Md State School Board Issues Declaratory Ruling On Assessment Tests In Public Schools

It says parents cannot have their kids ‘opt out’ or refuse to take these tests.

A Declaratory Ruling from the Maryland State Board of Education says parents can decide whether to send their children to public schools, but they cannot have them “opt out” of any requirements for state assessment tests. “Based on a number of court cases, the Board has said that while parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they cannot pick and choose the parts of the public school education program in which they will allow their children to participate,” says the ruling.

Furthermore, it says: “There is no provision in state law that allow parents to ‘opt out’ children from state assessments or that permits children to refuse to take assessments. State regulations permit parents to have their children ‘opt out’ of only two specific elements of the public school educational program: ‘Family Life and Human Sexuality’ and ‘HIV/AIDs Instruction.” The ruling says parents must request in writing for their children to not participate in these classes

The Declaratory Ruling was requested by the Frederick County Board of Education.

The issue of whether children can refuse or “opt out” of assessment tests, such as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,  has been discussed locally. Board of Ed candidate Cindy Rose has raised this issue. In a Facebook posting, she says the State Board of Education’s ruling is only an opinion. Rose asked whether there are any members of the School Board who are willing to stand up for the civil rights of children and ignore this law.

Rose says assessment tests like PARCC stress out children who sit for hours in the classroom.

Many teachers have raised concerns about too many standardized tests, and have asked that they be reduced in number.

The State School Board’s Declaratory ruling says if a local school system allows students and their parents to “opt out” of these tests, or refuse to take them, the state could lose out on Title I funds under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind. It says states need to assess at least 95% of their public school students if they want to continue receiving Title I funds. “The U.S. Department of Education warns that it may take enforcement action, including denying federal funds, to states that do not meet these assessment requirements,” the Ruling says.

It says that students with disabilities must be participate in assessment tests. “A student’s individualized education program team determines the type of assessment that is appropriate for that student,” the Ruling says. “There is no ‘opt out’ for severely disabled students.”

Frederick County Board of Education President Brad Young says he and his colleagues have received the State Board’s Ruling. “The Frederick County Board of Education looks forward to reviewing the State Board’s Declaratory Ruling and publicly discussing its opinion and implications for the students and families of Frederick County,” Young says in a statement.