Bill Requiring Wisconsin Schools to Inform Parents of Opt-Out Rights Filed

wisconsin-state-flagLegislation has been filed by Wisconsin lawmakers that requires school districts in the state to inform parents of their opt-out rights, it will require district to publish and distribute an inventory of tests for parents.  School districts will also be required to provide parents with information about how many hours are spent on test prep and administration.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Wisconsin school districts would have to more explicitly inform parents of the rights they’ve always had to opt their children out of state-mandated tests, under a new Assembly bill introduced Thursday.

The bill from Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), the chair of the Assembly Education Committee, would make it clear that any parent could opt his or her child out of statewide testing in third through 12th grade. It would also require districts to publish and distribute to parents an inventory of all tests they administer, including details of how long it takes to prepare for and administer the exams.

A companion bill will be introduced in the Senate by newly seated Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg), according to Thiesfeldt’s office.

State law already allows parents to opt their children out of testing automatically in some grades, and at the school board’s discretion at other grade levels. This spring an increasing number of parents statewide opted their children out of the new state achievement test with little pushback from principals or school boards.

Thiesfeldt said the new measure aims to clarify any confusion in state law over opting out and will make schools have to “sell” to parents why the testing is necessary.

Many tests are actually required by law. Schools must administer an annual standardized achievement test to students in third through eighth grade and once in high school. That’s a federal requirement. The GOP-controlled Legislature in recent years also started requiring Wisconsin districts to administer assessments in the youngest grades to monitor reading readiness.

Most districts administer smaller, quicker tests a few times a year to monitor growth. That’s not required by state law, but many districts say it provides good feedback for teachers.

It should be noted that federal and state law requires schools to administer certain tests.  The law does not require students to take them.