What happens when students ‘opt out’ of PARCC?
Controversy continues to swirl around the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers (PARCC) tests. Facebook and other social media groups have been formed to protest the exams and garner support for opting students out of taking them.
The PARCC tests are required and it is up to local districts to deal with students who refuse to take them.
"Local boards of education are required to administer the exam because this is the new state testing program and students are required to participate in the exam so legally there's really no such thing as an opt-out," said Frank Belluscio, communications director for the New Jersey School Boards Association.
If legally there's no such thing as an opt-out, does that mean it's against the law for students not to take the exams? Belluscio said using the term "against the law" to describe student non-participation would be out of context because it is the sort of thing that is handled administratively by local school boards and districts.
"When you say illegal, well the law says that students have to take the test and state law requires the districts to administer the tests," he said.
Districts look at several options if they find a student who refuses to take the test, Belluscio said. They look at testing protocol and the usual process of addressing it if an exam is given and a student won't take it. Districts would look at their own discipline policy which vary from district to district. They also have to consider the responsibility of the school staff to maintain an orderly testing environment.
"We (NJSBA) are not recommending a specific course of action," Belluscio said. "We feel districts are asking for direction and we're providing that, but it is in the form of pointing them to the statutes, the administrative codes, the court decisions and so forth that ought to guide them in making the decision on how to handle this."
Taking assessments is one of the expectations of children whose parents send them to public school, in that parents agree to abide by certain rules and requirements, said a spokesman with the State Department of Education. He explained that in this light, both federal and state laws require schools to assess all public school students, but schools work through situations that arise with the student and family, and they apply their attendance policies and code of student conduct as necessary and they have done that for many years.