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.

Thank you,

Carie Valentine


Contradicting Laws

SB175 with amendments and Title 53A inclusions


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.”

22 thoughts on “Inconsistencies in Utah Law”

  1. It is frustrating that the School Board seems to be above the law. The word “Democracy” still holds a prominent place at the front door of American Fork Jr. High, despite the fact that HB 220 was passed in the Utah legislature and now requires that teachers teach our students that we are a compound constitutional republic. How do we hold them accountable? WHO enforces these laws?

  2. As a retiree, busy in a church mission, I do not have time to really study like Carie has done but my heart is full of gratitude, as a retired teacher, that SMART, efficient parents are finally taking note. All I can say is that when testing was mandated (and Canyons District kept blanketing us with testing on computers for typing skills, etc. etc. at the beginning of their new district which took almost a month away from learning as teachers struggled to comply), my Special Education students floundered. The only accommodations were that a Special Education teacher be in attendance and it was hardly ever me. I would have been hands on too much and “held up the process” and we were not ALLOWED to help them, even though many had typing skills FAR below others in taking this test. One of the accommodations for ALL Special Education students was MORE TIME. They had plenty of time, and in the CRT’s they are done long before most students. They do not understand the QUESTIONS, let alone know how to answer most of them because they truly have disabilities in comprehension and have to have questions explained. SO the testing of these students and COUNTING them as part of the 95% needed to not get an F grade is ALWAYS bogus. I have little faith in testing after a graduate class I took LONG ago from a UTAH EDUCATION SPECIALIST in the State of Utah, back in 1975. He told us he’d spent the summer looking for a valid reading test for the state and the honest truth was that there IS no really valid testing for a human on this subject. I thought this was a VERY interesting observation. As a Special Education teacher, I had to agree. Nobody can take the time to REALLY assess a student’s abilities properly. Testing is always a matter of chance in the first place, so placing SO MUCH WEIGHT on a test score is seriously NOT a true evaluation of a teacher’s success with a student, nor is it EVER a true indication of a student’s ability, except just how they fare in testing. We are talking about human beings here. Our precious children. We had BETTER get involved this time and not shirk parental duties. I have nothing but praise for these parents who have FINALLY questioned the decisions of our educational leader and not just blindly accepted some of the retiscent and redundant answers I was taught inside many districts to give out to parents asking questions, with the intent to NOT BE SUED. Our fears have obscured truth in the laws and procedures of educating children. The real truth about our Special Education law, that we are TAUGHT in training and EVERY district illuminates, is that if parents were SMART ENOUGH to read and understand the “Golden Rules,” our state budget would be bankrupt with what the federal government mandated for every student to be accommodated. Our laws are not lined up with budgetary dispersals. Much of the money is WASTED inside districts and MANY changes need to be made or public education will collapse.

    1. Susan, Thank you so much for your professional, honest input. Although not a Special Ed teacher, I have taught for 38 years in Texas and Utah schools and have experienced the focus and big business of testing students and relying on test scores for evaluation from everything to school rating, teacher evaluation, and classroom proficiency for students. Testing does not thoroughly accomplish any of the above. The federal government control through CORE is frightening to me and the lack of accommodations for students, just computer proficiency if nothing else, is ludicrous and shows the designers of the program completely clueless as to the needs of children. Heidi

  3. Great analysis. is there a lawyer we can work with on these issues to help parents know our rights or how to protect them in cases like this?

  4. Thank you Carie, my husband and I were made aware of this 95% requirement by the principal we interviewed at a charter high school we would like one of our children to attend. He did tell us that one way you can get out of the testing is to have your child take a course at an online or private accredited source and they have to accept the score he gets from them and won’t need to be assessed by Common Core for that class or course.

  5. In response to Susan Wilcox I agree that to totally rely on a text is detrimental. Case in point if Einstein would not of been able to pursue what he became a genius at for there was a time when he was failing math. He figured it out himself. Jacque Fresco, an American genius, who invented surgical tools and designed airplanes was self educated. His principal in school allowed him to go beyond the curriculum.

  6. One more comment my State School Board Representative, Tami Pyfer, was handing out fliers and arguing with myself and others who were handing out fliers “against” Common Core at the GOP Convention in 2012. I think that qualifies as a breach of the political activities they are not supposed to engage in.

  7. What if every child in every class in every school took the test and purposely failed it…either marking the wrong answers or not giving any answer (leaving blank spaces)? Wouldn’t that send a message?

  8. I was sent this correction to my analysis.
    There is just one thing you may want to change and maybe someone has already pointed it out. (i) B an initiative, means a ballot initiative, not initiative as in Common Core initiative. That makes a difference as to what the board members can and cannot do as far as the initiative language is concerned.

    I got back a reply from an attorney that looked over the arguments and he didn’t feel there was legal basis for rebuttal. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ethical grounds for discussion as well as a need to tighten up the language. I would encourage everyone to contact their elected officials about these parts of the laws and tell them if parents have rights then the they shouldn’t be writing laws to limit those rights.

