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More parents want their children to skip CT standardized tests

Ohanian Comment: The number of parents opting their children out of state testing, and the response of the Connecticut State Department of Education is to try to bully parents into compliance. The letter the State recommends be sent to parents uses legalese as a bullying tactic. It is so outrageous in its claim of federal and state authority over children that I'd hold my kid out even if I wasn't opposed to testing. Parents would do well to remember East Lyme Board of Education member Andrew Dousis, who refused to allow his third grader to be tested.

by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

The State Department of Education reports that a "greater number of parents [are] desiring to remove their children from participation in the statewide testing program."

In previous years only a handful of parents statewide sought an exemption from the state and federal requirements that every student be tested in math, reading and writing in Grades 3 through 8 and 10th grade. Science tests are administered in selected grades as well.

The department in its monthly newsletter suggests that local educators and state officials respond to such requests by telling parents "that the district has no degrees of freedom in the matter... As long as the student is enrolled in a Connecticut public school, the district is required to test them."

In cases where parents still refuse to allow their child to be tested, the district "generally" does not test the student and "the state, to date, has not done any follow-up on these cases" the department reports.

The department also provides a sample letter for districts to use to give to parents who ask that their child not be tested.

"Until such legislation changes, the Department of Education and each school district must comply with federal and state mandates," reads the letter.

December 2013

This letter is in response to your request to have your child opt-out of mandated state testing,which will be administered this spring. Unfortunately,(LEA) has no degrees of freedom in the matter. Federal and state laws require that public-school students be tested.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), which was amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, requires all states to implement "high-quality, yearly student academic assessments." 20 U.S.C. § 6311((3)(A). The statute further provides that "[s]uch assessments shall . . . provide for . . . the participation in such assessments of all students." 20 U.S.C. § 6311(b)(3)(C) (emphasis added). The ESEA does not allow parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessments. Although the State of Connecticut was granted ESEA flexibility, the U.S. Department of Education has not exempted the State of Connecticut from testing all students. The Connecticut General Statutes also require that "for the school year commencing July 1,
2013, and each school year thereafter, each student enrolled in grades three to eight inclusive,and grade ten or eleven in any public school shall, annually, in March or April take a mastery examination in reading writing and mathematics." Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-14n (b)(1).
Like the federal statute, this state law also does not permit parents to exempt their children from taking the state assessment.

If a student has special needs due to a disability or medical condition, testing
accommodations may be available. However, the school district must determine what accommodations, if any, would appropriately address the child's needs. Such determinations are made pursuant to the procedures available under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Both federal and state statutes are clear in their language--that all students enrolled in public schools must take the yearly state assessments. Until such legislation changes, the Department of Education and each school district must comply with federal and state

If you have any questions, please contact


— Jacqueline Rabe Thomas
CT Mirror: Political Mirror





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