Education News

Houston Parent Feels ‘Bullied’ After Sons Opted Out Of State Exam

Parent Shavonda Collins believes that her twin boys were almost removed from their longtime school and are being held back because they didn’t take the state math exam last year.

Mom Shavonda Collins stands with her twin boys, Tyler and Tylan
Shavonda Collins had her twin sons, Tyler and Tylan, opt out of the state’s math exam last year. But when school started again, she said they faced a backlash.
On the first day of school, Shavonda Collins dropped her twin boys off at Burrus Elementary in North Houston.

They’ve gone there since pre-K and wanted to start fourth grade. But Tyler and Tylan weren’t allowed in class.

They sat in the cafeteria all morning. Then they were sent to the main office.

“Once there, they were seated in the little waiting area, the visitor’s waiting area, and were told they weren’t zoned to

the school,” said Collins, who didn’t find out until the end of the day.

She believes that they had problems because they were the only students in their class who didn’t take the math exam.

They were among dozens of families in the Houston Independent School District whose children boycotted the state’s math exam. It’s called opting out.

But Collins said that their back-to-school experience feels like a backlash.

“It feels like we’re being bullied. It feels like the decision that we made was a bad thing, like it’s bad or something, like it was a bad thing to even have that decision or choice,” Collins said.

Collins, a member of the grassroots advocacy group Community Voices for Public Education, has managed to get her sons re-enrolled at the school, which is near their father’s home.

But now she’s fighting for them to join the fourth grade and not be held back.

That’s because last year her twins took and didn’t pass the state’s reading exam – along with half of their classmates.

But, as their mom pointed out, they have B averages on their report card and attended summer school. Collins also said that HISD didn’t follow its policy in how it determines to promote a student or not.

In an email, HISD spokeswoman Holly Huffman said that their enrollment was delayed in order to verify their home address.

She said that there’s no evidence the issue was related to opting out and that they are continuing to look into the family’s case.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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