Inconsistencies in Utah Law
Carie Valentine sent us this great email she sent to several Utah legislators pointing out inconsistencies in Utah education laws and agreed to let us post it.
Dear Elected Officials,
I have been doing some research on the laws as they relate to Common Core and have found, what appear to be, inconsistencies in the law. Attached is a document that shows how SB271, SB175, and elements of Title 53A seem to be in conflict with one another.
Basically, SB271 states a school must have 95% participation in the SAGE testing(the new computer adaptive standardized testing) or receive a grade of F. It also outlines the grading procedure for the school and says the scores will include non-proficient students which may have IEP accommodations.
SB175 states students whose parents opt them out of testing will receive a non-proficient score and it will affect the school’s grade. It also says teacher’s will consider student’s SAGE tests in determining academic grades and advancement to the next grade level. Yet, within SB175 and in Title 53A it says, “Nothing in this part shall be construed to mean or represented to require that graduation from a high school or promotion to another grade is in any way dependent upon successful performance of any test administered as a part of the testing program established under this part.” In addition to the above items, Title 53A-13-101.2 says, ” (5) A student’s academic or citizenship performance may not be penalized by school officials for the exercise of a religious right or right of conscience in accordance with the provisions of this section.” If a parent wants to opt their child out of the invasive computer adaptive testing they are acting under a right of conscience and therefore their child’s grades and advancement to the next grade level shouldn’t be penalized. Which law overrides the other? Either a parent has the right to opt their child out of the testing with no repercussions, or they don’t. I am not a lawyer so I could be off base here but it looks like a conflict.
SB175 also says a student with an IEP may make other arrangements for testing according to the student’s IEP. This information needs to be shouted from the rooftops so that parents who have children with an IEP know they don’t have to subject them to the computer adaptive testing (SAGE). One of the most disturbing parts of the computer adaptive testing is that the goal is to pull all students into it so there is no need for testing accommodations. Children who struggle with testing issues should not be over looked simply because there is a new test in town.
In regards to the State School Board’s desire to launch a PR campaign for common core, Title 53 A-4-205 says the board
(i) may not:
(i) engage in lobbying activities;
(ii) attempt to influence legislation; or
(iii) participate in any campaign activity for or against:
(A) a political candidate; or
(B) an initiative, referendum, proposed constitutional amendment, bond, or any other ballot proposition submitted to the voters.
Common Core is an initiative and it certainly has laws dictating its implementation. The board engaged in what they called educational meetings to introduce the computer adaptive testing they have contracted with American Institutes of Research to create. I attended one of these meetings and found it to be replete with propaganda type points rather than a balanced approach to informing the public. The most controversial parts of the testing were glossed over, lied about, or just omitted from the discussion. The school board needs to be held accountable for breaking their own laws. Will you hold them accountable? Now, they are poised to begin a media PR blitz to “inform” the public about common core education reform and will, again, be in violation of this law.
Finally, Title 53A-11-1305 says the Board rules to ensure the protection of individual rights. If this is the case, then they must uphold a parent’s rights to direct the education of their child(ren). HB0015 line 59 which says the computer adaptive testing may include “the use of student behavior indicators in assessing student performance.” interferes with a parent’s right to protect their children from invasive, high stakes testing. These tests are designed by a behavioral research company. Judy Park said there will be absolutely no behavioral indicators in the tests but how are we to know that? The tests are viewable by no one. Not parents, not teachers, not administrators, no one. The parent committee of 15 chosen to review the test questions will not even be seeing the test questions, just a version of them. This parent committee isn’t even qualified to review a test such as this. Psychometricians will be over seeing the scoring of the tests along with the algorithms created to analyze whatever data A.I.R. wants to analyze.
I have attached a document that has the webpages listed so this information can be double checked. I would appreciate some contact on this issue. I can come and meet you in person to review it or you can email me. I will also accept phone calls.
Ed. Note: The USOE is notifying applicants who desire to be on the 15 parent review panel, that they must sign a non-disclosure agreement so concerns that arise may not be shared with anyone. This is not a review panel. It’s a rubber stamp and checkmark on a piece of paper to tell legislators that a parent panel has reviewed the test and it’s safe for kids to take.
This is the block of text Carie refers to above. It was recently found and shows administrative rules by the USOE which will interpret SB 175. It is unknown at present if this is proposed language to be voted on by the board, if it has been voted, or if it doesn’t even have to be voted on by the board. The intent is clear. If you have a student in a public school, you may not opt your child out of SAGE/AIR testing without your child, the teacher, school, and you as a parent being punished. The child is punished by being forced to take the exam, the teacher and school because they must maintain 95% of students taking the exam or have the school receive a failing grade, and as parents if this is in high school and your child has straight A’s, a non-proficient score will mess with their GPA and transcript for college applications. So if you can’t opt-out, your child can walk-out. You the parent are in charge of your child’s education. Do what is best for your child.
164 (2) the parent makes a written request consistent with
165 LEA administrative timelines and procedures that the parent’s
166 student not be tested. Students not tested due to parent
167 request shall receive a non-proficient score which shall be
168 used in school accountability calculations.
9/28/13 Addendum from Carie:
How Often Will the Tests Be Administered?
The state has identified three types of testing your students will participate in. This information comes directly from their pamphlet.
The first type of tests are called summative assessments. These will replace the end of year testing called the CRT’s Utah students have taken for many years. Students will be tested in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and eventually Science. It is my understanding the science portion of the common core standards have not been approved and so the science SAGE tests won’t be administered until they are finished. A field test will be administered in the Spring of 2014 and the system is set to go fully operational in the Spring of 2015.
The Second type of tests are called Interim assessments. “These tests are optional and can be administered in the fall and mid-year to evaluate student competence with the Utah Core Standards-which are Common Core Standards-in English/Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. Interim assessments will be psychometrically predictive of the summative assessment and utilize the same student interface and reporting system.”
What does this mean? It means that students who are struggling or teachers who need to see where their class is may utilize these assessments at the beginning and middle of the school year to determine instruction. This program is set to go live the Fall of 2014
The third type of tests are called Formative assessments. “Formative assessment guides teacher’s day-to-day instruction. Each student’s Formative SAGE results will link to instructional resources to help teachers target and individualize instruction.”
What does this mean? This means that teachers have the potential to have testing done after every lesson they teach. They can access the massive bank of common core aligned material online to use as instructional resources for struggling students or students that need additional help on a subject.
All of these assessments are matched to complement one another. This testing is set to go online in the fall of 2013.
All of this means your child has the potential of participating in high stakes, computer adaptive testing, daily. It won’t start out that way because it will take time for education reform of this magnitude to be developed but this will be the outcome once all the variables are in place for your children to have summative, interim, and formative assessments throughout their school year. A tremendous amount of time is already spent preparing students for their standardized tests each year. Imagine how much more time will be devoted to test preparation when all of the various SAGE tests come online. The state school board has said teachers have complete creative control in their classrooms for how they want to teach to the standards, but with so much emphasis on testing, a teacher will have little room in his or her day to teach much more than to the test.
There is so much testing with common core, that a recommendation has been made in HB15 on lines 119-120 that “The State Board of Education shall consider administering the basic skills competency test on a Saturday to preserve instructional time.”