Parental Notification

On the public agenda for tonight’s school board meeting are three items of interest – changes to the policy on testing regarding parental notification, the 2014 – 2015 school year calendar, and the 2014 internal audit plan.

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Va Dept of Ed Says “No Soup For You”

In response to increased inquiries from parents sick to death of the mind-numbingly idiotic and educationally detrimental testing insanity that the VA Department of Education has forced on our children, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction issued the following memo on May 23, 2013 (Memo #142-13).

May 24, 2013

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Student Participation in Virginia Standards of Learning Assessments

As a result of several inquiries from school divisions and parents regarding student participation in Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments, the following information is being provided as a review of existing Virginia Board of Education regulations and associated assessment procedures.

All students enrolled in the Virginia public schools are expected to take the applicable state tests.  The Virginia Board of Education Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia, available online at www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/accreditation/soa.doc state:

“In kindergarten through eighth grade, where the administration of Virginia assessment program tests are required by the Board of Education, each student shall be expected to take the tests” and “each student in middle and secondary schools shall take all applicable end-of-course SOL tests following course instruction” (p. 9).

The regulations do not provide for what is sometimes referred to as an “opt out policy” for students regarding the Virginia assessments.  If, however, parents refuse to have their student participate in one or more of the required Virginia assessments, the following procedures should be followed within the school division:

  • The parents should be informed that their student’s score report will reflect a score of “0” for any test that is refused.
  • The school is strongly encouraged to request a written statement from parents indicating the specific test(s) the parents refuse to have their student complete. The document should be maintained in the student’s file as a record of the decision.
  • To account for the student, a test record for the refused test(s) is to be submitted for scoring with a Testing Status 5 coded to indicate the refusal to take the test.

In situations where a student’s test attempt is coded with a Testing Status 5, the “0” score on the test is included in the school and division pass rates calculated for the purpose of state accountability and for performance in federal accountability.  Because the student receives a “0” score for the refused test, the school and division participation rates for federal accountability are not affected.

If a parent or student refuses an opportunity to retake an end-of-course SOL test that the student previously failed, the procedures for handling this situation would be somewhat different.  No test record would be submitted because the student was already accounted for by the initial end-of-course test attempt.  The parent and student should be made aware, however, of any potential impact that not earning a verified credit may have on the student’s attempt to graduate or meet specific diploma requirements.

If you have questions regarding this information, please contact the student assessment staff at student_assessment@doe.virginia.gov or (804) 225-2102.

PIW/SLR/cb

Kind of reminds me of that Seinfeld episode with the Soup chef.

Prince William father learns how to opt out of standardized test

From today’s Washington Post, featuring one of the founders of this blog – Greg Barlow.

Prince William father learns how to opt out of standardized test

By Michael Alison Chandler

The Washington Post

Published: May 26, 2013

Greg Barlow did not want his fourth-grade son to take the Standards of Learning math test, but he did not know what would happen if he refused. Would his son get a failing grade? Would it go on his permanent record?

Barlow researched state and local codes and finally decided to try it. He sent an e-mail to his son’s principal and teacher at his Prince William elementary school, informing them that he planned to keep his son home on test day.

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” said Barlow, a former Air Force fighter pilot.

That was four years ago. His son opted out of math tests two other times and never suffered any ramifications. Barlow wrote about his experience on a Web site, and now he offers research and advice to others around the state and beyond who are thinking of making similar choices, he said.

Click here to read the rest of the story

More on Opting Out of SOL Exams in Virginia

Parents refusing to allow their children to be tested on state exams has been a hot topic of late across the nation.  The Washington Post recently ran several stories about the issue focusing on the statutes in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.  One article stated that Students in the DC area can’t opt out state standardized tests.  The article quoted Charles Pyle,  spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education, as stating, “all students in tested grade levels and courses are expected to participate in Virginia’s SOL assessment program, unless specifically exempted by state or federal law or by Board of Education regulations.”

While Mr Pyle is correct that there is no opt out provision in state law, as is often the case with education bureaucrats, he omitted a few things.  While there is no opt out provision in state law, there is no law, policy, or regulation that prohibits parents from refusing to allow their children to be tested.  Your child will receive a zero as their SOL exam scores, but he / she will not be forced to take any exam that you as a parent have refused to allow him / her to take.

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Opting out of State Mandated Testing in Virginia

Can you opt your child out of SOL testing in Virginia?  Yes you can, depending on what grade / tests your child is set to take and where you live.

Testing, and it’s effects on the quality of instruction and learning in Virginia and the nation, is a huge topic, especially now as SOL testing season is right around the corner.  Because we get asked about this quite frequently, we’ve added a page containing information about opting your child out of state SOL testing in Virginia.

You can find that page here  Opting Out of State Testing in Virginia.