The Business Council opposes this legislation, which would reaffirm parents’ rights to exempt their children from standardized assessments and require schools to offer such students “alternative educational or enrichment programs” while the assessments are being administered.
This bill would place an unfunded mandate on school districts, which would have to develop alternative curriculum for those students opting out. Staffing questions are also raised, as teachers would seemingly have to simultaneously provide educational materials/programming to students opting out and act as proctor for those students taking the exam.
Additionally, while the bill’s sponsors memo states that the opt-out right is not intended to apply to Regents exams—which are necessary for graduation—the legislation as it is written applies to any/all standardized assessments, which could be interpreted to mean Regents exams and/or local assessments, as well as ELA and math exams in grades 3 through 8.
Lastly, establishing this opt-out right could add fuel to the growing opt-out movement, resulting in fewer students taking assessments. Districts with an opt-out rate of greater than 5 percent on federally-required exams do not meet Adequate Yearly Progress requirements as set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which could lead to a penalty and being placed in accountability status.
Standardized assessments are an important tool in measuring student growth that have unfortunately been caught in a political battle over teacher evaluations. This legislation will only serve to foster additional opt-outs and place an undue fiscal (and planning) burden on school districts.
For these reasons The Business Council opposes this legislation.