Massachusetts is telling their parents that they can not opt their students out from the PARCC assessments that are being field tested this year. They are treating them the same as MCAS which are considered mandatory under state law.
Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served as a Senior Associate Commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education and was later on the Massachusetts State Board of Education, addresses Common Core aligned testing and parents who wish to opt their students out:
The general situation across states is this: a state’s tests must be based on a state’s official standards. If the official standards are aligned to Common Core (no matter what they are called), then the test items must address CC’s standards. That’s why it is imperative that local school boards vote to reject CC’s standards and any curriculum addressing them. It doesn’t matter what set of standards they say they are replacing CC with. The legal point is that the state tests will not be in sync with the local curriculum and standards (which by state law, local districts have a right to have), so the local school districts can legally refuse to give state tests because they don’t address the legally adopted standards and curriculum at the local level.
There’s more than one way to skin the cat. That’s why there’s a move to get rid of local school boards and put all power of curriculum, instruction, and standards under regional or state ed board.
More specifically, unless state law explicitly forbids parents from opting their kids out of SBAC or PARCC field tests, then parents can do so, and should. They can petition their school boards to pass a policy allowing all parents to opt their kids out of all field tests for any Common Core-aligned test. And they can add that there are to be NO penalties for parents exercising that right. State DoEs cannot make policy, by law. They are threatening local districts and parents illegally.