Some Arizona parents, disgusted with the diabolical determination of their local schools to bully their children into taking the highly controversial AzMERIT exam, are considering online education for their children.
Think again. Online charter schools are worse. The extra harsh treatment is completely legal, based on ARS 15-808(B). The online charters are merely "following orders" as dictated by Arizona’s legislators. "If a pupil fails to comply with the testing requirements and the school administers the tests pursuant to this subsection to less than ninety-five percent of the pupils in Arizona online instruction, the pupil shall not be allowed to participate in Arizona online instruction."
According to Facebook comments from several parents who refused to allow their children to take AzMERIT, their children were "locked out" of learning. They couldn’t log on to their computers.
April 5. This parent posted: "Received a call from K12 (Arizona Virtual Academy, where ‘students come first’) at 3:10 pm -she said if we did not call her back before 3 pm today..AND if we did not show up tomorrow at the testing site- they would lock our account. Meaning student could not do his work..meaning they are dropping us from the school. IS THIS legal?"
The parent did not call, nor did she and her 3rd grader make the long drive to the remote testing site. The trip would have required her to take off work, over a period of 3-4 days, for a few hours each day. (NOTE: The "online" school doesn’t administer AzMERIT "online." One parent stated that she would have to drive 120 miles to the testing site nearest her home.)
April 6. Parent received the following email:Read more
These Senators want parents to respect and vote for them? Why, when they disrespect and sneer at parents? They voted against parental authority when they voted NO on SB1455, giving parents the RIGHT to opt their children out of unvalidated, worthless, psychologically damaging, expensive statewide assessments!Read more
Even though Arizona legislators are to blame for causing the ugliness, humiliation, undue stress, and mental anguish experienced by parents and their children who dare to reject AzMERIT, it is the teachers, principals, and administrators who are inflicting the pain. Unless you have pushed back against this unvalidated, secretive, Common Core-based "high stakes test," you have no idea what it feels like to see the ugly Truth behind the "friendly teacher" mask that pretends that educating your child is the school’s number one priority. The Truth is that the best interests of your child isn’t in the best interests of the dysfunctional school system. If your child doesn’t "take the test," the schools are afraid that: 1) They are violating Arizona law; 2) They will lose Title 1 money from the federal government; 3) They will get a poor ranking from the Arizona Education Department; 4) The teacher will get a poor evaluation.
Your child is merely a pawn being used to serve the bureaucratic nightmare that our state’s education system has become.
We’ve been reading facebook posts and emails from parents and even some high school students telling us their experiences in dealing with their schools. The stories you will read below are not unique. They are legion. They are representative of how the schools are treating kids whose parents opt them out of insane testing.
Theoden: I will not risk open war.
Aragorn: Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Voices from the School Battlefield:Read more
The following email was sent to Arizona’s senators. It is published with permission of Ms. Lisa A. Hudson (LD23), member of the Mommy Lobby. NOTE: The best response to threats to the test resistance movement is to focus your efforts, as Ms. Hudson has done, on policy makers. See These are the Senators Who Sneer at Parental Authority
As a follow-up to Ms. Christy’s earlier email attaching a response to baseless threats by the Secretary of Education, John King, I would like to add a few more comments. First, I’ve attached another link to the press release issued by Senator Tom Reed’s office. The content of the press release is very important to this discussion and I am confident all of you will take the time to read it.
Several other facts should be noted. First, there was some concern at the Senate Education Committee hearing that the Federal Government would withhold funding if states failed to meet the 95% threshold. That is simply not true. Pursuant to ESSA, the decision to render punitive measures for failing to meet the threshold is left entirely to the states. States decide how to deal with particular schools, including making the decision to do nothing. Note, also, under NCLB mandates, the Federal Government has NEVER withheld funding from any school. It is extremely unlikely the state would deviate from that path. Withholding education funding from Title 1 kids would be political suicide for any official hoping to survive an election cycle.Read more
The following Senators voted NO to SB1455, the bill that gives parents the right to opt their children out of statewide assessments, such as the wretched AzMERIT, and others like it. These Senators believe that parents have no right to determine what is in the best interest of their child.
Time may be very short until sine die (end of the legislative session), but if these Senators really want to change their vote and pass SB1455, they can make it happen!
This is not a partisan issue. Please call them, email them. Endlessly. Do it for your kids!Read more
On 2/16/2016, the executive director of the State Board of Education Dr. Karol Schmidt, without authorization from the Board, testified before the Senate Ed. Committee quoting from a 12/22/2015 letter from the U.S. Department of Education. She reiterated threats in the letter signed by Ann Whalen, which indicated certain financial and other punitive measures that Arizona could use against schools in order to force at least 95% participation of students in academic assessments. Dr. Schmidt’s "message" was loud and clear to Arizona Senators: Do NOT allow parents the right to Opt their children out of AzMERIT! If your child has been coerced by teachers and other school officials into taking AzMERIT, this would explain one of the many reasons for it.
