Right to Refuse Assessments
Parents may refuse assessments for their children
Policies Related to Test Participation and Refusal
State and local assessment expectations impact opportunities to refuse testing. More information is available for each assessment source.
According to the Code of Virginia, all students in Virginia are expected to take the Standards of Learning (SOL) state assessments. The U.S. Education Department has not waived reading, mathematics, or science SOL tests for 2020-21. However, Virginia has offered a waiver for some social studies and writing tests in spring 2021.
Additionally, all English learners in Virginia are expected to take the WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessment. The U.S. Education Department has not waived English language proficiency tests for 2020-21.
- Although Virginia regulations do not include what is sometimes referred to as an "opt out policy" for state assessments, state law allows parents to refuse testing for their children. Virginia has updated policy for 2020-21 to help families who may choose to refuse in-person tests because of concerns about COVID-19.
- Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) provides a process for schools to use when caregivers wish to refuse state assessments. Schools use this process to make sure parents understand what SOL refusal means for the student, including any potential impact for on-time graduation.
FCPS students are also expected to take certain standardized tests to provide schools with information for planning appropriate, high-quality learning experiences. Like with state assessments, parents may refuse division-required standardized testing for their children. Contact the child's school for additional information about refusal.
Other assessments are embedded as part of daily learning in the classroom. This includes local alternative assessments used in place of waived SOL social studies and writing tests during 2020-21. Refusal is not available for assessments embedded in the curriculum.
Information about tests required at each grade level is available
What Parents Should Know Before Refusing a Test
A parent should consider the following important points before deciding to refuse any test:
- Health and safety protocols are in place to ensure students participating in assessments are protected from risk of COVID-19 virus transmission.
- If the student is in high school, refusing certain SOL tests could impact on-time graduation. Virginia requires verified credits to earn a standard or advanced studies diploma, and SOL tests are the most common way credits are verified.
- Certain division-mandated tests (such as Horizon, iReady, IAAT, NNAT, Math Inventory, etc.) are used to help a school identify appropriate placement for the student in advanced academic, enrichment, intervention, and other programs. While no single test is used in isolation to make such decisions, in some cases when the student does not test, his or her appropriate placement could be temporarily delayed.
- If a student does not test, the school will not have academic data from the assessment to inform plans for their classroom instruction and will rely on information from other assessments and data sources.
- As more students do not participate in assessments, it can become more challenging for the school to gain a clear reflection of how it is meeting the instructional needs of its students as a whole.
A parent should consider the following additional implications before refusing SOL tests because of COVID-19 health concerns:
The student will not receive a test score. A result of "No Score" or "NS" will show on the student's score report.
The student's non-participation in the test will count against the school's federal test participation rate under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
A parent should consider the following additional implications before refusing SOL tests for reasons other than COVID-19 health concerns:
- The student will be assigned a score of zero (0) for each SOL test refused.
- The student's score reports and academic records will display the score of zero, but will not directly impact their course grade or access to future coursework.
- The student's zero score will count toward the school's federal test participation rate under ESSA but will not impact the school's state accreditation status.
How to Refuse a Test
If parents choose to refuse testing for one or more tests administered in FCPS, they should first contact their child's school. The assessment coach, school test coordinator, or the child's teacher can address questions the parents may have about the test content, format, and purpose. The Office of Assessment and Reporting is another resource for parents to better understand FCPS assessment expectations for students.
If parents determine that refusing a test is in the best interest of their child after speaking with school staff, they will need to officially notify the school of this decision. For certain tests like SOL and WIDA, the school will need to document the parent decision for state reporting. A form, letter, email, or documented phone conversation may be accepted for the refusal. Parent refusal of testing must be updated annually.