The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) recommends and supports parents who opt out of standardized testing as a means of protesting the Common Core curriculum and Race to the Top initiatives. However, homeschoolers, particularly those in Arkansas should think twice before boycotting the state mandated testing for grades 3 through 9. Doing so could jeopardize your right to homeschool.
Arkansas homeschool law requires all students in grades 3 through 9 to take a norm-referenced, standardized test every year. This rule applies to traditionally schooled students as well as homeschoolers. Now that testing packets have been mailed out, some parents are considering opting out of the tests as a way to protest Common Core.
I would advise parents to register for testing. If privacy concerns about the test scores and information collected on the tests concern you, then use the private testing option. Many companies can fulfill the private testing requirement. If you choose this option, you must submit proof of purchase to the Home School Testing Office no later than March 7, 2014 if you are submitting electronically and no later than March 14, 2014 if you are submitting the forms by mail.
There is no legal option to opt out of testing in Arkansas. If your child has a disability that prevents them from testing, you can request an exemption. All others have to test. If you fail to provide proof of testing, or you fail to register your child for one of the state issued tests, the Home School Testing Office will contact you. At that point you will have to use a private testing company, and you will have to provide the scores to the testing office. Those who register on time do not have to provide those scores.
If a parent fails to comply with the testing requests, truancy charges could be filed and the parents could lose their right to homeschool. It is not worth the risk to opt out as a protest. Homeschoolers do not have to align with Common Core and they are exempt from the public school PARC testing if they test with a private agency. It is unclear if the state issued tests for the homeschoolers will be PARC and have similar privacy issues.
Homeschool parents who wish to protest Common Core should do so with their purchasing power. Avoid curriculum that intentionally aligns with the standards. How do you know? Some will state that they align with Common Core. Others will be less transparent. If a company shows they align with standards beginning with CC, they are aligning with Common Core.
Another way homeschool parents can become active is to join others who oppose Common Core. Arkansas Against Common Core is one such group. Do not put your right to homeschool at risk. Deal with the yearly testing requirement. While it is not always pleasant, it is better than having your kids forced into public school.
Lynda Altman is very concerned about the state of the public schools in Arkansas and the United States. She writes a blog called Homeschooling When Mom has Cancer. Get notices when this page is updated by clicking on the subscribe link, by email, or contact Lynda @fusgeyer on Twitter.