to Vox, here are the states that allow nonmedical exemptions to school vaccination requirements. Just three states ban nonmedical exemptions (CA, MI, WV). Most other states allow some combination of religious and philosophical exemptions. Exemptions are relatively high in Oregon, Michigan and Vermont. Idaho, Illionois, Maine, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Alaska. (California just made it nearly impossible to refuse vaccines).

As far as I know, there is no comparable map or data showing state testing opt-out requirements (ie, what parents have to do to opt their children out of standardized testing, much less state-by-state information about actual opt-out rates (which you can see about vaccine exemption rates if you click the link).

I know that criminal justice reporters and others bemoan the absence of information they’d like to have on hand, but the vaccination data highlight just one of the several instances in which it seems like reporters and thus the public are operating with less information about the education system than they are about other areas of domestic policy.

The absence of reliable, comparable information across states seems to promote misinformation, misunderstandings, and confusion — and an over-emphasis on startling anecdotes and personal or ideological conflicts in the media coverage that results.


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Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at