When Parents 'Opt Out' of Standardized Tests, Schools Punish the Kids

bored kid

Kids in public schools across the country will soon start taking standardized tests ... but not all. Since parents have the right to opt their kids out of taking it, many are doing just that -- but realizing there are consequences for their kid: namely, the "sit and stare."


Basically, "sit and stare" means the kids who've been opted out must sit in the same room as the test takers and, well, wait. With no books, papers, homework or anything to keep them occupied. Given these tests last for hours and can span several days, that's in effect punishing these poor kids ... all for a decision made by their parents.

Upon learning about this policy, parents have filled school board meetings to complain. And I would, too, because I don't feel it's fair to punish kids for something they had no say in, or make the parents feel guilty for exercising their right to opt out.

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According to Citizen Action, an advocacy organization in New York, kids who don't take standardized tests (barring Regents exams) should not face any negative consequences. But "sit and stare" sounds pretty negative to me, and I believe that parents should have a right to disagree with a school's testing policies without worrying whether their kids will have to suffer the consequences.

For instance, if I knew my kid would be punished if I protested some school policy like a test or anything else, I'd have to take my child's suffering into account and might back down and just have my kid take the test. Then, the school gets what they want, all by punishing an innocent child. To me, that doesn't seem right.

That may explain why other advocacy groups like NYS Allies for Public Education have drawn up sample "opt out" letters that parents can send to schools -- and these letters contain specific requests that their kids be allowed to do homework or some other activity such as reading quietly.

Schools and parents will always butt heads, and I have no problem with that ... let's just not use our kids as pawns in these battles.

How do you feel about schools' "sit and stare" policy?


Image via Dmitry Naumov/shutterstock

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