This is a condensed version of Facts about CSAP.

Researched by a Colorado parent

“There is no federal law prohibiting a parent from opting their child out of CSAP testing.”–Jo O’Brien, Colorado Dept. of Education.

  • CSAP scores and parental refusals have NO IMPACT on student grades.
  • There is no penalty for students who do not take the CSAP due to parental refusal.

“Students who do not test, including those who ..[don't]..due to parental refusal, are counted as non-participants when determining participation rates for state and federal accountability purposes.
..non-participant data are not counted as zeroes – they are excluded from the calculation… So the calculations are performed on the basis solely of students that took the test and had valid scores on it.” –Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education.

In the CDE letter by James McIntosh, Director of Student Assessment: “Negative weights for Unsatisfactory and No Score percentages are not in effect anymore…Student records that receive a “No Score” are not considered “participating” for AYP.

“Parental refusal is only an explanation of why the student did not test.” –Glen Sirakavit, CSAP Senior Consultant, Colorado Department of Education

Every student in grades 3-10 is “expected” to take the CSAP according to the CDE, however every student is not “required” to take the CSAP. In other words, it is at the parents’ discretion as to whether or not their child takes this exam. Even so,

“Teachers in most districts are being advised to stress the importance of the CSAPs to both the children and their parents.” –The Coalition for Better Education.

  • Students have been given [bribes like] free merchandise, candy, and restaurant fare in exchange for completed test booklets. This is considered an unethical and unprofessional educational practice by some educators and parents.
  • Testing takes between 9 and 12 hours for children as young as 8 years old.
  • It has been reported that some students experience anxiety so extreme while taking the CSAP they have vomited on their exams or have had anxiety attacks.
  • If your child does not take the CSAP due to parental refusal, he/she does not have to stay home from school on testing days.

“No school’s base funding will change as a result of poor CSAP performance. In fact, schools with ‘low’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ ratings will receive MORE funding in order to help them improve.” –The Fund for Colorado’s Future.

  • A school does NOT receive more state funding if it performs well on the CSAP.

“School districts receive funding based on pupil enrollment as defined by statute (22-54-103, C.R.S.)… The only relationship CSAP has to the funding formula is a count of English Language Learners.” –Vody Hermann, Director of Public School Finance, Colorado Dept. of Education

  • Not all administrators and teachers find the CSAP to be useful or the only important assessment tool. “I find it less useful for shaping instructional practice.” –Scott Murphy, Superintendent for Littleton Public School District.

“It is ONE source of information on your child’s achievement and by no means should be considered the only input.”–Jo O’Brien, Assistant Commissioner of Standards, Colorado Department of Education.

  • CSAP scores and parental refusals are NEVER INCLUDED on college transcripts.

“The big lie is that colleges and universities care about CSAP scores. They don’t. UNC and AIMS do not give a whit about CSAP scores. Nor does University of Colorado at Boulder. No one does. This is just something that school administration has made up to instill fear. This is shameful educational malpractice.” –Don Perl, President of the Coalition for Better Education

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41 Responses to Students not required to take CSAP tests

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by connyjensen, connyjensen. connyjensen said: Parents can support public education and teachers by opting their children out of state testing [...]

  2. J says:

    When I lived in Ca. I opted my kids out of state testing…then when I moved to PA, I did the same…but they had never heard of doing such a thing. My daughter was ridiculed by the teachers for not testing…one teacher was like…who do you think you are!? Now I live in Florida…I called up the school board and asked if I could opt out of testing here (oh…I have 5 kids) and they said absolutely not! They said my twins would not pass the 3rd grade if they didn’t test! what are my rights really?

  3. Conny Jensen says:

    J wrote “They said my twins would not pass the 3rd grade if they didn’t test! what are my rights really?”

    Thanks for your response!
    Go to the district’s website or visit the admin building to see if such a policy exists. I do not see how they can justify holding children back from moving on to the next grade solely because they did not take the test. Do they not have any expertise left to evaluate your children on the work and learning they do in class each day?

    It all comes down to bullying parents and students into compliance. You may want to share the following information with the schoolboard and school personnel on the harms of standardized testing. or this by Alfie Kohn: See his website too:

    Check out talks by Diane Ravitch on Youtube

    Many experts are on your side, and in the end…it is you the parent who should have the last say in what your child should be subjected to. Just think, if there was a law that condoned corporal punishment, would you stand for that?

