Category Archives: News

The Federal Strings We’ve Signed Onto

Wendy HartThis timeline of events was prepared by Alpine school district board member Wendy Hart. Thank you Wendy for your above-and-beyond the call of duty efforts.


On May 1, 2009, the SBOE was told about the Common Core standards development. The group, headed by Achieve, Inc, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), wanted the State Board to sign an MOU by the following Monday (May 4, 2009) to participate in the development of the standards. Originally, the Board was asked to vote to approve the MOU, but, upon finding that there was no action item on the agenda for this topic, they were asked to give ‘general direction’. So, the CCSS MOU between Utah, NGA, and CCSSO was agreed to without any formal action by the SBOE. It was signed by Governor Huntsman and State Superintendent Patti Harrington.

The CCSS MOU [, p.88] was important for several reasons. Utah agreed to the following:

  1. Common Standards development, and then adoptions: ‘…a process that will…lead to the development and adoption of a common core of state standards.’
  2. Assessments (tests) that are aligned across the states, ie. Common state tests. ‘The second phase…will be the development of common assessments aligned to the core standards developed through this process….assessments that are aligned to the common core across the states.’
  3. Textbooks and curricula alignment. ‘Align textbooks, digital media, and curricula to the…standards.’
  4. Adoption of the standards within three years. ‘Adoption…Each state adopting the common core…may do so in accordance with current state timelines…not to exceed three (3) years.’
  5. Eighty-five (85) percent of the English and Math standards MUST be the CC standards. States ‘may choose to include additional state standards beyond the common core. States…agree to ensure that the common core represents at least 85 percent of the state’s standards in English language arts and mathematics.’
  6. Increased federal role in education. ‘the federal government can provide key financial support…in developing a common core of state standards and …common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund,….teacher and principal professional development…and a research agenda.’

The MOU also gave states a greater chance at qualifying for the Race to the Top program, funded by the 2009 stimulus, that would allow states to compete for $4.35 Billion. In order to compete, a state got more points if it had common standards (Common to a significant number of states), and the only thing that met that criteria was this Common Core project.

Race to the Top (RTTT) [] ties everything together with its 4 assurances:

  1. Common Standards and Assessments, aka Common Core and either the SBAC or PARCC testing consortia (the only 2 available at the time)
  2. Statewide Longitudinal Database System
  3. Improving teacher effectiveness: creating a statewide teacher evaluation system that ties student scores to teacher evaluations
  4. Identifying and Improving Low-performing schools, possibly removing them from locally-elected school boards

Utah applied for RTTT Phase 1 funds and was rejected. The SBOE decided to apply again for Phase 2 RTTT funds. In May, 2010, the State Board Chair, Debra Roberts signed the MOU to join the Federally-funded SBAC testing consortium. This was also done without any sort of Board approval. In fact, she informed the board that she had signed the ‘application’ for membership. The SBAC MOU requires the board to adopt the CCSS by December 31, 2011, and the SBAC testing by the 2014-15 school year. (, p.286)

It was also in the May meeting that the Board was told about the Statewide Longitudinal database (SLDS), funded with a $9.6 M federal grant. The SLDS grant requires tracking of individual student and teacher information, making it interoperable with other state agencies and other states. No discussion of privacy or informed parental consent is mentioned. (

On June 2, 2010, the official CC standards were released. On June 4, 2010, the Board was asked to adopt the CC standards ‘on first reading’ and to ‘accept the whole thing as it is.’ Supt. Shumway explains why the Board is adopting on first reading: ‘The reason for that is various, sort of, strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.’ The board votes, unanimously, to accept the whole CCSS, 2 days after it is released and on first reading in order to be strategic in its RTTT application. In August, the board votes again, on third reading, to adopt CCSS.

In short, the SBOE had no formal votes on two MOU’s that obligated the state to more than just standards.

Side note: The same 4 ‘assurances’ in the RTTT were required in the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) that Governor Huntsman and Supt. Harrington signed for in April, 2009. In order to be eligible for RTTT, the state had to have had both Phase 1 and Phase 2 SFSF applications approved by the US Dept of Ed (USDOE).

