Thousands of parents “opt out” of STAAR testing for their kids

(Brandon Wade/AP Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Thousands of students across Texas are opting not to take the state’s mandated STAAR testing.

But what happens if they don’t take it? Most of those students are still promoted to the next grade without a problem.

“Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure,” said Christopher, speaking about the state’s standardized testing program.

He is currently in sixth grade, even though he did not take the STAAR test in fifth grade.

“I’ve seen a few kids cry about it,” said Chris. “They cry because they think they will fail the STAAR test and not be able to go on to the next grade,

GOING IN-DEPTH // Opting Out

  • In the TEA’s most recent numbers from the TAKS exam in 2011, nearly 21,700 students in 5th grade did not take the reading or math tests, but 97 percent of those kids moved on to the next grade.
  • That same year about 22,400 students in 8th grade didn’t take the tests, but 96 percent of them went on to 9th grade.
  • Austin ISD says when a student opts out it counts as an absence, costing the district about $45 per day, per student. AISD doesn’t keep track of how many students opted out.

His mother, Edy Chamness, started a growing movement of parents trying to opt out of their kids taking the test.

“I think parents really want to be heard,” she said. “That is the message.”

Her friend, a Baylor professor, posted an opt-out letter online that has now been downloaded more than 30,000 times.

“There’s a remarkable amount of pressure on the teachers and the schools themselves,” Chamness said of the tests. “There’s so much pressure that it can’t help but get pushed down to children.”

The group “Texas Parents Opt Out” want a moratorium on testing. They say the time spent preparing for it is taking away from other areas of learning.

According to the Texas Educational Code, it is illegal for a parent to opt out of their student taking the STAAR test, The Texas Education Agency says. Even so, there are still no clear consequences if someone chooses to do so.

In Christopher’s case, Chamness told the school she didn’t want him taking the test, and she says the school advised her no instruction would occur the day of testing so it would count as an absence.

” I did ask his teacher on the first day of school, I said, ‘so how many fifth graders have you seen retained?” Chamness said. “He said, ‘I’ve been here a long time and I’ve never seen a fifth grader retained.'”

“Good to know,” Eddy responded.

STAAR testing begins next week, and just like last year, Christopher will once again be opting out.

The TEA says it is a little different for high school students. Right now, the law says if high school students don’t pass five exams in high school, they will not be allowed to graduate. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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