Schopp’s Not So Subtle Threat Towards SD Parents Wanting to Opt-Out of Smarter Balanced

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.

4 thoughts on “Schopp’s Not So Subtle Threat Towards SD Parents Wanting to Opt-Out of Smarter Balanced

  1. Secretary Schopp has sent out a few of these form letters. When asked what our local school superintendent thought about the response from the state (not the same school district above), the superintendent stated that we had lost some parental control when we had decided to place our children in the public school system….

  2. Another Mom not willing to hand her gift from God over to the tyranny of the state. Good job Mom.

  3. I hope that mom sends the letter to all the legislators on the state education committees (I assume SD has House and Senate Education Committees) so they know exactly how parents are being bullied when they ask to opt their kids out.
    I also hope this gets a lot of attention and a huge number of parents opt their kids out of the tests this year. If enough opt out, the test results become invalid and education “reform” comes tumbling down because everything revolves around the tests.
    This is petty but I find it a tad bit offensive that the SD DOE’s letterhead doesn’t capitalize South Dakota. I assume kids who don’t capitalize their state on a writing test would be penalized in their score.

  4. Just a FYI for parents. When refusing standardized testing the word “Opt Out” can not be used. As a parent, who “refused standardized testing”, The school’s legal counsel stated that I can not OPT OUT. So, terminology is important. You can refuse, but you can not opt out. It is clever on there part because they can legally say you can not opt out. They can not legally say that you can not refuse. Unfortunately, in my district some parents caved, believing that they could not refuse.

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