Stotsky On Testing: Opting out ‘A civic duty, not civil disobedience’

Testing season is nearly upon us.  That means it’s bully season.

Many parents across the country will be opting their children out of various tests. There is a chain of bullying going in and it reeks of totalitarianism.

Many of these parents are being bullied by their school districts over opting out.

School districts  are being bullied by their state department of education.

State departments of education are being bullied by the U.S. Department of Education — they want their 95% testing compliance rate fulfilled, or else.

In a recent article at New Boston Post, Dr. Sandra Stotsky takes aim at the bullies and calls Opting Out a “civic duty”.

Opening paragraphs:

The writers who crafted the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 bill co-sponsored by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) re-authorizing the Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA), thought they had worded an airtight case to prevent parents from removing their children from federal mandated testing. 

States are responsible for ensuring a 95 percent participation rate of all its K-12 students in exchange for ESSA funds. If the rate is less than 95 percent, the US Secretary of Education has several options. Most allow USED to help the state come up with a plan to address the matter. In effect, ESSA turns state departments of education into school bullies.

Indeed, many state departments of education have begun to rattle their sabers, trying to bluff parents into believing that parents who opt their kids out of a federally mandated test and reduce overall participation to less than 95 percent thereby place the state at risk of not getting the money coming to it for its low-income kids. It remains to be seen how effective this version of a guilt trip will be. In the meantime, some bureaucrats are busy trying to figure out how to make the punishment fit the crime. 

Go read the whole thing. 

You can thank Senator Lamar Alexander for a lot of this bullying. ESSA was his baby and he is going to make darn sure everyone complies with it.

Making sure John King was confirmed as Secretary of Education is just another method of cementing ESSA’s testing mandates for Sen. Alexander.  Not all Senators were thrilled.

Senator Lankford of Oklahoma called out the bullying by King and the U.S. Department of Education in remarks he delivered on the Senate floor opposing King’s nomination.

Within the first 30 seconds, Lankford calls them both out, saying “The Department of Education has been bullying schools to comply with policies that simply do not have the force of law.”  Lankford makes it clear he thinks King is as lawless as the Obama administration has been and calls King out on the “Dear Colleague” letters.

Dear Colleague Letters, North Carolina & Testing

Stotsky makes mention of the “Dear Colleague” letters sent to 15 states. These letters were a finger wag to those states regarding testing compliance rates.

North Carolina got one, but not for the reason other states with big opt out movements did. You can read  about North Carolina’s letter in my article at Civitas: US Dept. of Ed Issues Testing Compliance Ultimatum

Included in that article on testing compliance is information on North Carolina testing policy. The bottom line from the NC Department of public instruction is that “your child will be given the test regardless of refusal”. (See Garland Letter 2014)

North Carolina’s End of Course and End of Grade exams are Common Core aligned.

What does that mean? North Carolina has very long testing windows.  Unless you plan to keep your kid out for a week or two, it means that the day they get back they will be given the test.

Now, the kid can refuse to fill it out, but will be given the lowest score possible. Some of the course tests are a weighted portion of the child’s grade, which according to State Board of Education policy, can be up to 20%.

Parents considering opting their child out of state tests should consult their individual school to ascertain what penalties that school is using with regard to testing.