Why you MUST Opt your Child Out of all Computer Adaptive Tests

opt out of common core testsUnder Common Core’s Computer Adaptive Testing (CAT), you will never know what indoctrination your children are being exposed to and neither will your children’s teachers. This video explains exactly why you MUST opt your child out of all computer adaptive tests or start homeschooling.

Hypothetically, what if you’re a teacher who holds a view that those above you don’t like? Maybe you’ve stirred the pot one too many times. What if someone has the power to dial up the difficulty on your students’ exam and make you look bad? What if you’re a student who answers a little too conservatively? Will you have something tied into your record that identifies you as a potential troublemaker in the future?

Superintendent Menlove has said in a House Education Committee meeting that all students may opt out of these tests. Go to this link, click HB 81’s audio under the player, and forward to the 29 minute mark and start listening.


Download the CAT opt out form

See which districts are opt-out friendly

In Utah, we have the SAGE assessments, administered by AIR. AIR does not specialize in academic testing. They are a behavioral testing company. If you are new to this issue, here are a few past articles to bring you up to speed.


Do you think we’re safe just because we live in “family friendly” Utah? Think again. Here’s a letter I got from a parent just a few days ago.

“Good morning,

I am passing this on to you because I believe you can reach more people than I can.  This morning my son was to take his 8th Grade writing assessment.  Knowing that this would most likely be an assignment where he was asked to write about his opinion on something, I went down to the school and talked to the English teacher.  She told me that in the past, the topics had been things like whether or not students should be allowed to wear hats at school or what their opinion was on school uniforms.  Another asked an opinion about using paper or plastic shopping bags. However, she was not allowed to see the actual prompt before or after the assessment in past years or this year.  She was nice, but unconcerned.  After visiting a while, she was willing to let me be in the room and look over my son’s shoulder as the prompt appeared after log in.  One look and I let her know that my son would not be participating in the assessment.  She was polite and said that was fine.  While not revealing the actual topic of the assessment, I will share that it very clearly asked for an opinion regarding the role of parents vs. the role of government and other organizations on a topic that I would say should most definitely fall under the parental realm.  Heads up to parents of all 8th graders in the state of Utah!

E. N.

(PhD in Instructional Psychology & Technology with emphasis in Educational Assessment)”

When I inquired further, this parent indicated this was a state-wide 8th grade writing assessment. It was the only question on this assessment. Her son informed her that another boy in his class didn’t participate for the same reason. He stepped out and called his mom to tell her what the prompt was and she told him not to participate.

I pressed this parent further to know the specific question and she responded:

“Should access to media be limited by parents, by the government, or by another organization?”

This is an opinion question given to 13-14 year olds. Most of them aren’t going to know of other organizations that they could write about as a viable option on a writing assignment, so the real choices for this writing assessment are parents or government putting restrictions on their media. This is Utah, and I’d like to believe that most children would write that it’s better for parents to put the restrictions on them, but there’s probably a lot of young teens who resent the restrictions parents put on them and probably a good number are going to write and speculate about how the government should be in charge of such matters. In reality, the only role the government has is ensuring the first amendment is protected.

I recommend you immediately opt your children out of all CAT’s using our opt-out form. Talk with your child about inappropriate questions that may minimize the role of parents. Look up your school district to see if it is opt-out friendly. So far only Nebo school district has displayed animosity toward families in rejecting the opt-out form. Alpine even went so far as to publish their own simple opt-out form for parents to use. A few charter schools have indicated they will also force children to take the test because the school is graded based on this test and charters live and die by enrollments. We need the state to change the way they grade schools so it does not include CAT’s. Look at our opt-0ut form though and you’ll realize you have a fundamental liberty interest in the education of your children so you hold the upper hand. Opt-out.

Last fall, the state allowed 15 parents to review 10,000 test questions. In one week. Hundreds of questions were flagged for concerns. The vast majority of those concerns were ignored. Parents really have no clue what their children are going to see on these tests. Only 15 people caught a very fast glimpse of them and none of them were trained psychologists looking for behavioral indicators.

I strongly encourage you to opt your child out of CAT’s. If you are in a school that requires them, expose your child to someone with a cold a few days prior to the tests. :)

Here is a chart and explanation by one of the 15 parent reviewers.

“All items flagged by the parent review panel, which were not removed will be presented to the parent review panel next summer for further review.”

Listed below is the numeric representation of the process:

FlaggedRemovedChangedReview after Field Test
English Language Arts
















Download the CAT opt out form

See which districts are opt-out friendly


Addendum by Alpine School District Board Member Wendy Hart

I believe that if you opt out, unless your school has a policy otherwise, it shouldn’t matter whether your kid is there or not on the day of the test.

