These are the Senators Who Sneer at Parental Authority

The following Senators voted NO to SB1455, the bill that gives parents the right to opt their children out of statewide assessments, such as the wretched AzMERIT, and others like it.  These Senators believe that parents have no right to determine what is in the best interest of their child.

Time may be very short until sine die (end of the legislative session), but if these Senators really want to change their vote and pass SB1455, they can make it happen!    

This is not a partisan issue.  Please call them, email them. Endlessly.  Do it for your kids! 

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19 Congressmen Reassert Parents and Students’ Right to Opt-Out of High Stakes State Assessments

On 2/16/2016, the executive director of the State Board of Education Dr. Karol Schmidt, without authorization from the Board, testified before the Senate Ed. Committee quoting from a 12/22/2015 letter from the U.S. Department of Education.  She reiterated threats in the letter signed by Ann Whalen, which indicated certain financial and other punitive measures that  Arizona could use against schools in order to force at least 95% participation of students in academic assessments.  Dr. Schmidt’s "message" was loud and clear to Arizona Senators:  Do NOT allow parents the right to Opt their children out of AzMERIT!   If your child has been coerced by teachers and other school officials into taking AzMERIT, this would explain one of the many reasons for it.  

New York Congressman Tom Reed, who had voted for the new ESSA law and disagreed with Ms. Whalen’s interpretation, decided it was important to send a rebuttal, reasserting parents and students’ right to opt-out of high stakes federal testing.  That rebuttal, which follows, was signed by 19 U.S. Congressmen, including Arizona Congressman Matt Salmon. 

If you are a parent who has been denied your right to opt your child out of taking AzMERIT.  If you are a parent whose child has been bullied by the school into taking AzMERIT, send this post to them.  Send this post to the Arizona Senators who voted NO to your right to opt out of AzMERIT and any other standardized test based on Common Core (aka Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.)  Click HERE for a list of Senators, including contact information, who voted No to SB1455, the Parental Opt Out bill.

Click HERE for a screen shot of the letter, which follows.  Click HERE for a screen shot of the signatures to the letter.

Click HERE for the press release Reed Stands with Students, Parents from U.S. Congressman Tom Reed.  Click HERE for a news story Reed Supports Parents’ Right To Opt Out Of Testing.

See below for the letter.     

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Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a child in grades 3 through 11 of the public school system, he/she will be "required" to take the AzMERIT standardized test.  It is based on Common Core (aka Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards).  There is much controversy about both.   A simple search through this website will provide you with many articles about both.

The website Opt Out AZ! Empowering Parents to Opt Out of the AzMERIT has published a post titled Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions to help parents whose children are being persuaded, cajoled, lied to, intimidated, and threatened into taking this worthless, unvalidated, expensive, psychologically damaging test.  

Questions that are answered in Opt Out FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions include:

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Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

Letter of Assertion to Opt Out and Refuse the AZMerit Test

Dear Principal _____________________ and Superintendent_____________________, I do not want my child, _____________________________, to take the AZMerit test, or any other tests based on the CCSS.

I oppose having my child’s range of intellectual and emotional qualities measured by standardized tests. I am dissatisfied with these tests, because they don’t measure meaningful learning, they create inappropriate pressures on children, they create counterproductive rivalry among schools, they’re responsible for less engaging education because teachers feel compelled to raise the scores by “teaching to the test”, and finally, better forms of assessment are available, such as portfolio assessments.

I also object on moral grounds to standardized tests contributing to discrimination, increasing pupil alienation, and spurring unsuccessful students to drop out. I find standardized testing socially unconscionable – leading to gate keeping and perpetuating social segregation. In addition, I object to the personally identifiable data collection that will be obtained on my child via the AZMerit test and stored in the State Wide Longitudinal Data Systems  and managed through the U.S. Department of Education and distributed among companies and organizations who have taken part in the development and implementation of the CCSS and related assessments. Data collected on my child, without my permission, is in violation of the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

As a concerned parent with the responsibility and right to be involved in the academic training of my child (Arizona Revised Statute 15–102), it is within my legal and moral right to opt out of standardized testing and insist upon better ways of evaluating my child’s understanding of ideas. I request useful assessments which advance fairness, accuracy, quality, and equity: evaluations such as the Learning Record (analysis of students’ learning over time by a teacher who knows them well), work sampling over time, structured and informal observations and interviews, performance and exhibitions, audio and videotapes, portfolio and journal assessments, and evaluation including input from teachers, students, parents, counselors, and principals.

