Are you an “opt-outer”?

Have you heard about the grass-roots movement, the opt-out/refusal movement within the Loveland school district; parents who do not want their children to take the current round of standardized tests? They are opposed to “Common Core” and the pending PARCC, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test.

They say they will take advantage of their option to have their children sit-out the tests, and are encouraging others to do the same.

The “Fundamentals of Curriculum” blog explains the situation, background and poses some pros and cons of the testing (Read below).*

You might also find the Guest Opinion (Superintendent Hilliker talks about background of next generation of testing) published today, and on the District Web Site, by Chad Hilliker Loveland City School District Superintendent, interesting.

If you have an opinion, will be “OPTING-OUT” or NOT, please use the “Leave a Reply” section below this story to let other parents in the community know your thoughts. Parents and teachers alike are encouraged to opine.


What are our thoughts about Common Core and PARCC testing?

Will Common Core harm or help your child?

Will Common Core harm or help the Loveland School District?

Will the PARCC testing harm or help the Loveland School District?

Will “opting-out” your child help or harm her?

Will “opting-out” your child help or harm the District?

LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV video of Hilliker explaining State testing at his State of the Schools presentation

*The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a 23-state consortium working together to develop next-generation K-12 assessments in English and Mathematics. The 23 member states of PARCC collectively educate about 25 million public K-12 students in the United States. This assessment is to align with the Common Core State Standards that are being adopted by the majority of states in the U.S. with the goal of building pathways to college and career readiness for all students. As with every change, especially in the education field, there are pros and cons. Below is an overview of the pros and cons of the recently formed PARCC.


– Students will know if they are on track to graduate ready for college and careers

– Includes items across different levels of cognitive functioning

– Teachers will have regular results available to guide learning and instruction

– Provides the opportunity for participating states to come together and collectively move the field forward and break new ground in assessment design

– Parents will have clear and timely information about the progress of their children

– Has the ability to assess and measure higher-order skills such as critical thinking, communications, and problem solving

– It is a summative AND formative assessment

– Can be used as online digital libraries for sharing of instructional resources, professional development modules, student support materials, identification of effective practices, etc.

– States will be able to have valid results that are comparable across the member states consider that 44% of students change schools at least once between kindergarten and the end of third grade

– The nation’s education will be based on college- and career-ready, internationally benchmarked Common Core State Standards

– Better prepare students going to college in English and Math considering one-third of freshmen must take and pay for remedial courses in math and/or English at two- and four-year colleges before they can even begin their chosen course of study

– Can highlight where gaps may exist and how they can be addressed well before students enter college or the workforce


Fear of educators “teaching to the test”

Emphasis on informative texts in the Language Arts section and not enough emphasis on creative writing and literature

Public perception of just another “standardized test”

Financing- The two coalitions designing the tests won grants from the federal government to pay for the beginning of the process, but this funding won’t cover ongoing expenses related to the tests, like paying people to score answer sheets and the cost of new computers and expanded bandwidth

Use of individual student growth in determinations of teacher and principal effectiveness

Difficulty in a standardized test to truly reveal students’ knowledge, skills, AND understanding

Although there are included tests items across different levels of cognitive functioning, there is no reference to the assessment of students receiving Special Education services

The more complex, non-multiple choice questions will likely require a trained evaluator to score them

Difficulty in representing the full range of knowledge, skills and understanding encompassed in test objectives


  1. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is co-sponsoring federal legislation that is purportedly aimed at reducing the time students spend taking tests during the school year. Here is a link to the SMART Act:

    Please familiarize yourself with the SMART Act, and consider Brown’s allies in this push. Brown’s website indicates:

    “Federally-mandated tests are responsible for 32 percent of testing time in Ohio, while another 26 percent of testing time is devoted to new assessments developed by the State of Ohio to implement a teacher evaluation system. The remaining 42 percent of testing time is devoted to tests required not by the federal government, but by the state or local school districts.

    Brown is a cosponsor of the Support Making Assessments Reliable and Timely (SMART) Act, which would help states ensure statewide and local assessments are reliable and timely, while eliminating outdated or duplicative tests. The bill aims to improve mandatory state assessments and ensure they are efficiently and accurately measuring students’ progress and teacher effectiveness.”

    In reality, the SMART Act means would mean greater federal control over our schools. Why would we want federal bureaucrats telling out states and local bodies what tests they should be administering? It is time to scrap federal testing, as there is no place for this kind of encroachment in the Constitution, and we have seen the sham curricula brought about by the federal Common Core mandates.

    Brown’s SMART Act allies include LaRaza (English translation, “The Race”; an organization that esteems one race over all others) and the Center for American Progress (a leftist think tank that claims government is essential when people pursue their dreams).

  2. You can listen to example excerpts and questions from Common Core curriculum in this professor’s speech:

  3. EDITOR’S QUESTION: Where would one go to “…take the practice test for a particular age group.”?

  4. In my opinion Refusing the Test is much like VOTING. Voting is the vehicle in which voices are heard and change can be made. By taking the test you aren’t you simply doing nothing which is more like NOT voting? I tend to think the latter is worse in this particular case. My decision to refuse this test was not selfish it was for ALL students.

