STANDARDIZED TESTING OPT-OUT BILL PASSES IN SENATE
Measure clarifies and codifies parents’ rights
AUGUSTA –The Maine Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would codify parents’ rights to have their children opt-out of standardized testing.
“Classroom time is already at a premium and standardized testing mandates only increase the intensity of that. Parents and students in my community are seeking relief from these heavy handed testing mandates,” said Democratic State Senator Nate Libby of Lewiston, the lead co-sponsor of the measure. “Teachers and parents know what is best for their students; yet, some school districts have been making it less than easy for parents to opt their children out. It is unreasonable that some teachers feel threatened about talking about this to parents without the threat of reprisal. The state of Maine should not be contributing to this fear, anxiety, and confusion.”
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 allows an educator to discuss the information that school districts communicate directly with parents on their rights to opt-out without penalty.
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.
“As many are aware, we are in the middle of a firestorm regarding standardized testing in our schools. There’s a lot of confusion about whether a child is required to take the test. At this point in time, it is critical that we as a state provide consistent and clear information to our educators and our families about the law,” said Democratic State Senator Rebecca Millett of Cape Elizabeth who serves on the state’s Education and Cultural Affairs committee. “This bill makes sure that everyone is well informed about their rights and takes some of the pressure off our educators.”
While, the bill received broad support from parents and teachers alike, the bill received a divided report from the state’s Education and Cultural Affairs committee with seven committee members voting for the bill “not to pass” and six members supporting the amended bill.
During the Senate proceedings, a motion to reject the the bill failed by a vote of 11-24 with the amended bill receiving unanimous consent under the hammer. Late last week, the House also rejected the “ought not to pass” committee report with a vote of 62 – 80 and moved ahead with the amended bill. The measure will now go to the House for further votes.