The short answer is that ‘yes’, your student will be counted in the school and teacher grades as non-proficient.  However, this is set by the State Board, and they have said if it affects the school and teacher grades because too many parents opt out, they would change it.  It was news to me that it would be on the child’s permanent record, but I confirmed this evening that they are putting it in the computer system in ASD as such, again because of the State Board’s grading system.  So, this is new (since my kids have no record of having tested the last two years and they were opted out, formally, both years).  It goes to a bullying mentality from the State Board: parents have the right to opt out, but we’ll make it very, very difficult for them.  (They can’t legally penalize the student for the parents’ choice, but they can make it seem very, very bad.)

If the parents and teachers were to push back, the State Board would change their policy.  (They have already said they would, they just need more incentive from the people to do it prior to the tests.)  It is unfair to punish the teachers for kids who don’t take the test.  Please write to all the state board members and ask them to change their grading system.  If enough people do this (and it might only take a hundred or so), and copy in the legislators, it will get changed.  They are hoping to get enough parents to be scared that they won’t do it.  After they have this system in place for a year or two, then they will change it to where the student’s grade is dependent on the test, as well.

I’m so sorry, and I completely understand that pressure.  I am doing this with my kids because the whole thing enforces what the State Board wants at the expense of local schools and local parents.  The only way to change it is for parents to reassert their natural rights.  I wish teachers would push back, as well.  It is most unfair to them.  It wouldn’t take much for a large group of teachers and/or the UEA to stand for fairness in grading.  There is no point to counting an opted out student as non-proficient other than to induce teachers to guilt parents into having their kids tested.

Let me know if I can help with anything.


45 thoughts on “Why you MUST Opt your Child Out of all Computer Adaptive Tests”

  1. I just have a question. If we plan on homeschooling, do we still need to opt our children out of all Computer Adaptive Tests?

    1. Yes if you plan to homeschool next year. They’ll be subject to the SAGE tests this year. If they are young and not in school and you’re going to homeschool, you have no worries.

    2. No you do not. There is a new law just passed a frw weeks ago stating homeschool parents don’t even need to register or sign the state affidavit to be allowed to teach at home. If you plan to use a distance learning reimbursement program such as my tech high or new harmony they are not opt out friendly.

  2. I transcribed the audio for those who may be hearing-impaired or in a location where they can’t listen I the audio:

    The problem is that the test is open to manipulation. So If I want it to look like the students are doing poorly, I can adapt to make the test harder. If I want it to look like the students are doing well, it can be adapted to make the test easier. And you as parents, or taxpayers, or policy-setters, will never know which way the test was adapted, because it’s an internal mechanism. So it is not a valid assessment. And that is the fundamental problem with it, is that the test is being manipulated as it’s being taken. In other cases, when you’re not in math, but you’re in some of the more–history or other areas where it’s more philosophy-driven, you have to comply before you can move on. So the child is put in the position of, “You must agree”–“I don’t agree with the global warming.” But you have to. Because the test won’t let you move on unless you comply. So when the test-makers can make the test adaptive, we can make it easier, we can make it harder, or we can make it so that we force compliance. You can’t take the next step unless you comply with whatever it is that’s being taught or presented in the test, so even if you don’t agree with it, you’re gonna have to write it. You’re gonna have to say stuff. Perhaps an example that is older will help you. I have a long history in this movement. This is not the first time the federal government has attempted to take over education. So, in the 1990s, that iteration was called “outcome-based education,” and then “school-to-work.” And I was one of the leading national opponents then, too. And I got involved because a woman showed me a test. It was given in Pennsylvania. It was called the “Educational Quality Assessment.” It was originally given back in the 70s and early 80s, and the test said “Citizenship.” So parents thought they were testing George Washington, the Declaration of Independence, but when you looked at the internal documents of the test, which I did, it said, “We’re not testing objective knowledge. We are testing and scoring for the child’s threshold for behavior change without protest.” And that was in the test. So the sample question said, “There’s a group called the ‘Midnight Marauders,’ and they went out at night and did vandalism. I [the child] would join–WOULD JOIN THE GROUP IF–my best friend was in the group, my mother wouldn’t find out….” There was no place to say, “I won’t join the group.” They had to say under which conditions they would join the group. Another sample question was, um, “Your parents just found out that they’re moving to Outer Mongolia. How much time would you spend on each of the following? Being upset, crying, arguing…. So how adaptable are you to change?” Based on the results if the EQA, districts were given curriculum packets to modify their curriculum, so that the children would do better on the EQA the next time. So they were using the test to get a threshold for behavior, and then adapting. Now, that was a paper-and-pencil test, so…. to say it was easy to track is…. a gross overstatement, at the level of difficulty that it was to get the information, but, compared to a computer-adaptive test? Much easier. When we were fighting outcome-based education, I traveled–I was in every state but Hawaii, and in one state, I was reading the assessments, and it was a reading assessment. And it was a story about a child who found a wallet, and there was money in the wallet, and, “What do you do with the money?” I’m sitting in the Department of Education, reading it in front of the other secretary, because they didn’t want me to make a copy and take it anywhere, which was fine. Um–and the question was, to the child, “If you found a wallet with money in it, would you take it?” Do you read better if you say yes, or do you read better if you say no? Or were they testing a child’s honesty on a state assessment with their name on it, that was computerized? But because it was paper-and-pencil, I could find it. What if they put that on a computer test? And if they don’t give the right answer, I can change the computer to move them in the next direction. So computer-adaptive testing is really dangerous for our children, because the state can manipulate achievement data by making the test harder if they want, or easier if they want. And you won’t know. You’ll just get proficient results. Or, they can use the test to test for, and then influence, what your child thinks, and how your child thinks about a variety of topics. And again, parents thought that was a reading test. They didn’t know that honesty was being tested, on a paper-and-pencil state assessment with their child’s name on it, that’s now part of their record. And no child would think to say, “Is that a reading question?” Children just answer the questions in front of them. Because they’re kids! They just take the test. That’s what they’re using the test for, and computer-adaptive makes that so much easier, and therefore so much more dangerous.