    There will be no evaluations of these tests this year on school or teacher performance or even students performance which is in part why it is so ridiculous. I could go on and on… This is the year to be loud and get things changed. There are many other states in which this has already happened, sends a pretty loud message to the insanity of it all. Do me a favor, take the practice test for a particular age group, listen to the kids and teachers who are distraught and coming home with weeks of learning time wasted due to over testing not to mention teaching to a test. Then tell us that we are simply choosing not to vote.

    And for the record, we are not simply “opt-outers” making it sound like we don’t have a valid reason for doing this. We are TEST REFUSERS in support of our teachers, students and district. My hope is that our administrators have the courage to start to speak up as well just as many have in our area.

  5. For the record, my family did not opt-out. As for my background, I have a PhD in Educational Psychology and I am also a Child Psychiatrist. I do have problems with the way PARCC and Common Core are being promoted.
    I don’t think any of the “pros” in the aforementioned list have been validated. The first one on the list seems to be a fallacy. It reads: “Students will know if they are on track to graduate ready for college and careers”. There seems to be no data that provides evidence that scores on the PARCC have any relation to college or career readiness. How could there be? The test has not yet been administered. It will be years before anyone can even analyze data to decide whether such a statement is valid because we have to wait until any of the test takers try to go to college or start a career. Much of the “pros” list suffers from the same validity problem.

  6. If the accepted wisdom is that PARCC testing will help to gauge our students’ learning, should it not be of concern that we are not testing public school teachers’ learning similarly?

    After all, we must be sure that what our teachers know is measured, indexed and distributed to the appropriate authorities. If our students must give up a few weeks of instructional time to be tested on their knowledge, then our teachers should give up a few weeks of their summer to be tested on what they know. This will bring about more social justice for our children, and will make the world a better place. Good luck convincing the teacher’s union though…

  7. Understand this – Opting out is like choosing not to vote. Education of all students will be based upon the 15% who have elected to participate in the process. I wonder then – how many will complain later when they chose to have their voice silenced now?

    • In America’s “monoparty” environment, we encounter two sides of the same dysfunctional coin.

      The Republicans will tax you to pay for endless wars in the Middle East (and wherever else the military industrial complex is able go gin up phony wars), and corporate welfare/bailouts. The Democrats will tax you to fund never ending social welfare programs and expanding government bureaucracy.

      Choosing to not vote is a modern form of protest. Unless a viable people’s party arises, don’t vote–it only encourages the them!

  8. I find it ridiculous that the Fed Gov wants to be the Head Room Mother. Nobody knows our kids better, and what their needs are than their teachers right here in loveland.

  9. The biggest problem that we had the PARCC testing will negate privacy laws and make a student’s personal information available to anyone that has access to the test results.

    Another issue with test results…they are not going to be available to school personnel until this time next year and can not be used to help in the placement of students in the next academic year.

    We have now seen in the last few years that teachers are frustrated with the “common core” standardized testing. They have to teach to the tests and the truly good teachers, of which there are many, have their hands tied by a system that limits them in what and how they teach.

    Refering back to special needs…While none of our children are in that category, we have one that is worried about failing because of results on PARCC practice tests. This is a case of test anxiety and not an ability issue. No grade school student should feel that kind of pressure to perform. They need to enjoy school and with that they will be much more inclined to learn, rather than learn to hate school. We are raising children not priming them to be the next CEO of a fortune 500 company. IF that is the road that they end up following that it a great achievement, but they should not have to worry about work life balance in grade school.

    I do agree there needs to be a way to gauge a student’s progress, I do not agree with a mandate that says all students regardless of ability or background are held to a homogeneous standard. I do not have an answer for this problem, but then I am not an educator, as those that create these standard tests should be and unfortunately many times are not. They are statisticians that create test questions that will yield data that can be tabulated rather than truly meaningful results.

  10. I think it is important that we are all make informed decisions about our children’s education whatever those decisions may be. It is incorrect to say funding can be hurt this year due to a low scoring report card. The Safe Harbor law currently in effect protects the district from that.
    The answer to the question about the reason for opting out of PARCC/AIR test is simple. There is no good reason to take it. The test is developmentally inappropriate. Pearson is projecting a 60-70% failure rate so they can then sell the school remedial material and then follow that up with the sale of a retest. This does not help the kids in any way but rather delivers millions of dollars to Pearson’s pocket. The results of the test won’t be returned until well into next school year and even then the results are just a final score. The teachers will not see what kids struggled with most or what they need to focus their teaching efforts on. This does not help the teachers. So if the test doesn’t help the students and doesn’t help the teachers, what is the point? The point is money and data. The OAAs delivered aggregate data to the state of Ohio. The PARCC/AIR tests will deliver individual data to the consortium of states giving the test. Why would another state need personal, individual data on my child? Simple…. it doesn’t.
    The goal of the opt-out movement is simple. Return control and decision making back to the local level. We believe teachers know what’s best for our children and teachers are in a position to do what’s right for them. I can’t say that about the federal gov’t.
    I’ve opted both my chikdren out of the PARCC/AIR testing because I have yet to see one good reason for them to participate. Hours upon hours of testing instead of learning preceeded by hours an hours of test prep coupled with MAP and course testing in between is obscene!!!
    I encourage more to opt out. Take a stand to better the district, defend our teachers and give our kids classrooms that encourage critical and creative thinkers!

