California is one of handful of states that have a law allowing all parents to opt out of state-mandated standardized testing.
At the same time there are also California regulations governing what educators can say to parents and families. CTA has put together a number of resources to help parents and educators have these conversations.
You Can Opt Out: Know Your Rights
Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Educators
California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) is the state’s system of mandated and optional assessments. It currently includes three types of mandated tests: Smarter Balanced Assessments, California Alternate Assessments, and California Science Assessments. The Smarter Balanced Assessments are in English language arts and mathematics for grades 3 through 8 and 11. For more information on CAASPP, visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ca.
Yes. California Education Code section 60615 allows a parent or guardian to submit a written request to school officials to exclude his or her child from any or all parts of state-mandated assessments. Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations further provides that parents or guardians may annually submit a written request to the school to excuse their child from any or all parts of CAASPP for the school year.
Check specifics with your school district, but generally, parents write a letter to the superintendent or school principal letting them know that their child will not take part in the specific test (name the test) this year, and ask that the school make arrangements for a productive educational experience for their child during the testing period.
Currently, there are no state-mandated consequences for students who do not take the Smarter Balanced Assessments or other state-mandated tests.
Yes. While there are federal laws requiring states to administer these tests to at least 95% of eligible students, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) recognizes a parent’s right to refuse testing in states that have opt-out laws. California Education Code section 60615 allows a parent or guardian to submit a written request to school officials to exclude his or her child from any or all parts of state-mandated assessments. Section 852 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations provides that parents or guardians may annually submit a written request to the school to excuse their child from any or all parts of the CAASPP for the school year.
Most students are given an alternative educational activity during that time.
If the parent’s request is submitted after testing has begun, any completed tests will be scored and the results will be reported to the parent or guardian and included in the pupil’s records.
Under ESSA, the federal government may withhold funding to states that dip below the 95% threshold and is encouraging states to create their own sanctions on local districts. To date, no federal funding has ever been withheld from a state, and California currently has no state sanctions against local school districts that don’t meet the threshold.
CTA believes assessments should be used to inform instruction and improve student learning. They are not meant to label students or schools. State tests must be age and subject appropriate, and must be free from cultural, racial, gender, socioeconomic and linguistic biases. A true reflection of student achievement and improvement is always done through multiple measures and can never focus on just one test score.
Connect with and share your views with your local education association, PTA, school site council and school board. Work with teachers and parents in your district to develop your Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with a focus on learning over testing.
Opting Out Resources from CTA
- School Employees’ Rights Regarding Opting Out of Testing
- Flyer for cta.org/optout to share these resources
- Sample School Board Resolution from San Diego Education Association
- Sample Letter for parents to use to opt-out of testing – English
- Sample Letter for parents to use to opt-out of testing – Spanish
PDFs of FAQs