CNN recently reported the story of parents who have voluntarily withdrawn their children from state mandated testing (see here). The parents live in Pennsylvania and have withdrawn their children from state mandated testing due to concerns about the tests themselves and whether they accurately gauge student achievement. According to the report, a religious exemption is the only acceptable reason for withdrawing students from state mandated testing in Pennsylvania.
The report notes that parents groups in several other states have Facebook pages and web sites that offer advice on withdrawing students in those states from state mandated testing. Because we’re rapidly approaching testing season we thought we’d discuss Virginia’s policies for mandated testing.
Students in public schools in Virginia are required to take the state mandated Standards of Learning exams. These tests begin in 3rd grade and extend through graduation. School districts are not allowed to withdraw students from mandated testing and are “scored” on their percentage of students taking the exams. Inclusion in some middle and high school programs may hinge on SOL test scores and students must pass a certain number of SOL exams in certain subjects to graduate.
However, parents can voluntarily withdraw their children from the Virginia SOL exams without justification. If their child hasn’t passed the necessary exams to graduate, he / she may not graduate and their participation in some programs might be jeopardized, but no justification is necessary for a parent to voluntarily withdraw their child from state mandated testing.
Parents choosing to withdraw their children from state mandated testing should expect to be challenged to reconsider their decision by school administrators. This is partly because there is no mechanism for reporting “opt-out” on the SOL exams and the student’s score on that exam will be zero.
There is no established procedure for “opting” your child out of state mandated exams. We suggest that you notify your child’s school of your decision in writing at least one month before the exams are scheduled and be prepared to have your decision challenged by school administrators.