  11. I have heard several references, including in the comment from “Loveland Mom” above, to PARCC collecting “medical information” on our children as part of the test. That admittedly sounds rather scary, and also quite illegal given existing HIPAA laws. Does anyone have a primary source (i.e., not someone’s blog, tweet, or comment on a web site) that confirms exactly what medical information is going to be collected and exactly how they will collect it given that the school has a very limited amount of information in this area?

  12. To answer Lovelander’s questions:

    1. I have emailed, called and snail mailed our state legistators and governor. Admittedly, I have not paid a whole lot of attention in the last couple of years in regards to common core and what it REALLY means for our children. Shame on me. But, I’ll jump in now and do what I can.
    2. By opting out of the testing I believe I am sending a louder message to our state legistlators.
    3. An alternative, for now, would be for the State of Ohio to choose to put the PARCC test on hold. Just as Arkansas did. Give the school districts and administrators and legislators a chance to sift through it and determine if they agree it is suitable.

    I don’t like that the federal government is basically in control of our children’s education. I don’t like that our children’s scores and other data can be shared with all other states in the state consortium, and with third parties, that are deemed appropriate by the state, and not me. I don’t like that my children are to be subjected to almost triple the amount of testing time with the PARCC, than what they had with the OAA. I don’t like that very little information has been provided to parents or teachers about the PARCC tests. I don’t like that 50% or more of teacher’s evaluations will be tied to the scores their students get on these tests.

    I think it speaks volumes that so many states have pulled out of the PARCC state consortium. I also think it speaks volumes that many of our state’s superintendents have spoken out against it, some requesting waivers from it.

    For our family, opting out is how we are choosing to get our voice heard.

  13. The “cons” of PARCC testing listed above include several legitimate concerns that must be addressed (by ANY system), but also include many which are expressed re: the OAA and many other standardized tests (including post-secondary entrance exams like the SAT, ACT, GMAT, etc.) Even self-governed professions like medicine currently face internal strife and controversy over such matters.

    Common core is not new. PARCC test implementation this year should not have been a surprise to anyone with school-age children. As the parent of two students whose entire 13 years will be spent in Loveland’s public schools, I recognize some negatives of PARCC testing, but it’s hard for me to understand the rationale for this extreme 11th-hour opt-out decision made by some of my neighbors.

    Educators are stuck between a rock and a hard place with parents, taxpayers, would-be employers, and government funding and accountability agencies demanding measurable education outcomes and simultaneously expressing displeasure at the tools devised to achieve this goal. This is not to argue that PARCC is the ideal tool; of course it’s not. It certainly can and will be refined and improved in coming years with input from concerned parents and educators. Complex bureaucratic systems don’t change quickly, unfortunately, but one hopes that such change will incorporate learning from past successes and failures.

    In the meantime, I fail to see the rationale for the opt-out campaign, nor any benefits it will confer to individual students or to our district at large (or harm that will come from NOT opting out). However, parents choosing to withhold their children from this testing could harm our district (our children!) and our city in numerous ways.

    In the first scenario, if primarily high-achieving students are withheld from testing, the results will be skewed to make our district’s outcomes look worse than they really are; this will affect our district’s rating and funding, as well as public perception of the quality of life in Loveland. Well-known downstream effects (home prices, drawing businesses to the area, etc.) would occur if this became a multi-year trend.

    Perversely, if opt-out students are mostly those who are likely to do poorly, it could be a GOOD thing for Loveland (financially speaking), but could cause penalties for the district if Loveland were perceived to be intentionally “playing” the system, in which case any benefits would be short-lived.

    Lastly, even if the students who opt out are a fair representation of our student body as a whole whose lack of participation doesn’t skew our numeric results, the district could be penalized if our opt-out rate is “too high” (assuming there is some rule of this nature built into the PARCC standards).

    I respectfully raise several questions to opt-out parents:
    What have you done to try to make an impact on state- and federal-level decisionmaking that has brought us to the current situation?
    What do you hope to achieve by boycotting the PARCC testing?
    What alternative/s do you propose to PARCC and/or the common core?

  14. We have kids in LIS and have opted out. Results won’t be known until next calendar year and the computer system will collected dozens of data points including medical information about our children which I choose not to disclose. Opting out for 5-8 grade really has no impact since they already passed the 3rd grade reading assessment and high school requirements are still a future issue. We received no resistance at all from the principal when we made the decision. While other children will be working on the testing out kids will work on homework, projects and reading. These 20 hours should be used for instruction not a week of testing.

  15. That 23 state consortium is now down to 10 states and DC. All of the others have pulled out and opted not to give their students the PARCC test…

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