The Schools' War On Arizona's Children: Part 1

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:

"I understand that the schools are supposed to administer the AzMERIT, but that doesn’t mean my daughter should be forced to take it!  Am I right on that?  My daughter’s school told me that unless I keep her home during test and make-up days, she WILL take the test"! 

"I'm a senior due to graduate this year.  I know the test doesn't count toward my grade, and I don't want to take it.  My teacher told me that if I don't take the AzMERIT test, the school will lose money.  She said I'm being selfish to deprive the school of its money.  Is that true"?  

"I have told my children that I told the school that I have REFUSED to allow them to take the test.  My 5th grader is pretty strong and would be willing to just give the test back without taking it.  I’m concerned about my little guy (grade 3).  I’m very concerned about the pressure the teacher will exert on him.  It’s awful!'

"I was told by my daughter’s school that I could not Refuse the test.  She’s in 3rd grade.  They said if she missed the 4 days of testing, she would still be required to take the make-up test on April 8.  She has some concentration problems and tests are very difficult.  However, she’s a good student.  This is making her and me a nervous wreck.  I don’t want her to take this test.  Can the school force her?"

"I turned in a Refusal, and the school said that, if my daughter was in school during test days, she is mandated by law to take the test.  The "test window" runs from April 6 to May 6.  The school said that if she doesn't attend school during that time, it means she will exceed the 10 days of absences, and she will be dropped for nonattendance.  Her teacher has already wasted about 3 weeks on "getting students ready" to take AzMERIT.  When do they have time to learn anything?"

"I turned in a Refusal, which was ignored by my son’s school.  At first, they said they would honor it.  But then, the principal told him that if he didn’t take it, he wouldn’t graduate.  My son took it under extreme pressure.  We are emotional wrecks!  I hate these SOB’s!"

"Last year, I sent my REFUSALS (not “Opt Out”) (twice) in writing to my daughter’s school.  She (5th grade) knew not to take the test, but when I picked her up, she told me that they forced her to take the test.  They told her multiple times “it’s the law.”  I stormed into the principal’s office.  He told me “The Opt Out Bill Failed.”  Do parents have NO RIGHTS WHATSOEVER????" 

"I saw my daughter’s AzMERIT results from last April, which she didn't get until this November, and it told me nothing except that she’s “partially proficient” in ELA and Algebra 1.  I asked to see her graded exam.  That’s not available to me or even the teacher.  She has no idea where she needs to work harder. What’s really odd is that she’s a good writer with a great vocabulary, but got a poor rating on that!  What a worthless test!!!" 

"My children attend a public charter.  I was told by the school that if they don’t take AzMERIT, they won’t be able to attend school there next year.  Is this true?"

"My children attend public school.  The school told me that the score they receive on AzMERIT affects their funding.  Is this true?"

"My young daughter was told by someone in her school that she will not pass third grade if she fails the AzMERIT.  She gets good grades, but now she’s scared and crying, because she’s afraid she’s going to fail.   This is awful for our family!  Can the school force her to take this test if I send them a Refusal?"

"My daughter’s school told me that if she doesn’t take AzMERIT, she will have an unexcused absence.  This means she can’t play in her ball game.  They are punishing her, because I want to protect her from this worthless, psychologically damaging test!  They don’t care about my daughter.  They only care about money and the school’s letter grade."

"Can the school withdraw my son if he doesn’t take the AzMERIT test?  I sent an email to my son’s school stating that I did not want him to take the AzMerit test. The school advised:  '…….. As a public charter school, our expectation, which is clearly outlined in the school handbook, is that all required students participate in state assessments. If a student does not participate in the mandatory state testing, the school retains the right to withdraw non-participating students.'"

"I was told by my daughter’s school that if she was present in class anytime during their month long “test window,” she would have to take AzMERIT.  There’s no way I can keep her home for a month in order to avoid the test!  Can the school do this?  Shouldn’t they be clear about a limited number of test days?"

"I was told that this a mandatory test (AzMERIT). In fact, if my children miss a day due to illness they have been told that when they return they must still do the test. Which means they lose recess to make it up. My third grader was told if she didn't take it AND do well that she would not advance to 4th grade.  She came home crying!"  

"I'm at a loss as to what I should do. They have stiff penalties in place for those who miss school in order to avoid testing. Opting out isn't an option at any of my children's schools."

"My daughter was told by someone in her school she will not pass third grade if she fails a test. She is on the honor roll but does struggle a bit with reading. She's now afraid to take any computer tests. Says she's going to fail, and she cries. She should not have this pressure at 9 years old. She's in a charter school. Not sure how they will respond to her not being tested."

"My daughter's school just called and told me she must take the test and if she missed the testing day they would make her take it the next day. Said it's required and I'm the only parent who has complained." 

"My son attended half a day today. The resource teacher tried to get him to test. She told him he would no longer be enrolled next year if he didn't. She thought it would be best if he just tested anyway, or no other school will take him because he didn't have test results."

In stark contrast to the above disgraceful behavior from our schools, this is how Florida schools in Seminole County treat students whose parents have opted them out of the Florida Standard  Assessments (FSA) in Seminole County:  See Florida Standards Assessments (FSA) Communication

11. How will students be treated if they refuse the test?    

Seminole County Public Schools seeks to treat students, staff and families with the utmost respect and courtesy. There should not be any intent to embarrass or humiliate students under any circumstances. Students will be offered the test, as required by statute. If a student refuses to take the test, the parents will be notified, unless there is documentation from the parents that the student is not permitted to take the test.  If a student refuses to take the test, and sits quietly during the testing session, the student will be allowed to remain seated. If there is any disruption that compromises the testing environment, the student will be escorted to another classroom or supervised area, and directed to read relevant grade level material during the remainder of the testing session.   Students who refuse to test are not penalized. For example, students are not disciplined, students are not in jeopardy of losing their magnet school assignment, being excluded from advanced courses, etc.  

See Also:

Dear Senators: "About your decision to disregard parental authority....."

What's the Score? Holding Florida's Education Accountability System Accountable

These are the Senators Who Sneer at Parental Authority

19 Congressmen Reassert Parents and Students’ Right to Opt-Out of High Stakes State Assessments.  

Please Contact These Senators who Voted No to Parental Opt Out Rights

Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions  

The National Common Core Standards System

Marriage & Family Parental Rights

Why is the U.S. Department of Education Weakening FERPA? 

Personally Identifiable Information Requests from the Arizona Department of Education.

A Day in the Life of a Data Mined Kid

Teacher Evaluation Should Not Rest on Student Test Scores (Revised 2016)

Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

More than Scores

Arizona's Top-Rated Schools.  

Arizona Schools' Report Cards

850+ Colleges and Universities That Do Not Use SAT/ACT Scores to Admit Substantial Numbers of Students Into Bachelor Degree Programs 

Why Parents are Opting Their Children out of High Stakes Testing

No Fear of Federal Financial Impact for Your School if you Boycott Standardized Tests 

Why You Can Boycott Standardized Tests Without Fear of Federal Penalties to Your School (Updated March 2016)

Arizonans Against Common Core: AzMERIT Fact Sheet

Ten Reasons To Opt Out of Common Core/SAGE Testing