The evidence is clearly mounting against M-STEP (SBAC repackaged). Parents are ready to opt-out. It is very encouraging to see parents taking positive action on behalf of their children. However, we recognize that opting out can be confusing and intimidating. Let’s face it, nobody likes being called into the principal’s office and few go there voluntarily. But you are the parent and opting out is a viable option no matter what they say or do; so you must go and stand your ground.
How to Opt-Out
1. Read the post, “Yes, Opting-Out is a viable option” and “M-STEP is a joke” to bolster your confidence that you are making a wise decision and acting in the best interest of your children. The law and the facts are on YOUR side.
2. Print and fill out two copies of the Thomas More opt out form (below) for EACH student you plan to opt out.. This is NOT a document to REQUEST your student be opted out but document to INFORM the school your student WILL NOT be taking M-STEP. Forms must be filled out for EACH student and taken to there respective school. Here is the form:
3. Take the completed forms to your school. Each copy should be signed and dated by the school principal to document the form was received. The school will keep one copy and you will keep one copy for your records.
4. If the school principal refuses to sign the form then simply note the name of the person who refused on both forms with the date and time you visited the school. Leave one copy on the counter, take your copy, and politely exit the building.
5. Inform you student’s teachers and counselors that they will not be taking the M-STEP and discuss alternative arrangements during the time of testing. We have received notes from parents in many school districts where the principal has been cooperative and very willing to allow students to do alternative activities during assessments.
6. Talk with your children and explain why they will not be taking the M-STEP. Guide them in providing polite responses if they are asked any questions. Make sure they know what to say or do if the teacher/counselor tells them to take the test. Let your student know they should call you immediately if there is any indication that the decision to opt out is not being honored.
7. If the principal or counselors request a meeting you are under no obligation to meet. However, if you agree to a meeting take someone with you and take copious notes. Ask for documentation for all assertions that you are not allowed to opt out or that the school will lose funding or that the law says they must take the test. You do not owe them an explanation or reasons why you are opting out. Listen and tell them your will consider their thoughts for next year but for this year, your student is opting out. Do not back down. Stand firm.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are there any consequences to the student for not taking the M-STEP?
No. M-STEP is a summative assessment and will NOT impact your student or their grade. A summative assessment is used to measure the effectiveness of a program. Because M-STEP is only being used in 2015, there is no basis of comparison and no ability to measure progress. The law does NOT require students to TAKE the test only that schools administer it. If you are told the law says your child MUST take the test, ask them to cite the law. There isn’t one.
2. Are there any consequences to the school?
School officials often tell parents that they MUST test ALL students or lose federal funding. This is NOT true. NYS Allies for Public Education has a detailed explanation but bottom line, “The school does NOT lose funding if there is less than a 95% participation rate on state tests.” Further the Michigan revised school code states,
“Rights of parents and legal guardians; duties of public schools. [M.S.A. 15.4010 ] Sec. 10. It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children. he public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil’s parents and legal guardians to develop the pupil’s intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive environment.” THE REVISED SCHOOL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 451 of 1976 380.10
The public schools must cooperate with YOU not the feds, Gov. Snyder, or private corporations for profit. That is the essence of local control. The Michigan Constitution gives the State Board of Education authority to guide the general education of students; however, it balances that power with the natural and fundamental rights of parents to direct the education of their individual children. Assessments, implemented by the state, are NOT required to be taken by students. Period. Intimidating or bullying you to cooperate with the school is wrong. Do not be intimidated. The law and the facts are on YOUR side.
3. Is there a benefit to taking the M-STEP?
No. The MEAP was offered in 2014. The M-STEP is offered only for 2015. A new test (unknown) will be offered for 2016. There is NOTHING to be gained this year because assessing growth is difficult when three different tests are used. That’s not just me saying it but school officials also. Grandville Public Schools Superintendent Ron Caniff said this about the M-STEP. “Our challenge is that this is a one-year interim assessment. I’m not sure how meaningful that will be for us because we can’t compare results,”
4. We received a letter from the school stating our request to opt out was denied. What should we do?
First, do NOT panic or be intimidated. Remember, you did NOT request permission to opt out but simply informed them your student IS not taking the M-STEP. Remember, the school must work in cooperation with you. Politely remind them this was not a request and that your student will not be taking the assessment. There is NO law saying that students must take the assessment only that the state shall administer it.
Several parents have received letters from school principals or attorney stating that they cannot opt out. While the letters sound intimidating and official, most conveniently exclude the THE REVISED SCHOOL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 451 of 1976 380.10 which gives parents the natural and fundamental right to direct the education of their children. They usually only cite federal laws such as ESEA, NCLB, and other acronyms that are designed to make you believe that they have the right to deny your “request.” Ignore all the legalese and ask them cite the Michigan law which says your child must take the M-STEP. There isn’t one. Period. Stand your ground and opt out.
Finally, what we have written is for informational purposes only. If you have a specific legal question, the Thomas More Law Center has made themselves available to help anyone who uses their form. Please contact them if you have specific concerns with your school officials. Visit their website and resource page regarding Common Core.
The battle for control of our children’s education is fought and WON when parents take a stand against the state and private interests seeking profits.
Your authority as a parent is restored when you exercise your right to opt out and direct the education of your child once again.
If you have chosen to opt out, please share your experience in a comment or at the Stop Common Core in Michigan Facebook page. We want to hear from you! Your experience may be the encouragement that emboldens another parent to take a stand!