North Carolina school students will have to tackle several hours of standardized tests in a few weeks. State and federal laws mandate that. As the debate over these tests intensifies, many parents wonder if their kids can refuse to take them. The answer is yes, but it may cost them.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools parent Pamela Grundy has long been a vocal opponent of standardized testing. She’s never actually told her seventh grader not to take them until this year.
“We are completely fed up with the way that testing has just been expanding and expanding and expanding,” says Grundy.
Refusing to take standardized tests as a way to register frustration with them has caught on in the state of New York. This month several thousand families there decided to have their kids refuse to take the tests.
States have different laws and policies on the consequences of this. Grundy is with Mecklenburg ACTS, a group that opposes standardized testing. She says she’s been in touch with other fed-up parents in North Carolina. She says they worry about what will happen to their kids, if they don’t take the tests.
“You get a lot of people who like the idea. I think we’ll have fewer people who will actually take the step to do it,” says Grundy.
If they do, their scores will still be recorded.
“They will have an answer sheet and the answer sheet will be scored and, obviously, then they would get a level one because there are no answers on their sheet,” explains Deputy State Schools Superintendent Rebecca Garland.
That won’t make a difference for students in grades four through eight. But high school state tests are a different story, since they’re tied to a student’s grade.
“Then the student has just gotten a zero for twenty percent of his or her grade,” says Garland.
It also makes a difference for third-graders since those reading tests partly determine whether a student must attend a summer reading camp.
These days test scores are linked to teacher performance. Garland says blank tests sheets don’t count against a teacher’s score.
Students who do refuse to take the tests will have to spend the time sitting quietly at their desks.