Statement on misinformation from ISBE on opt out and PARCC

[Download statement in English and Spanish as pdf here.]

Recently, the Superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) distributed inaccurate information about a student’s ability to opt-out of state tests. In the “Weekly Message” dated 10/28/2014 from Chris Koch on the ISBE website it is stated that “students may not opt out of the PARCC assessment,” and that “a district that allows students to opt out of the state’s required test would directly violate both federal and state law.”

The law regarding students’ refusing state mandated accountability testing has not changed since last year. State and federal law say that schools must administer these tests, but not that children must take them.

Federal law (NCLB) requires states receiving Title I funds to create a statewide assessment that “provides for the participation in such assessments of all students”. State law, created to comply with NCLB, is that “the State Board of Education shall annually assess all students enrolled in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts and mathematics.” So, these are duties for the government to perform.

They are not obligations for action by the students. Additionally, ISBE acknowledges in many places that children may refuse testing. ISBE general counsel conceded that students cannot be compelled to take these exams.

The state insists that schools must present all students with a test, which the student is free to take or not take. More Than a Score has argued that if parents/guardians, as the legal representatives of their minor child, have stated that they do not want their child to take the test, the student should not be offered the test.

In addition, ISBE claims that all students must take the same test, but this year, the US Department of Education accepted Massachusetts’ unilateral decision to let its districts choose between two different tests rather than administer a single statewide test, as NCLB explicitly requires. And last year, California did not administer reading and math exams to all their students, again without consequences from the US Department of Education.

We are dismayed that ISBE is providing incorrect information about the consequences of opt out. No state has ever been sanctioned for permitting opt outs. Students in Illinois who refuse the test do NOT count against the state in No Child Left Behind requirements for falling below the threshold for number of students tested.

ISBE should listen to the voices of school districts, parents, and educators around the state, including the largest school district in Illinois, Chicago Public Schools. They should not administer the PARCC unless it has been shown valid and reliable for the purposes it is being used for and justifiable in terms of cost, as required by the Illinois School Code, Sec. 2-3.64a-5.i. At this point, the test has not been validated, field test results have not been shared with the public, and there are massive technology gaps in our schools for a smooth transition to a state-wide computer based exam.

Refusing to take the test is neither a crime nor a civil violation. ISBE should retract their statement immediately.

In the meantime, we will be working with legislators to create an opt-out bill at the state level. At least six other states have laws or regulations in place allowing opt out, and clearly they are not violating federal law.

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Declaración sobre la desinformación de ISBE de “opt out” y PARCC

Recientemente, el superintendente de la junta de educación del estado de Illinois distribuyó información incorrecto sobre la habilidad de un estudiante a renunciar un examen estatal. En su mensaje del 28 de octubre del 2014, Chris Koch en el sitio isbe.net dijo que “estudiantes no pueden renunciar su participación en el examen PARCC”, y “un distrito que permite estudiantes a renunciar un examen requisito por el estado violaría directamente a ley federal y estatal”.

La ley sobre estudiantes renunciando exámenes mandado por el estado no ha cambiado desde el año pasado. Leyes federales y estatales dicen que escuelas deben que administrar los exámenes, pero no dicen que los estudiantes deben que tomarlos.

La ley federal NCLB requiere que estados recibiendo los fondos Título I crean un evaluación estatal que “provee para la participación en las evaluaciones de todos los estudiantes”. La ley estatal, creado para cumplir con NCLB, dice que “la junta de educación del estado evaluará a todos los estudiantes en grados 3º a 8º cada año en lecturas de inglés y matemáticas”. Éstas son los deberes del gobierno.

No hay obligaciones para acción de los estudiantes. Adicionalmente, ISBE reconoce en muchos lugares que estudiantes pueden renunciar los exámenes. El consejo general de ISBE concedió que no se puede obligar que los estudiantes tomen los exámenes.

