ADMINISTRATORS at the Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences are investigating six teachers who have informed parents about the option to "opt out" of standardized testing.
Since the teachers' efforts began last fall, 17 percent of the school's parents have opted their children out of testing, said Kelley Collings, one of the six teachers who will meet Thursday with principal Michael Reid.
Administrators in the district have a right to call for an "investigatory conference" as part of the due process outlined in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers contract. The action followed a City Paper article last week that detailed the teachers' outreach to parents about the right to opt out.
"What is clear to us is that the district's actions are intended to center around fear and intimidation to silence parents, teachers and students about exercising their rights," Collings said.
Under state law, parents may opt a child out if they feel the test goes against their religious convictions.
Parents and teachers at the school have been working with advocate groups, including Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools and Parents United for Public Education, to spread news of the opt-out movement. They've held informational pickets, citywide meetings and flier events.
Similar actions have been underway in other cities, including New York, Chicago and Seattle.
Feltonville is the first school in the city to meet a threshold that advocates say could call into question the validity of test scores, said Collings, who is also a member of the PFT's Caucus of Working Educators Steering Committee. Other schools in the district also are working on reaching a similar threshold for opt-out requests, she said.
The district hasn't received any "opt-out" requests from Feltonville, on Courtland Street near B, said district spokesman Fernando Gallard.
Reid, the school's principal, seeks "to collect information and look and see what has occurred," Gallard said. Reid had no knowledge about letters handed out to parents, Gallard added.
"What occurred and what was given out? We need to make sure there was correct information," Gallard said.
Feltonville parent Belinda Brown became frustrated with standardized tests when she saw how results influenced her son's future schooling.
"I thought it was a bit unfair because [test results] have to be taken into consideration," said Brown, whose eighth-grade son did not score "proficient" or "advanced" last year on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. "It kind of limited his [high school] options."
Since then, Brown has opted out her son as well as her sixth-grade daughter.
"Don't judge a child's intellect by scores," she said.