A mother whose child attended school in the Tri Valley School District in Colton, SD asked her school district about opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Her school district contacted the South Dakota Department of Education regarding her request. Below is the response from South Dakota Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp.
In a nutshell Dr. Schopp says that not only would opting out violate South Dakota law, but insinuated that the parent by keeping her child from school would be violation of South Dakota truancy laws.
Kudos to the parent who responded to this letter by saying, “I don’t do threats well so I decided to home school.”
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.