So far, the requirements of the USDOE were done from an incentive perspective: we’ll give you the possibility of more money in exchange for your compliance with our demands. With the advent of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Waiver, the compliance was tied to punishments—lack of control over funding, and a potential loss of funding, for poor schools. Since the states had already put the 4 reforms into place, there was no reason to not sign onto the Waiver. The Waiver got rid of the insane requirement that every student in the state would be proficient in English and Math or the school would face sanctions of their Title 1 monies. With such a draconian requirement and funding punishments in place, who wouldn’t want out? And if all that you needed was to agree to continue doing what you were already doing, it sounded great. So, in 2012, the SBOE applied for and received a Waiver from NCLB. (The Waiver, arguably, was not valid under NCLB.) The initial waiver was for 2 years. Subsequent waivers have only been offered for a single year. This allows the USDOE to include whatever additional requirements they want, knowing that no state with a Waiver will want to get out of it, even as the requirements become more controlling.

It’s really a brilliant strategy.

  1. Offer money and other incentives for the 4 reforms
  2. Get SBOE’s across the nation to adopt your reforms for the ‘bribes’ that you offer in a voluntary manner. That way there is plausible deniability that the Feds coerced the states. “Come, little state, do you want some candy?”
  3. Once the 4 reforms are in place, offer to mitigate bad law with an agreement to continue those 4 reforms.
  4. Once the mitigation is in place, then draconian punishments are now associated with withdrawal from any of the 4 reforms.
  5. Once so many states are on board with the 4 reforms, the free market is, naturally, reduced to only catering to this national education model, originally incentivized by the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund in 2009.


April, 2009: State Fiscal Stabilization Fund application, signed Governor and State Superintendent

May, 2009: CCSS MOU signed by Governor and State Superintendent. No formal Board Vote.

May, 2010: State Board Chair Signs SBAC (testing consortia) MOU. No formal Board Vote. Also, signed by the Governor and the State Superintendent.

June 2, 2010: CCSS standards are released

June 4, 2010: State Board votes to accept the standards, in whole on first reading, in preparation for an interview about the RTTT application with the US Dept of Ed. RTTT, Phase 2 application reported to the SBOE as having been submitted.

August 6, 2010: State Board votes again to accept the CC standards, in whole.

June, 2012: First Waiver from NCLB granted to Utah


Quotes from SBOE meetings:

May 1, 2009:

Dr. Brenda Hales: “They would like to have us to sign a memo of agreement by Monday if we’re going to do it.”

Dr. Hales: ” Another con is although states are going to have lots of impact, in fact they’re going to have the opportunity to review the standards, they are not going to allow the states to have, to take a team to be a part of this.”

Dr. Hales: ”and the reason they’re doing it is because the other pro to this, the money that’s coming out for Race to the Top, the RF funds that are half billion, not million, half billion dollar grants are at least partially dependent upon the states having standards that can be looked at in terms of international benchmarks.”

Dr. Hales: “They want the Race to the Top grant to be individual states, but part of the criteria for showing that you are part of the group that is worthy of Race to the Top grant, can’t think of any other word, is that you’ve worked with other states on different issues so, in other words, you don’t put in a grant, it’s an odd mix of highly cooperative and highly competitive funding because what they’re talking about is you have to be cooperative with each other to qualify and then you compete as an individual state for the money and a half a billion is no small chuck of change.”

Janet Cannon: I was ready to make a motion and the thought just ran through my mind, you know, we do have the option of opting out but we are also putting ourselves in a position where we can apply for, have a better opportunity to apply for funds and grants and so forth. So my motion is- Oh.

[Unknown]: I have a problem [inaudible.] This is an information item.

Janet Cannon: Oh, I have listed as an action item, national common standards under tab number seven.

[Unknown]: My agenda says information

Debra Roberts: Oh, the agenda does say-information, but the yellow sheet says anticipated action.

Laurel Brown: Yeah, but the anticipated action is that we’ll discuss the materials.

Janet Cannon: Oh, ok. I was just looking up at the top that says action.

Brenda Hales: You can give me general direction.

Debra Roberts: Okay. Is the Board comfortable with giving Brenda some general direction to move forward on the national common standards and signing a MOU?

Laurel Brown: I’m comfortable with that.

David Thomas: I’m a dissenting vote.

June 4, 2010:

Laurel (Committee report) 7:00: Recommending that the board adopt the common core of states standards as a framework on first reading and we have time for the board members to go in and study this material and then we have second and third reading in August. The momentum in terms of this, although we can do it at any point in time, it is something we probably want to move ahead on more quickly rather than later. Acceptance of the Common Core standards does have some bearing in terms of the points that we receive for our second application for the funding from the federal government. So that would need to happen quite quickly. There is some angst among some people in terms of having to accept a common core standard, and so some of you may still be at that level. Many of us have already gone through that and feel ready to move ahead. We need to bear in mind that if Utah accepts the Common Core standards as iterated by that committee and it has been vetted through multiple people and agencies….if we do it, we accept the whole thing as it is. We don’t nit-pick and wordsmith this, it’s accept it. Then at that point, in terms of using it as a framework, we can plug in the details…map out the curriculum in terms of what’s actually going to happen in the classroom…. we can add to it, we just can’t take away any of that curriculum.

