Common Core Illinois Resistance Students Testing

Students in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, Join to Oppose PARCC Tests

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High school students in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, have organized a student union to oppose PARCC. it is called the Blono Student Union.

In a statement, these super-smart students said:

PARCC Refusal Campaign

Refusing the PARCC

An effective way to resist standardized testing is to simply not participate in it; refusing state tests is a common, legal strategy used all over the nation. Students and parents around the country are becoming more and more fed up with the excessive testing in our public schools, causing a massive opt-out/refusal movement.

Illinois State Board of Education does not explicitly recognize opt-outs; however, students have the right to refuse to take state tests in Illinois. Parents are encouraged to notify the principal and superintendent in writing that their child will be refusing. To send a notice of refusal for your child, see our letter template here.

Illinois State Board of Education recognizes that students may refuse testing. Refusing will have no negative academic consequences for students, and despite what ISBE says, will not result in loss of funding. See our full explanation of refusal rights and implications here.

What Is The PARCC Test?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test is the new Common Core standardized test that will be used for state level accountability measures. This test will replace the ISAT for elementary schools and PSAE for high schools. This year (spring 2015) is the first time the PARCC is being administered. In Unit 5, the PARCC will be administered to students in grades 3-8 and high school students that are enrolled in English II and Geometry (or have previously taken geometry). PARCC is expected to take up just under double the amount of time the ISAT and PSAE assessments took respectively. See full testing times here. Testing dates will be sometime between March 9 to April 3, 2015 and April 27 to May 22, 2015.

In future years, the PARCC is intended to be a state graduation requirement for 11 graders and is intended to be available to use for college entrance, in addition to being administered in elementary/junior high. These policies are not in place yet. 2015 is a baseline year, so the PARCC will have no consequences for schools or students.

Why Are We Against It?

Since No Child Left Behind was passed, testing in schools has become overused and overemphasized. Excessive testing takes away from classroom time for authentic teaching and learning. Especially in elementary schools, test preparation takes even more away from instructional time. This leads to loss of curiosity and creativity. Emphasis on these tests also leads to a narrowed curriculum, taking focus away from untested subjects.

We reject the use of test scores to dictate the success of schools, students, and teachers. This only induces competition between schools through the means of a less rigorous learning experience for students. These scores are not representative of a student’s growth, as they only test a narrow set of skills. Also, some students get anxiety upon taking these tests, and some students are just better test takers. Standardized testing primarily measures a district’s socio-economic characteristics; wealthier districts, with access to more resources, score higher on tests. Attaching high stakes to these tests only perpetuates inequity.

PARCC has shown to be poorly designed and developmentally inappropriate for each grade level. Also, administration of the PARCC is extremely costly. With the abundant amount of technology needed, some districts in Illinois are struggling to finance the administration of the PARCC. A week of PARCC testing means a prolonged use of schools’ resources; computer labs will be closed off for testing and not available to any student that needs to use them, which is especially problematic in the high schools. And since the test is highly dependent on computer skills, some students are left at a disadvantage.

More reliable and effective forms of alternative, performance-based assessment are available. Proponents claim that the PARCC allows to compare students around the nation; however, fourteen out of twenty-five states have already dropped the PARCC in the past year.

To read more about the flaws with the PARCC, click here.

Other Resistances to the PARCC

Parents and students around the country are refusing testing in record numbers. Specifically, people are taking action against the PARCC more than ever. There are only ten states left that are administering the PARCC; among them are increasingly large refusal/opt-out movements.

There is already widespread opposition to the PARCC in Illinois; Chicago public school district has expressed concern with administering the PARCC, over 40 superintendents in Illinois urged the state to delay administration of the PARCC, and one superintendent in Illinois even wrote a warning letter to parents and community members about the PARCC . Meanwhile, Chicago parents and students are actively organizing to refuse the PARCC. If more communities in Illinois organize together and speak up, we will not be ignored.

By uniting in opposition locally, we can add our voice to a nation full of teachers boycotting tests, parents opting their kids out, and students walking out of tests. We are in the midst of a wave of resistance to standardized testing in order to reclaim our public schools. Join the movement. Refuse the PARCC.

Refusal Rights

Students have the right to refuse state tests. Illinois State Board of Education acknowledges that students may refuse to participate in testing. ISBE provides a list of reasons for not testing for districts to use when stating why a student has not taken a state-required test (medically exempt, homebound, in jail, etc.) Code 15 on this list is refusal. It is state mandated that districts administer the PARCC, but there is no legal way that a school can force a student to test. For younger students and students with special needs, parents can notify the school of their child’s refusal to ensure that the student will be treated fairly and not compelled to test after refusal.

The district will not lose funding if a large amount of students refuse to test. This is a baseline year for PARCC testing (meaning the data will just be used to establish cut scores since this is the first year it is being administered), so ISBE has stated that there will be no consequences for schools or students this year. There will also be no federal penalties since students that refuse to test will be marked by code 15 of reasons for not testing; code 15 does not count against the school’s adequate yearly progress participation rate. No Child Left Behind requires that schools test 95% of their students in order to make adequate yearly process; however, Illinois is one of the forty one states that has a waiver from the US Department of Education that eliminates sanctions brought to schools that don’t make adequate yearly progress. There is also no federal or state law that requires penalties for schools or districts if parents/students opt out or refuse the test.

No student will be penalized for refusing to test. Students cannot be penalized for exercising their refusal rights. There is no basis for any state agent to take any action against parents’ and students’ explicit refusal, and/or take any action that causes the student emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against their refusal. Also, there are no academic consequences for refusing. PARCC has no effect on students’ grades, and it is not a state graduation requirement for high school students this year. Again, this is a baseline year, so there will be no consequences for students.

Send a Notice of Refusal

Notice of Refusal

Your Name:

Your Email:

Child’s Name:

Child’s School:


Dear Principal,

My child, [CHILD’S NAME], will be refusing to participate in PARCC testing this spring. I am fully aware of my child’s right to refuse state testing, and as my minor child’s legal representative, I am informing you that he/she will not be taking the PARCC this March and May.

I expect my child to be treated with kindness and respect upon this decision, and be allowed a meaningful learning opportunity, or be able to read or do other work as other students test. No state agent should harass, intimidate, or attempt to force my child to test after he/she has respectfully refused.

Please respect this decision and have your staff treat my child appropriately upon this notice of my child’s refusal.

The school should code my child’s test as Reason 15 for not testing (refusal) so that this refusal will not count against the school.

Thank you for your support,

[To read all the links, open the students’ statement.]

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