Five Tips for Refusing the Test

Spring assessments are right around the corner so parents who want to opt their kids out should start that process now.

We wanted to highlight information found on our opt-out info page here at TAE.

1. Know your state’s law.

Each state is different, and school officials will sometimes say things to parents that are not true. In most cases, there is no state law requiring students to take an assessment (sometimes state departments of education try to give guidance that tells schools otherwise). If possible, speak with an attorney familiar with education law in your state.

Also, federal law requires schools to administer assessments, but it does not require students to take them.

If you receive push-back from your school, we recommend that you place the burden on school officials to cite the law that states that you can’t. In many cases, they will parrot guidance from their state department of education that provides their interpretation of the law, but not what the law actually says (or, just as important, does not say).

There have been school officials who have told parents that state and federal laws require every child to take the assessment. This is not true and parents should challenge this by asking the school officials to cite and provide a hard copy of the state and/or federal law requiring participation in state assessments. School officials directing parents to find the law for themselves is not adequate. Officials have also told parents there are no opt-out provisions in the law. This is often stated to make parents think it is not legal for them to opt out. While it is true most states do not have opt-out provisions in the law, that does not mean the law requires every student to participate in state assessments. Parents should put the responsibility on the school officials making such claims to cite in writing the state or federal law requiring every student to take the assessment. It is not good enough for the school official to say such laws exist; they must cite the law in writing so parents can verify it for themselves. If the school official says they are following a state directive, ask to see the directive in writing. If the laws don’t exist, they cannot produce and show them to you.

2. Request to opt your student out in writing.

Parents should opt out of named or described specific assessments. It is important parents clearly state what they expect.

Examples that are specific:

  • My child will not take or is not to be administered the (name of whatever assessment is used in your state).
  • My child will not take or is not to be administered any online assessments.
  • My child will not take or is not to be administered any assessment until I, as the parent, have had the opportunity to view the state assessment in its entirety to deem whether I feel the content is appropriate for my child.
  • My child will not take or is not to be administered any assessment or test that is not written in whole or in part by my child’s regular classroom teacher.

You have the authority to make decisions regarding your child’s education and well being.

If you wish that your student not take an online assessment, do not wait until assessment time to make such a request. That request should be made early in the year if possible. The request should also prohibit their child from using any online computer or device at school. This sets a precedent that makes your case stronger when it comes to assessment time. This way at assessment time the school officials can’t come back at the parent and say, “Well, gee, you let your kid do all kinds of other things online at school all year.”

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing offers some examples of opt-out letters here.

3. If the school requires or requests face-to-face communication, be prepared.

Some school officials request, maybe demand, to meet with parents regarding their desire to opt their child out of assessments.  If parents wish not to attend such a meeting, it would be prudent to check your state’s laws and possibly consult an attorney licensed in your state on your legal obligations to attend such meeting.  With regard to such meetings, here are some recommendations.

  • Be polite and non-confrontational.
  • Remember, school officials work for you, not you for them
  • You are welcome to take someone with you to the meeting, legal representation if needed
  • Also, record the meeting. A lot of smart-phones have voice memo apps pre-installed you can use to do this.
  • You have the power to end the meeting at any point. Just stand up and say, “This conversation is over,” and then leave.
  • Follow up with a written summary of the discussion

If communicating by phone, follow up by writing up a summary of the conversation and send, in writing, to the school official and others. Written communication should visibly be copied to other people—your lawyer, a family advocacy group, friends, family, known community members. This lets the school official know others are watching the situation and they will be less likely to bully you and more likely to treat you with respect.

Here are some things you might expect when you communicate with school officials. They may ask why you don’t want your child to take the assessment. You are not required or obligated to give a reason why. They may try to convince you to change your mind. They may tell you your child is required to take the assessment (this has been addressed earlier). School officials may try to convince you of benefits of taking the assessment. If this happens, ask specific questions about those benefits and ask them to provide evidence of the benefits they mention. You can always ask for evidence of how the assessment will help your child. Ask for evidence of how the teacher will use the results to further your child’s education. Ask how the results will show your child’s academic achievement/standing with regard to content knowledge. It is important to note, don’t just ask how but ask for the evidence of how.