    1. Melissa, thank you so much for transcribing this. It’s a crucial piece of info. I’m floored. Just when it can’t get any worse, it gets worse.

    2. Adaptive testing is nothing new. It was very popular in the late 90s in the IT certification industry. I have been taking ITertification tests for over a decade. Interestingly, I have not seen an adaptive test on a IT certification for quite some time. There has got to be a reason for that.

  3. I am part of Utah online school and my son is in 4th grade, all we participate in is the math program called “Aleks Math”. He will be taking a test (not related to Aleks, but more related to Utah’s testing requirements) this may for 4th grade and I am wondering your opinion on this test and reasons for not taking it.

  4. Oak, I attended the rally at the Capitol a few weeks ago. I picked up the opt out papers, but am concerned…I was told that if I opt my kids out they will get a grade of non-proficient. Is that true? I have a 6th grader, 3rd, and Kindergartener. Can I opt out in Junior High as well, my son will be going to Wasatch Jr. next year. I am lost in what to do.

    1. We’ll have to check into that.

      If I remember right, a student is only deemed not proficient when they don’t officially opt out. I’ll see what I can find.

  5. I have a question. My daughter who is 6 is participating in a long distance program (called Canyon Grove Academy) has been taking a test each quarter called Dibels. It is not a CAT test. My question is, is this safe as far as data collection goes? Or is her private info still at risk? I could have opted out, but I didn’t because they school needs to stay in good standing in order to exist. And a lot of homeschoolers like the program but were told they could opt out of testing but encouraged not to so the school wouldn’t get a failing grade for too many non participants.

    1. Everything the child does in school that stays with their files or they use their SIS number with will go into the State Longitudinal Database. You can make a statement that absolutely NO Personally Identifiable Information is to leave the district level but it really is just a statement because as long as the Federal FERPA law stands as is privacy is utterly shredded. Just do what feels right for your family. There is so much information being collected. The best thing to do is become educated and do what you can knowing you won’t be able to completely isolate them from this as long as they are in school until we get some real privacy back.

    2. Dibels is strictly an assessment for comprehension and rate. They test to see if the child meets the “benchmark” for their grade. It flags children who are at risk, meaning that they are below the benchmark, and need further intervention to increase their reading skill to the point that they are on “grade level”.

  6. Do you know if the online charter schools (like Canyon Grove, My Tech High, Harmony Ed, etc.) that many homeschoolers use for reimbursement are refusing to allow students to opt out of the tests? We are considering using My Tech High, but heard a rumor today that they will not allow students to opt out of the tests.

    1. It would be a shame if your child was ill the day the tests were administered…
      An official in Alpine school district said if enough schools had more than 5% of the students opt out of the tests the state would have to change their school grading formula and drop this from it. That’s why these charters are desperate to enforce the test because they want an A rating or they are at risk, unlike a district school. Charters are forced into government obedience because they are a quasi-public/private entity.

