A group in Arkansas opposed to the Common Core State Standards is informing parents that they have the right to refuse. Arkansas Against Common Core has launched a campaign to let parents know their children are not required to participate in any testing aligned with the standards.
Grace Lewis of Mount Vernon, chairwoman of Arkansas Against Common Core, said that while the group is not asking for a boycott of the exams, it is simply responding to parents who say they do not want their children to participate. "We tell them that's completely their right to do that," she said.
Testing aligned with Common Core will be introduced in Arkansas for the first time this spring, after a gradual introduction of the standards over the last three years. The tests were developed through a coalition of states known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
In contrast to Lewis' statement, officials at Cabot School District maintain the tests are mandated by state law, and students who do not take them could be held back a grade or not allowed to graduate, reports John Lyon for The Arkansas Times Record.
"We've already started getting calls from parents about the PARCC assessments that will be coming up in spring â¦ saying âmy kid is not going to take that test,' â¦ for whatever reason they might have," Cabot Superintendent Tony Thurman said during a Dec. 16 Cabot School Board meeting.
Thurman continued to say that students in grades 3-8 who do not take the exams face the possibility of being "retained" at their current grade level for another year.
Linda Payne, director of professional development and testing for the district, added that high school students who do not participate risk not receiving the credits needed to graduate. "The law says you cannot receive graduation credit, or graduate, if you have not taken the test," she said.
According to school officials, any student absent on testing day will be allowed to make up the exam within the following six weeks. Therefore, parents cannot simply keep their child home to avoid the PARCC exams.
When asked whether school districts have the right to hold students back or not allow them to graduate if they choose to not participate in the PARCC tests, state Department of Education officials refused to comment. "It's a local district issue," said Department spokeswoman Kimberly Friedman.
Meanwhile, Sen. Gary Stubblefield announced that he is considering filing a bill to repeal the standards.
"This one size fits all, I just don't buy that, because there's just too much difference in different school districts in different states," Stubblefield said. "I just think there's a better way to do it."
Those who support the adoption of Common Core believe the standards hold the key to eliminating jurisdictional differences in quality of education.