Filed in Action Items, Helpful Articles, videos by on April 6, 2014

During the spring of 2014, the WV school system will be administering student assessments.  The Westest and the Smarter Balanced Field tests are two different things.  The Westest is the test that has been used for yearly statewide assessments for several years in WV.  We understand the difference this year is that it will be administered online for the first time, and will be discontinued after this school year.

The Smarter Balanced Field Test is in preparation for the full implementation of online assessments of the Common Core Standards beginning in the 2014-15 school year.  This Field Test is not statewide.  It is voluntary and only in specified schools, grades 3-8 and 11.  This Field Test will use the students to test the test.  Parents can not see any questions or any student results of this Field Test.  We do not know how many schools will participate, nor which ones will participate.  We suggest that you contact your school and ask if they are participating in the Smarter Balanced Field Testing.  If so, has the school advised you that this is a voluntary test and your child does not have to participate?

We continue to get inquiries about a parent’s right to “opt out” of statewide assessments.  We know of no laws that prohibit parent’s from opting out.  In fact, at the Common Core Informational Meeting in Harrison County, December 19, 2013, the opt out issue was discussed.  You can see the entire video of that meeting by clicking here.

The discussion of Opt Out is between Michael Queen, President of the Harrison County School Board, and Dr. James Phares, the WV State Superintendent of Schools, and begins at about    1hr 26min 32sec  into the video.  In this video, Dr. Phares says parents can opt out with no penalty to the student.  Below is a best effort transcription of that discussion.


Queen:      What are the penalties if parents opt their student out of taking the test, the Westest?

Phares:      What are the penalties if students opt out.

                      Well, first of all, they can opt out.

                They can.

Queen:      They can opt out?

Phares:      Yes, they can if they have a reason to do so.  It could be for many reasons.

                      The penalty.  There is no penalty for students.

                      But there is a Participation Rate that all schools must meet.

Queen:      Ok, so we would penalize the school more so.

                     There’s no penalty for the students?

Phares:      No.  None.

(unidentified inaudible voice)

Queen:      I have heard that.  As a way to protest that parents would ask their students

                     not to participate and that would hurt the overall rating of the school.

(unidentified inaudible voice)

Phares:      Participation rate is one of the standards that we hold our schools accountable with.

                                                                               …….. End of Opt Out Discussion ……..

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Truth in American Education offers a CCSS Parent Opt Out Form.  Click here to see and download the form.

There are other opt out forms on the internet, and of course, you can always just write your own.  Just make sure your principal and all teachers have a copy.

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