  9. I have been trying to stay up on the research and posts but I am still confused as to what will be implemented and whether AIR testing will be in full swing. Today my First grader starts and I would like to opt her but it seems there are many different tests and things going on. They are overwhelming the grid. I am in Davis County and not without hope but I feel like I am a Morpheus (with many others) in a Matrix. Red pill or blue pill!? Thank you for the research on this it seems enough ‘ammo’ to me and to opt out and catch them in the contradiction.

  10. My son is a gifted math student but he can not strictly use BYU independent study math program and be able to graduate from the charter school he is enrolled in. Prior to Common Core my daughter was allowed to graduate from charter school with BYU math. My son must take Common Core Math 1 and 2 to meet graduation requirements with no consideration for the advanced BYU maths he will have taken. He will be wasting four semesters to satisfy common Core mandate rather than employing his time for classes he will need to be prepared for a STEM career. Hobbling a motivated individual in the name of “fairness” comes to mind.

      1. I have spoke to two or three different representatives two math teachers and one counselor at our online high school program about my concerns regarding CC math. Background info: We moved to an online program for my daughters eight grade year about 2008. She had a harsh lesson she went from being top in math class in brick and mortar to a year behind in the online program. She had to work double time to catch up with the online. Once caught up she was very happy with how the maths were taught. In 10th grade she moved to a Utah based online high school program. They have been very understanding of her acceleration in math and have allowed her to use BYU Independent study to apply to her graduation requirements. My daughter was a junior with calculus 1 under her belt and has been accepted to university early. We moved my son from brick and mortar approximately 2011. We moved his math program back as I knew from previous experience with brick and mortar programs that even though he was in an accelerated math class in brick and mortar he likely had gaps in his math foundation. He moved through the 5th grade in the on line program. It filled in the gaps smoothly with no confusion. Last year he moved to 6th grade math and he had no difficulty with the tests or bookwork if he did not watch the video/slides prior to the testing. If he used the slides/video he was thoroughly confused. I asked my daughter to watch the video/slides she was very concerned about how the material was being taught. She told me something had greatly changed in the program since she had used it. It was near that time that I became aware of CC and that it was implemented last year. I also became aware of the “new” math approaches that CC employes through watching a video that was posted I believe at your website ( the one with the meteorologist ) I asked my son to watch it and if that teaching method was what he was having trouble with. His answer was it is exactly what he found confusing. At that point we decided to compare to BYU’s Independent study math program to what he was doing. This summer he worked in the BYU program and it went great. He is caught up enough to move into the 8th grade math with his peers. Not so simple as we have to contend with the incorporation of CC math into the online program again this year. His online math teacher has said that they go by Utah standards that will comply with CC but are actually higher than what is required by CC. All I can do is hope. BYU is always there to go back to. Then I began to wonder if CC math would be in the online high school that my daughter went to and would it make us unable to use our outside math program. I started asking questions and the answer is yes CC has been implemented and that a child cannot graduate even if they have credits from an acceptable online math program unless they have passed CC math 1 and CC math 2. I am under the understanding that the charter schools hands are tied. I asked if there was a test that a child could take to show proficiency to avoid making an exceptional student sit through four semesters of CC math 1, 2. I understand that there is not a test at this time nor have they heard if there is going to be one. I have not dug into the rules/laws governing this. I understand that some of these concerns are being brought out at this time and I am hoping that they will be remedied before my son gets into his senior year otherwise we have planned for him to move ahead in the BYU independent maths and do his time sitting though CC math 1, 2 to get his diploma. The reason we have not moved completely to BYU independent for all classes is that I feel the online programs that we are using are very good and the only life changing supplementation that is required is BYU Independent’s math program.

  11. I reread your question whether this was a state requirement or having to do the the charter school. I understood this to have to do with the laws that govern public schools and is not something that can be negotiated. I will contact our counselor to see if I can find out where the rule/law is exactly stated I will keep you updated.

  12. Carie posted an addendum to this article if you want to return and see additional information on the assessments and how often they can be performed.

  13. Sen. Todd Weiler responded to my questions about the consequences of parents opting their children out of the SAGE tests (computer adaptive tests). I think when he says “CRT’s” that is what he is talking about.

    You inquired about what happens if a student refuses to take a CRT or computer adaptive test or the student’s parent prohibits the student from taking a CRT or computer adaptive test. In accordance with State Board of Education policy (see attachment), the student is counted as a nonproficient student, so the school’s score under the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS) and the school grading system would be affected. Under UCAS and the school grading system, a school receives points for the percentage of students who score proficient. According to John Jesse, Assessment Director, Utah State Office of Education, the reason for the policy is to avoid any incentive for schools to discourage students from taking an assessment. Mr. Jesse noted that each year some students refuse to take a CRT or some parents prohibit their children from taking a CRT; however, to date, not enough have refused to take a test to make any significant difference in a school’s score.
    Some secondary school teachers include a student’s performance on a CRT as part of the student’s overall grade for the course. ORLGC contacted nine school districts to find out what happens in the case of a student who refuses to take the CRT or is prohibited in taking the test by the student’s parent. The common practice is for the teacher to give the student an assignment in lieu of the CRT. No school district indicated that a student’s course grade would be negatively affected by not taking a CRT.
    Let me know if you have further questions.

    Todd Weiler

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