How to REFUSE NYS Grade 3-8 TESTS

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Depending on the response you receive from your school district, determine which follow-up letter you should send:
Follow-Up Letter 1 (request for school policy for refusals)
Follow-Up Letter 2 (request to change policy/procedure)
Follow-Up Letter 3 (very uncooperative district)

STEP 3: CLARIFY TEST DAY ARRANGEMENTS WITH THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL AND TEACHER.  PREPARE YOUR CHILD Depending on your school’s policy/procedure, prepare your child for what will happen on test day.  Be certain to keep in touch with your child’s teacher so that the refusal goes smoothly on test day.  

We have answers & solutions!
1.  Attend an upcoming informational session in the Utica area.
2.  Talk with thousands of other parents also refusing 2014 tests:
*Opt Out CNY on Facebook: chat with parents from Central NY
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*email us at:

*Frequently Asked Questions About Opting Out
*refuseNY flyer
*Complete Guide to Refusing NYS Tests
*New York State Allies for Public Education

*Follow our “In the News” page (above)
*See our helpful links (right)
*November 7 Rally for Education
*What YOU can do to make a difference

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Refusing to Participate in NYS Grade 3-8 Testing is the best way for parents to let leaders in Albany know that recent education reforms are not in kids’ best interest.  Refusing tests is not about hurting kids, teachers, or public schools.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  The ‘opt out’ movement sheds light on the false narrative of ‘failing public schools’ and advocates for the use authentic assessment so that all students’ needs are met.  Thank you for stopping by to learn more about statewide efforts to bring back authentic teaching & learning to our classmates.

Opt Out CNY is an affiliate of New York State Allies for Public Education

14 thoughts on “How to REFUSE NYS Grade 3-8 TESTS

    Frank said:
    October 16, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Please give us details on the idea that the student and teachers are not negatively affected by not taking the test. Also, be specific on which tests that students and teachers would be negatively affected if they chose not to participate. It is my understanding that if a child has no score on a regents exam, they are to be placed in AIS (academic intervention services) classes as a result. The regents exams are those exams that ARE the problem. CCCS has changed the curriculum and therefore changed the test.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      October 17, 2013 at 1:49 am

      Hi Frank-thanks for your comment! Students should not refuse to participate in any test required for graduation, including Regents. Check with the school guidance counselor if you have questions about which tests those may be. Teachers are not negatively impacted if a student refuses a test and while test scores can be used to determine AIS placement, it is again best to check with the school district to verify the policy regarding AIS placement. Most importantly, you’ve touched upon a big theme: children are unique individuals and their educational needs vary!

    CAFinNY said:
    November 9, 2013 at 3:09 am

    I think that one option is to homeschool!

      Allison said:
      November 11, 2013 at 3:33 am

      From what I have read, and been told, homeschooling will eventually be following CCCS as well.

    Leslie said:
    April 1, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Hi, my kids have long planned on refusing. Now my 6th grader is actually sick. We’ve been told if he doesn’t go to school today (to refuse) he will have to refuse, and sit out of class for, the make up tests. Does this mesh with policy you’ve heard? We don’t want him to miss even more classtime, in addition to being sick, so if this is the case we’ll get him to just drag himself through the regular testing days.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      April 1, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Leslie. Sorry to hear your 6th grader is not feeling well. First and foremost, no one should have to send their kid to school if he or she is sick. To better answer you question I would ask:

      1. Have you submitted a refusal letter yet?

      2. What procedure has the district set in place for handling test refusals.

      If your district does require your child to sit and stare for the make up exams then they are denying him his right to an appropriate education by keeping him away from instruction that the rest of the class is receiving.

      While I can’t tell you what you should do I can tell you that you have every right to refuse on the behalf of you child. A phone call to your child’s building principal is probably the best first step.

      If they stick with the make up test plan as described above, don’t hesitate to let them know that their plan is illegal.

      I hope this helps.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      April 1, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Leslie-Your son was marked absent today and will be offered a make up test for any days he is absent. He should be able to simply refuse the test during the make up session(s). Work with your school principal ahead of time to see when the make up exam will be given (between April 4th and 8th as per this document from NYSED). Not knowing how your school will choose to handle this, the one thing I would advise you is that if/when your son refuses the make up exam, he will be missing classroom instruction. As such, it would be detrimental to his education to make him sit for the entire make up exam session. If the school asks you/him to refuse the make up exam, it should be done quickly so he can return to the classroom. I hope this has helped.

    steven said:
    April 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Can anyone comment or provide guidance on how opting out (refusing) to take the tests will/may affect my daughter’s HS application process and consideration? If she does poor on the math tests will this be a consideration or if she opts out how will they be weighted?

    Article in NY Times yesterday about Laguardia HS turning choosing test results over talent.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      April 24, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Hi Steven! Based on your question, I’m wondering if you’re from the New York City area-yes, no? If so, I’m going to recommend you head over to Change the Stakes where you will be able to have your questions answered by advocates who are better informed about the HS application process in NYC. Our allies at CTS have a variety of resources you can look to and you can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. Best regards!