New York Congressman Tom Reed, who had voted for the new ESSA law and disagreed with Ms. Whalen’s interpretation, decided it was important to send a rebuttal, reasserting parents and students’ right to opt-out of high stakes federal testing. That rebuttal, which follows, was signed by 19 U.S. Congressmen, including Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon.
If you are a parent who has been denied your right to opt your child out of taking AzMERIT. If you are a parent whose child has been bullied by the school into taking AzMERIT, send this post to them. Send this post to the Arizona Senators who voted NO to your right to opt out of AzMERIT and any other standardized test based on Common Core (aka Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.) Click HERE for a list of Senators, including contact information, who voted No to SB1455, the Parental Opt Out bill.
See below for the letter.Read more
If you have a child in grades 3 through 11 of the public school system, he/she will be "required" to take the AzMERIT standardized test. It is based on Common Core (aka Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards). There is much controversy about both. A simple search through this website will provide you with many articles about both.
The website Opt Out AZ! Empowering Parents to Opt Out of the AzMERIT has published a post titled Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions to help parents whose children are being persuaded, cajoled, lied to, intimidated, and threatened into taking this worthless, unvalidated, expensive, psychologically damaging test.
Questions that are answered in Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions include:Read more
Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test
I oppose having my child’s range of intellectual and emotional qualities measured by standardized tests. I am dissatisfied with these tests, because they don’t measure meaningful learning, they create inappropriate pressures on children, they create counterproductive rivalry among schools, they’re responsible for less engaging education because teachers feel compelled to raise the scores by “teaching to the test”, and finally, better forms of assessment are available, such as portfolio assessments.
I also object on moral grounds to standardized tests contributing to discrimination, increasing pupil alienation, and spurring unsuccessful students to drop out. I find standardized testing socially unconscionable – leading to gate keeping and perpetuating social segregation. In addition, I object to the personally identifiable data collection that will be obtained on my child via the AZMerit test and stored in the State Wide Longitudinal Data Systems and managed through the U.S. Department of Education and distributed among companies and organizations who have taken part in the development and implementation of the CCSS and related assessments. Data collected on my child, without my permission, is in violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
As a concerned parent with the responsibility and right to be involved in the academic training of my child (Arizona Revised Statute 15–102), it is within my legal and moral right to opt out of standardized testing and insist upon better ways of evaluating my child’s understanding of ideas. I request useful assessments which advance fairness, accuracy, quality, and equity: evaluations such as the Learning Record (analysis of students’ learning over time by a teacher who knows them well), work sampling over time, structured and informal observations and interviews, performance and exhibitions, audio and videotapes, portfolio and journal assessments, and evaluation including input from teachers, students, parents, counselors, and principals.
I am also against any tests, where graded results are not given to the students so that they may see their mistakes and learn from them. I would ask that the school please provide an alternative activity for my child during administrative sessions of testing (not makeup tests, as my child will be in his/her regular classroom environment during makeup test). However, I understand that an alternative activity is not required on the part of the school. If you are unable to provide an alternative activity for my child, I would ask that you please allow my child to read silently.
I am reserving the option of removing my child from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional anxiety of my child on the day of refusal and whether or not the school will provide appropriate alternate activities for my child. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to the remainder of the school year.
_______________________________________ Signature of parent/guardian ______________________ Date
Click HERE to print out a copy of the Refusal letter.Read more
After being placed on the "right track," it failed in the Senate on March 7 by a vote of 18 Nays; 11 Ayes; 1 Not Voting. Shortly after, Sen. Carlyle Begay brought it up again. (Only senators who voted Nay can do that, which is why Sen. Begay voted Nay.)
So, it can be Reconsidered. The problem is this: Is there anybody who can turn some of those Nays into Ayes?
YES! YOU! See below for the names and contact information of Senators who voted Nay, followed by some Truths that YOU must convey to them, in order to convince them to change their vote.
Click HERE for the Excel File of Senators who Voted Nay. (Sen. Miranda did not vote.) Please contact them via Phone, Facebook, Email, In Person, and Twitter. If you cannot open the file, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send it to you.
The Truth About Why You Should Support SB1455. (These are prioritized based on the most common objections voiced by senators, and are not necessarily in order of your or my priority.)
1. Standardized tests, including AzMERIT, are not the only assessments given to students throughout the year. In fact, Standardized tests are unreliable in assessing a student’s educational progress. AzMERIT has never been validated or proven to be an indicator of a student’s progress. AzMERIT doesn’t tell us anything about third-grade promotion. AzMERIT is given in the Spring, but the results aren’t available until November, which is three months after the next school year begins! Teachers have no input into Standardized Tests. Teachers aren’t allowed to see the tests. Teachers don’t see their students’ tests, even after they’ve been graded by third parties. Parents don’t see the graded tests. Students don’t see the graded tests. Nobody has any idea what answers were right, and which were wrong!
Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Careful observations and documentation of student work and behaviors by trained teachers is more helpful than a one-time test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful for measuring achievement and provides more information for teaching than multiple-choice achievement tests. Parents working with teachers, term grades, homework performance–these and other indicators are far better than AzMERIT. See How Standardized Testing Damages Education.Read more