If you are requesting your child not be administered a state assessment, you probably already have good reasons already.  Here are some reasons people object to their child being administered a state assessment.

  • Confusing questions
  • Complex format
  • Computer use
  • Religious reasons
  • Data collection on students and families
  • Assessments have no evidence proving validity or reliability
  • Misguided focus on assessments rather than academic content instruction
  • Teacher evaluations tied to assessments that are not valid or reliable
  • Assessments and preparation for them take away time from quality instructional experiences
  • ELA and Math are emphasized while other subjects are neglected
  • Developmentally inappropriate

4. Try to get as much information about the assessment as you can.

You may want to see the assessment before it is administered in order to see the content material prior to it being exposed to their child. That may help in making the decision to opt out. If you can’t see the assessment in its entirety, they may not want their child to take the assessment.

You may want to ask for a copy of the validity and reliability report for the assessment. If such a report is provided, please share it and look it over carefully, or have someone else look it over to determine if it is legitimate and reasonable. If school officials can’t or won’t provide you with proof the assessment is valid and reliable, why should your child take the assessment? You should insist a copy of a written report be provided rather than just being told where the information can be found or that it is available online. This may prevent you from being sent on a wild goose chase or as a tactic to send you on your way.

You should ask if and when you will receive test results for their child.  You should ask for a sample of a results report. If you are not going to be provided with a results report or can’t see a sample, why should you allow your child to take the assessment?

5. Prepare your child for the assessment days.

You should discuss with your student about what to expect if your child is going to be in school on assessment days. Parents should request their child be engaged in suitable and appropriate educational activities. The practice of having non-participating students sit and stare during the assessment is not acceptable and is seen as unreasonable and punitive. Non-participating students should not even be in the testing environment. The PARCC Test Coordinator manual states that non-testing students are “prohibited from entering the testing environment”. That prohibition should apply to other formal assessments as well.

If you choose to keep your child home on assessment days, you should make sure there are legitimate reasons so as not to run afoul of truancy issues or of being reported to a child protective services agency.  Will the school try to administer a make up assessment upon the child’s return to school? Also, beware of the window of time for the administration of the assessment.

You need to follow up on their request for opting out. Submitting a letter or opt-out form is not a guarantee the request will be honored. Prior to the administration of the assessment, you should remind the school officials of their request and ask what arrangements have been made for their child during the assessment.

