As Texas public schools launch STAAR testing, some students opt out

- There are more than 5 million public school students in Texas, and if the state had its way all would eagerly participate in high-stakes testing.

But as campuses lock down this week to administer the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, thousands of seats will be empty.

That's because parents like Alicia Verdier are choosing to "opt out" their children from the pressure-filled STAAR, contending the test does far more harm than good.

"My daughter received instruction only in math and reading because those are the STAAR subjects for that grade. We had to file a grievance against the school and force them to cover all the subjects," said Verdier.

"It is really unfair to put our children through this," added Dee Arrellano, a mother of two Houston ISD students.
Arrellano is opting out her kids as well and says parents and students are being fed misinformation about the potential consequences - repercussions which range from mandatory summer school to denial of promotion to the next grade. 

"They claim it is the law to take the STAAR test and that is incorrect. That is a form of intimidation," said Arrellano.

"It is daunting. We get threatening conversations from teachers, threatening conversations from principals. It is absolutely not the truth. We have not had any children retained in HISD for opting out," said Verdier.

For many, skipping the exam will not mean playing hooky. Parents have again organized "Opt Out Academy" providing classes and activities for children purposely kept home from school.

"It's meaningful education and engaging learning," said Verdier.

While the Texas Education Agency claims there is nothing in state law empowering parents to opt out of testing, Houston ISD has stated students will not be subject to negative consequences or disciplinary action.

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