    NCLB is up for renewal and you should send letters to all the members on the U.S. House and Senate Education Committees to let them know about your negative experiences.

    Get together with other like-minded parents; hand out facts sheets on testing. Keep standing up for your children.

    If you wan to stay informed about national groups taking action, join Uniting 4 Kids here: and/or here:

  4. Melissa Jones says:

    J, try to contact Rita Solnet of Parents Across America. She lives in FL. Maybe she can help you out? Her bio/email is at the bottom of this page:

    There is a FB page too you could leave a message on:

    I cannot believe that you wouldn’t have the final say in this testing matter, or that your kids would be held back! It’s so wrong.

  5. [...] apparently, in CO, you don’t have to take the state tests. Huh. That makes sense. I mean, if a kid asked you: will this test prevent me from graduating? Uh, [...]

  6. Michele Gray says:

    Does anyone know what the rules are in Pennsylvania. My sons, ages 9 and 11, are contemplating organizing a classroom or even school wide sit-in and refusual by all the students to take the test. I don’t know if they can get every 3rd, 4th and 5th grader to join them, but they are sure going to try.

  7. Conny Jensen says:

    More clarification regarding Colorado:

    Q: What about students whose parents refuse to let them participate in CSAP?

    A: They count as non-participants and are removed from calculations for proficiency and “other indicator” targets

  8. T says:

    Students at my children’s school (Palmer High School in Colorado Springs) were told they would not be allowed to try out for baseball if they did not take the test. Does this sound ethical?

    • Nina Bishop says:

      To T: My name is Nina Bishop. I am currently trying to compile letters from parents whose children were denied athletics, NHS, AP, IB or any other penalty for not testing. I am trying to put together a joint filing to the ACLU and I need letters from parents with their story and permission to add them to my complaint to the ACLU and signed; has to be a hard copy. My address is: 3065 Windward Way, CO Spgs, CO 80917. You can reach me by phone at 233-1508.

  9. Chris Eikenberg says:

    Very unethical and frightening to use such tactics to bully someone into taking a test.

  10. Tamara Hamilton says:

    Information containes on this website is directly contrary to the statements of the Colorado Department of Education dated March of this year. As a result of beleiving this misinformation, my daughter will definitely be penalized. Check the most current DOE info, not parental opinions, which may be interesting and supportive, but don’t help your child much.

    • Melissa Jones says:

      In what way has your daughter been penalized? Punishing a child for not testing is unethical.

      I agree that the CDE website gives no information on opting out of CSAP; you won’t find info regarding parental choice there. That is not to say that parents have no choice or rights.

      • colinjones says:

        That is exactly right – don’t discount parental rights. Colorado law simply states that public school students are required to take the CSAP test. However, that is all that it says. There is no mention of penalty in any way shape or form. Furthermore, I believe any penalization would be found unconstitutional as described by our State and Federal constitutions and recent case rulings support the parents right to choose in every instance. You cannot be coerced. The most severe punishment I can think of is when a child attends a charter school as there may be parental contracts that you sign when your child attends a charter that could dictate penalties if CSAP is not taken. I for one would never consider a charter school that had such a vested interest in testing…

    • Conny Jensen says:

      Tamara, notice that they posted it in March of this year, and not before? The reason they did so is because of hearing about parents opting their children out. I think the new commissioner of education, Robert Hammond, who is married to our district’s superintendent, appears to run scared more easily than previous one(s). Perhaps it was his wife who alerted him to the parents opting out.

      Your child cannot be punished. That would indeed be unethical as mentioned, and would give you an idea of the harm all this testing causes!

      Have you read this entry( Very interesting and so true, The tests lose validity (they are already unreliable) when 10% of students do not test.

      Also, read this ( to learn more about the nonsense of using standardized testing for high stakes decisions!

      Lastly this year 4 out of 5 schools will be considered to be failing, so we may as well stop playing their numbers game that benefits the test makers and curriculum publishers, not your child or our public schools.

  11. Theresa D., former educator says:

    requiring elementary-age children to sit in silence doing NOTHING for lengthy periods of time when they finish the testing is ridiculous and inappropriate. i am strongly considering having my child opt out.

