USDED: No Student Assessment Opt-Outs Allowed


John King will be setting the “guardrails” when Arne Duncan leaves.

The U.S. Department of Education has spoken on student opt-outs for the 2016 statewide assessments.

Ann Whalen, the acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, wrote a letter to state school chiefs reminding them of “key assessment requirements” for the statewide assessments to be taken in Spring 2016.  This school year the states are still under the requirements of No Child Left Behind.  Whalen notes however, “similar requirements are included in the recently signed reauthorization of the ESEA, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).”

She gets very clear on a student’s ability to opt-out.

Section 1111(b)(3)1 of the ESEA requires each State educational agency (SEA) that receives funds under Title I, Part A of the ESEA to implement in each local educational agency (LEA) in the State a set of high-quality academic assessments that includes, at a minimum, assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and not less than once during grades 10 through 12; and in science not less than once during grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 9, and grades 10 through 12. Furthermore, ESEA sections 1111(b)(3)(C)(i) and (ix)(I) require State assessments to “be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children” and “provide for the participation in such assessments of all students” (emphasis added). These requirements do not allow students to be excluded from statewide assessments. Rather, they set out the legal rule that all students in the tested grades must be assessed. (Emphasis added)

So perhaps Congress should have kept opt-out language in ESSA after all.  A lot will be left up to interpretation by the U.S. Department of Education.

John King, who will replace Arne Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education, told Politico that he will set up “guardrails” for the new flexibility states receive under ESSA.

Politico noted in today’s Morning Education that state school chiefs are starting to note a lack of clarity as they – start to read the bill (it’s too bad Congress didn’t do that).

State education chiefs have been combing through the Every Student Succeeds Act and there’s a lot they’d like more clarity on — particularly about the new, pared-back role of the federal government. Some chiefs are excited about the new wiggle room and fewer federal constraints. But others worry that it might allow states to backslide when it comes to holding schools and districts accountable for student performance. Washington Superintendent Randy Dorn said Congress’ move to diminish the education secretary’s power was purely political. And Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said it’s “clearly a reaction” to the last seven years, which include waivers from No Child Left Behind and competitive grant programs like Race to the Top that pushed states to adopt a confluence of reforms, like higher academic standards and more rigorous tests. “The federal role going forward needs to be sorted out,” Chester said. “I think it’s yet to be determined how much leeway states will have … For example, the bill calls for ‘ambitious’ academic standards, so how exactly will the federal government determine whether states are meeting that requirement?”….

Both outgoing Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his successor, John King, have made clear that the department will use its full regulatory powers to ensure states won’t backtrack on the progress they’ve made.

Apparently the feds will be to define what “backtracking” and “progress” looks like.  Even though advocates of ESSA says that states can pass their own opt-out laws to be included in their own state plan it looks that quashing student opt-outs will be one of the guardrails that a newly minted U.S. Secretary of Education John King will throw up for the 2016-2017 school year.

11 thoughts on “USDED: No Student Assessment Opt-Outs Allowed

  1. Bring it on Mr. King, my children do not belong to you and they are not for sale to the highest testing bidder. Our teachers and children are not pawns in your privatization scheme. Go away, LET OUR TEACHERS TEACH.

    Sadly, Mr. King thinks we need his permission to not participate in his screwed up pedogogy.

    Can we PLEASE get educators in these positions? I’ve been dealing with this crap since 2001. Stop screwing with our teachers.


  2. A quick note, Common Core test are used by the federal government, yes the federal government, to assess the kids’ in many different matters and their education level. I won’t get into the many different matters. These assessments DO NOT determine if a child is struggling in a particular subject are they used to determine if a child advances to the next grade or graduate.

    U.S. Education system has been taken over by the federal government and they dictates to the states, “United States”, how THEIR CHILD, your dependent, WILL BE EDUCATED. I’ll repeat that, HOW THEIR CHILD, your dependent, WILL BE EDUCATED.


  3. I will NOT subject my children to those ridiculous tests; I don’t care WHAT the “federal govt.” says; they are OVER REACHING their authority in trying to tell Sovereign States what they can or can not do withing their own Education Systems. If necessary I’ll just conveniently call them in ‘sick’..if they continue to harass or threaten me in any way I will simply pull my children out of public school and homeschool. I’m FED UP!


  4. I have been told by one of my Senators that the ESSA is placing these sorts of things in the hands of the states, and that the ESSA REQUIRES that standardized testing emphasis be reduced and balanced by other measures. If that is the case, then WHY this continued Federal demand for standardized testing in spite of parents’ rights to decide how their children will be educated?


  5. TRUMP 2016… Will dismantle the Dept of Education… Put your childs education back in the neighborhood. It worked and kids were much smarter until the DOE was implemented in 1979


  6. It was my understanding the ESSA allows the states to deal with this issue as they see fit. If a state allows OPT OUT then they would have to address the testing accountability rate if it goes below 95%. It would be my hope we can pressure the state to create an exemption code for those that wish to OPT OUT and of course we would not want the request to OPT OUT to effect the students grade. The federal government has no authority and parents need to continue to OPT OUT and tell the feds to take a hike. Better yet home school and this all becomes a non issue (for now). We are under no obligation to obey unconstitutional law and we need to hold our state legislature accountable to their Oath of Office to defend the Constituion. Hey they promised us state control now lets make them stand behind that lie (um promise).


  7. The Federal government has absolutely NO Business educating or having ANYTHING to do with the educational system. Our children are our, the parents, responsibility. Children’s education is the responsibility of FIRST: The parents 2nd: The local government 3rd: The state they live in. Anyone in favor of the federal government controlling education does not have any common sense at all. Hitler di just that, and we all know how well that turned out. This administration needs to be taken out 100%. This administration has no respect for American’s rights under the US Constitution nor for our safety. They don’t even know believe in what the US Constitution says. And I’m sick of their two faced lies.


  8. I would like to suggest we drop the idea of Opting Out. Opt Out suggest the the school or our gov’t have the power over parents. Rather as parents whose Parental Rights come first, we should be Refusing the Tests/Surveys. We have elected officials, they are to work for us. When they cross the line and invade our Parental Rights, they need to be told, ‘no we won’t participate’. Also at that point we need to begin looking for their replacement. Someone that we can support, educate and fund during the next election, even if it is you. This starts at the school board level, all the way to president. Don’t ask for permission to Opt Out…. simply Refuse. Get involved, don’t just talk about it.


  9. I wonder if what they are saying is that their voluntary program is mandatory. Remember folks that since there is no constitutional authorization for a Federal Dept. of Ed, and because of the 10th amendment, their authority is null and void. Unless you wish to take their money, but that money comes with very expensive strings attached, both in terms of liberty and finances.


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