Parents can opt their child out of ISTEP

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Parents will spend time next week getting their students ready for ISTEP. An Indiana group is trying to let parents know of an option that would allow their children to not take the test.

Opt Out Indiana is a part of a national movement to educate parents about the option to opt their child out of standardized testing such as the ISTEP. Merry Juerling, Opt Out Indiana administrator, said she’s opted her son out. She claims these tests don’t show true improvement.

“The whole public school system is trying to impose a standard factory-based, corporate-based, accountability on our public schools,” Juerling said. “We’re using one test to assess the learning of children, and it’s unethical.”

Juerling claims students are wasting time focusing most of the semester on test taking, that they’re missing out on critical skills they need for college and real-life.

“Don’t have their reading, don’t have the math skills that they really need. The deep learning and judgment, the critical thinking skills,” she said.

School administrators claim opting out will have negative consequences for teachers and school districts.

“Teachers’ salaries are tied to school grades and student performance and so there’s a lot of pressure on teachers that way,” said Superintendent Phil Downs of Southwest Allen County Schools.

Downs has received phone calls from parents wanting to know the pros and cons of the opting out option.

The Indiana Department of Education told NewsChannel 15 the state must have 95 percent participation of students taking ISTEP. If that requirement isn’t met, federal funding could be in jeopardy.

DOE said there’s no state law prohibiting parents to opt their child out of standardized testing.

Opt Out Indiana hasn’t been documenting how many parents have opted out of tests like ISTEP since it started in 2010, but will this year.

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