  12. Barbara Neff says:

    In researching ways to improve CSAP (now TCAP) scores for an article, I came across this site. Though opting out is very appealing, for me this misses the point. I hate the tests, but wish to support schools and school administrators. If they tell me having my sons take these silly tests is in the best interests of the school, I wish to cooperate.

  13. Conny Jensen says:

    Barbara you wrote: “I hate the tests, but wish to support schools and school administrators. If they tell me having my sons take these silly tests is in the best interests of the school, I wish to cooperate.”

    The tests are more than silly. They do damage to education now driven by how well students score on those tests, not by their needs or interests. There is no longer concern and compassion for students as human beings; they have become data on spreadsheets pasted to walls in schools and schoolboard rooms. Their learning is no longer engaging and in many cases downright uninteresting and boring with the danger that they start to loathe going to school.
    Is it not sad to hear of kindergarten and primary grade kids who do not want to go to school? Yes, in our local schools it has come to that!!

    The narrow focus on test scores led to all our elementary schools being overhauled to the extent that teachers lost all autonomy and are now forced to teach in lock-step and by script. This resulted in purposely neglecting children’s questions and comments during such lessons, because the script spells out what has to happen.

    Kids in kindergarten are even subjected to such nonsense for 90 minutes straight and no longer play which is abusive as they need that for proper development.

    There comes a time for parents to open their eyes to see how damaging the school day has become for their children. No one should trust that what happens in school is automatically good. If the real education experts say something is detrimental to children we parents better listen and take action. And by experts I do not mean teachers, but the people who do research in child development and pedagogy.

    It is commendable to want to support teachers and school administrators, but at what cost to your child? And how are they supporting your child in return? How understanding would they be if you were to say you are going to opt your child out?

    The compassionate ones would honor your decision, but it has been shown in many cases when we hear the stories from parents doing that, that most principals respond with threats.

    Coercion has no place in a democratic society, least of all in school where it flies in the face of everything that quality education should stand for!

    And also consider this sound advice:

    “If there isn’t more compassion and wisdom applied by leaders of our state in regards to our children’s fate, the compulsory education law should be eliminated. When education was made compulsory, education became a “bill of rights” issue.
    I will fight for the rights of my child to be allowed the freedom to learn in the kind of environment pre- scribed as best by the nation’s expert educational heads. Any parent who loves his child should be prepared to do the same.”

    The Honorable John W. Gardner, author of EXCELLENCE—CAN WE BE EQUAL AND EXCELLENT TOO?”

  14. Nina Bishop says:

    To J: My name is Nina Bishop and my son was kicked out of a public charter for not testing. My son has special needs. I am currently collecting letters from parents with their stories of penalties to their children if testing is refused. For example when children are denied athletics, NHS, AP, IB, GT or any other punitive measure imposed by the school. Please send me your story and permission to submit it along with others I have collected so that the ACLU will pick up our case for parent’s rights regarding the education of our children.

    Encourage other parents to join our fight for what is right!

    Send your letter to:
    Nina Bishop
    3065 Windward Way
    Colorado Springs, CO 80917
    Phone: 719-233-1508.

  15. dana flinders says:

    Thanks to all for the information. I had no idea that we could opt my son out. He goes to school at home and online. It is the first year for this and I started it because of his anxiety over testing when he was going to traditional school. He is scheduled to go to a testing site tomorrow for CSAP and is currrently, and has been, vomiting for the last two hours from the stress. He just can not handle the pressure of traditional testing. I am wondering if anyone knows if it is too late for us to opt out? I am obviously not going to be able to take him in five hours to the test site as the stress has made him physically ill. If anyone knows if I can still opt out, would you mind emailing me at . Thanks so much.

    • Conny Jensen says:


      I just now saw your comment. Sorry about that. I hope you did opt your son out; you should be able to do that up to the last minute. Kids who are home schooled do not have to take the state test (at least in Colorado).

