Opting Out Of Tests In North Carolina

how to pass a standardized textOpting out of high stakes testing has begun sweeping through the states. More and more parents are choosing to have their child refuse the tests. This movement has started to hit North Carolina. [Related: Testing Opt Out Movement Comes To NC]

The number of questions I get from parents about opting out of testing in North Carolina has exponentially been increasing over the last few months.  It’s time to do a run-down of what parents in North Carolina can do about the tests in our state.

Please note: I am not an attorney. This is not legal advice.  In this article, I am presenting the resources already available. Form your own opinions. Any actions parents take are their own.

1. Here is the United Opt Out link for North Carolina.
There is a North Carolina OPT OUT Guide FINAL July 3 report there, which is a downloadable PDF.  That report notes that NC was supposed to fully adopt the SBAC Common Core test in 2014. The legislature has kept the funding cut off for this test as of this article. The report includes a sample Opt Out letter.


2. Here is the Wikispaces link for opting out of standardized testing for North Carolina.
This link is useful as it quotes the position that, according to GS 115C-288(a):

“the principal shall not make the decision [about a student’s grade placement or promotion] solely based on standardized test scores.”

Parents should familiarize themselves with the NC Statutes regarding education and testing.


3. Opt-Out/Refusal page for Mecklenburg Acts.
NC Department of Public Instruction’s (NC DPI)position has been that if your child is enrolled in public school, there is no ‘opting out’ unless there is a medical reason. There is no official opt-out process for our state.  Mecklenburg Acts states the only way to opt out is to be absent entirely:

The only way to avoid the exams altogether is to keep a student at home throughout the entire testing window.

This keeping your student at home is apparently how NC DPI is enforcing their required testing as Zoe Morris found out when she was escorted from school property in 2013. Read more about Zoe’s refusal at Blue Hat Movement.

Mecklenburg Acts also has this to say about the consequences of refusing the tests and notes legislative action is likely going to be required:

It is important to keep in mind that because North Carolina does not have an official opt-out or refusal procedure, refused tests will be counted as having been taken, and will receive the lowest possible score – 1. Those 1s will go on student records and be figured into the schools’ proficiency rates. They will not, however, be figured into teachers’ growth scores. Families should thus be prepared to deal with any consequences resulting from low scores. Apparently, legislative action will be required to change this situation.

Parents can read the March 2014 letter from NC DPI on opting out/refusal here. Bear in mind it states that a student’s final score can be impacted by these ‘required’ tests.


4. New Hanover County has an Opt Out page.
It is unclear who put this page up, however it does have a good amount of useful information.  The site includes a sample letter for parents to use, but also look at a response from school officials that was received.  In that response, the school official tells the parent they have not made their case and tells them they have no RIGHT to choose what their child is tested on:

 Therefore, I must respectfully disagree with your assertion that parents have the right to choose which tests their children will take in school. The North Carolina State Board of Education has enacted a Policy, GCS-C-021, which states that“All eligible students … at grades 3 through 8 and 10 and in high school courses in which end of course assessment is administered shall participate in the state assessment program adopted by the State Board of Education”. There are limited exemptions for students with limited English proficiency or students with severe disabilities. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has stated in its Division of Accountability Services manual that“All eligible students are to participate in the North Carolina State wide testing program.

The letter continues and ties required testing to Common Core:

The State of North Carolina has adopted Common Core as the curriculum that local public school systems must implement. The New Hanover County Schools is required by state law to administer the EOG tests to its eligible students. There has been no court case to my knowledge holding that public school parents have the right to opt-out their children from EOGs in this or any other state.

The final advice from this superintendent is that the parent should homeschool or send their kid to private school.

Related Articles on Opting Out:

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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