While New Bedford students won't be forced to take MCAS or PARCC tests, they also won't be told they can opt out.

At Monday's meeting, the New Bedford School Committee voted to not send parents information about their right to refuse standardized testing for their child.

Superintendent Pia Durkin says sending parents and students the right to refuse information would inadvertently endorse opting out on the district's end.

"We need to do the right thing for children, and children have to be given the opportunity to be able to show what they know," Durkin tells WBSM News. "We've been able to demonstrate that New Bedford Public Schools is making progress. As a level 4 district, that is part of our legal and educational responsiblility."

Durkin also said in a statement that the level 4 designation puts pressure on the district to show improvement through better test scores.

According to Durkin, if 10% of students in a level 1 school refused standardized testing, the school would automatically be dropped to level 3 regardless of test results.

School Committee member Chris Cotter supported informing parents of their right to refuse, saying that the district hasn't given them the straight answer on being able to opt out with no consequences for their child.

While there aren't direct consequences to younger students refusing high-stakes testing, Massachusetts requires all high school students to pass the test before they can graduate.

Before school officials spoke on the subject, a number of parents explained why their students would choose not to take the tests. One parent even said the stress and anxiety of state tests caused their child to refuse to go to school on a number of occasions.

Parent Amber Ostman said that while officials have a number of years to figure out which tests work best, her child doesn't have the same liberty.

"Why should we compromise their education, and lose their love of learning by smothering them with exessive amounts of tests for data?" Ostman said.


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