Things to Come in K-12 Education: Predictions for 2018

The education system has changed so much so rapidly in the last fifteen to twenty years that it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen in the future.  Here are a few of my guesses for 2018.  These are not listed in any order of priority, importance, or non-importance.  They are numbered for reference purposes.
  1. Common Core will continue to be promoted and held up as the Holy Grail for education ails even in the face of mounting evidence showing it as a Wholly Fail. Evidence will continue to show Common Core is not closing the achievement gap, not raising achievement, not preparing students for success in college or career.  Decision makers will continue pushing Common Core while using unfounded sound bites as justification while ignoring evidence.  Many of the sound bites will be the same tried and untrue ones used for years now.
  2. States looking to write or adopt new standards or revise current ones will do as those before them have done—rebrand the Common Core with or without slight insignificant changes.
  3. The push for education for a workforce will continue to dominate over providing students with a well-rounded knowledge-based academic liberal education.
  4. There will be an increase in the number of data breaches compromising student, parent, and teacher privacy.  Breaches may occur at all levels—local school, district, state, federal, and third-party vendors.  When breaches occur, promises will be made to institute tighter security measures.  These promises will be made more to appease the public than to effectively prevent future breaches.
  5. Schools will continue to invest heavily in technology.  Devices will be relied on more and more to supposedly provide instruction.  There will continue to be an increase in schools issuing or providing devices like iPads and Chromebooks to all students.  Equity will be a term commonly used as justification for issuing devices as well as other decisions.
  6. The plethora of grade changes and manipulations to create the appearance of improved graduation rates will increase and become more evident.
  7. Systemic bullying of parents will continue to take place in the effort to prevent opting out.  States and districts will use ESSA as the justifying license for such action.  Students who are opted out of assessments will be officially mislabeled as non-proficient and the system will thwart any recourse attempts.
  8. Many areas of the country will have a growing concern related to lack of candidates for vacant teaching positions.  It is doubtful any real viable solutions will be applied to address the situation.  The same concern and lack of solutions applies for the existing insufficient pool of substitute teachers.  There may be an increase in hiring foreign nationals with H1B visas and TFA candidates (Teach for Awhile) but these are not really viable solutions.  These may be solutions to something else but they are not solutions to a teacher shortage problem.
  9. The convergence of science and technology will usher in the use of brain-enhancing drugs and brain implants to give greater competitive edge for serious Tour d’Educatione contenders as well as those abused by the system.
  10. The connected and elected will continue to increase the promotion, acceptance, and funding for SEL because it feels good.
  11. There will be an increase in the use of augmented reality in education and a move towards virtual reality as technology develops and costs decrease.
  12. As district and state education funds are cut, district and state spending for technology will increase leaving schools and teachers to grope and grovel for basic supplies, possibly including toilet paper.
  13. Continued erosion of teacher due process rights, job stability, and morale will pave a downhill slope for the teaching profession.  It is just possible these things may contribute to a lack of candidates for teaching vacancies but don’t expect the connected, elected, and decision makers to admit such a connection even if they see it.
  14. The connected and elected will continue to promote and foist personalized learning on our education system.  They will ignore the backlash and pushback of a growing corps of parents and others who do not wish children to be subjected to such personalized depersonalization.
  15. The use of social impact bonds (SIBs) will increase.  SIBs will change the nature of government, private sector, and foundation grants made for educational purposes.

Judge Rules in Favor of Parents on Florida’s Mandatory Third Grade Retention

Florida State Flag

Parents in Florida saw a victory last week when Judge Karen Gievers gave students who were not promoted to the fourth grade due to their minimal participation in the Florida Standards Assessment. Gievers gave a temporary injunction allowing some third graders to be promoted where school districts did not allow “a teacher-compiled portfolio that consists of non-test class work and test-based standards assessments.”

Gievers sided with the parents, finding that the Department of Education and the Hernando County School Board violated the law when they illegally refused to provide any portfolio option and that “neither the [Department of Education or local school boards] have the discretion to ignore the Florida Laws.” Gievers’ ruling defined what “minimal participation” is by stating that “the children were present at the time, broke the seal on the materials and wrote their names, thus meeting their obligation to participate.” In addition, she wrote: “The School Board and [Department of Education] had no right to ignore the legislatively adopted portfolio option” and ordered the Hernando County School Board to “immediately refrain from further actions and must provide the portfolio option.” She ordered education officials “to stop refusing to accept a student portfolio or report card based on classroom work throughout the course of the school year.”

The Court also found it unlawful in districts such as Hernando County where a child without a reading deficiency who has not passed the FSA is held back, citing Florida Statute 1008.25(5)(c)(6) which prohibits retaining students solely for FSA non-compliance.

The judge ordered the Department of Education to stop disseminating misinformation that promotion required a level 2 score on the statewide test, finding that report cards and classroom work could be used to promote a third grader.

“We are very pleased that the court agreed with us that it is in the public interest that the State Board of Education and school districts in Florida follow our laws, and focus on whether children can read, not whether they took a particular test,” said Andrea Flynn Mogensen, lead counsel for the children.

“We are especially pleased that it was specifically ordered that the Department of Education must accept minimal participation in testing as fulfilling the students’ statutory requirement to participate, and that grade 3 students with no reading deficiency should be promoted, not retained.”

