Red Clay School Board set to vote on the Smarter Balanced testing opt-out question

Board to Vote on Opt-Out Resolution

The Red Clay Board of Education will vote next month on a resolution supporting a parent’s right to opt-out of standardized testing, to be introduced by school board member Adriana Bohm.  Board President Kenneth Rivera said he supports such a move. 

Parents opting their children out of state standardized testing has been a controversial topic nationwide, and several Delaware school districts have passed resolutions supporting a parent’s right to have their children skip the test.

In a presentation to the board, district supervisor of research, evaluation and professional learning Gerri Marshall gave information on the new state test system known as DeSSA which will include a new English Language Arts and Math test called “Smarter,” current DCAS tests for Science and Social Studies, and the state’s alternative test for students with severe disabilities. It also includes SAT, PSAT, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and testing for English Language Learners.

Marshall outlined the district’s procedure for a parent refusal to test their child, which starts with the parent contacting their school principal.  Dr. Marshall also laid out the case for students to take the state test, including federal and state law, impacts on school ratings and potential funding implications.  She emphasized that testing this year sets the foundation for looking at student growth next year.  The presentation can be found here.

According to the Delaware Department of Education, Red Clay has no discretion in the matter. Federal and state laws require that public-school students be tested. TheElementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement “high-quality, yearly student academic assessments.”

Bohm wrote a statement in support of the opt-out movement, citing six major reasons, including a belief that testing has become a huge business for corporations,  that tests have not eliminated the achievement gap, do not provide useful data to teachers during the school year, and that teaching for content is diminished by too many tests given to students.

Despite federal student testing requirements there isn’t any federal or state law prohibiting parents from opting-out their children on federally or state mandated testing.

Though the board might not be in the position to give it’s full blessing on the opt-out but it can word the resolution in a way as not to penalizes parents or students who refuse to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment whereas, there are no specific federal or state laws prohibiting testing opt-out. The Smarter Balanced Assessment has no impact on students grades or promotion or retention. Some say, “what’s if parents want opt-out their child on final exams or mid-terms. Those test have a direct impact on students grades, promotion and retention. So in that respect the natural consequences would apply.

I urge the board to support a resolution permitting parents to opt-out their child on “The Smarter Balanced Assessment”. For those board members who plan on voting no, I ask they provided “legal” documentation “specifically” prohibiting “opting-out” of federal or state mandated assessment test.

I also urge the Delaware PTA to address the Red Clay School Board and offer support to parents who prefer not the have their children participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment.        


11 responses to “Red Clay School Board set to vote on the Smarter Balanced testing opt-out question

  1. What if the kid is just ‘sick’ that day?


  2. They will spend the next two weeks pulling kids out of classes until they are complete. Same with DCAS before.


  3. The district cannot grant a testing exemption beyond those outlined in the law for medical excuses or doctor excused mental health reasons and by accepting or passing the resolution that allows opt out they would essentially be granting an exemption and thus it is the district or school that would be violating the law, there is not a direct impact or consequence on the parent or student. The parents have always been able to keep their child home and likely even write a note that they don’t want their child taking the test, but by passing the resolution the district fails to adhere to federal requirements.
    What would stop some schools from claiming that all of its lowest scoring students “opted out” their test score average would suddenly soar, but students aren’t being educated better, just schools deciding to not assess all their students.

    I don’t find this opt out idea logical, some have said they are going to do it because more students are going to fail the test. We have been falsely measuring our student achievement for years, it’s time we started using a test more aligned to the academic goals we have for students and the skills and standards we develop our lessons upon.

    To me this seems quite political for some, for some they seem to be just feeding off others, others are fueled by misconceptions, some are worried their children will be overly stressed by the test or their school unjustly labeled. and then a few more are just frustrated by lots of recent changes in the education of their children. I can only really see one of those groups making a plausible argument, to those others I ask heck why stop with this, there is so much more you could skip out of: that pesky presidential fitness test – I mean come on did teachers ever use that information to improve your child’s physical fitness or use it to revise phys Ed curriculum? And what about the NAEP or PSAT? How were they used? Heck teachers don’t even get those results, but it takes away from class time. How about that survey they do every year for UD about some social issues or sex, drugs, and alcohol? Can we skip out on that too? why not exempt out of the climate survey? How are those things helping your child? Those are all things that take time out of the school day and really provide little to no direct data that impacts the lesson plans your child’s teacher develops. Yet in my 34 years in education, I never heard a single parent ask about that or submit a letter stating that they didn’t want their child to waste their time on those “tests.” At least the smarter balanced test can give information about your child’s level of understanding and mastery that can be directly reflected into instruction in the classroom.


    • The district cannot grant a testing exemption beyond those outlined in the law

      What law?

      What would stop some schools from claiming that all of its lowest scoring students “opted out” their test score average would suddenly soar

      Sshhhhh… that’s the charter special sauce! Don’t say it out loud!


    • Mike,
      “What law?”
      Both federal ESEA and state law require LEAs and SEAs to assess ALL students with a statewide common assessment. There are allowances for those specific exemptions and the ability for states to develop an alternate assessment for 1% of special education students, those that are moderately and severely cognitively disabled.


    • Actually Federal requirements only impose a potential penalty if a cell being tested falls below 95% participation.

      The only sanction that the Feds can actually impose is reduce or remove Title 1 funding, and remove some flexibility waivers. Given that Federal funding accounts for only about 6.6% of DE public education funding, and that some of that (Department of Agriculture subsidies or IDEA funds) can’t be touched by failure to test, my answer becomes, “So what?”

      We, as a nation, have been doing high-stakes testing for over 15 years.

      Where’s the direct evidence that it has improved education? Send me to a non-government, peer-reviewed study (not financed by the testing industry) that makes this case. I’ve yet to read one.


    • “Sshhhhh… that’s the charter special sauce! Don’t say it out loud!”

      LOL Mike. You are too funny. As if traditional schools didn’t have their own secret sauce. Oh wait, special sauce.. it certainly isn’t secret, is it? 🙂


    • Speaking of special sauce, it look’s like MHS has been drinking A LOT of it. I think we call it Kool-Aid though. It’s funny you mention a physical education test. To compare the Smarter Balanced to a gym test is downright hysterical. It seems you want to take a strong look at all the other tests kids have to take. They should start a committee to look at that. Wait, they are in the process of getting that going. Unless you are a parent opting their kid out, I don’t think you are in ANY position to judge what someone else is thinking. It’s funny, you are usually on so many different sides of the fence on issues, but on this one test you stand firm. It was a nice piece of work. You shouldn’t have signed it.


    • Kevin, I’m pretty sure you missed the point of MHS comment.


    • lastDEconservative

      “Kevin, I’m pretty sure you missed the point … ”

      Copied this and put it on a one touch shortcut key. Thanks, mom.


    • I’m pretty sure I didn’t Pencadermom. I’ve heard MHS argument before, and it’s become, yawn, so boring. Which tells me exactly where MHS stands.

      “At least the smarter balanced test can give information about your child’s level of understanding and mastery that can be directly reflected into instruction in the classroom.”

      How is this even possible? The scores won’t even come out until late summer, so how will that help any child? Yes, take the test from March to June, but it won’t help you at all because you will go to the next grade. Unless that teacher was following you, which doesn’t typically happen, this test is useless. Cause the next year is a whole new level of curriculum to understand. It’s all a big Ponzi scheme, but the usual suspects on here are either blind or so enamored with the wonderful choices it has given “their” schools, they don’t care. Let’s continue this conversation when the scores come out. Tell me you feel the same way then. Or just opt out now. You will be a better person and so will your child.