Davis for Local Education

Opting Out of Assessment Testing

One of the major elements of the new Common Core education reform is the extensive use of assessment testing. To protect your child and to combat this reform, opting your child out of the testing is a crucial step for every parent to take. This page provides information on "Opting-Out", including background, references, and a sample letter.

For information on opting out of database disclosures, see our page HERE.

Topics Covered

Why Should We Opt-Out?

This article provides ten compelling reasons to opt-out of the Common Core associated assessment testing. We have summarized a number of these reasons below.

Many of the tests have never been validated, including SAGE

It is very uncommon for tests to be given to children that have never been validated through a formal, scientific, and peer-reviewed method. The SAGE tests, in particular, have not gone through this process. This means it's not just a single classroom acting as guinea pigs for these tests, but all of Utah's schoolchildren.

See this article for further details

The Standards (forming the basis for the tests) have never been validated

It's bad enough to use unvalidated testing, but even the standards the testing is meant to assess have not been properly validated.

See this article for further details

The tests are unnecessarily secretive

Parents and even teachers are not allowed to see the test questions, even years after the test is taken. While it's understandable that students may not see the questions in advance, this level of secrecy is unprecedented. This is especially troublesome because of concerns that have been raised over the quality and content of the SAGE testing, including "grammar, typos, content, wrong answers, glicthes, etc."

See this article for further details

Can my child be penalized for opting-out?

Utah State Law Protects Child and School from being penalized

A child cannot be penalized for having been opted out nor can other children be rewarded for taking an assessment.

Per Utah State Code section 53A-15-1403 Subsection 9 as implemented in Utah Administrative Code:


School and Teacher

If you feel your child is being unlawfully penalized

Can a state assessment score be used as part of a grade?

State assessments cannot be used for a course grade or grade level advancement

A child cannot be penalized for having been opted out nor can other children be rewarded for taking an assessment.

Per Utah Administrative Code:

A school or teacher "may not use a student's score on a state required assessment to determine:"

"Citizenship" or participation grades for completing the testing are prohibited

Recently a number of school districts have started providing citizenship or other similar participation grades to those that complete SAGE testing. Per multiple members of the State School Board, this is also illegal as it constitutes a reward for taking the test. These participation grades have been used to try and dissuade families from opting their children out of the testing.

If your school is trying to use participation grades:

Can my child be required to complete an extra assignment if I opt-out?

A number of parents have reported that their children have been required to complete an alternate assignment during the time that the other students are taking an assessment test.

State Law does not require an alternate assignment or test...

Some schools have recently tried to claim that state laws require an alternate test for those that have opted out, but this is untrue. There is no mention of an alternate assignment or test in the state code. This has also been confirmed by multiple State School Board members.

...but it also does not prevent the school from choosing to have one.

In fact, Per the Utah State Board of Education's Standard Test Administration and Testing Ethics Policy (pg 4), teachers shall ensure a student that has been opted-out "is provided with a meaningful educational activity". This is the only direction provided by the state on alternatives for students that have been opted out.

But a graded assignment is likely against the law

Per R277-404-6 (1)(a), an assessment test cannot be used as part of a student's grade. For this reason, an alternate assignment that would be included as part of the student's grade can reasonably be argued to be an adverse consequence because it would be in excess of the graded work required for those that took the assessment test. This has been confirmed by multiple State School Board members.

If your school is trying to use a grade alternate assignment:

Which tests should I opt-out of?

Assessment Tests

Statewide and national assessment testing starts in kindergarten and continues through the 12th grade. The most controversial test, SAGE, starts in 3rd grade.

How do I opt-out my child?

State School Board Opt-Out Form

Per a law passed in 2015, the State School Board created a form that may be used: State School Board Parental Exclusion Form

School Opt-Out Form

A local school, known as a LEA, can create their own form if there are additional tests they would like to add, but it must include all of the tests on the State School Board form. (R277-404-7 (4)(b)(i-ii))

When do I need to submit the form?

The form must be submitted every year and at least one day prior to the beginning of the assessment in question. (R277-404-7 (4)(a)(ii)(B))

Whom should I provide my Opt-Out Form?

Legally, you must notify at least the principal or designated school official by email, mail, or in person (R277-404-7 (4)(a)(ii)(A)). However, it is suggested that you make sure to inform each teacher as well.

What if my school's administration requests a meeting to discuss this?

A school is legally allowed to:

Davis School District May 2015 Statement

On May 11th, 2015 the Davis School District released a statement from Superintendent Bowles clarifying the district's policy on opting out of standardized tests. The contents of the statement are shown below and a copy of the official statement can be found here.

Dear Parents of Davis District Students,
Many of you have questions about opting out of standardized tests. In order to improve communication and inform you of the district procedures, here is a list of frequently asked questions.
Q: To which tests do opt out procedures apply?
A: Utah law allows parents to opt students out of any statewide standardized assessment (SAGE summative, SAGE interim, ACT, DIBELS). The Davis district applies the same to district standardized tests (1st and 2nd grade CRTs and kindergarten testing) as well as classroom tests created in the SAGE formative system.
Q: How do I opt a student out of tests?
A: Opt out requests should be submitted each year by a parent to a school administrator. Written requests may be submitted in person or by email. The administrator will make note of the request and inform the student’s teachers that the test should not be administered.
Q: Is there any penalty for opting out of a test?
A: No. A student’s course grades, advancement to the next class, or eligibility for academic programs will not be adversely affected by a parent’s decision to opt out of testing. Sometimes test results are used to help determine placement in academic programs (like honors classes). Opting out of testing does not affect eligibility for placement in any program, but in the absence of test scores, parents should work closely with school personnel to ensure that students have opportunity to be placed in the most appropriate course. Teachers should also ensure that students who have opted out do not feel embarrassed or singled out in any way during class.
Q: Can teachers use SAGE scores in calculating student grades?
A: No. Recently passed legislation states that SAGE scores (and scores from other state required tests) may not be used on student grades. The Davis district has implemented this directive for the current (2014-15) school year. If a teacher would like to include some kind of participation incentive, they may as long as individual student test scores are not considered and as long as students who opted out of testing also have opportunity to receive the participation incentive.
Q: Can the teacher provide an alternative activity for a student who has opted out?
A: Yes. The activity should be meaningful and one that can be completed during the class periods when the rest of the students are taking the SAGE test. The activity should not require additional time (at home or during non-testing class time), nor should it be unreasonably difficult or punitive. As with SAGE scores, student scores on any alternate activity should not be used in determining academic grades. Otherwise the alternate assignment could be viewed as an academic penalty for opting out.
Q: Can a student who has opted out of a test remain with the class during testing?
A: Yes. Students who have opted out may remain with their class during testing, but they should not login to the testing system, or view test material.
Q: Will opting out of the test effect teacher evaluations?
A: No. Opt out requests do not directly affect class-level test results. In the rare case that many high-achieving students opt out, a class-level test report may show lower scores than if the high-achieving students had not opted out. However,teacher evaluations are not negatively affected by class-level test results.