The ruling can be read here.

HT: The Opt-Out Florida Network

Maryland School District Recognizes Student Right to Refuse

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The Frederick County Board of Education in Maryland last week passed a policy that recognizes a student’s right to refuse standardized assessments.

Here is the pertinent language:

A. The Board recognizes that the State of Maryland has not passed legislation allowing for parental opt-out of statewide testing as part of the regular instructional program of the public school system. Consequently, the Board cannot grant parental requests to opt-out of testing on behalf of their children. However, the Board acknowledges that in spite of the declaration of the Maryland State Board of Education (State Board), some students may still refuse to take assessments or may be barred from doing so by their parents. In the case of refusals, it is the Board’s expectation that students and families are treated by school staff with the same equity, dignity and respect as provided to test takers. If a school administrator is able to provide an alternative activity it must align with testing protocol.

B. Alternative Mode of Refusal – The Board recognizes that students communicate in a variety of methods throughout the school system, including through the use of a communication device. Therefore, it is the expectation of the Board that staff will honor any student’s typical mode of communication in the matter of honoring refusals.

You can read the whole policy here.

Florida Parents Sue to Make 180 Days Count

Florida State Flag

Some Florida families are facing the prospect of having their 3rd graders retained after they opted out of the state reading exam. The Orlando Sentinel reported in June:

Some Central Florida parents who had their third graders skip Florida’s standardized reading test now find their children threatened with being held back, even if they are strong readers who finished the school year with good report cards.

The parents, part of the “opt out” movement opposed to high-stakes testing, are furious.

They are convinced school districts are not following state law and are instead retaliating against families who refused to take part in the Florida Standards Assessments. They did so as an act of civil disobedience to protest what they view as the state’s over-reliance on an unproven standardized test.

“There’s no reason for a third grader with straight As to be retained,” said parent Rhonda Nickerson, whose 9-year-old daughter may be barred from fourth grade at a Seminole County elementary school. “What are they going to do with her in third grade again?”

Yesterday the Opt-Out Florida Network reports that a lawsuit has been filed to make sure the 180 days students are in public school count, and that they are not held back just because they didn’t take one standardized assessment.

In response to the districts that say their hands are tied, courageous parents of retained third grade students have taken their fight to a Court of Law. It’s officially on the books in Tallahassee now, folks and lawmakers are on notice. This suit is an indictment of test and punish accountability systems everywhere. A positive outcome from this case will have repercussions nationally – for the benefit of ALL children in public schools.

 

You can read the complaint filed in Leon County Clerk of Court yesterday can be read here.

Here is the text of the introduction:

Parents of students who received report cards with passing grades—some of whom were honor roll students—seek emergency declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that, because they opted out of standardized testing for their child, defendants arbitrarily and capriciously interpreted statutes and rules in a manner that requires retention, rather than promotion, of third grade students. The result is that students with no reading deficiency are retained in the third grade solely because they opt-out of standardized testing. Defendants’ policy means that a third- grader who takes standardized tests and scores poorly—whether intentionally or not—can still be promoted. Yet, an outstanding student who regularly produces proficient school work in the classroom for which they receive passing grades will be retained simply for not taking a standardized test that they are permitted to opt of under the Florida Statutes. Because the receipt of federal dollars is at stake unless 95 percent of students participate in standardized testing, test participation is treated as more important than actual performance. These actions produce an arbitrary and capricious result that violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause.

Nature of the Emergency
Emergency relief is warranted because Honor Roll students with no reading deficiency who earned passing grades will be retained in the third grade for the school year beginning in mid-August 2016. Plaintiffs did not receive notice that their child would be retained under the mandatory retention provision until late in the school year or after the school year had concluded.