19:45: Brenda Hales: We know you haven’t had time to look, so if the board adopts on first reading, then it gives you time the next month and a half to review it for second and third in August.

(Debra Roberts?) Laurel, our expectation then is to have the board vote on first reading. Does everyone understand that? So, even though the committee approved it on first reading, it’s coming to you for first reading and then we’ll do second and third reading in August.

20:00: Shumway: The reason for that is various, sort of strategic reasons as we may find ourselves in an interview relative to our Race to the Top application.

All those in favor, say “Aye”.. “Aye” Any opposed? Thank you.

SAGE Validity Part 2: Dr. Thompson Responds

After sharing what Alpine school district board member’s Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart wrote concerning the results of the validity test Florida performed on Utah’s SAGE test, Dave Thomas, a state school board member wrote several legislators a brief rebuttal. He stated:

I read the Independent Verification of the Psychometric Validity for the Florida Standards Assessment, Evaluation of FSA Final Report (Alpine Testing Solutions, August 2015) and came to an entirely opposite conclusion. The report expressly validated the SAGE test (see Conclusions 1,2,5, and 6).  The problems noted in the report (see Conclusions 4, 7, and pp. 77-103) were not the result of an invalid SAGE test, but rather these had to do with Florida’s administration of the test (technology problems, login issues, head phone issues, insufficient training of the proctors, and late delivery of materials) and the fact that SAGE is aligned to the Utah Core Standards and not to the Florida standards (pp. 47-48).  While the two sets of standards are similar, the Report notes that there are differences which make SAGE not fully aligned to the Florida standards.  For example, Florida uses Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, while Utah uses an integrated math model.  Such differences present problems for the long term use of the SAGE test in Florida.  Consequently, the Report rightly recommends that Florida get their own test.  This discussion about misalignment is the reason I have long discouraged reliance upon NAEP, which uses its own standards to compile its test; standards that are not aligned with Utah.

I would highly recommend reading the Conclusions to the Report (pp. 118-121)..   I would caution all policy makers to be careful about focusing on isolated comments in a 150+ page Report which may be taken out of context.

David L. Thomas

In response to Mr. Thomas’ statement, Dr. Gary Thompson wrote the following rebuttal.

Vice-Chair Thomas’s response…failed to answer many important issues vital to the economic, educational, financial, and moral health of our community.   His non-response was a attempt to get stakeholders in education to focus on irrelevant “trees” at the expense of the “forest” comprised of our children.    That is unacceptable to me as citizen, father, and local clinical community scientist.

This blog post is about the “forest”:

1.  What exactly IS validity?  (See below)

2.  Did the Utah SAGE test undergo a validity study? (No. See below) 

3.  How important are validity issues in educational testing to your children? (Extremely.  See below)

4.  Will the next 9 pages be the most important education information considered for parents of Utah and Florida’s “divergent learning” students?  (Probably.  See below)

To continue, reading Dr. Thompson’s expert analysis, please go directly to his article here:

The Test Validity Trojan Horse: Utah and Florida’s Dangerous Game of Education Poker With Our Public School Children


C-Span discussion on “Drilling Through the Core” book

The Pioneer Institute recently released a book on why Common Core is bad for American Education.  After an introduction by Peter Wood on how Common Core will harm our education system, experts from different fields pick apart the standards, the adoption process, the lowering of college standards, the enormous cost of CCSS, the destruction of the arts and history, and the overall lowering of the bar. Those experts include some names you’ll find familiar like Milgram, Stotsky, and Wurman, whose contributions to education have been critical in an age of bad educational theories and fads.

If you don’t understand Common Core, please pick up a copy of the book. If you do understand Common Core, get further educated on the issues by getting the book.

C-Span also just hosted a book discussion which you can watch here:

SAGE Validity Test FAILS Utah

SAGE Validity Test Discourages Use of Student Test Scores

By Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart

Board Members, Alpine School District

Florida has done what Utah has been afraid to do. They have performed a validity test on the SAGE test administered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on the assessments of grades 3-10 ELA, grades 3-8 math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.

The validity test, performed by Alpine Testing and EdCount, was performed to test whether or not the test scores were valid for a specific use. In other words, does the test work or not?

Once the validity test was completed, Alpine Testing and Edcounts reported their findings to the Florida Senate K-12 Committee on September 17, 2015. The full video can be seen here.

What significance does this have for Utah? As can be seen from the video (and in their report) the field testing wasn’t performed primarily on Florida’s test. They used Utah’s test (thank you, Florida, for paying for Utah’s validity test.)

What Alpine Testing said in their comments to Florida is astounding. I have outlined some key points from the video:

At 44:50- Many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested.

At 47:70: Test scores should only be used at an aggregate level.

At 48:15 – They recommend AGAINST using test scores for individual student decisions.

At 1:01:00 – They admit that “test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”

At 1:20:00 – “There is data than can be looked at that shows that the use of these test scores would not be appropriate

Alpine Testing was the only company that applied to perform the validity study for Florida. Once awarded the contract, they teamed with EdCount, the founder of which had previously worked for AIR.

So, what we have is a questionably independent group stating that this test should not be used for individual students, but it’s ok for the aggregate data to be used for schools and teacher evaluations. If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. If it’s been shown that this test isn’t good for students, why would we be comfortable using it for the grading or funding of our schools and teachers? The sum of individual bad data can’t give us good data. Nor should we expect it to.

What more evidence is needed by our State Board, Legislature or Governor to determine that our students shouldn’t be taking the SAGE test? This test is a failure. How much longer will our children and our state (and numerous other states) spend countless time and resources in support of a failed test, or teaching to a failed test?

Utah deserves more. Our children deserve more than to waste their time with this nonsense. Opt your children out of this test, write your State School Board, Legislators and Governor and let’s put our focus on what works best for the education of our children.


This post continues with:

Feds Confess Truth About Common Core – They Coerced

Eventually those behind the scenes of frauds either slip up or get so arrogant they openly admit what they did all along. Now we know.

“Joanne Weiss was the director of USED’s Race to the Top (RttT) program, the vehicle through which states were bribed to accept Common Core and the aligned assessments. In an essay recently published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Weiss confessed that USED used strong-arm tactics to transform states’ standards and assessments systems: ‘[W]e forced alignment among the top three education leaders in each participating state — the governor, the chief state school officer, and the president of the state board of education — by requiring each of them to sign their state’s Race to the Top application. In doing so, they attested that their office fully supported the state’s reform proposal.'”

UACC Symposium Videos

Did you miss out on the recent UACC symposium, “Empowering Parents”? Here’s some of the videos from it.

Your financial contributions help us continue to sponsor important events and provide this content to you. Please make a donation today.


Big Ocean Women on Data Collection


Jenny Baker on Common Core 101


Vince Newmeyer on Science Standards


Rod Arquette, KNRS talk show host


Joy Pullmann from the Federalist


Josh Daniels from Libertas Institute


UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents – May 13

“UACC Symposium – Empowering Parents”

at UVU’s Sorenson Student Center

May 13, 2015

(Register below) (parking is available adjacent to the student center for $1/hour)

Come join Joy Pullmann from the Federalist (and formerly of the Heritage Foundation), Rod Arquette, Senator Al Jackson and his wife Juleen, and many others speaking on empowering parents. Also, come to a special showing of Tim Ballard’s documentary, The Abolitionist. Register below and please do it today because seating is limited.

8:30am -Sign In

MORNING IN-DEPTH PARENT WORKSHOPS – maximum 60 participants (UVU Classrooms in the Sorensen Student Center 206g, 206h, & 214) –

Cost to Participants- $5.00 to attend all of the workshops

9:00-12:00 Workshops – filled on a first come first served basis

Option 1 Option 2 Option 3
9:00-10:00 Common Core 101 –
Jenny Baker
The Next Frontiers: Data Collection from Birth to Death—
Joy Pullman
Principles of the Constitution-
Stacey Thornton
Laureen Simper
10:00-11:00 DATA-
Big Ocean Women
The Difference between Progressive and Effective Education –
Joy Pullman
Parental Rights-
Heather Gardner
11:00-12:00 Will national Science standards be coming to Utah?
Vince Newmeyer
SAGE Testing- Should I Opt-Out?
Wendy Hart
Getting Involved & Making a Difference- Jared Carmen


LUNCHEON- ACTIVIST TRAINING (Rod Arquette, KNRS Radio Host Joy Pullmann, The Federalist & Josh Daniels, Libertas Institute)- Center Stage in the Sorensen Student Center

Catered Lunch & Training- $15.00

Training only- $5.00


Evening Event – Empowering Parents (capacity 400) – Ragan Theatre at UVU in the Sorensen Student Center

Starting at 6:30 PM

Five Strings musical group, Joy Pullman and Senator Al & Juleen Jackson

Tim Ballard with Operation Underground and showing of The Abolitionist


Clicking submit at the bottom of this form will open a payment form to complete your registration. The form IS transmitting all information securely over SSL.

[wufoo username=”oaknorton” formhash=”s6b22n21vs2aqw” autoresize=”true” height=”897″ header=”show” ssl=”true”]



Who should choose school board members? The governor or the people?

Please sign this petition immediately and share this with your friends and neighbors.

[formidable id=”11″]
For further information on why partisan elections are the best system for vetting candidates, please see these resources:

Partisan School Board Election Arguments

Partisan School Board Resolution Debate

Responding to charges against partisan school board elections

The arguments against partisan elections – SB 104 S2

HB 5, “Student Success Act” turns federal strings into chains

You thought No Child Left Behind was bad…  Just wait till the feds “fix” the problem they created in the first place. Here comes the 600 page HB 5, the Student Success Act. What a nightmare. The intro to the bill states:

“To support State and local accountability for public education, protect State and local authority, inform parents of the performance of their children’s schools, and for other purposes.”

After you read the information below, you’re going to need to immediately email and call your state representative and urge him/her to oppose this bill. Here are their contact pages (Utah reps only. Other states go here:

Please do this Monday morning. They will most likely be voting on this in the next couple days.

Rob Bishop – 202-225-0453

Chris Stewart – 202-225-9730

Jason Chaffetz – 202-225-7751

Mia Love – 202-225-3011

The below information is pulled from Christel Swasey’s blog, though several other sources are available online. (Anita Hoge’s first exposing of this, Anita Hoge’s large summary on NewsWithViews, Wendy Hart’s blog)

Here are highlights with pages, sections and direct quotes:


Subpart 4, Section 6561 (page 564 on the pdf) says:

STATES TO RETAIN RIGHTS AND AUTHORITIES THEY DO NOT EXPRESSLY WAIVE” –How will a state “expressly waive” its authorities and rights?  –Answer from the bill: simply by having a state legislature accept federal money.

A state that acts “inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary as a condition of receiving that assistance” will waive its authority because the legislature of that state would have “expressly approved that [federal] program”.  If a state’s or a parent’s rights conflicted with a requirement, too bad: the federal bill claims authority to enforce obedience from states because the states take the money.

Read: “…nor shall any authority of a State have any obligation to obey… unless the legislature…. approved that program and in so doing, have waived the state’s rights and authorities to act inconsistently with any requirement that might be imposed by the Secretary...”  So states have no obligation to obey unless they approved federally promoted programs (which the states have done in multiple ways).

As Ann Marie Banfield wrote: “What is going on here? The Secretary of Education can’t enforce any requirements under the program that would violate states’ rights UNLESS the state legislature gives its consent to participate in the ESEA, which encompasses around $25 Billion in aid to states.  Essentially, participating in the program to receive funds requires states to waive their states’ rights and those of the parent over their child if they conflict with ANY requirements of the program.”


On page 567, Section 6564, we read that “…Other than the terms and conditions expressly approved by State law under the terms of this subpart,  control over public education and parental rights to control the education of their children are vested exclusively within the autonomous zone of independent authority reserved to the states and individual Americans by the United States Constitution, other than the Federal Government’s undiminishable obligation to enforce minimum Federal standards of equal protection and due process.”

By tying inalienable parental rights to the receipt of funds and federal “obligations,” the bill just claimed authority to take parental rights away, under conditions it has just defined.

Even in the statement of purpose on page 11, the bill minimizes parents and maximizes itself, by “affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children”.

To reduce parents to a recipient of government-granted “opportunities to participate in” the education of a child is de-parenting.  It’s far, far different from Utah’s  legal code, which states in multiple places that: “A student’s parent or guardian is the primary person responsible for the education of the student, and the state is in a secondary and supportive role to the parent or guardian.”


Read pages 78-82.  It mandates that private schools:  “ensure that teachers and families of the children participate, on an equitable basis, in services and activities…  SECULAR, NEUTRAL, NONIDEOLOGICAL.—  Such educational services or other benefits, including materials and equipment, shall be secular, neutral and nonideological.

