A True Abuse of Opt-Out Rights

Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)
Photo credit: Bartmoni (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Do you know what is truly abusing a parent’s right to opt their children out of assessments? It has nothing to do with what the parent does. What’s abusive is when a school selectively chooses students they think will fail and then tell those parents about their opt-out rights.

That is exactly what happened in Alexandria, VA as reported by The Washington Post:

As schools were busy readying students for state exams, teachers at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, a high-poverty school in Alexandria, were poring over data to determine which students would probably not do well on the tests.

But according to a school district investigation, the effort wasn’t aimed at giving those students extra help. Instead, Principal Brandon Davis allegedly told teachers this spring to call the parents of students who appeared on the brink of failing the exams to inform them of their right to opt out of the tests, according to the investigation. Three dozen parents decided to pull their children from the state Standards of Learning exams; no parents at the school had done so the previous year.

The move, which meant those students’ scores would not be considered for state accreditation purposes, probably artificially inflated the school’s overall performance and masked the fact that some students were not performing up to standards. It also means the data used to evaluate the school is potentially flawed and presents evidence that a new Virginia law allowing students to opt out of tests without it affecting a school’s rating could compromise the ability to assess schools.

Shameful. What’s ironic if the school’s principal taken the time to inform all parents about their right to opt-out he may have gotten the results he was hoping for.

All parents and students have the right to opt-out, not just the ones who will help boost a school’s scores by missing. This principal’s concern was not about his students who struggle with standardized assessments. His actions were not taken in order to take on a high stakes testing culture. No, he did what he did simply to pad his numbers.