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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Just don't call it 'opt out,' Seminole district advises employees on parent testing concerns



While many Florida school districts treat the testing opt-out movement as if it does not exist, Seminole County schools have adopted a more interactive approach with the parents who choose that path.

The district, which serves suburban areas outside Orlando, has created a clear procedure for parents to follow if they want to keep their children out of the state's annual spring tests.

Parents must submit a request, either verbally or in writing, to withdraw their children from the exams. Once received, that request must go directly to the principal, who will document it and respond to the parent with a district-generated letter. 

"Employees should avoid using the phrase 'Opt-Out' because this implies a choice," the district procedures state. "Instead, use 'Request not to participate in testing.'"

Teachers are supposed to stay out of the interactions, and the district continues to maintain that testing participation is required and a key part of efforts to improve instruction and learning.

On testing days, Seminole schools require non-participating students to sit in the testing rooms, although monitors are told to "seat non-participating students appropriately to minimize impact on students who are testing." Unlike many other districts, Seminole permits children to read in the room after turning in their materials, as the state allows.

Some parent groups are pressing their local school districts to adopt a model similar to Seminole's, with limited success so far. Learn more about Seminole's standardized testing rules on its website.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2016 9:22am]


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