by David Safier
Opposition to high stakes tests is growing. More parents and teachers are joining the movement to decrease the frequency and impact of those standardized tests which distort classroom education into an exercise in "teaching to the test" and can result in students being held back or not graduating, teachers and administrators being fired and schools being shut down.
The question: How do you transform concerns about the high stakes tests into action? The answer: Opt out of the test. Parents, teachers, sometimes entire schools are saying, "Hell no, we won't test or be tested." But it's not that simple. A long list of federal requirements, state laws and school district rules make it difficult for parents to pull their kids out of the test, and teachers and administrators put their jobs on the line if they refuse to give the tests.
Now there's a new opt-out strategy. Parents may be able to use existing federal law to refuse to allow children 12 years old or younger to take the test.
In 1998, the federal government enacted Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to stop online companies from collecting information from children under 13. Parents can enter the information, but not children since they can easily be duped into giving out information like their names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to companies that are up to no good.
How does this apply to high stakes testing? If the test is given online, parents may be able to refuse to allow their children to enter personal information on the test, and if that's true, parents probably have the right to say the teacher can't enter the information without the parent's permission.
Will COPPA allow parents to circumvent federal law, state law and school pressure and allow students 12 and under to opt out? The only way to find out is to test the idea in the real world. Student Privacy Matters, has more information.