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Students opting out at CSAT ‘sit & stare’

WBFO News file photo

Some school districts have dropped the controversial 'sit and stare' policy for students who opt out of Common Core testing.  But WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the Charter School for Applied Technology is not backing down from the policy.

Opt out numbers at CSAT have been low. Last week only 26-of the 700-elementary CSAT school students did not take the ELA.  Students at the school refusing this week's math test  are in the minority.

But one parent tells WBFO News they're not treated fairly.  She has a 4th and 6th grader at the school and wanted to remain anonymous. But told us the school has 'no written policy' on 'sit and stare'.  Her 6th grade daughter was allowed to put her head down on the desk at last week's ELA, but when she attempted to do the same Wednesday for the math test she was told to keep her head up during testing.  

CSAT Superintendent Efrain Martinez tells WBFO News it was a 'mistake'.

"And during the math exam, the first time around, the proctor did not allow that. That was a misinterpretation of the proctor and it was corrected," stated Martinez.  

Credit WBFO News file photo
Inside CSAT.

The parent disagrees. She tells us her child is being 'punished' for exercising her right to opt out. 

"I know that our children are in the minority in refusing the state assessments. I do not see us as "preventing [the school] from informing instruction," rather, we hope to encourage embracing each other's differences and open a respectful dialog," stated the CSAT parent in an email.

But Superintendent Martinez is not backing down from the school policy and is discouraging all parents from opting out. "Opting out is very hurtful and we are embracing accountability that it brings," said Martinez.  "We are able to compare the state results to our own assessments."

The parent points to the right of choice under the Parental Rights Amendment.

"I fully understand that CSAT is a school of choice. We viewed CSAT as a very progressive school, which is why we chose it. But as parents, we also have the CHOICE to direct the education of our children (see the Parental Rights Amendment of the United States Constitution) and refuse to allow them to participate in state assessments that go against what we believe is in their best interest. We are certainly not against educational standards or measurement of progress: CSAT does three school-based assessments during the year that we feel FAR better inform the teachers, the parents and the administration of our children's (and their teachers') strengths and weaknesses," stated the parent in an email.

The parent who lodged the complaint on sit and stare said this was the first year her children opted out.  She said she is not against 'educational standards or measurement of progress and pointed out that C-SAT does three school-based assessments during the year. She claims those better inform teachers and parents of a child's strengths and weaknesses.   

Still Martinez is not backing down and says sit and stare is not a form of punishment. 

"At the end, the bottom line is that we think that the opt out movement is misguided," said Martinez. "We support the Common Core, we support the state assessment. We think it is very harmful, particular for students and students of poverty."