Sunday, February 24, 2013

TIme to OPT OUT of PSSAs

My letter to ASD parents encouraging them to opt out of PSSA testing. Please feel free to share.

Dear friend and public school advocate,

Please consider opting your child out of harmful PSSA testing. Parents across the country are choosing to opt out, because we have the power to stop this bad policy that is destroying public education and robbing our children of a well rounded education. Please visit for more information. I strongly believe that as a parent, and a teacher, I have a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws (NCLB) that harm children. Opting out is the right thing to do. Civil disobedience is necessary because the well being of our children is at stake.

Brave teachers in Seattle have boycotted their flawed MAP test. There is a growing movement against standardized testing. Many PTAs and school boards have signed the national resolution on high stakes testing. Some superintendents in major cities have placed a moratorium on excessive testing. 11 years of testing under NCLB has not improved learning. Our schools have been unfairly labeled as "failures" based only on flawed test score data. The tests do not benefit children in any way. Testing, standards, and "rigor" won't close the achievement gap, but proven methods like access to books, a rich curriculum, recess, PE, nutrition, health care, living wage jobs for parents, developmentally appropriate practices, after school activities, pre-school, the arts, will help protect children from the devastating impact of poverty on learning. We have a very high child poverty rate in Allentown, that's why scores are low. Testing and data driven reforms are a charade, a political scheme to set up our neighborhood public schools to fail so they can be privatized. Unfortunately, both political parties endorse these bad reform policies. The following information is from my friend Dr. Timothy Slekar, head of the teacher education dept. at Penn State.

Why Opt Out of PSSAs?

After 11 years of PSSAs, childhood anxiety disorders have dramatically risen. Our children have been denied a fully comprehensive education (reductions or elimination of history, science, art, music, phys ed). Our children are being used to provide data that will label our children, teachers, school, administrators, and community a failure. Our tax money (our money) has been diverted to testing and data management companies instead of schools and children.

How to Opt Out.

1) make an appointment with the school to review the PSSA test.

2) sign a confidentiality agreement.

3) review the tests.

4) write a letter that simply states that participation in PSSAs violates your religious/moral and or ethical principles.

Sample Letter

Dear Superintendent,

Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(5) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child excused from any State standardized testing because of religious and philosophical beliefs.

Remember, the school personnel are not allowed to ask you to give specific details about why you are opting out. They are not allowed to threaten you with negative consequences for your child. And Keystones do not count for graduation until 2017.

So before March Madness (PSSA testing) begins please take some time to seriously consider the future of your child's education. Remember, our children only get one chance at a quality education. The PSSAs (NCLB) and the culture of high stakes testing have denied a generation of children a quality education. It is time to put an end to this punitive system. It's time to allow our teachers to get back to what they do best -- teach. It's time to demand that our public schools be given back to us. It's time to make sure our children receive the education they deserve. It's time to OPT OUT!

Please pass this along!

Angie Villa


Mrs. Dottie said...

Because there is so much corporate money and power behind education reform, and both political parties are endorsing bad, unproven policies, one way to end test mania is a mass opting out. Parents can take the data away, so it cannot be used to unfairly label schools as failures. Starve the data beast! This really won't hurt the school, because most schools (85%) will not meet unrealistic goal of 100% proficiency by 2014 anyway. And with the recent reductions and cuts in ASD, it is doubtful schools will hit academic growth targets. Under Race to the Top ( new common core standards) there will be even more testing (20%), with tougher standards that were not even written by educators. There are even plans for tests in Pre-K! It's developmentally inappropriate, and must be stopped. We are being set up for failure, school closures, and for profit charters. Our kids will get a taste of the common core on this year's PSSA. These are more "rigorous" standards that were never even field tested, and are being implemented anyway. It's a mess. The opt out movement is PRO public community schools with goal to take them back and prevent corporate takeover. The well being of our children is at stake.

LVOPTOUT said...

Hi Angie!

I am working toward organizing parents to Opt- Out of PSSA / Keystone exams in the lehigh valley. Would love to work with you.


Mrs. Dottie said...

Thanks for contacting me Jeremiah! So glad to hear that there is an opt out movement starting in the Lehigh Valley. See you on the FB page. I will spread the word!