Sen. Libby introduces bill to give parents ability to opt students out of standardized tests

Posted: February 06, 2017 | Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Libby

Parents testify in favor of legislation at Education Committee on Monday

AUGUSTA — Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, has introduced a bill aimed at giving parents the power to opt their students out of standardized testing. The bill received a public hearing before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee on Monday.

LD 95, “An Act To Provide a Method for a Student To Be Excused from Standardized Testing,” would make clear that a student’s parent or guardian has the legal right to excuse their student from a standardized test and require school districts to inform all students’ parents or guardians of this right. The students would instead be provided with an educational opportunity during the testing period. Additionally, the Maine Department of Education would be required to develop a standard excusal form to be used, and would be barred from penalizing a school for excusing a student from testing.

“Teachers, parents and students in Lewiston and around the state are fearful, frustrated and seeking relief from heavy-handed testing mandates,” said Sen. Libby. “Classroom time is at a premium and we should make sure our students and teachers are able to get the most out of it, not just waste time preparing for and taking test after test.”

Lewiston parents and teachers submitted numerous written testimonies and spoke in favor of the bill at the hearing.

One parent, Karen McClure Richard, spoke in support of the bill and about her experience opting her children out of testing. She said her children are still being challenged in schools, but aren’t subject to arbitrary tests that don’t help their learning.

“I simply do not want their learning interrupted to participate in an assessment that will not guide their teacher’s instruction,” said Ms. McClure Richard.

The Maine Education Association also spoke in favor of LD 95.

The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will make recommendations on LD 95 in the coming weeks. The bill will then be subject to votes in the House and Senate.