Superintendent Menlove’s Letter on Opting Out

Superintendent Menlove issued the following letter to schools  just over a week ago.

Utah State Office of Education

April 7, 2014

There continues to be some confusion about students and/or parents opting-out of end-of level (SAGE and DWA) or other state-wide testing. Please be aware of the following as you have conversations with parents about opting-out of testing and in the development of opt-out forms.
1. Parents have the right to opt their children out of any testing required by or facilitated through the Utah State Board of Education. This includes all SAGE tests, Direct Writing Assessments, ACT (complete battery), ASAVB, NAEP, ACCESS testing for English Language Learners and UAA testing for Students with Disabilities.
2. When a student over 18 years old, or a parent or guardian opts-out of a state-level test, there is no requirement for an optional or alternative test to be given. For example, opting-out of a test taken on a computer does not necessitate that a “paper-pencil” test be offered as a replacement.
3. When a student over 18 years old, or 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.
4. Opting-out of end-of-level testing, and participating in end-of-level testing, both result in de-identified and aggregated individual student data being reported to the federal government. The difference in the data shared on all public school students as required by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is that the proficiency level for a student who opts out will not be reported while a tested student’s proficiency level will be reported as the proficiency level (1 – 4) determined by the testing.
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. Items #6 and #7 address potential consequences for teachers and schools as a result of opting-out.
6. As per action taken by the Utah State Board of Education on April 4, 2014, a student who opts-out of testing will not receive a proficiency score, and for State purposes will not be counted against participation rates. However, these students will be reported as non-participants on federal reports and accountability and this may impact an LEA’s qualification for and the receiving of certain federal dollars.
7. As per current Utah State Office of Education Policy, a student who has not opted-out and is absent from school, and therefore does not participate in testing, is counted as a non-participant (both State and federal reporting) and may impact the school’s participation score which is included in the calculation for the school’s letter grade. An absent student is not included in calculating proficiency for a class, grade, or school.

12 thoughts on “Superintendent Menlove’s Letter on Opting Out”

  1. So, let me get this straight. The state, the school districts, the schools, the administrations and the teachers are not allowed to punish the children in any way for not taking these tests. However, the Feds, who are not legally allowed to be involved in education, can punish the schools. Interesting.

    1. I agree, pretty scary isn’t it, it shows how powerful the government is trying to be and how they are trying to regulate our every move — I don’t like it!

    2. Yes…I find that interesting, too. And also that the ones opting out are STILL reported as opting out. The schools are over a barrel because the EXPECTED money after ACCEPTING the Federal government’s program for instituting it. Then -when kids drop out, they are in trouble because they are penalized for not MAKING them take the test, by losing money.

  2. I appreciate the superintendent writing this. I think the data reporting part is confusing. Aggregate data and individual student data are opposites. Is he trying to say they report both de-identified individual student data and aggregate (by definition de-identified) student data to the USED?

  3. I think Loni has it right, which just might mean that those who say we aren’t losing local control are wrong.

  4. I am very familiar with the CC being implemented in Utah. At our Local HS in Park City, they even collected genetic testing, had test questions asking about family religious & Political beliefs! What is all this “Data Collection” for? I am more alarmed by that & the general over-reach of the Fed Govmnt taking over the Private & Public School System. I now live in S. Cal and there are constant CC propaganda commercials stating “Commom Core is not from Washington and ALL decisions are made locally in our communities”…. REALLY?!? The CC Patent is held by an arm of a FED AGENCY! It is not a buffet you pick & choose from, once in, you are ALL in have to do ALL testing, Data collection, and teaching curriculum. There is NO local choice or decision process, no Parent input whatsoever except for Parent’ Right to Opt-Out! I’m curious what the curriculum will be regarding State Sovernity & personal Freedoms of Speech & Privacy! Follow the & Patent and it’s very clear.

    1. I think you mean copyright, not patent. Also, the NGA and CCSSO aren’t federal agencies but private non-governmental organizations.

      1. HUD is not considered a government agency, yet it is used to regulate the housing industry and is the gov eyes and ears. I think we need to be mindful of what entity is holding patents or copy rights to educational data and curriculum. Where might they report this data, and how it could bebused.things may not be created to be harmful but used in correctly can be very harmful to our country’s future.

  5. Small Correction. I’m fairly certain the letter should reference the ASVAB test and not ASAVB.

    ASVAB is Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

  6. Does the opt out include practice tests? My kids are taking practice tests as assignments and my school board has decided that practice tests are not covered by the opt out.

    1. That is a good question and I would like to know the answer as well. My kids are being told that the need to participate in the practice testing as well. Can anyone answer this question? Thanks

      1. I don’t know about the legalities or what the consequences may be, but you could always have your kids refuse to take it. The logical argument is that there is no purpose in practicing for a test you’re not going to take. If it’s a practice test, then it shouldn’t count toward their grade. What can they do to the kids if they refuse to pick up their pencil or push the keys on the computer? You could also take them to lunch for some Mom/kid time during that class. I don’t believe they have the time to have the kids make up these practice tests for which they are absent.

        Also, someone pointed out above that the kids who are opted out of the SAGE tests are being reported as having not taken them. That’s pretty individualized information, not included in a generic, aggregate report. It’s none of their business.

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