Parents: We shouldn't need permission to opt kids out of tests like PARCC

  • Students at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills take the state's new standardized test.

      Students at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills take the state's new standardized test. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/26/2015 8:26 AM

Parents flocked to the Capitol in Springfield Wednesday to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would let parents decide whether their children take standardized tests.

Wednesday's events come just a week after hundreds of suburban high school students boycotted the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career test.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wheaton resident Cedra Crenshaw has four kids, three of whom are school age. Crenshaw says her son is several years behind grade level and should be receiving extra instruction, not taking tests.

"I never thought I would have to tell my daughter to defy her teacher," Crenshaw said. "And next week I'll have to make sure my 13-year-old son, who has autism and severe cognitive deficiency, refuses his test."

State Superintendent Chris Koch says children shouldn't boycott the test. If children don't take the tests, districts will not know how its students are performing.

"As we have previously stated, there is no opt out allowed under either state or federal law," Koch wrote in a weekly message Monday. The Illinois State Board of Education "does not believe that allowing opt outs is a good policy for our students."

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There has been widespread discussion throughout the state regarding the PARCC test as many parents argue their children shouldn't be subjected to additional standardized tests.

While parents aren't given the right to keep their children from taking the test, the Illinois State Board of Education recognizes students might refuse to take the exam once it's presented to them.

Parents say that when students do opt out of the test, which is based on the Common Core state standards curriculum, they're often told to sit quietly without reading or participating in other activities.

State Rep. Scott Drury, a Highwood Democrat, Wednesday asked the state to reconsider its administering of the PARCC test. Drury wants the state to review alternatives to the test he says has encountered computer glitches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Given the numerous and serious concerns surrounding the PARCC exam and its failure to properly function, the Board of Education owes it to the public to determine whether it truly is the best exam to evaluate our children's educational progress or whether better alternatives exist," Drury said.

Supporters like Crenshaw say putting the right to opt out of standardized tests into parents' hands will relieve the pressure students often feel when they have to tell their teachers they refuse to take the tests.

Hundreds of students at Rolling Meadows High School refused the test last week, along with another group at Hersey High School in Arlington Heights and a smaller number of students at Buffalo Grove and Prospect high schools.

Other nearby high schools reported testing compliance near 100 percent.

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