Laura Arrasmith of Mason County had concerns this week when state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday told superintendents that Kentucky districts were not permitted to honor parents' requests to opt out of statewide testing for their children.
Arrasmith doesn't think her children and others should be forced to participate in the statewide testing assessment system.
She has started a Facebook page called The Move to Opt Out Kentucky and said she had talked to her children's principal about her wishes.
Arrasmith said the discussion occurred before Holliday sent his message to superintendents. Holliday said in the email that, as part of the campaign against the Common Core state standards and standardized testing, some national groups were urging parents to sign an opt-out form and submit it to their child's school. The statewide tests are given the last 14 instructional days in each district.
The Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress is the collective name for the tests. They often are referred to as K-PREP.
Students who don't participate in Kentucky's assessment system will receive a "0" score, which will be included in the school's accountability calculation, Holliday said. He said district officials are encouraged to review their policies and communicate to parents the consequences for students' failure to participate.
Todd Allen, an assistant general counsel for the state education department, said in a statement that "the student also may be subject to discipline under school or district policies including the code of conduct or behavior."
"Kentucky's statewide accountability system depends on the testing of every student," Holliday told superintendents. "No student may opt out of the standardized assessments conducted under this system. The purpose of testing every student is to ensure that all schools and districts are serving all students and that gaps in categories of students are identified, addressed and closed."
Holliday sent a similar message to superintendents in 2014.
Nancy Rodriguez, education department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the department has been contacted by a couple of districts seeking guidance.
Arrasmith said she thinks she is the only parent in Mason County who has asked to opt out, but she is communicating with people in a dozen counties who feel the same way.
"We've been using the word opt out, but we really need to use the word refuse — we are refusing," she said.
Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall said that because the district is on spring break this week, she didn't know whether any parents were asking if their child could opt out.
Schools won't provide alternative learning activities during the state assessment testing times.
Arrasmith said that before Holliday sent the message to superintendents this week, her children's principal agreed that they could sit quietly and read during the tests. She said she won't know until after spring break whether the principal's position has changed.
Terry Donoghue, a member of the group Kentuckians Against Common Core, said he isn't urging families to opt out of testing. But he said parents are protected by the U.S. Constitution if they want to opt out.
Allen, the assistant general counsel, said in his statement that although parents have the right to opt out of public education for their children by choosing home school or private school, parents don't have the right to pick and choose the provisions of public education with which they will comply. There is no authority in state or federal law allowing parents to opt out of the Kentucky Core Academic Standards or the statewide assessment system, the statement said.
Rodriguez said that on average, administering Kentucky's state-level assessments take less than 1 percent of the total instructional time in a given school year.