Alexandria school told parents of low-performing students about right to opt out of testing

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Parents in Virginia are allowed to opt their children out of state exams, but one area principal has been disciplined for trying to take advantage of that law.

An investigation by the Alexandria City Public Schools found that the Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology was calling parents of poorly performing students to remind them of their right to pull their kids out of Standards of Learning testing. Thirty-seven families did.

The investigation first arose earlier this year, and the school’s principal, Brandon Davis, was disciplined at the time for contacting parents about this right. Back then, Davis told the Alexandria Gazette Packet that he did not do anything that he “perceived [to be] intentionally wrong at the time.”

But now, The Washington Post says Davis instructed teachers to target poorly performing students. Those details were released to the paper Thursday by the Virginia Department of Education.

The school, which has a large number of students who live in poverty, has seen great improvements in test scores in recent years, and Davis has been frequently rewarded for his work by several outside organizations, even The Post. The effect of a large number of students likely to fail the test could well inflate the school’s scores.

The school system told the paper Thursday that it regrets what has happened and says Davis exercised poor judgment. The system says it took “appropriate actions,” but wouldn’t say what those actions are.

After these calls came to light, the school system called those parents back to encourage them to have their children take the tests. Eleven of the 37 families have opted back in.

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