NH School Districts in Violation of State Law and Ethical Codes when Testing Students?

This letter was sent by the Londonderry Superintendent to parents recently. As we read through it we noticed a great deal of information that was left out. Why are Superintendents not fully informing parents in the district about the possible violation of state law and ethics codes? Parents are encouraged to contact their local attorneys if they believe their rights have been violated.
BELOW the letter from the Superintendent is a reply we would suggest sending to him or any other Superintendent that is failing to adequately inform parents on the state law, validity of the assessments and what ethical codes they are following:

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “LondonderrySchools@londonderry.org”
Sent: Tuesday, February 16, 2016 2:56 PM
Subject: Smarter Balanced Testing

Below, please find a link to a letter introducing this year’s administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, to the attention of parents and guardians of all students in Grades 3-8. Included with this letter, you will find a page of ‘Frequently Asked Questions” to clarify several misconceptions regarding this test. Scheduling details will be determined by each school, and further information will be forthcoming. Testing begins for Grades 3 & 4 on March 16, with the other grades to follow.

http://www.londonderry.org/documents/district/smarter_balanced%20_letter16.pdf

Regards
Scott A. Laliberte
Assistant Superintendent
Londonderry School District SAU #12
268C Mammoth Rd.
Londonderry, NH 03053

Phone: (603) 432-6920 ext. 1109
Fax: (603)425-1049

A SAMPLE LETTER TO SEND IN REPLY:

Dear Mr. Laliberte
Thank you for the information on the Smarter Balanced Assessment At this time I’m writing you to inform you that my child……..will not be taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

According to Every Student Succeeds Act
ESSA page 144-145
‘‘(2) TESTING TRANSPARENCY.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall NOTIFY the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the PARENTS MAY REQUEST, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or PARENTAL RIGHT to OPT the child OUT of such assessment, where applicable.”

It appears the letter you sent is meeting this new requirement however within your letter you made the assertion that if the school district does not meet the 95% participation rate, “possible consequences could range from a negative designation on our report to the loss of federal funds for the District.” One of the possibilities could be that nothing happens however you didn’t mention that in your letter.

For instance, there were assumptions that schools who did not meet the 95% participation rate last year could face the loss of federal funding. There were schools in New Hampshire that did not meet the 95% participation rate yet I’m not aware of any state or school losing federal funds.

According to fairtest.org , Why You Can Boycott Standardized Tests Without Fear of Deral Penalties to Your School, “FairTest is not aware of a single state, school or district anywhere in the U.S. that the federal government penalized for failing to test enough of its students.”

New Hampshire State Law: RSA 193-C, requires statewide assessments to be valid, appropriate and objectively scored. http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/XV/193-C/193-C-mrg.htm Can you provide “INDEPENDENT” validity studies on the Smarter Balanced Assessment that shows it is in compliance with state law?

According to this letter http://www.fosters.com/article/20150407/NEWS/150409532 from Jayson Seamon, Phd Education Researcher, the Smarter Balanced Assessment has not been validated. If this is true, wouldn’t administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment violate state law?

Mr. Seaman goes on to explain the ethical standards required when administering psychometric assessments, “it is required practice to secure consent from research participants and to let them opt out at any time with no penalty. Smarter Balanced is such an assessment and should be held to the same ethical standard as all research on human subjects.

It appears as if you are sending “notification” to parents but you are not asking for informed consent. What ethical practices are you following when you administer these assessments?

It appears as if the district is in violation of state law by administering an assessment that hasn’t been independently validated. It also appears as if the district is not following basic ethics rules that require consent from parents. Notification is not informed consent.

The American Psychological Associations, Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/ requires licensed Psychologists:
9.02 Use of Assessments
(b) Psychologists use assessment instruments whose validity and reliability have been established for use with members of the population tested. When such validity or reliability has not been established, psychologists describe the strengths and limitations of test results and interpretation.

9.03 Informed Consent in Assessments
(a) Psychologists obtain informed consent for assessments, evaluations or diagnostic services, as described in Standard 3.10….

Will the district provide parents a description on the strengths and limitations of the test results and interpretation?
Why is the district not seeking informed consent from parents prior to administering these assessments?

I am copying the school board so they are informed and can act appropriately.

My request to the school board members is to first address the possible violation of state law and then the lack of ethical standards when administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Would administering this assessment put the district in a position where parents can sue the district for administering an assessment that violates state statute ? What are the ethical codes the district should be following when administering a psychometric assessment?

As a parent and taxpayer in Londonderry, we should be protecting the students by upholding the highest ethical standards when administering these types of assessments.

Finally, in this article that ran in the Washington Post, Gene V. Glass, a renowned statistician and researcher who has worked for decades in educational psychology and the social sciences explains why he is no longer comfortable in the field of educational measurement using psychometric assessments. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/20/renowned-researcher-why-i-am-no-longer-comfortable-in-the-field-of-educational-measurement/

The letter you sent to parents left important and critical details out. It seems to me that if the district is going to move ahead with administering the Smarter Balanced Assessment, or any other psychometric assessment that has not been independently validated, more information should be provided to parents so they can make informed decisions for their children. I ask the school board to review this information and look to developing policies that protect the interest of the students they are serving in the district.

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