OCPS Won’t Enforce Sit & Stare…harshly, that is.

Great news!!!

My children’s elementary school has been aware that my kids will not take the FCAT since the beginning of this school year and they have been sympathetic and as supportive as they could be of my children and our family’s position on high stakes testing.  We have been working together to make this work for us all – for students refusing to be treated humanely and for the school to also be in compliance. Until now, students refusing FCAT have been made to “sit and stare”.  Read more Sit and Stare policies in this article, Sit and Stare – what some kids who opt out of tests are forced to do.

I received a call on Friday (4/11/14) from my children’s school. Next week, they will only be made to refuse two days, not all four.  

This is how it must happen if a student is to be considered to have refused:

  1. They will be read the instructions.
  2. They will be asked to sign the Test Rules Acknowledgement, which reads:“I understand the testing rules that were just read to me. If I do not follow these rules, my test score may be invalidated.” Prior to testing, test administrators will read the rules to students, and students must acknowledge that they understand the testing rules by signing their names under the statement.  The last portion of the testing rules read to students before they sign the acknowledgment reads, “After the test, you may not discuss the test with anyone. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as texting, emailing, or posting online, for example, on websites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.” If students are found sharing information about test items, even without the intent to cheat, their tests will be invalidated. All students are required to sign this contract.  Even 8 year olds.
  3. Students refusing may push the Test Rules Acknowledgment away AND MUST NOT SIGN IT. The Test Administrator is supposed to notify the school’s Test Coordinator, so there may be a little commotion if the school has not been prepared for this.PER FCAT Instruction Manual – If they ask the student to sign it and they refuse, they should make a note of the refusal to sign and move on.
  4. After they are instructed to open their test and start testing, they must break the seal on the test and refuse – they should simply push the test away and say, “No thank you.” Any additional prompting from test administrators may be considered coercion or intimidation.  The test security breach is what precludes them from having to sit for the makeup test. The student should NOT write on the test.
  5. ** At my children’s school** after they refuse, on the two days they refuse, they may be removed from the classroom if the parent requests it, so I will take them out of school for about an hour and return them in time to resume class after testing is completed for the day. No sense making them sit and stare just because they can cope. Parents need to determine how their child will cope for the four days, if required.
    Clarification:  Students may ONLY be removed from the testing room IF the parent requests the child in person. It is not enough to send in a request to have your child removed to a non-testing location after refusing.  If you do not request them in person, they WILL have to “sit and stare.”
  6. Because refusing Day 1 test invalidates Day 2, my children’s school will not require the kids to refuse on Day 2 also. (Some schools may require students to refuse on all four days).
  7. On the days they are not required to refuse, I could take them to school late, since they would not be made to refuse, but they will be allowed to go to a non-testing classroom – Kindergarten, First grade, etc., so they’ll just go to school and actually learn and be useful during testing.

Items above in red are the information that was conveyed to the school from the district’s Student Assessment Dept.

So I will not have to keep them out of school for the entire testing window and they won’t have to miss regular instruction. Sanity.

AND – Per our school administration, “This is from Cynthia Landers,” who is the person in charge of the OCPS Student Assessment Dept.  This is a pretty big deal considering how literally OCPS has interpreted the test administration rules until now.  It’s a pleasant surprise to see common sense being put into practice, especially with our younger students.

While there is not a No Sit and Stare policy in OCPS, the district is amenable to working with parents toward this end. SO – with a bit of cooperation from your school’s administration, your child should not have to sit and stare!!! Woo hoo!!!

As testing begins tomorrow, Opt Out Orlando has been inundated with requests for information.  The most critical years for opting out are the Third grade and Tenth grade – because of mandatory retention and remediation if the student fails FCAT.  All other grades are easier – no consequences.

It should be noted:

In September, I requested a portfolio be kept for my son in the third grade – as third grade is a mandatory retention year. If he were to fail the test, which he would not, he would have to be promoted by alternative assessments anyway.  I requested it early so the teachers would not have to scramble from now until the end of the year to compile a proper portfolio. They appreciated the heads up as I knew my kids would not test. 

There are different alternative assessments available:

Teacher-developed portfolio – which I requested in September.
Stanford Achievement Test (SAT10)
Iowa Test of Basic Stds (ITBS) – which the finest private schools use nationwide.
District-directed portfolio (a CD-Rom which is basically a regurgitated FCAT)

If a child fails FCAT, third grade students must pass ONE of these assessments in order to be promoted, with teacher and principal recommendation.

But please go to our Documents for more detailed information on how to opt out/refuse.

Good luck!


About The Opt Out Florida Network

The Opt Out Florida Network represents a community of opt out groups and administrators from across the state. The network originated with the work of Opt Out Orlando. However, knowing there is power in numbers, we recognized the need for a broader coalition with more engagement and grassroots action at the local level. The OOF network is a community where parents, teachers, and students can share stories and information; discuss testing, policy, and schooling practices; and become politically active! We advocate for multiple measures of authentic assessments, such as a portfolio, non-high stakes standardized tests (Iowa Test of Basic Standards (ITBS) or the Stanford Achievement Test(SAT10)), which are used to inform teachers' instruction of their students and which do not result in punitive consequences for students, teachers and schools. Formal and informal, teacher-designed classroom assessments provide the best indicators of children's progress, growth and mastery of concepts and skills. The Opt Out Florida Network rejects high stakes testing as meaningless and detrimental to the development of a creative, nurturing and supportive learning environment. View all posts by The Opt Out Florida Network

3 responses to “OCPS Won’t Enforce Sit & Stare…harshly, that is.

  • Carol

    Sandy, is opting out of the test treated the same way as if the student failed the test? My 9th grade son “failed” (got a level 2) on the FCAT reading test last year, and now he needs to take an extra “remedial” reading class this year in 10th grade. I’m wondering, if I had opted him out of the test altogether, would he still have had to take this remedial class? Thank you.


  • Opt Out Orlando


    I’m sorry to only see your message now. My apologies. Had he refused the 9th grade FCAT, he would have gotten a score of NR2, which, according to the FL DOE, means “Did not meet attemptedness criteria”. It is not a failing score. It is no score, so there would have been no data telling them he needed to be remediated. It is possible that they would have tried to remediate him, but they would have been wrong to do so. According to the state statutes, there would be no basis for that determination without a failing score.

    At this point, he has the option to take the ACT exam and if he gets a concordant score of 19 or better, he would not need the 10th grade FSA to graduate and could possibly be exempt from further remediation.

    There used to be a clause that if a student had not received less than a 3 for the 3 previous consecutive years, they could get a 1 yr exemption from remediation with an education plan (EP) with the school.

    Please feel free to reach out to me by private message on Facebook at Sandy Stenoff.

    It is true that the consequences of failing the test are worse than not taking the test.

    Best to you,


  • Carol Vyhonsky

    Thank you, Sandy!


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