New Opt-Out Guiding Document

Opt out of common core testsI was recently sent this document by a teacher who wanted to ensure the public received this information. It was expressed that the below document was recently sent to all LEA’s by Diana Suddreth at the Utah state office of education, regarding rules for handling assessment opt-outs at local schools. Coloration and markings below are from the document.

I am grateful the state office in conjunction with the state board has prepared this document. Hopefully this will clear up some issues parents have had in dealing with their local schools.

********************

Guiding Document – Administration
R277-404

On January 4, 2018 the Utah State Board of Education amended R277-404, which opened a 30-day public comment period on February 1, 2018. One of the amendment reads, “In accordance with Subsection 53G-15-1403(1)(a), an LEA shall reasonably accommodate a parent’s or guardian’s request to allow a student’s demonstration of proficiency on a state required assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course.”

In addition to this change, several other requirements/restrictions related to the use of statewide assessment results are in Board rule or state statute. These include:

Utah Code 53E-4-303: (This law applies only to statewide assessments in grades 3-8, however R277-404-6(a)(i) prohibits the use of a statewide assessment score to determine the student’s academic grade, or a portion of the student’s academic grade in any grade.)

(4) A student’s score on the standards assessment adopted under Subsection (2) may not be considered in determining:

(a) the student’s academic grade for a course; or

(b) whether the student may advance to the next grade level.

In addition, Board Rule R277-404-7 states:

(3)(b) An LEA may not penalize a student who is exempted from a state required assessment

(8) An LEA may not reward a student for a student’s participation in or performance on a state required assessment (as amended)

Utah Code 53G-6-803 Parental right to academic accommodations includes the following statement: “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. This statute also grants parents, among other rights, the “right to reasonable academic accommodations from the student’s LEA” and “shall allow a student to earn course credit towards high school graduation without completing a course in school by testing out of the course; or demonstrating competency in course standards.” It is in consideration of this statute that the USBE passed the amendment to R277-404.

How should teachers respond to the amendment to R277-404?

Teachers should consider how these changes can support the learning objectives for their students. In their considerations, teachers must not do the following:

a. Use a statewide assessment to reward or punish a student (R277-404-7(7).
b. Allow a statewide assessment score to have a negative impact on the student’s academic grade (R277-404-7(8).
c. Penalize a student for participating in the Parent Exclusion provision (R277-404-7(3)(b).
d. Independent of the parent or guardian, use the demonstrated proficiency of a student on a statewide assessment to fulfill a requirement in a course (r277-404-6(1)(c).

Teachers should also remember that R277-404 provides the following guidance related to Parental Exclusion from Testing. Schools and teachers must allow the following:

a. A parent the right to exempt their child from a state required assessment (R277-404-7(3)(a).
b. Accept the Parental Exclusion form provided by USBE or one created by the LEA (R277-404-7(4)(c).
c. May contact a parent to verify that the parent submitted the exclusion form (R277-404-7(5)(a).
d. Cannot require a parent to meet with a school official regarding their associated request (R277-404-7(5)(b).
e. Shall ensure a student that has been exempted from participating in the statewide assessment is provided an alternative learning experience (R277-404-5(9)
f. May allow an exempted student to be physically present in the room during test administration (R277-404-5(10).

18 thoughts on “New Opt-Out Guiding Document”

  1. How widespread is this information? Is the Utah ed dept taking affirmative steps so that parents (and students) know their rights? This could be directly to parents or by requiring districts or schools to inform parents. It could be by sending information home with the student (probably best), sending a letter (expensive), sending an email (but many parents won’t have email, particularly low-income families). They can and should also post to a website, but that is a passive not active informing.
    Please let us know what Utah is doing. FairTest is gathering this information from all states that have opt out laws, and will disseminate it. Send information to fairtest@fairtest.org.
    Monty Neill

    1. Schools are supposed to disseminate opt-out information to parents but they do it in the least obvious way possible. Usually a 6 point font at the bottom of a form sent home to parents with a vague reference to the code section. No help.