        1. Home school, private school, or civil disobedience and have your child catch the flu on the days of the exams. Also, complain to your state school board member, state charter board, and legislators.

  7. The problem with this is not only do you have to say global warming is true to pass the test but if you don’t the curriculum that you learn will be adapted to convince you that global warming is true. The computer will identify areas where you need more work and global warming will be identified as one of them. Global warming is a cause of the left because it makes possible taxation of the carbon dioxide emissions of companies which means an enormous tax on corporations which they can use to buy off voters with entitlements.

  8. I just have a question. Why are we trying to save public education? I know there are very powerful entities with great interest financially and as a means of power who want to keep public education going. They pretty much ignore the people and do what they want. We continue to play their game. Isn’t it time we create an alternative. I know there are many out there who want their children out of the Government run schools. When I speak to people and they find out we home school the comments are more times than not ” How I wish I could take my children out, but I have to work or I am not qualified to teach my children.” The one that upsets me the most is I can’t be with my children that many hours they drive me crazy. What a message to send to our children! I think we need to come together to create that alternative. I know many cannot afford private school or because they work they cannot supervise their children at home so they can use an online course. So we need an alternative for these people. We can continue to fight the federal and state government or we can take matters into our own hands. They are only as powerful as we allow them to be it is time to take our children back! It is time to be innovators in education. I know it is possible Hillsdale college takes no Government monies and I mean none! They have defied the system we all think we are stuck in, it is time Utahans do the same!

  9. I spoke with the principal at my kids elementary school this morning. I live in davisschool district. She told me all I have to do to opt out is let her know my children will not participate. They will be marked absent not non-proficient. She didwarn me however that opting out my six grader might complicate my child’s placement in junior high as year end level test are what they go by. This frustrates me. I have a very smart and well above average 6th graderwho reads at an high school level and also excels in math and science. I don’t agree with the premise that not taking the sage test should determine whether or not he gets into honors and ap classes.

    1. Maude, I would just go to the counselor and push to get into the classes you want and tell them if it’s too hard for your child you’ll drop down to regular classes. You should be able to put your child where you want. In fact, contact the jr. high counselor now and inquire about this.

    2. Request that the school determine placement in Jr High based on the cummulative work from the entire school year rather than relying on one test. There is nobreason a student shouldn’t be placed based on the year’s work.

  10. I am still trying to get a handle on how/if opting out with directly affect my children. I have read the opt out information from the state about whether a student is present but opting out/refusing vs if the student does not attend school. But I am wondering what will go into my child’s records? My kids are already in the “system” because I didn’t opt them out of any testing last year. Has anyone received a definitive answer on that?

    1. I’m not an expert on how this SAGE stuff will work out. I can tell you that when I talked to my principal about opting out she said it would not negatively affect my daughter. My daughter is a straight A student. She is also taking precalculus as a freshman. So there is no SAGE test in math for her because it doesn’t test that level. I have three children in college this year. All have taken 9 or 10 AP classes in high school. I have never seen their end of year testing affect whether they could take a class or not. End of year testing is never seen by colleges either; colleges look at grades and ACT/SAT scores. So if you are being told that SAGE testing will affect which classes your children can take or their placement in school, then we should all be doubly concerned. That would be an even stronger reason for us to stand together and opt out of these tests. Our children need us to support them and their ability to learn — independent of standardized testing.

  11. I wish the publisher of this website would be practice full disclosure when publishing “Dr” Peg Lukisk material to show her educational credentials. She does not have a true PHD. She does not even have a master’s degree. She is a spokes person for this movement and not an credentialed authority.

    To save you time, she received an honorary PHD and only has a BS in Special Education.

    1. Thank you for clarifying that for us John. I see you work for Nebo school district in some capacity. Can you please tell us what role you have there?

    1. You wanted me to practice full disclosure assuming I knew what Dr. Lukisk’s “true” credentials were. So in the interest of full disclosure I’m asking for yours to be public as well.

  12. Even if opting out of SAGE or similar testing, creating opposition to the state (i.e. any government entity) having private, one-on-one time with minors is a must. (On the other hand, if enough parents opt out, that will effectively crush such practices).

    (Please read on and reply with anything that might add clarity, as I’m not certain I understand the rules/regulations required of the state and the educational entities).


    I’m a bit confused. In listening in to the discussion on HB 81 there is discussion about expanding the review process from a 15-person panel to being open to all parents. The bill did not pass.

    However, in R277-404-6 par. C.(Assessment Requirements, Protocols, and Security), regulation of assessment testing states: “A student’s individual responses and scores shall be available
    to the student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) consistent with the
    federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 USC,
    Sec. 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99.”

