A parent has sent letter to all 105 South Dakota legislators describing how our South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp bullies parents who want to opt out of the Smarter Balanced assessment test that is due to start in a few weeks:
I am once again writing to share my concerns with Common Core. I am not able to make it to Pierre for legislative session as planned, due to the weather.
I am the parent who was furious when I received the letter telling me I would be breaking the law if my 6th grade daughter did not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I have since pulled my daughter from public school and am currently homeschooling her. I put the letter out on Facebook and it has gone across the country and infuriated many people, rightfully so! I feel that threatening parents and students is an overreach of boundaries and do not appreciate it. I do not feel as though I should be bullied by any government entity whose income comes from taxpayer dollars!
You have asked why public school students cannot "opt out" from taking the Smarter Balanced state assessments and the potential consequences if a parent were to prohibit the student from taking the assessment. All school districts are required to administer the state assessment to all students in the tested grades, and all those students are required to take the assessment. SDCL 13-3-55; 24:55:07.01. The only exceptions is for some students who are limited English proficient. ARSD 24:55:07.11.
Keeping the student home from school to avoid the assessment would not only violate these laws, but also potentially violate the State's truancy laws. All students of compulsory school age must attend school, and wishing to avoid taking the state assessment is not a recognized excuse to the compulsory attendance attendance law. SDCL 13-27-1, 13-27-6, and 13-27-6.1. In addition, prohibiting the student from taking the assessment could violate individual school district policies.
Moreover, prohibiting the student from taking the test could adversely affect the school district. If more than five percent of students enrolled in the tested grades refuse to take the test, then the school district could lose points on its state accountability score. ARSD 24:55:07:02.
This is an example of how the Educrats really view the role of parents regarding the education of their children. Here is more analysis on Schopp's bully tactic:
This is a bully tactic and her interpretation of state law is flawed.
Missouri Education Watchdog who broke this story quotes the mother who has done some research into the state law that Dr. Schopp refers to:
Here is the statute as mentioned in the letter…..
13-3-55. Academic achievement tests. Every public school district shall annually administer the same assessment to all students in grades three to eight, inclusive, and in grade eleven. The assessment shall measure the academic progress of each student. Every public school district shall annually administer to all students in at least two grade levels an achievement test to assess writing skills. The assessment instruments shall be provided by the Department of Education, and the department shall determine the two grade levels to be tested. The tests shall be administered within timelines established by the Department of Education by rules promulgated pursuant to chapter 1-26 starting in the spring of the 2002-2003 school year. Each state-designed test shall be correlated with the state’s content standards. The South Dakota Board of Education may promulgate rules pursuant to chapter 1-26 to provide for administration of all assessments.
Source: SL 1997, ch 84, § 3; SL 2001, ch 70, § 1; SL 2003, ch 91, § 1; SL 2003, ch 272, § 63; SL 2007, ch 84, § 1.
The way I, and others, which includes an attorney, and many of our legislators read this, is that the schools are required by law to administer the test but it does not say that students are required by law to take it.
MEW notes that Missouri’s Department of Education says much the same thing even though there isn’t a state law that backs it up.
Schools are required to give the assessment. Students are not required to take it. We need to remind state departments of education that parents are the ones who are ultimately responsible for their children’s education, not the state.
More to come.