Is your school violating the law?

Has your school notified you of your parental rights?

If you have not been notified by your local school of your rights detailed below, ask the school why they are violating the law and ask your school board member to ensure all schools in your district are following the law. This statement is from SB 122 passed in 2014. It is state law.

http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/sb0122.html

47          53A-15-1502. Annual notice of parental rights.
48          An LEA shall annually notify a parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the LEA of
49      the parent’s or guardian’s rights as specified in this part.

What is specified in this part? OPTING OUT OF SAGE TESTS! (Among other things)

86      (9) (a) Upon the written request of a student’s parent or guardian, an LEA shall excuse
87      the student from taking a test that is administered statewide or the National Assessment of
88      Educational Progress.

If your school has not notified parents of this right, bring it to your principal’s and school board members’ attention.

Further, new state law passed this year 2015 (http://le.utah.gov/~2015/bills/static/SB0204.html, line 92), and signed by the governor mandates that teachers may not incentivize/reward (line 238) or punish SAGE test participation or withdrawal through opting out, and may not use it in grading students (lines 90-93).

On April 10 “The Utah State Board of Education approved amendments to Rule R277-404 Requirement for Assessment of Student Achievement aimed at clarifying the rules and procedures for parents or guardians who wish to opt their public school students out of state tests. Parents or guardians will be asked to fill out an opt-out form at least one day before the test is to be administered.” (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary.aspx#Opt-out)

NEW STATE SCHOOL BOARD POLICY (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Meetings/Summary/materials/R277-404-April2015.aspx)

“Parents may further exercise their inherent rights to exempt their children from a state administered assessment without further consequence by an LEA.” (pg 7)

“Upon exercising the right to exempt a child from a state administered assessment under this provision, an LEA may not impose an adverse consequence on a child as a result of the exercise of rights under this provision.” (pg 7)

UPDATE 4-28-15: 2014’s parental rights bill allows for opting out of SAGE. However, Senator Osmond has indicated that 2015’s bill doesn’t take technical effect until July which is after the school year ends. Therefore, teachers have a right to use SAGE in their end of year grading. However, for those who opt out, it appears there is nothing in the law that allows teachers to use an alternate test in your child’s grades. My previous line here about students taking an alternative test was triggered based on Judy Park’s statement at the bottom, but no alternative test is provided for in Utah law, and next year teachers cannot use this test in grades at all. So opting out should not impact your child, or cause your child to have to take an alternative test. See Wendy Hart’s comment below.

Senator Osmond wrote this email to someone explaining the situation.

“The law itself becomes effective on May 12 (or 60 days from the adjournment of the Legislature), but its implementation was always intended to begin in the next school year. Again, that was the intent. So, technically this is the reason for the confusion.

The bottom line is that the both the Legislature and the Utah Board of Education are communicating that the law is to be effective beginning the next school year. This means that teaches may tie SAGE results to grades for this year. But after this school year it will be against the law to do so.”

Wendy Hart, a board member in Alpine School District, posted this to Facebook:

There is no legal requirement from a state level for your child to take an alternative test. I have not heard of a ‘replacement’ test that one ‘orders’. So, this is a local school thing. If it is a local school thing, then there must be a board policy that was adopted in an open, public meeting that REQUIRES students to take this alternative and specifies where/how this is to take place. Otherwise, this is just an administrative-level decision and it does not hold any legal weight. If the teacher was willing to write his own test, then again, this is an administrative thing. Even though this is a charter school, their board meetings are still subject to Utah Open Meetings Laws. All agendas should be publicly available, all policies, all audio of all meetings. They would need to show me chapter and verse as to their authorization for this action. But that chapter and verse cannot, in any way, conflict with existing state law.”

Dr. Gary Thompson posted this on Facebook and I agree.

“Unless your kid is in grade 9-12, the effects of “grades” are not worth stressing over.

I mean really? So a 6th grade kid goes from a B to a C…or even a D because he does not take a test?

So what.

I’m sure Harvard won’t give a damn, and neither should you…especially when they are using it as a bullying tactic.

Call their bluff.

Pull your child.

Ask me how many times someone has asked me about even my GRADUATE school grades in the last 7 years since graduation.

Tell them you would be more than thrilled to have your child take the test..any test.. when they can produce validity reports for them.

Otherwise, let them know that you refuse to allow your child to be used as experimental fodder for a private testing company.

P.S. If they hand you something and say its a validity report, feel free to scan it and send it to me directly.

Several parents have sent me administration produced “validity” reports on the SAGE. Each and every one of them were AIR and/or USOE produced public relations essays.”

The truly aggravating thing is that we are asking 3rd graders and on up to sit for 2.5-3 hours at a time taking a year end test that will do NOTHING for learning. It’s grueling. I’m one of those accountants who took the CPA and CMA exam, both 16 hour exams, and each section was an endurance test along with the knowledge, and this was for someone in their 20’s, not 8 years old.

As per instructions from State Associate Superintendent Judy Park on 9-23-14 to all schools:

“3. When a … parent or guardian opts‐out of a state‐level test, no academic penalty shall result for the student. If teachers/schools use any of these tests for grading/promotion decisions, some alternative assessment will need to be provided…
5. Any student who is in school and not participating in testing should be engaged in a meaningful educational activity. Students not participating in any testing should not be singled out in any negative way nor should the student or the class be administratively punished in any way because a student opts out of testing…

This instruction should prevent teachers from giving unfair alternative assessments to students.

7 thoughts on “Is your school violating the law?”

  1. I want to give kudos to Murray School District and how outstanding they have treated our children who opted out of Sage testing. The High School had a form at the front desk and I just had to list our kid’s names at Murray High and Riverview Junior High. They even faxed the form over to Riverview and it was done. No hassles from administration, no hassles from any of the teachers.

    Also, since Algebra II is no longer an option at the Jr. High (or anywhere for that matter), the Principal, counselor and assistant superintendent over math, met with us for an hour figuring out the best possible plan for our daughter’s math classes. They gave every option and were open to any suggestions and ideas.

    So, in our “Free Market” education system in Utah…post your super stories and let’s get behind those schools who have respect for parent’s rights and what is best for the kids. Thanks Murray School District.

  2. Senator Osmond’s quote says that the intent was to begin with the next school year (2015-2016) so the Utah Legislature and Utah School Board are communicating that it does not take effect until 7/1. Who in the Legislature is communicating this besides Senator Osmond?

  3. I have two grown children, each in a different university now. Their universities only looked at their high school grades and even then, their ACT scores meant more than their high school grades.

  4. Congrats Camie, you learned what any educated person knew by the time they were in middle school. I teach my children to love challenge of performing well on the Sage exam. Guess what, they do, and they know that we love them no matter how they do. And, they are providing valuable information for their school and us as parents. Think it through…

  5. I feel the need to clarify my FB comment. A parent of a child in a charter school had been told that their child’s teacher could not just ‘create’ an alternate test in place of SAGE, but that they had to ‘order up’ a particular test for the alternative. I am not saying that an alternate test could not be given; it absolutely could, and if a grade was going to be given for SAGE testing, then an alternate would need to be given to not punish either the student who takes SAGE or the one who opts out.

    The concept of a legal requirement for a student to take a particular alternate test would devolve upon the local charter board; otherwise, the teacher would have the freedom to create whatever alternate they felt appropriate.

    I do not want to imply that there is no legal requirement for a teacher to provide alternate assignments/tests for students that are opted out, as they are obligated to provide appropriate ‘educational’ opportunities that neither reward nor punish any of their students. There was no legal requirement, in this particular instance, for a particular alternate test to be given in place of SAGE, unless the board had created this requirement for their charter school.

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