  2. My Junior High & High School children are being told if they don’t take Sage the teacher will give them a harder test that will count against their grade. My junior high child brought home a paper to be signed. If they opt out they will have to take end of year test that will count against their grade. If they take sage and get at least a 3 or 4 they will not have to take end of year test, that will count against grade. Is this legal? They attend Desert Hills middle & High School in Washington school district in St. George Utah

    1. No that is not legal. This document from the state clearly says that. I would print out these guidelines from the state office and take them to the school teacher and principal. If you need to, call the state superintendent Syd Dickson, or Diana Suddreth who sent this document to schools.

    2. The specific rule states grades 3-8 are fully exempt so I’m not 100% sure on the high schooler. They cannot give a harder test though. I would call Ms. Dickson at the state office and ask her to intervene. Also, your state school board member Michelle Boulter can be of assistance to you. Contact her and have her contact the school.

      1. I am in a similar situation. My 10th Grader at Lehi HS is being told that he will receive a harder test as an alternate assignment. Can the SAGE test or alternate assignment count as part of their grade? This wasn’t the case a few years ago but I haven’t kept up with changing legislation/rules. I’m tempted to tell him to simply take the SAGE test and do as badly as possible, but I don’t want to negatively affect his grade.

        1. An alternate assignment that is used in place of SAGE cannot be used toward the grade. That would be the same as penalizing the student who didn’t take SAGE or rewarding the kid who did. This has been a point of contention for several years. Please contact me at wendyhart[at]alpinedistrict.org with the information about your 10th grader’s class, etc, and I’ll pass it along to the Superintendent. Your child shouldn’t have to take an unvalidated test against your wishes.

          1. Wendy, thank you for your support. I called and emailed the superintendant, the principal and my board member. Between them, I managed to get the situation cleared up. It concerns me, however, that we also had to deal with a similar issue with another child at the Middle School. In both instances, the school administration claim to have been clear with the teachers and yet these problems occur. In the case of our middle schooler, the entire English department created a scheme to incentivize the students to take the SAGE test and reward them for good results. It doesn’t seem like the message is getting through to the teachers.

    3. Yes, this is happening at many St. George schools. There is a group of parents who are drafting a letter to the school district superintendent. This letter will include the information above. We are working quickly on your behalf trying to mitigate any further issues. Desert Hills Middle School also has teachers making threats to students and we have heard many parents complaining about those threats. Hopefully our letter will eliminate those also. If you have students receiving those threats please send an email to wcsdpc@gmail.com

  3. I was just told I have to meet with the principal to opt my child out of SAGE testing. The above information states I should not have to do this. How should I proceed?

    1. Update. Our school principle will clear up the confusion. Both a teacher and front desk staff told us we have to meet with the principal. Very strange.

  4. Thank you for posting this article Oak. Another year of SAGE testing and another year of fighting teachers on how they treat my kids. Just yesterday my son’s English teacher (Alpine District Middle School) told the class that if they get a good grade on SAGE testing, they can request it be used to improve their grades in the class. I was flabbergasted when my son told me this.

    Also just a clarification. Is it legit that they require my kids to take a written test instead of SAGE since they are opted out?

  5. I have had the same report from my 8th grader in the Jordan School District. I have been on the phone with the district assessment coordinator, the State School board Assessment coordinator and the principal at the school. It is very apparent after reading these comments that the communication and understanding of these policies are poor at best. I have a follow up call coming from my local school board rep tomorrow and plan on taking this information further. I understand the basic intent of the policy, but I fear for the unintended consequences of it because of all the confusion how quickly the information was disseminated and how it is being used in individual schools.

  6. My daughter’s Language Arts class at Herriman High School was told that they have to take the test and that opting out was not permitted in her class. I’ve tried to contact the teacher with no response. I have now left a message for the principal. Hopefully he will have an answer for this teacher’s announcement to her class.

      1. My son was told that those that do well on the SAGE will not have to take the FINAL. They will get to watch a fun movie while those that skipped the SAGE (my son) will have the final. This sounds like a punishment. c. Penalize a student for participating in the Parent Exclusion provision (R277-404-7(3)(b). If my son needs to take a test for his grade–everyone needs to take the same test, not be granted privilege for taking SAGE.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *