What To Do About The Growing Number Of Students Refusing To Take The Smarter Balanced Assessment

The opt out movement is catching fire in New Hampshire. More parents are refusing to let their children take the Smarter Balanced Assessment and for good reason.

Here are just a couple of good reasons to “refuse”:
The Smarter Balanced Common Core Mathematics Tests Are Fatally Flawed and Should Not Be Used An In-Depth Critique of the Smarter Balanced Tests for Mathematics

Representative Murotake’s testimony before the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules laid out concerns from Nashua teachers. Here are some of their reactions to the Smarter Balanced Assessment:
1. Shockingly negative experience.
2. Totally grade level inappropriate; difficult even for some teachers with advanced
degrees.
3. Seems the test was designed more as a psychological or sociological experiment, not as
a measure of academic learning. Who created this test, anyway? It couldn’t have been by
professional educators.
4. This would be a crushing emotional experience for my students.
5. It is nothing less than child abuse for my special ed students in my classroom.
6. I refuse to administer thus test to my students.
7. We’re going to collect up our comments and make sure it gets to the State.

Parents have been doing their own research and realizing they do not want their children to be used as a guinea pig in this latest experiment by the Feds.

School administrators continue to pressure parents into changing their minds by limiting the information that parents should have when making this decision.

The New Hampshire Department of Education issued a “Technical Advisory” through an Addendum added on January 13, 2015.
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It reads:
ADDENDUM – Added January 13, 2015
Although RSA 193-C-6 requires all public school students to participate in the statewide assessment (one assessment in English language arts, mathematics and science), there are no laws in the State of New Hampshire or rules at the New Hampshire Department of Education that would penalize a student for not participating in the statewide assessment. Additionally, the same is true if a parent determined that they would not allow their child to participate. However, the district will incur a lower participation rate, which is reported to the public.
Decisions regarding placements, grade retention and/or teacher evaluations in regards to the statewide assessment or any other assessment required by the school or school district are made at the local level. Supports for students with disabilities must be in accordance with state and federal law; however, a school district may always go above and beyond what is required in law.
If you have any questions please contact Heather Gage at Heather.Gage@doe.nh.gov or (603) 271-5992.

The NH DoE acknowledged that there were NO laws under which the Department of Education could PENALIZE parents or students who refused to take the statewide assessments.

Parents can refuse to let their children take the Smarter Balanced assessment WITH NO PENALTY.

Unfortunately administrators were unaware of this or they are withholding this information from parents. Either way, parents are well within their rights if they don’t want their children to take the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Parents and school administrators are now faced with a dilemma on what to do with the students who have refused to participate.

Hopefully school administrators will work with teachers and parents to come up with an alternative plan that includes quality instruction. Parents should take this opportunity to address their local school board to draft a new policy.

School districts have come up with “Blizzard Bags” in the event there is a snow storm that prevents children from attending school. Having a safe place for students to go and quality materials to work on during that time are reasonable requests.

This year may prove to be the year where things do not go perfectly and hopefully parents will be patient as school administrators realize they will need to make accommodations for the growing number of students that will not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment. However this is also an opportunity for parents to address their school board members who are there to represent them and make a reasonable request for a policy that is reasonable.