School districts across the state concede that they dropped the ball on the portfolio exemption because the Department of Education gave inconsistent guidance throughout the school year on what is required under the student portfolio exemption, which is provided for in Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 6A-1.094221 and Fla. Stat., § 1008.25(6). The irreparable injury caused by such actions warrants emergency injunctive relief because similarly situated students are treated quite differently without any rational basis or legitimate governmental objective. Absent emergency relief, the Plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm by having to repeat the third grade, which will cause devastating effects to students with no reading deficiencies who actually earned passing grades.

Alaska Legislature Passes Important Parental Rights Bill

Alaska State Flag by Ed Keith (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Photo credit: Ed Keith (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

The Alaska Legislature just passed a major piece of legislation that recognizes parental rights in education including a parent’s right to opt their children out of standardized testing.

HB 156 will go to the Governor Bill Walker’s desk.

Some of the pertinent language:

(a) A local school board shall, in consultation with parents, teachers, and school administrators, adopt policies to promote the involvement of parents in the school district’s education program. The policies must include procedures

(1) recognizing the authority of a parent and allowing a parent to object to and withdraw the child from a standards-based assessment or test required by the state;

(2) recognizing the authority of a parent and allowing a parent to object to and withdraw the child from an activity, class, or program;

(3) providing for parent notification not less than two weeks before any activity, class, or program that includes content involving human reproduction or sexual matters is provided to a child;

(4) recognizing the authority of a parent and allowing a parent to withdraw the child from an activity, class, program, or standards-based assessment or test required by the state for a religious holiday, as defined by the parent;

(5) providing a parent with an opportunity to review the content of an activity, class, performance standard, or program;

(6) ensuring that, when a child is absent from an activity, class, program, or standards-based assessment or test required by the state under this section, the absence is not considered an unlawful absence under AS 14.30.020 if the child’s parent withdrew the child from the activity, class, program, or standards-based assessment or test or gave permission for the child’s absence.

This doesn’t change Alaska’s standards which are essentially Common Core, but this is a win for parents who were having issues opting their students out of assessments and certain classes, like sex ed. This is something all states should do if they haven’t already. While parents have a natural right to opt their children out of assessments it is so much easier when the government cooperates with parents rather than oppose them.

Chicago Public Schools Hindering Some Students From Opting Out

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Illinois law states that 3rd-8th and 11th grade students have be offered the opportunity to take the PARCC assessment, but students can refuse to take it. Chicago Public Schools have hindered students from opting out.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Parents cannot opt out students ahead of time, according to Chicago Public Schools and the state.

But in the absence of any state or districtwide policy on how to handle children who refuse the PARCC test, some schools in CPS can’t decide whether it’s up to the child or the parents.

Walsh Elementary School required letters from parents of students who said they’d skip the state-required test after many refused PARCC, said the counselor at the Near South Side school.

Roosevelt High School’s leaders required students who refused the test to call their parents first, students and staff told the Sun-Times.

And Kenwood Academy High School had at least one teacher who also told refusing students their parents would be called, CPS confirmed.

“It’s chaos and confusion we could fix if we had a sane policy instead of the state of things,” said Cassie Creswell, who heads the testing watchdog group More Than A Score. “In some cases, schools are hoping to intimidate kids into taking the test, but in some cases, it’s a mindset that this is actually something that parents are supposed to be having a say in.”

Her group has backed a bill in Springfield that passed the House last year but is awaiting action by the Senate. It would clarify how parents could prevent their children from being tested.

Two Roosevelt High School juniors told the Sun-Times they felt intimidated. Both were sent to the main office after refusing PARCC. There, the principal wanted to call their parents. One succeeded in refusing, the other thwarted because his parents don’t speak English.

“The reason why I didn’t want to take it was that I have a test tomorrow in a class,” the second student said. “I wanted to attend the class. They said, ‘You cannot attend the class, you have to take the PARCC test.’”

Illinois has made this mess. Parents should be able to opt their child out ahead of time, and not leave this to the student on assessment day. I do empathize with schools who wanted parents to weigh in on their student’s request. The state needs to set a clear policy, and parents need to communicate with their schools their desire for their student to opt-out. As of right now, the law is pretty clear, a student can refuse the test.

