about testing in Keller ISD. We are committed to maximizing the benefit of state assessments for our students by using the data derived from them to assist our efforts to individualize instruction and get a whole picture of each child in our classrooms. There are times, however, that parents and guardians consider removing their students from testing environments, and the purpose of this letter is to assist you in understanding the district's role in state testing and the constraints upon your local campus administration.

For state tests (all STAAR assessments, EOCs in high school, and some other tests administered diagnostically in primary grades), Texas Education Code 39.023(a) requires "all students" to be assessed with the appropriate test (that section includes references to alternate tests for some limited English proficient and special program students). The district does not have a choice as to whether to administer the state tests to all of its students. What you may perceive as a lack of cooperation from your campus administration is not a choice. Keller ISD campuses follow Texas Education Code, which clearly states that there is no parental right to remove a student from a test. Parents have been misled by websites, facebook posts, and emails as well as other information that chose not to quote the entire statute, but the law is clear:

TEC Sec. 26.010. EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. (a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester. (b) This section does not exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency.

A district must administer the state test and there is no opt-out from the state assessments. Some number of students are absent on a given day, which could also be a test day. A student could also choose to not fill out the test while in attendance. But if the student comes to school on a state testing day, there is no ability on the part of the district to not test. A district or campus that selectively tested would be subject to sanction by the agency and could also possibly be harmed in the federal rating system by a low participation rate. Our desire is to work with parents and the community to create support structures for our students and make testing as limited and minimally invasive as possible.

Additionally, we seek to use the information we gather to improve our delivery systems and serve each child better and more specifically to meet needs identified in the assessments.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you during testing season as well as the rest of the school year. Thank you for your inquiry about state testing.

Sincerely,

Charles T. Carroll Keller ISD's Chief Academic Officer

Friday
Apr042014

MASSEY FAMILY OPTING OUT OF STAAR TESTING - WACO TRIB -- 10.30.14

From: Donna Garner [mailto:wgarner1@hot.rr.com] Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:54 PM To: Donna Garner Subject: MASSEY FAMILY OPTING OUT OF STAAR TESTING - WACO TRIB -- 10.30.14

3.30.14 - Waco Tribune-Herald

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/education/waco-couple-objects-to-staar-testing/ article_9810526f-6e25-5820-a721-2b97d4cced5c.html

Waco couple objects to STAAR testing

Related Stories

. <http://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/columns/guest_columns/jennifer-massey-guest -columnist-test-oriented-teaching-warps-our-children/article_f0ba0d06-5640-5 88c-899e-fa9b14685ffc.html> Related:Jennifer Massey, guest columnist: Test-oriented teaching warps our children

<http://ads.bhmedianetwork.com/RealMedia/ads/click_lx.ads/wacotrib.com/news/ education/1429372777/Middle1/default/empty.gif/72613874416c4d68307a674142617 35a?x> http://imagec18.247realmedia.com/RealMedia/ads/Creatives/default/empty.gif

Posted: Sunday, March 30, 2014 12:01 am

By HOLLIE O'CONNOR hoconnor@wacotrib.com

A Waco couple is not allowing their 9-year-old son to take the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness because of a moral and ethical opposition to standardized testing.

Kyle Massey and Jennifer Massey, parents of a Hillcrest Elementary School fourth-grader, submitted a letter to Principal Lisa Cain asserting their right to keep their son from taking the STAAR, and from participating in test-taking training exercises.

"We want our children to become critical and creative thinkers, not subservient test-takers," the letter states. "Public education in this country has been a victim of 30 years' worth of neoliberal hegemonic attacks in the form of political and economic policies."

Kyle Massey is the coordinator of curriculum for Texas State Technical College and a part-time lecturer at Baylor University in the civic education and community services department. Jennifer Massey is Baylor's assistant dean for student learning and engagement.

The couple cites Chapter 26 of the Texas Education Code outlining parental rights to keep their children from participating in activities that conflict with their religious or moral beliefs as reasoning for Waco Independent School District to excuse their children.

The letter goes on to outline how the Masseys believe the STAAR negatively affects socio-emotional well-being, curiosity, higher-order thinking and other aspects of education.

WISD Spokesman Dale Caffey said the district follows rules outlined by the state legislature and the Texas Education Agency. The STAAR is a state-mandated test, and the district does not have the authority to excuse a student from taking it, he said.

