Analysis: This spring, Illinois House has advanced a bill, HB306, to the Senate creating legislation that would allow parents to formally opt out of state-wide standardized tests, such as PARCC. PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, is required in Illinois. According to the ISBE website, approximately 75% of students took the PARCC test and “no major technological issues were reported”. However, parents, students, and in turn, lawmakers were frustrated with the format of the test: it was lengthy, required technological compatibility, and had scheduling/communication flaws.
The legislation would not get rid of PARCC or tests like it. Instead, it would create clear protocol for parents and students in regards to how a student can opt out of the test, and how schools can respond to student requests to opt out; for instance, many schools have “sit and stare” policies or no policy in terms of working with students who do not wish to take the test.
Governor Bruce Rauner vows to veto the bill and has encouraged Republicans to vote “no” to side with his school – reform background. However, many parents feel that they should have a say in their child’s education.
Nation-wide testing map:
Information on bill:
Raise Your Hand Information:
Research and Implications for ELA:
Information about opting out is conflicting and confusing: the ISBE website indicates that:
Illinois does not have a policy that allows students to opt out of assessments, nor are the parents allowed to opt their children out of tests. Allowing this would result in a loss of federal funding for Illinois education. Districts are obligated to present each and every student with the opportunity to take the assessment. If a student refused to test at the time the test is presented, the school district is required to account for this occurrence during the data correction period following testing.
However, most news reports, as well as Raise Your Hand, a “grassroots coalition of concerned parents and community citizens who advocate for quality public education” indicates that students can opt out of tests as they so choose. In order to receive Title 1 funds, the schools must administer the tests.
PARCC Testing has not been met without controversy and its implications have not been fully realized. Regardless of whether the bill is passed or not, teachers should speak with administrators regarding policies for students who are opting out, and inquire if there are school/district imposed consequences for students or teachers if a student opts out of the test.