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Information on Opting Out of Standardized Tests

Many parents, and even many educators, are dismayed by the frequency and emphasis on standardized tests in public schools. These testing programs are required by state and federal law. Other than very specific exceptions related to English language learners, Texas school districts must administer standardized exams to all students. 

Parents who object to standardized testing are publicly discussing the idea of “opting out,” either by keeping their students at home on test dates or by permitting their child to abstain from testing. These parents certainly have the right to express their opinions; for example, they might file a grievance at the local level, or even better, express their points of view to state and federal lawmakers who have the power to change testing requirements. However, actually “opting out” is not as easy as it sounds, and there are serious consequences parents should consider.

Is there a right to “opt out” of standardized tests in Texas public schools?

No, in fact just the opposite. State law makes it clear that students may not opt out of standardized or any other tests. Texas Education Code section 26.010 states:

EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. (a) A parent is entitled to remove the parent's child temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs if the parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent's child a written statement authorizing the removal of the child from the class or other school activity. A parent is not entitled to remove the parent's child from a class or other school activity to avoid a test or to prevent the child from taking a subject for an entire semester.

(b) This section does not exempt a child from satisfying grade level or graduation requirements in a manner acceptable to the school district and the agency.

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