Per TEA instructions, if a student attends school on testing day, his or her test will be scored even if the student does not answer any of the questions under TEA rules, Caffey said.

Public schools are given accountability ratings by the state based on students' test scores. When students perform poorly on the test, consequences can range from having to implement improvement plans to closing or privatizing the school.

Additionally, the test would be on the student's record, and could affect his or her academic standing, Caffey said.

Opt-out plan

In response to the Masseys' request, WISD made a plan for parents who want to opt their students out. The plan placed the responsibility on students to tell their teachers of their refusal to take the test, after which they would be directed to a non-testing room and given "meaningful activities" to complete.

The Masseys then alleged bullying by the district, calling the procedure "dismissive of our rights as parents to opt our children out of harmful school activities" because it leaves the option to take the test up to the student.

"We already told them what our wishes are," Kyle Massey said in an interview. "Why would (the district) put a child in a situation where they have to be the ones to refuse. It's just absurd."

In response to the Masseys' complaints, WISD came up with a "refusal to test" form that parents can sign, ensuring their children will not be offered the test. But the district reiterated that it does not have the authority to excuse students from the test, and the tests of students in attendance would be scored whether or not they were taken, per TEA rules.

WISD forwarded the Masseys' letter to the TEA, which is in charge of statewide assessments and accountability. The Masseys had not received a response from the TEA as of Friday evening.

Kyle Massey told another media outlet that he is opposed to seeking private- or home-schooling for his son just to avoid taking the STAAR.

Friday
Apr042014

WACO ISD - OPTING OUT OF TESTS -- KXAN -- 4.1.14

4.1.14 - KXAN

http://kxan.com/2014/04/01/one-district-changes-the-rules-as-more-parents-op t-kids-out-of-staar-testing/

One district changes the rules as more parents opt kids out of STAAR testing

By Dawn Denny

Updated: Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 8:26 pm

Published: Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 5:47 pm

AUSTIN (KXAN) - <http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out/texas/> Texas Parents Opt Out say parents from more than 30 districts across the state have sent "opt out" letters to their schools, taking their children out of STAAR testing. And now, at least one school district is changing the rules.

Four students in the Waco ISD are refusing to take the STAAR test, but that district is allowing the students to attend school and receive "meaningful activities." Baylor professor Kyle Massey pushed for the move after learning if his child opted out of STAAR, his only option was to keep his son home from school and accept an unexcused absence. He was told schools must administer the test to every student attending on test day.

It was the first time in Texas that a school district agreed to provide other instruction and teaching to students who are not taking the test but still choose to be present at school on testing day.

. <http://kxan.com/2014/03/26/thousands-of-parents-opt-out-of-staar-testing-fo r-their-kids/> Thousands of parents "opt out" of STAAR testing for their kids

. <http://kxan.com/2014/03/31/teachers-call-it-quits-after-getting-fed-up-with -staar-testing/> Teachers call it quits after getting fed up with STAAR testing

.

In Lake Travis, Carolyn Long is opting out of her fifth grade son taking STAAR. Lake Travis ISD says he is the only student opting out in the entire district. Long said she was told the absence was unexcused.

"The Lake Travis ISD sent me a letter saying that it was mandatory that he take the test and that if he showed up for school, they were obligated to put the test in front of him," Long said. "And if he did not take it, they would put a score of zero and mark it as a failing grade." Her son has all passing grades, but has severe test anxiety.

Since her son has allergies, she lined up a doctor's appointment to have a doctor's note so the absence would not count against her son. Still, she worries about whether it will be challenging to now have him promoted to sixth grade.

By not taking the STAAR, her son's teachers and his principal will have to unanimously agree to allowing him to move on to 6th grade. If that doesn't happen, Carolyn says she is prepared to home school.

"We've got a bunch of idiots making decisions outside the classroom who do not understand what it's like to teach and what it's like to learn inside the classroom." said Ken Zarafis. He was a teacher for 12 years and is now the head of the teacher's union in Austin, Education Austin. He says he would like to see other districts across the state follow Waco's example.

Zarafis says new legislation is necessary to get teaching back into the classroom while removing the heavy focus on testing.

"I do not think the STAAR test should supersede teaching and learning," he said.

STAAR testing continues this week.

Statement from Waco ISD:

"Waco ISD created a STAAR test "refusal form" for documentation purposes.

Waco ISD's main focus this week is on the thousands of students who are taking state required examinations. That said, not offering meaningful educational activities to the students whose parents have refused testing would be a disservice."