Monday, June 15, 2015

OPT OUT IN OREGON ...NOW WHAT? +smf's 2¢ on Parents' Right to Choose

By Caitlin Emma via email from Politico Morning Ed

6.15.2015  ::  Oregon state lawmakers recently passed a bill [ ] that would allow parents to opt their children out of state standardized tests. It would also require that school districts notify parents of their ability to do so. The legislation passed despite warnings from the U.S. Education Department - officials said it could jeopardize $140 million a year in federal funding. Gov. Kate Brown has said she'll review the bill when it crosses her desk.

What happens if she signs the bill into law? Probably nothing, at first. But federal law requires that the state maintain a 95 percent participation rate in state tests. Until Oregon administers another round of state tests and analyzes the data to see how many families opted out, the state won't face any sanctions - and all of that could take more than a year.

  • This isn't the first time the U.S. Education Department has warned Oregon: The state's No Child Left Behind waiver was marked high-risk status in 2013 because the state hadn't done enough to tie student growth to teacher evaluations. Those issues have been resolved. Would an opt out law jeopardize the waiver or result in some other sanction? The 95 percent participation threshold is required by NCLB, not waivers exempting states from some of its provisions.
  • Some states - Montana and Nevada in particular - could face trouble meeting the 95 percent threshold after testing this spring was fraught with glitches. But the states won't face harsh sanctions if it can prove it has done everything possible to help testing run smoothly.

●●smf's 2¢ on Parents' Right to Choose: Believe me, the 95% threshold for testing as-opposed-to the 95% threshold to assure herd immunity in vaccinations at schools does not elude me!

The difference is this:
  • If parents choose to opt out of vaccinations they endanger the lives of their kids and the lives of other parents' kids - and adults -  who cannot, for medical reasons, get vaccinated.
  • If parents choose to opt out of standardized tests they endanger the already nebulous future of No Child Left Behind.  And the profit margins of testing companies like the College Board and Pearson are compromised. 
  • Huff+Puff and Bluster+Threaten as much as they will, The Big Bad Wolf US Dept of Ed is not about to withhold all federal education funds from Oregon if parents opt out of the test!

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