I am also against any tests, where graded results are not given to the students so that they may see their mistakes and learn from them. I would ask that the school please provide an alternative activity for my child during administrative sessions of testing (not makeup tests, as my child will be in his/her regular classroom environment during makeup test). However, I understand that an alternative activity is not required on the part of the school. If you are unable to provide an alternative activity for my child, I would ask that you please allow my child to read silently.

I am reserving the option of removing my child from school during the test administration session depending on the emotional anxiety of my child on the day of refusal and whether or not the school will provide appropriate alternate activities for my child. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to the remainder of the school year.

_______________________________________ Signature of parent/guardian ______________________ Date

Click HERE to print out a copy of the Refusal letter.

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I’m Sorry, Students

What does this video have to do with Arizona? This teacher is talking about the same kind of High Stakes Tests that are given to children here in Arizona as young as 8 years old.  AzMERIT is forced upon students, beginning in the third grade, and every year through high school.  In Arizona, it’s AzMERIT; in Utah, it’s SAGE;  in Florida it’s the FSA. All of these states, including Ohio and others, have paid $Millions to American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations to create these tests. 

As a parent, have you stood up for your child and opted out of AzMERIT?  Have you stood firm in the face of opposition from teachers, principals, school administrators, and the State?  If not, learn more by clicking HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.  

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SB1455 Resurrected by Sen. Carlyle Begay. Please Help Get it Scheduled for Another Vote!

Wait!  Didn’t you say SB1455 had been hijacked?  Then you said it was back on the right track?  Now you say it’s been resurrected?  Yes, Yes, and Yes.  

After being placed on the "right track," it failed in the Senate on March 7 by a vote of 18 Nays; 11 Ayes; 1 Not Voting.  Shortly after, Sen. Carlyle Begay brought it up again.  (Only senators who voted Nay can do that, which is why Sen. Begay voted Nay.)

So, it can be Reconsidered.  The problem is this:  Is there anybody who can turn some of those Nays into Ayes?  

YES!  YOU!  See below for the names and contact information of Senators who voted Nay, followed by some Truths that YOU must convey to them, in order to convince them to change their vote.

Click HERE for the Excel File of Senators who Voted Nay. (Sen. Miranda did not vote.) Please contact them via Phone, Facebook, Email, In Person, and Twitter.  If you cannot open the file, please send me an email at, and I will send it to you.

The Truth About Why You Should Support SB1455.  (These are prioritized based on the most common objections voiced by senators, and are not necessarily in order of your or my priority.)

1.  Standardized tests, including AzMERIT, are not the only assessments given to students throughout the year.  In fact, Standardized tests are unreliable in assessing a student’s educational progress.  AzMERIT has never been validated or proven to be an indicator of a student’s progress.  AzMERIT doesn’t tell us anything about third-grade promotion.  AzMERIT is given in the Spring, but the results aren’t available until November, which is three months after the next school year begins! Teachers have no input into Standardized Tests.  Teachers aren’t allowed to see the tests. Teachers don’t see their students’ tests, even after they’ve been graded by third parties.  Parents don’t see the graded tests.  Students don’t see the graded tests.  Nobody has any idea what answers were right, and which were wrong!  

Better methods of evaluating student needs and progress already exist. Careful observations and documentation of student work and behaviors by trained teachers is more helpful than a one-time test. Assessment based on student performance on real learning tasks is more useful for measuring achievement and provides more information for teaching than multiple-choice achievement tests. Parents working with teachers, term grades, homework performance–these and other indicators are far better than AzMERIT.  See How Standardized Testing Damages Education.    

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SB 1455 Parental Opt Out Bill Back on Track! Call Senators NOW to vote YES

SB 1455 will be voted on by Arizona Senators on Monday, March 7, during the "Third Read" at 1:30 pm.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Sylvia Allen, gives parents the legal authority to opt their children out of the statewide assessment adopted by the State Board of Education, including AzMERIT, with no penalty to the child, school, or school district.  

