PARENTS AND STUDENTS ADVOCATE FOR CONTROL OVER STANDARDIZED TESTING MANDATES
AUGUSTA –A measure that would codify parents’ rights to have their children opt-out of standardized testing received strong support during a public hearing in the state’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee today.
“School performance, teacher performance, and student performance based so heavily on standardized testing is deeply flawed. We all know some students perform better than others on standardized tests and that test results do not universally reflect individual students overall academic performance,” said Democratic State Senator Nate Libby of Lewiston, the lead co-sponsor of the measure.
The measure, LD 695, “An Act to Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments,” sponsored by Assistant House Leader Sara Gideon, explicitly permits parents to have their children opt-out of standardized testing with written consent, without penalty or retribution to the student. It also requires that school districts communicate directly with parents on their rights to opt-out without penalty.
“Standardized testing is not new and not without controversy. However, federal and state mandates increasing the intensity and frequency of these tests is relatively new,” said Senator Libby during his public testimony. “Classroom time is at a premium. State and federal mandates on classroom instruction continue to grow while teachers and students struggle to meet all the requirements in a six-hour school day.”
Under the federal mandate, No Child Left Behind, students are tested every year starting in grade 3 through grade 8. Maine is currently moving toward testing all 3rd-through 12th-graders.
Senator Libby added, “Teachers, parents and students in my community are fearful, frustrated and seeking relief from these heavy-handed testing mandates. Passage of this legislation is critical to ensuring parents and students know and understand their rights to opt-out.”
The bill received broad support from parents and teachers alike.
The state’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold a work session on the bill, LD 695, “An Act to Empower Parents in the Education of Their Children by Allowing an Opt-out from Standardized Assessments,” in the coming days.