Sample opt out letter

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Dear Principal ___________________________:

I am writing to refuse to allow my child, __________________________, to participate in the New York State spring 2016 tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and math.

Also, I respectfully request a full list of assessments that will be used to evaluate my child’s teacher(s) and school  this year as well as a schedule for those assessments.

I understand that the school is required to offer the state ELA and math exams to all eligible students in grades 3-8, but city and state officials have acknowledged that parents have the right to opt our children out of these tests.

The New York City Department of Education (DOE) states in its Parent Guide on testing, “the principal should respect the parents’ decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child with an alternate educational activity (e.g., reading) during testing times.” (1)

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said, “…if parents understand [our rationale for testing] and they still want their child to opt out, that certainly is their right.” (2)

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “At the end of the day, parents are in charge and parents make the decisions.” (3)

Moreover, city officials have stated that students cannot be punished, forced to go to summer school, held back or forced to have a promotion portfolio solely because they did not participate in the state ELA and math tests. These policies are spelled out in the DOE Parent Guide. (1)

Finally, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the state did not plan to withhold money from districts with high opt out rates. She stated, “I think when you withdraw money from a school district, what you’re doing is you’re hurting the kids in the school district.” (4)

Thank you in advance for respecting my refusal to have my child take the spring 2016 state tests. I look forward to receiving a schedule of all the tests that will be used to rate my child’s teacher(s) and the school for the 2015-16 year.


Parent/Guardian Signature                                                                    Date

Parent/Guardian Name (Printed)

(1) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Student Participation in Grades 3-8 New York State Tests: Parent Guide, New York City Department of Education, March 6, 2015,




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