    John said:
    April 28, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Has anyone spoken to a Barbara Wallis from the Office of State Assessment; she is the Bureau Chief. I had called the Governor’s number and through a succession of hand offs ending up leaving word with her about my concerns. I asked her to explain if a child opts out, are they subject to being placed in AIS. From the other five to six people I spoke with, they understood my concern and some did allude that the tests have no merit per the Governor, from the State Budget hearings on April 1, but no one would confirm or deny this position. My school district told us when the ELA was about to begin, that any child not taking the test; ie. opting out would be placed in AIS as was their understanding. I consider this bullying and coercing parents to force their children to take the test based on this fear. Granted if this was the case, I am prepared to sue the district as one test that has been widely criticized and has whose merits have caused it to be deemed unacceptable and not to be used as a placement or have their scores officially kept until 2018. I am just peeved at the lack of communication from “those” supposedly in charge to how and how little is provided to the parents. The assumption is that we are just lemmings and will willingly follow along without questioning the validity of the test and when questions are put forth, such responses are the norm. Thank you for any insight on this, as Miss Wallis has yet to reply back to me (BIG SURPRISE – no one wants to be held accountable).

    Thank you in advance for your response and insight.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      April 29, 2014 at 2:34 am

      Hi John-NYSEDs lack of leadership certainly is frustrating and disappointing. While they won’t give you answers, here are a few links to documents that will help you. It’s important to know that an “opt out”-correctly termed a refusal-does not equate to a score of 0. Please see page 63 of the SIRS manual for more information on this here. Since a refusal is not a score of 0, to determine if a student should receive AIS services, the school should look at other measures (teacher feedback, local assessments, diagnostic tests, student and parent input). Here are several documents from NYSED that explain this:
      Guidelines for Implementing AIS
      Letter from Commissioner King March 24, 2014 (see page 1, last bullet item)
      Adjustment Options to Common Core from Board of Regents Workgroup, February 10, 2014 (see page 3 #4)

        John said:
        April 29, 2014 at 1:14 pm

        Thank you. I looked at the letter from the Commissioner and it states that the use of the Common Core by itself as the unit to evaluate a child is not allowed, but why allow individual districts to make their own set of rules for implementation. Yes, it mentions if they do use these tests as determining points, they also need to incorporate other factors too but there is just a disconnect between parties and how each district is handling the tests and information provided. I’m not for the tests, but after reading that they will not be a determining factor we are less inclined to prohibit our daughter from taking the tests, as it’s a good learning experience on how tests will be later in her academic career. My concern is how a school district can present a glass half full approach in terms of letting parents know their rights and not pressuring them into a position, by veiled threats of academic retaliation towards their children. Between that and the bribery of rewards for taking the test, it reeks of mismanagement and desperation to win the children over, by talk of rewards, treats and parties. This might have been a good idea but it has lost it’s vision, and ultimately it’s intended effect.

    Kathy said:
    September 6, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Our children refused the tests beginning last Fall. When others got on the “bandwagon” and many, many more began refusing, the district changed their rules. A letter was mailed home to parents of those who refused stating that the ” district (no mention of NY State, which is what it really is) science test” was a test given to “improve curriculum and instruction” and that there was “no provision to opt out” (we didn’t-we refused) and that the test was “not a Common Core test and therefore all students were expected to take the test.” Do we not have a right to refuse all state exams including the 4th and 8th grade state science tests? Also, our district is giving SLO tests, for the purpose of teacher evaluation, and calling them “final exams”. This happened in subjects like art, music, and PE. We were told that it was a “final exam” also and that our kids must take them. Is this legal seeing that we are refusing our children’s information being collected and stored on a server for the purpose of evaluating their teachers? How do we refuse these tests if they are using the grades also as a “final exam”? They pulling every trick that they can to force parents to comply. Was wondering if anyone else out there is experiencing similar tactics by their school district and how to combat it.

      Opt Out CNY responded:
      September 8, 2014 at 1:14 am

      Thanks for your comment, Kathy. It is not uncommon for schools to use final exams as SLOs. In our opinion, whether or not one should refuse the test is the family’s decision and a decisions that should be made once information has been gathered about the test and it’s purpose. In other words, refusing an end of year test may depend on thing such as the district’s APPR plan, the grade level/subject area and the format/length/appropriateness of the final exam itself. In some cases, schools have approved the final exam to be used as the SLO in an attempt to limit the number of tests given to kids. In other cases, the final exam is also a SLO but may in fact be a portfolio, final project, or assignment appropriate to the grade level/course. The bottom line though is this: you have a right to refuse grade 3-8 testing and grade 4 & grade 8 science tests. Since APPR plans and the related SLOs differ from district to district, this is definitely an area where parents need to meet with social officials and gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

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