All of the juniors at Nathan Hale High School refused to show up for state testing this week.

Share story

Not a single junior at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High showed up to take new state tests in reading and math this week, a school-district spokeswoman said Thursday.

Testing started Tuesday at the school, where a group of teachers, administrators, parents and students had earlier agreed to boycott the exams, called Smarter Balanced, which are replacing Washington’s old statewide tests.

Under pressure from the district’s top administrators, the school’s leaders capitulated, sending an email to families saying they would give the test after all.

But the 280 juniors — who don’t need to pass the Smarter Balanced exam to graduate from high school — opted out anyway.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks

“They didn’t skip school all day,” district spokeswoman Stacy Howard said. “They just didn’t show up during the testing period.”

Howard could not confirm whether any sophomores — who are taking the reading portion of the new exams as a graduation requirement — refused to take the tests, too. Other reports of exam refusals throughout Seattle Public Schools have mostly concentrated on the junior class.

Half the juniors at three other Seattle high schools — Roosevelt, Ingraham and Garfield — have also opted out so far, according to early district estimates. But those numbers could change once testing starts, as they did at Nathan Hale, Howard said. Some of the students who skipped testing hadn’t told the district they planned to refuse the exams, she said.

Seattle is not alone. Similar tests have sparked protests in Oregon, New Mexico and New York, among other places.

In Washington, families have the right to excuse their children from taking state exams, but only a handful in each grade usually do so.

Doug Edelstein, a history teacher at Nathan Hale who questions the validity of the tests, said juniors and their parents decided for themselves the tests were a waste of time.

“Students voted with their own feet,” Edelstein said. “They felt like they knew the facts, and made their own decisions.”

The Smarter Balanced exams, meant to be taken online, are designed to measure how well students have mastered the Common Core standards in reading and math, which Washington and most states have agreed to use. Some schools piloted the tests last year.