The Worcester School Committee has voted to allow parents of Worcester, MA to have their children “opt out” of participation in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) pilot test. Students from 29 Worcester schools are scheduled to take portions of the PARCC to allow state education officials to determine whether to use the test to replace the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

The School Committee took this action despite receiving an opinion letter from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) general counsel, which stated that “participation in the PARCC assessment field test is mandatory and not subject to opting out.”

Worcester School Committee member Tracy O’Connell Novick described the letter from the general counsel as a “weak legal opinion.” The School Committee’s action was in response to a request from some parents to send a letter to the DESE stating that parents should have the right to opt out of testing. The decision by the Worcester School Committee follows a similar decision by the Norfolk Public Schools made in February, and reflects a growing push by parents to have their students opt out of standardized testing.