New York Sees Massive Number of Assessment Opt-Outs Again

New York State Department of Education Building in Albany, NY. Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA)

New York State Department of Education Building in Albany, NY
Photo credit: Matt H. Wade (CC-By-SA 3.0)

New York State saw 20% of their students opt-out of their Common Core-aligned assessments last year.  This prompted the New York Board of Regents to makes some changes, such as, offer a shorter test.

While I don’t know if we’ll see the record amounts of opt-outs we saw last year it is pretty clear the numbers will be big this year as well.

Newsday reports thousands of students have refused the test on Long Island.

Thousands of students in a dozen of Long Island’s biggest districts already submitted forms to opt out of the tests, a Newsday survey shows. Administrators said more are expected to do so as the first exams begin Tuesday.

New York students are taking the ELA assessments this week. The math assessments are scheduled for April 13-15.

Carol Burris, writing a guest op/ed at The Washington Post, discussed what her group, Network for Public Education (which is spearheading a national opt-out) has heard in New York.

Eighty-seven percent of the students in Allendale Elementary School outside of Buffalo, New York opted out.  Eighty-six percent of test eligible students in the Long Island district of Comsewogue refused the test, and 89 percent of students in Dolgeville in the Mohawk Valley said “no.”

Long Island continues to be the hotbed of testing resistance. Newsday reported that 49.7 percent of all Long Island students refused the test Tuesday even though the Newsday editorial board has repeatedly urged parents to have their children take it.  Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes characterized Opt Out as “a thunderclap” sent to Albany.  Seventy-one percent of the students in his district refused the Common Core tests.

There is also evidence that the Opt Out movement is gaining ground with parents of color, with many no longer willing to buy the spin that taking Common Core tests will improve their children’s life chances.

Ninety-seven percent of the more than 1,000 students who attend Westbury Middle School in Nassau County are black or Latino, and  81 percent are economically disadvantaged.  On Tuesday, 50 percent of those students were opted out of the tests by their parents. Last year, the number was 2 percent.

It looks to me like the opt-out movement is alive and well and growing.

USDED: No Student Assessment Opt-Outs Allowed

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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.

Bill Requiring Wisconsin Schools to Inform Parents of Opt-Out Rights Filed

wisconsin-state-flagLegislation has been filed by Wisconsin lawmakers that requires school districts in the state to inform parents of their opt-out rights, it will require district to publish and distribute an inventory of tests for parents.  School districts will also be required to provide parents with information about how many hours are spent on test prep and administration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Wisconsin school districts would have to more explicitly inform parents of the rights they’ve always had to opt their children out of state-mandated tests, under a new Assembly bill introduced Thursday.

The bill from Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), the chair of the Assembly Education Committee, would make it clear that any parent could opt his or her child out of statewide testing in third through 12th grade. It would also require districts to publish and distribute to parents an inventory of all tests they administer, including details of how long it takes to prepare for and administer the exams.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by newly seated Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg), according to Thiesfeldt’s office.

State law already allows parents to opt their children out of testing automatically in some grades, and at the school board’s discretion at other grade levels. This spring an increasing number of parents statewide opted their children out of the new state achievement test with little pushback from principals or school boards.

Thiesfeldt said the new measure aims to clarify any confusion in state law over opting out and will make schools have to “sell” to parents why the testing is necessary.

Many tests are actually required by law. Schools must administer an annual standardized achievement test to students in third through eighth grade and once in high school. That’s a federal requirement. The GOP-controlled Legislature in recent years also started requiring Wisconsin districts to administer assessments in the youngest grades to monitor reading readiness.

Most districts administer smaller, quicker tests a few times a year to monitor growth. That’s not required by state law, but many districts say it provides good feedback for teachers.

It should be noted that federal and state law requires schools to administer certain tests.  The law does not require students to take them.