      “The student being homeschooled must either take a nationally standardized achievement test when he/she reaches grades three, five, seven, nine, and eleven to evaluate academic progress, or a qualified person must evaluate the student’s academic progress at the parent’s expense.. ” (The TSAP is a state assessment test)

  16. Crystal Kane says:

    I got a letter from the school asking me to sign that I got the letter stating that if my kids miss school for any reason from March 13 to March 21 they will not be allowed to go to a play Of Mice and Men in Colorado Springs. Also The class with the least missing students will get a party, each day the students who are there or taking the test will get a ticket to a lottery for an Ipod to be drawn on the last day, you must be present to win. And a big party for all the students who didn’t miss any days. If you missed for ANY reson you don’t get to go to the party. Those students will be taking make up tests during that the time the others are at the party. They want me to sign this letter acknowleging the terms. Fat chance!!! Does that sound bribery or coercion? Does it sound ethical? Parents and kids have no rights in the schools eyes it not just in reguard to the testing. Parents need to wake up! I have been sent home syllabus to sing saying that we would keep it handy and if the child missed school it was our responcibilty to look up the week of school on the syllabus for the make up work that the teacher wouldn’t be giving out the make up information and if it wasn’t sighned the child lost 25% yes 25% if its grade. What would you all call that? I just found on the colo state education site a reference to opting out. It is on “The ABC’s of APY”. They support the testing so why wouldn’t they tell us that Jo OBriens statements are faulse and that we can not opt out of the testing. Do you really think they wouldn’t lie to us and keep information from us? They want us to have no information and to be scared of them. So at my school if a childs parents opt out or if the child is out sick the child will be punished. Over an unnecessary test. A test that takes time away from the regular studies. In our school they take time to teach what will be on the test and take a practice test so the kids loose class time on other more necessary learniong. Schools can abuse, descriminate against, coerce our kids. For any reason.

  17. Conny Jensen says:

    Take a look here if you want to participate in a joint complaint to the ACLU about the coercion and punishments!

  18. Cindie Ozanne says:

    I live in TN and do not believe in standardized testing. I have choosen not to have my daughter participate in the TCAP standardized testing. The Dept of Education here in TN has now given permission for schools to penalize children through their grades. If a child does not take the TCAP test, they will have their final grades lowered anywhere from 15% to 25% it is at the discretion of the school board. Is this legal to punish a child by lowering their grade for not sitting the TCAP exam? I have also noticed that the kids in our district are being educated as to what is on the exam. I have had to start educating my daughter here at home in addition to her daily academics. It is a sad day when a child has no idea who Ann Frank is!!!!

    • Conny Jensen says:

      Cindie, I have posted your question on the Opt Out of the State Test FB page in hopes some will have an answer for you. It seems utterly ridiculous to me that a DOE would condone such punitive measures. You may want to contact them directly to find out if that is true! Sometimes school administrators scare parents into compliance with ridiculous threats! You can contact Nina Bishop and ask if you can still join the ACLU complaint. (See info in comment above)

    • Angela Engel says:

      These penalties can be tricky because they vary by state and in many cases like yours, districts vary too.
      My advice would be to ask for the policy in writing, if one does not exist then legally they cannot lower grades arbitrarily.
      If there is a student penalty related to test participation – read it carefully. If it merely requires her to take the test, one option is for her to quickly fill in all one letter and turn it in. That sends the same message as opting out.
      Some parents have been known to unenroll their kids right before tests and get an official transcript. When testing is over, you can re-enroll. It’s a lot of paperwork but again gets at the primary objective to resist high-stakes testing.
      Best to you and your daughter,

    • Nina Bishop says:

      Get proof the school is telling you accurate information. You can always ‘sit’ and do nothing it’s called the Bartleby Project…Google it. Open test book, write name, write on it ‘I prefer not to’ sit and do nothing more; your child will be legally sitting for the exam.

  19. Cindie -I will dig into this – I need to anyway for our website as I’m sure this question will come up again. I have a good friend in Nashville who warned me of this last year – I’ll be in touch and please feel free to contact me at
    Peggy Robertson

  20. Cindie Ozanne says:

    Thank you for all your reponses. I have done some research and see that there is a Senate Bill No 3427 Section 49-1-614 which allows each local board of education to develp a policy by which student scores on the TCAP will comprise a percentage of the student’s final grade for the Spring Semester. The percentages shall be determined by the local board from a range of no less than 15% and no more than 25%. The policy shall utilize performance levels determined by the State Board of Education and implemented for the spring sememster of 2011.