El estado insiste que las escuelas deben que presentar un examen a cada estudiante, que el estudiante puede tomar o renunciar. More Than a Score ha discutido que si los padres/guardianes, como representantes legales de sus hijos, han dicho que no quieran que sus hijos toman el examen, no se pueden ofrecer el examen al niño.

Adicionalmente, ISBE reclama que todos los estudiante deben que tomar el mismo examen, pero este año, el Departamento de Educación de los Estados Unidos aceptó la decisión unilateral de Massachusetts a permitir sus distritos a escoger entre dos exámenes diferentes en lugar de administrar un examen estatal, como NCLB requiere explícitamente. Y el año pasado, California no administró exámenes de lecturas y matemáticas a ningunos de sus estudiantes, tampoco con consecuencias del Departamento de Educación.

Estamos consternados que ISBE todavía está proveyendo información incorrecto sobre las consecuencias de “Opt Out”. Ningún estado ha sido castigado por permitir el renunciar de exámenes. Estudiantes en Illinois que renuncian el examen no cuentan contra el estado en el requisito del programa “No Child Left Behind” de caer abajo del umbral de la cantidad de estudiantes que toman el examen.

ISBE debe que escuchar a las voces de los distritos escolares, padres, y educadores alrededor del estado, particularmente en el distrito más grande del estado de Illinois – las escuelas públicas de Chicago. No deben administrar el PARCC a menos que puedan demostrar que el examen es válido y seguro por los propósitos en que el estado está usándolo, y justificable en términos del el costo, como requisito por el Illinois School Code, Sec. 2-3.64a-5.i. A este punto, el examen no ha sido validado. Tampoco, no han compartido con el público los resultados de las pruebas de campo. Además, hay grandes diferencias tecnológicas en la capacidad de cada escuela administrar exámenes de computadora.

Renunciar no es un crimen ni una violación de la ley civil. ISBE debe que retraer su declaración inmediatamente.

Mientras, vamos a trabajar con legisladores para crear un proyecto de ley de “Opt Out” a la nivel estatal. En este momento, seis estados tienen leyes o regulaciones que permiten “opt out”, y estos no se violan a la ley federal.

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5 responses to “Statement on misinformation from ISBE on opt out and PARCC

  1. Can you please give me the source for this?

    “Additionally, ISBE acknowledges in many places that children may refuse testing. ISBE general counsel conceded that students cannot be compelled to take these exams. The state insists that schools must present all students with a test, which the student is free to take or not take.” As well as where it says that each district is able to decide what to do with children who refuse to test.

    I need it for my children’s district in our discussions about why my children can refuse testing. I can find many sources that cite your source, but not the docs from ISBE counsel.

    Thank you,

    • Here’s two:
      http://www.isbe.net/assessment/pdfs/guidance-use-of-code15.pdf “Code 15 is reserved for cases where an individual student is presented with a test booklet and refuses
      to engage with the test. To avoid penalizing a school or district for an individual student refusal to test,
      code 15 does not count against the AYP participation rate. In this case, the student is considered
      “tested” but the answer document is blank as a result of the student’s refusal to engage with the test.”

      and

      http://www.isbe.net/regionaloffices/word/parcc-opt-out-family-ltr.docx “Districts can develop a policy for those students who refuse to take assessments on testing days, but federal and state law does not provide for any opt-out provisions.”

      http://www.wbez.org/news/standoff-over-new-state-school-test-continues-111626
      “Fergus [ISBE spokesperson] said any parent who does not want their child tested should discuss it with local administrators. She said districts are able to implement local policies for handling those situations, but she said, any school that does not test at least 95 percent of its students is in jeopardy of losing state and federal money.” (Note that the jeopardy of funding loss is not true!)

  2. Pingback: Illinois will withhold funding from schools if they don't administer the PARCC test « Watchdog.org·

  3. Pingback: More than a score. Advice on PARCC opt out. | Fred Klonsky·

  4. Pingback: Statement on misinformation from ISBE on opt out and PARCC | Chicago Activism·

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