What’s a private Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Baptist, or any other private religious school to do?  –Alter its beliefs to match mandates for altered materials, equipment and services?

This is the price we pay for “school choice”  and “backpack funding,” folks.  It’s not what they make it out to be.  Where federal money goes, federal chokeholds follow.

The federal government has no right to mandate that private schools must give services  that are secular and non-religious.  (See page 79: it includes in its definition of services: one on one counseling, mentoring, educational television, computer technology and more).



An ombudsman, if you haven’t heard the term, is a paid position, a role in which a person investigates and mediates official complaints for a living.  This bill mandates that private schools will be assigned a state-appointed ombudsman to monitor private schools:  “The State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements.”

On page 82 the bill states that the LEA (school district) must consult with private school officials and must transmit results of their “agreement” to a state-appointed ombudsman.  On page 86 the federal bill allows a private school to complain to the government:  “private school official shall have the right to file a complaint with the State educational agency that the local educational agency did not engage in consultation that was meaningful and timely”.  These are private schools.  They  never, ever have had any legal mandate to report to, complain to, speak to, or even think about state or federal governments.  These are private schools; private means not public, not under government mandates.



On page 535, the bill slashes freedom by mandating equity for private and public schools.  “Benefits provided under this section for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel shall be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits for public school children, teachers, and other educational personnel”.  The government has no right to command a private school to give more benefits, nor to withhold benefits, from private school teachers, staff or children.  The same page states: “Expenditures for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school children, teachers, and other service personnel shall be equal to the expenditures for participating public school children.”  The ombudsman’s job, according to page 80, is to “monitor and enforce” such “equity for private school children”.

SB 204 – Parent Rights Update – Stronger Opt Out Rights

Senator Aaron Osmond has listened to a lot of parents this past year and the sometimes horrible situations schools have put their children in forcing them to take tests they were opted out of, lying to children and telling them it was the law and they had to take it, etc… With the recent USOE memo trying to tell parents what they could or couldn’t opt their children out of, this bill is a major relief to parents. Here’s the changes being made. You can find the full text here:

Words that have a line through them are being removed and if it’s underlined it’s being added.

  (f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a)
89     and Subsection (3) [shall] may not be considered in determining:
90          (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or
91          (ii) whether a student [shall] may advance to the next grade level.

53A-15-1401. Definitions.
132          As used in this part:
133          (1) “Individualized Education Plan” or “IEP” means a written statement, for a student
134     with a disability, that is developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the Individuals
135     with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq.

160          (2) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s written request to
161     retain a student in kindergarten through grade 8 on grade level based on the student’s academic
162     ability or the student’s social, emotional, or physical maturity.
163          (3) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s initial selection of a
164     teacher or request for a change of teacher.
165          (4) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate the request of a student’s parent or guardian
166     to visit and observe any class the student attends.
167          [(5) (a) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a written request of a student’s parent
168     or guardian to excuse the student from attendance for a family event or visit to a health care
169     provider, without obtaining a note from the provider.]
170          [(b) An excused absence provided under Subsection (5)(a) does not diminish
171     expectations for the student’s academic performance.]
172          (5) Notwithstanding Chapter 11, Part 1, Compulsory Education Requirements, an LEA
173     shall record an excused absence for a scheduled family event or a scheduled proactive visit to a
174     health care provider if:
175          (a) the parent or guardian submits a written statement at least one school day before the
176     scheduled absence; and
177          (b) the student agrees to make up course work for school days missed for the scheduled
178     absence in accordance with LEA policy.

192          (9) (a) Upon [the] receipt of a written [request] statement of a student’s parent or
193     guardian, an LEA shall excuse the student from taking [a test that is administered statewide or
194     the National Assessment of Educational Progress.]:
195          (i) any summative, interim, or formative test that is not locally developed; or
196          (ii) any test that is federally mandated or mandated by the state under this title.
197          (b) An LEA may not:
198          (i) require a meeting as a condition of excusing a student from taking a test described
199     in Subsection (9)(a); or
200          (ii) specify the form of a written statement under Subsection (9)(a).
201          (c) A written statement to an LEA to excuse a student from taking a test under
202     Subsection (9)(a) remains in effect across multiple school years until:
203          (i) further notice from the student’s parent or guardian; or
204          (ii) the student is no longer enrolled at the LEA.
205          (d) An LEA may not reward a student for taking a test described in Subsection (9)(a).

217          (11) An LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to include
218     in an Individualized Education Plan elements that the parent or guardian believes are in the best
219     interest of the child.