    If test questions and responses are not being made available, it seems to me that such is against the rules, regulations, or statutes at the state and federal levels.

    If this is correct, then all conscious parents and guardians will seek this information for any of the SAGE testing. If denied (because it’s not available, or for whatever reason), then the denial must be addressed from a legal standpoint. If made available, while parents aren’t currently “allowed” to access the information before the tests, accessing the tests after-the-fact is better than not at all.

    1. This is the entire statement from the resolution. The student’s individual responses don’t mean that a parent can see the questions. It means that a parent can see that their child got number 1 correct or incorrect and that they have a total score of whatever. It may also have what they answered but you won’t know what the question was. You will see on line 261 they say that assessment content must be kept secure-that means the questions. Earlier in the document it talks about teachers being held to a commitment to not share the test questions with anyone to maintain statistical purity of the test.(my words not the resolution)

      C. A student’s individual responses and scores shall be
      258 available to the student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s)
      259 consistent with the federal Family Educational Rights and
      260 Privacy Act (FERPA),20 USC, Sec. 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99.
      261 D. Each LEA shall ensure that all assessment content is
      262 secured so that only authorized personnel have access and that
      263 assessment materials are returned to USOE following testing,
      264 as required by the USOE. Individual educators shall not
      265 retain test materials, in either paper or electronic form, for
      266 purposes inconsistent with ethical test administration or
      267 beyond the time period allowed for test administration.
      268 E. Violation of any of these rules subjects licensed
      269 educators to possible disciplinary action under R277-515, Utah
      270 Educator Standards.

  13. Does opting out for computer tests include the “Utah Write” program? I have had my eyebrows raise over some of the prompts my 5th grader has received with this; things that tend to be politically charged and things he doesn’t even have a clue about.

    1. You have every right to specify that it does. If the teacher grades based on this and it’s asking inappropriate questions, opt out and ask for a pencil and paper test that isn’t politically charged.

  14. This was a question today in the 7th grade SAGE test in Uintah School District. “Do you like purebred dogs better than mixed breeds”. What does that have to do with academics? How can they score your children on opinions? Do you score higher if you answer purebred?

  15. What is so bad about a student expressing their opinion on a topic? Just because they feel a certain way about something doesn’t mean you, as a parent, are required to follow that. If your kid, right now, told you he/she thinks something you do is unfair, would you immediately give in to it? A good parent would discuss it with their partner, or, at the least, ponder it for a while before coming to a conclusion. What you are insinuating is that because a child is given an idea, that that idea is going to grow out of control. If you are a good parent, you should have already established rules in your household and should be able to take control of a situation, should it arise. The main problem with the SAGE tests is that they are poorly coded and mainly written by politicians and the like, not educators. Sure, many of the questions and their answers are bogus, but your first response is to home school your children, all as a direct result of a week or two of testing at the end of the year? The tests are meant to determine whether or not a school should continue to receive funding for the next school year, etc., not influence parents to pull their kids aside and out of public schooling. Every test has it’s flaws, even textbooks. Regarding DanNatte, “This was a question today in the 7th grade SAGE test in Uintah School District. “Do you like purebred dogs better than mixed breeds”. What does that have to do with academics? How can they score your children on opinions? Do you score higher if you answer purebred?” (April 1, 2014 at 10:21 am), Questions such as these are not “you get a higher score depending on which side you take or what your opinion is.” Scoring is based off of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and so on. It is a simple English test. Personally, I find this a lot less dry than “Identify the demonstrative pronoun in the sentence: ‘That is my bag.'” Opinion papers/essays are very common throughout a typical school year. This is obviously a situation of ignorance as to what your children are being taught in school. Maybe you need to get more involved with their education? I can guarantee you that this is not the first encounter they have had with these types of questions. It’s more than likely been all over their homework, all year long. Sure the people writing the tests may be ignorant, but do two wrongs make a right?

  16. My daughter stressed over the Utah Writes prompts. Seldom being able to receive a high score on what would be “her opinion” . At Christmas she had a mind numbing prompt. She worked on it at home and received a 27 out of 30. She was so excited and showed me her work. I corrected a couple of simple typos and her score dropped 2 points. How is it that poor work is rewarded a higher score than correct work? Does anyone know how Box Elder county treats those who Opt Out of the core testing?

  17. Can I opt my daughter out of testing in High School? What will happen if I do? She is attending Lehi High School. My son is attending Renaissance Academy and is in 6th grade and I want to opt him out too.

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