The NH School Board Association (NHSBA) sent this document to a number of local school board members today regarding a parent’s right to opt-out of assessments. This technical advisory is issued by the state Department of Education. Note the following statement,
“The districts’ legal obligations are clear, and districts must not allow any citizen to prevent their district from fulfilling its mandate to administer the assessment to all public school students in the designated grades.”
So districts have the legal obligation yet they want parents to submit to them. Who is accountable to whom? Are parents accountable to the districts and the state? This seems upside-down.
This advisory ignores a parent’s right to direct their child’s education. There are two often-cited Supreme Court cases – the 1923 case of Meyer v. Nebraska and the 1925 case of Pierce v. Society of Sisters – that support this position, as well as the US Constitution.
Parents across the country are opting their children out from high-stakes testing and invalid assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment as well as the NWEA and other computer-adaptive exams, for a variety of reasons. Some believe they are developmentally inappropriate. Some question the data security and poor privacy protections. Others believe these assessments are setting our students up for failure. Many parents believe they are too stressful especially for our younger and special education students. Even more believe there is too much emphasis on testing.
Per NH RSA 193-C:3 III “The assessment exercises or tasks shall be valid and appropriate representations of the standards the students are expected to achieve.” State law, RSA 193-C:3 II requires that statewide assessments must be “objectively scored.” Smarter Balanced Assessments are not objectively scored, nor are they validated, or even finalized.
Parents can find sample letters to craft individual opt-out notices. The key word to include is “refuse.” Several NH families have successfully removed their children from these assessments.
Less than two weeks ago the NH DOE admitted in a technical advisory that “…there are no laws in the State of New Hampshire or rules at the New Hampshire Department of Education that would penalize a student for not participating in the statewide assessment. Additionally, the same is true if a parent determined that they would not allow their child to participate.”
Why is the state DOE now trying to intimidate parents into allowing their children to take these assessments? Are more NH parents refusing to have their children participate?
Several New Hampshire bills regarding the Smarter Balanced Assessment, privacy rights, and opting out are expected in 2015. More will be posted as these bills are scheduled for public hearings and votes.