    So my take on this is that TCAP will now contribute to a student’s final grade and will either raise or lower their grade by how well the student performs on the TCAP. I also took the time to look at the form that students use for this test, and I was appalled at the information they are seeking such as whether or not a child receives free lunches? What does that have to do with testing? At the start of the school year, I informed my daughter’s teacher that she does not sit TCAP and I was told by the teacher that if I did not allow my daughter to sit this exam that it would lower the teacher’s score and penalize her. As much as I feel for the teacher, I stand by my decision. I was disgusted to realize that the kids continue to be taught by what is going to be on the TCAP rather then be taught real academics. When I asked my 10 year old who JFK was, she didn’t know. I have already decided next year, my daughter goes to private school. Thank you again for your comments.

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  23. Theresa Flores says:

    My children has never taken CSAP at all (they are in 8th grade now). I keep my kids at home during testing because their 3rd grade principle tried to sneek them into her office to test them. A friend saw my kids in her office taking test and called me. Lets just say I kept my kids out for the rest of testing days to make sure it didn’t happen again and every year I tell their school they will be staying home. I also keep them home or take them out early if there is a party. In 6th grade they had a party and the teacher sent my kids to office to sit because they didn’t take the test so they couldn’t join the party. My kids called me and I went to school and told the asst. principle that they were not going to be sitting in the office just because I said they are not testing that they will come home with me. So I always ask before 1st testing day if there is going to be a party or anything that my kids can’t be involved in to let me know now so that I can come pick them up from school.I take them for ice cream or movie so that they don’t feel bad. If they ever threaten to lower my kids grades then I will have them test but I will make sure they answer the letter A on every single answer and I will tell the principle so he can decide if he really wants them to test.

  24. Mary says:

    My daughter is enrolled in a public school virtual academy and she is required to go to the district’s headquarters at 7:30am and test until 12:30pm two days a week for 2 weeks. That means I have to get my daughter up extremely early to be able to have her there by 7:30 and being basically home schooled, she is not used to having to wake up that early.

    The kicker is, the brick and motor school doesn’t have their students arrive to test until 10:30am…allowing the kids to get plenty of rest before the “big test”.

    My daughter can’t drive yet either, so that means I have to take time off of work to get her to and from the districts headquarters for those two weeks. She doesn’t want to go and I can’t blame her…because I really can’t afford the time off work to drive her back and forth…makes no sense to me at all!

  25. Joe Rico says:

    I signed paperwork with my children’s school specifically stating that I did not wish for my 2 children to not take the TCAP tests. The principle said despite my wishes if my children are in school they’d still be given the test. I am in district 60 in Pueblo, Co. Is this legit?

  26. Nina Bishop says:

    Dear Joe Rico, The school can try anything they want. How old are your kids? If they are middle school/high school and they’re brave enough have them write on their test ‘I don’t want to’ after the test begins. It’s called the Bartleby Project and you can Google it. Younger kids are sometimes too shy or afraid to try this. Once they write on the test; it’s over and they can’t be retested. Your other option is to keep them home during testing days and the make up test day. But, yes, the school will try to enforce the test, against your wishes, especially if the principal is a pri@k or if your child attends a charter school. In charter school testing is mandatory for attendance.

  27. Nina Bishop says:

    Joe Rico, If the school defies your request to opt your kids out of testing, you can always threaten to notify the media.

    Find me on Facebook: Nina Seifert Bishop
    There are many many support groups

  28. Conny Jensen says:

    Dear Joe,

    Here a comment from Don Perl who’s been urging parents to opt their kids out of the tests since the tests were first administered, now over a decade ago!

    “The important concept is to make some noise.”Wake the town and tell the people.” Insist that your child/children be afforded a place in the library for them to work on an educational project that has captured their interest and imagination. And that you insist that your wishes be implemented. If not, a number of news outlets will be notified.(Of course there is an option to take your children out of school during the days earmarked for testing.)”

    In solidarity,
    Don Perl

  29. LorenzoC says:

    I remember taking the csap as a student, I was just there for the morning snacks, I did try my best on the csap. Personally I think it’s a smart idea just badly executed. The most negative aspect I see is the fact that if students don’t know the answer teachers “make” them guess, as I was. I feel csap-tcap results falsely asses students and there knowledge. If they guess right they are miss-assesed if they guess wrong they are negatively assessed. There should be a “I don’t know” answer, this way students can properly be assessed and educators can better identify areas students are lacking.

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