Monday, March 7, 2011

Two options to not take the PSSA

There are two ways to not take the PSSA. One involves parents. The other is for students. Both will work. After reading the information here, please like us on Facebook and help spread the word.

Option 1: For Parents

(PA Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4 (d)(5) states : “If upon inspection of State assessments parents or guardians find the assessment in conflict with their religious belief and wish their students to be excused from the assessment, the right of the parents or guardians will not be denied upon written request to the applicable school district superintendent, charter school chief executive officer or AVTS director.”)

I called the Pennsylvania Department of Education and spoke with the Bureau of Assessments. A religious belief can be as simple “I have a moral objection to upsetting my kids for no reason.” I told him that one of my kids had testing anxiety, and he advised me to get a religious exemption. I have also spoken with the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In order to get a religious exemption, a parent must first make a quick visit to the school office to review the tests. After reviewing the tests, you have to sign a confidentiality agreement. Then you can either give your letter to the principal or send it to the superintendent at the district office. The important thing is that your request cannot be denied. The school district MUST provide a convenient time for the review, which may include an evening review time, if requested.

Taking the religious exemption is not lying or using religion. Every education expert in America has been telling us for years that NCLB is taking resources from the most vulnerable members of our society — children who live in poverty and children with disabilities. (Matthew 25:31-46) Please visit NCLB Testing: Stop the Madness Know the Truth for tons of links to research and commentary on these issues. Show your parents this article if all else fails.

Download and print out an article and give it to your superintendent or principal. And please know that even if they huff and puff, they are on our side. They are caught in an impossible position. They know this is bad for kids, bad for education, and bad for schools, but their jobs could be in jeopardy for saying so.

Option 2: For Students

The Bartleby Project. If you are a student in Pennsylvania and your parents, for whatever reason, don't go for the religious exemption, then you can join the Bartleby Project. First, however, visit the Facebook page and try to get your parents to read some of the information linked there. Print up some articles for them to read. Try to educate them. Be sure to educate yourself. Print up copies of articles to bring with you to show your teachers and your administration when they question you about refusing to take the test.

Again, I spoke with the PDE. There is nothing that the state will do to you if you refuse to take the test. There is nothing they can do. Your graduation requirements can be met in other ways. This is the law.

PA Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.24 (a) Requirements through the 2013-2014 school year. Each school district, including a charter school, shall specify requirements for graduation in the strategic plan under § 4.13 (relating to strategic plans). Requirements through the 2013-2014 school year must include course completion and grades, completion of a culminating project, results of local assessments aligned with the academic standards and a demonstration of proficiency in Reading, Writing and Mathematics on either the State assessments administered in grade 11 or 12 or local assessment aligned with academic standards and State assessments under § 4.52 (relating to local assessment system) at the proficient level or better to graduate. The purpose of the culminating project is to assure that students are able to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and communicate significant knowledge and understanding.

In other words, since the state allows parents to opt their kids out for religious reasons, it has to provide an alternative for those kids. And if the alternative is good enough for them, it's good enough for you.

Please educate yourself on these issues. Do not refuse to take the test just because you hate taking the tests. Also please share this information, this site, the facebook page and the links there with your friends and their parents. Only the united voices of students and parents can tell Harrisburg and Washington that these test are bad for kids, bad for education, and bad for school. It's time to let teacher teach.


  1. Thank you so very much for all of ur hard work. My son shall not participate in these tests. (If they still exist. He is only 2.) I did share this site to a woman who has an Autistic son (12 yr old) who has major anxiety over this test. I hope this helps her & her son as this has helps my family. Keep up the GREAT work & thank u again!!!

  2. Thanks so much for the information, I just have one question. My 8th graded did almost all of the test for this year, the only one left is science, he will not be able to attend due personal circumstances, will this affect my straight A student in the future? Thanks for any advice you can give me!