We worked on an initiative to make it easier for parents to opt-out their children from high-stakes tests. In an effort to support the growing opt-out movement, and streamline the opt-out process, we have developed a web application that is accessible from any smartphone’s web browser. No downloading and installing apps is required. Before officially launching this website, we asked for your feedback. You told us you wanted to include all Measures of Student Learning (MOSL) used to evaluate teachers and take away from real learning time. We listened.
The website works by asking for the parent/guardian’s name(s), the student’s name, the student’s grade, the test(s) they want to opt-out from and finally, the school the child attends. Once they are selected from a list of NYC DOE schools, the principal’s name and email address are automatically pulled in and an opt-out email letter is created. Finally, the user can preview the opt-out letter before it is sent from their smart phone’s email app. Click “SEND” and the email is on it’s way to the school’s principal. During testing we found that a parent/guardian can actually opt-out in less than a minute.
A great part of this system is that it abides by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and no personal information about the parent, student or school is stored or saved on the website. Once the parent/guardian sends the opt-out email, it is stored in their email’s “Sent Items” folder.
Another great feature is that the website records the number of times an opt-out refusal email is created. This way we can all keep track of how many have used this method.
Recently, New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia stated that it is “unethical” for teachers to encourage parents to opt-out, but we say it is “unethical” for us to administer tests to our students that do more harm than good. The Commissioner has also stated that parents do have the right to opt-out their children, but is convinced she can sway public opinion for parents to choose to opt in for the state tests.
Please let us know of any issues you find and especially if you use this website to opt-out your child. We anticipate that the DOE or NYSED will try and say they do not accept this electronic method, but in reality there is no official process, so this method should be accepted as email opt-outs were accepted during the 2015 tests.