Please call your and other Senators’ offices beginning now and leave a voicemail message.  Follow up again Monday morning.  Ask them to please vote YES to SB 1455 during the Third Read on Monday.  See list of senators, with phone numbers and email addresses, by clicking on this article titled Opt Out Bill Hearing Today (UPDATE).

Last session, a similar bill failed by ONE VOTE.  This session, all senators are under extreme pressure by special interests that stand to gain money, power, school rankings, human cogs in the corporate machine, and private student data by keeping both Common Core and standardized testing in place.  It’s an election year for these senators.  Click HERE for the live proceedings and watch how they vote!    

During last Thursday’s COW (Committee of the Whole), Senator Allen supported SB1455 by citing  ARS 1-601, which declares the "fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right."  She also cited ESSA provisions that allow states and parents to opt students out of standardized testing.   

Statewide assessments are among the most controversial and least effective methods of assessing a child’s educational progress. If parents across the country are opting their children out of statewide assessments, there’s a good reason.

For those who are interested in knowing more about  why parents despise AzMERIT and standardized testing, keep reading.  

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Sick Days are No Cure for the Assessment Opt-Out Blues

By Vicki Alger, Ph.D.
Author of a forthcoming book on the history of the U.S. Department of Education 

Arizona parents are one step closer to having their assessment opt-out rights affirmed, thanks to Senate Education Committee Chairman Senator Sylvia Allen’s sponsorship of the amended SB 1455.

But affirming parents’ opt-out rights could be sidelined because some senators think it’s unnecessary. "Just keep children home ‘sick’ during the test day. What’s the big deal?”

Testing today isn’t what it used to be some years ago.  We’d show up at school, spend a couple of hours filling in bubbles, and go home. The biggest worry back then was making sure we brought enough number two pencils with us.

These days, parents and students are lucky if they’re even informed about the testing dates far enough in advance to stay home "sick," since assessment periods can span as much as 6 weeks. So there’s no practical way for parents to simply opt-out in absentia.

But here’s the really big deal based on what parents and children endured last spring when a similar opt-out protection bill failed in the Senate by one vote.

Many parents were told that if they kept their children home, their children wouldn’t be allowed back into their classes until they took the assessment.

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Will the “Menu of Assessments” Negate the Need for “Parental Opt Out”? NO!

Recently, I posted an article titled Rep. Paul Boyer Won’t Allow Parental "Opt Out" Bill to be Heard!  It seems that Rep. Boyer believes that another bill, SB2544 Menu of Assessments, removes the need for HB2056 Parental Opt Out. 

HB2056 needs its “Day in Court.”   H2056 respects the rights of parents to protect their children.  You know, don’t you, that parents and their children, some as young as 8 years old, were literally bullied by principals and teachers into taking AzMerit.   Rep. Boyer and other legislators need to read RTS comments from parents and hear from them during the Committee process.  That won’t happen unless HB2056 is put on the agenda.

Truly, legislators will hear from parents if their children’s teachers haven’t designed the test, don’t know what’s on the test, don’t grade the test, and can’t help students correct wrong answers.  Legislators will hear from them if they suspect that the state-mandated test doesn’t truly measure their child’s progress.  Legislators will hear from them if they suspect that their children are being used as guinea pigs to line the pockets of testing companies, data collectors, and textbook companies.  Legislators will hear from them if they suspect that any state-mandated test serves school ratings more than it serves their children.

Here is my “short list” of questions:

1.  AzMerit was adopted without any proof from AIR that it was validated.  Is this not a concern of the Legislature or State Board?  Will you require AIR or any Test Provider to produce a certified copy of industry-standard validity reports?  Such reports would show the test’s construct validity, criterion validity, content validity, concurrent validity, and predictive validity.  

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Hear Our Teachers


"I am tired of hearing people say that kids are protesting the tests and melting down on test days because adults put that attitude in their heads. I am proof that my fellow teachers and I did not start standing up to this UNTIL we saw what it was doing to the kids. If scientists or doctors see people drinking water and getting sick, they warn the public that the water is harmful. But when teachers see students ailing and try to prescribe something to help, we are told to get out of the way. This is an outrage."  Laurie Gabriel, former teacher.  Colorado Springs


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