GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The debate over PARCC testing is heating up, with many concerned parents and even school board members now speaking out.
Social media is buzzing with parents confused about the process and rumors about what will happen if they decide to refuse testing for their child.
I reached out to Colorado State Board of Education Chair Marcia Neal Monday; she says refusing these tests will have no consequences for the student, teachers, or the school.
"Any parent can opt their student out of testing, there is no detriment to the students grade or advancement through school,” agreed District 51 school board president Greg Mikolai, who refused testing for his son.
Parent Leanda Ridgway says enough is enough when it comes to standardized testing.
"My daughter has taken the CSAP, she's taken the TCAP, the NWEA, STARS and CMAS,” said Ridgway. “Now there's the PARCC, so in the last 9 years there has been 6 different tests.”
When she decided to opt both of her children out of new PARCC testing, she was told there would be consequences.
"They told me my daughter’s PARCC scores would have to be proficient in order to graduate,” said Ridgway.
According to Neal that's simply not true.
Neal and Mikolai both say there’s no harm to the schools either.
"The state school board has already voted if enough students opt out and they get below that 95 percent threshold, it’s not going to affect the accreditation of the schools here in District 51,” said Mikolai.
Opting out includes signing a statement of refusal. The district is responding with a letter, telling parents the importance of the test and asking for a meeting to discuss their decision.
A part of the letter states:
“If your child isn’t included in the testing, we won’t have a full picture of your child’s academic progress in relation to the state’s expectations. If your child misses the tests, you won’t have the academic growth information to best understand how he or she is progressing in meeting academic expectations for his/her grade level over time. That information also gives you beneficial insights about how much value our school is providing to your child.”
"If enough parents opt out, I think it will send a strong message to our legislators that we do not want all this testing taking place and interfering with the education of our students,” said Mikolai.
Ridgway was told her kids had to stay home, but new District 51 rules say principals have to find a supervised location within the school building for non-testers – but they are not responsible for providing alternative activities.
Missing the testing with a statement of refusal will be considered an excused absence.
"There is more frustration and anxiety involved in these tests then there is education,” said Mikolai.
"Stand strong,” said Ridgway. “You know your kids. If you think that your kids are going to suffer, don't do the tests. You don’t need them.”
As of Monday afternoon 95 parents in District 51 have chosen to refuse testing for their child.
While test dates vary, current PARCC testing is underway for grades 3-8 and high school students and they continue until the end of March. The PARCC end of year assessments begin the end of April.