Oceanside Union Free School District: Standardized Testing Trumps Parental Rights

Grumpy Educators highlights an exchange between a parent and school administrators at the Oceanside Union Free School District in Oceanside, NY over opting her son out of standardized testing.  After her request to opt out here is the response Christine Dougherty receives from the school district (emphasis is by the Grumpy Educators):

Dear Ms. Dougherty,

This letter is in response to your April 15, 2012 email and follows up today’s telephone conversation. In your email, you requested that the Oceanside Union Free School District (“District”) not administer the New York State English Language Arts (“ELA”) and Math Assessments to your son, Joseph. During today’s telephone conversation, you reiterated this request. Upon my informing you that the State Assessments are not optional, you indicated that you planned to either: (1) keep Joseph at home for the period during which the State Assessments were administered, (2) keep Joseph at home for the portion of each day during which the State Assessments were administered, or (3) send Joseph to school with instructions not to take the State Assessments. I remind you that, pursuant to the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, all public school students in grades three through six who have not been deemed eligible by the CSE to take the Alternate Assessment, and are not parentally placed on home instruction, must take the ELA and mathematics elementary assessments. See 8 N.Y.C.R.R. §100.3(b)(2). As you know, Joseph does not qualify for the Alternate Assessment. The Regulations contain no “opt-out” provision, which would authorize a parent to have his or her child not participate in the State Assessment. It is the District’s obligation to determine all eligible students’ proficiency levels through the administration of the State Assessments. As such, taking the State Assessments is mandatory for Joseph.

If without medical justification, Joseph is absent from school on any day during the Assessment period, the District will deem this absence as unexcused. Further, if you keep Joseph home from school during the Assessment period, without medical verification, it is within the District’s discretion to deem these absences as indicia of educational neglect, which would leave the District little choice but to contact Child Protective Services (“CPS”). Pursuant to the New York State Education Department’s 2012 School Administrator’s Manual, a student will receive a final score of “999″ and will be counted as “not tested” if: (1) he is absent from the entire test; (2) he refuses the entire test; (3)he is absent for any session; or (4) he is present for all sessions, but does not respond to even one question on the test. Accordingly, if Joseph engages in any one of these activities, he will receive a final score of 999, he will be counted as not tested, he may receive an unexcused absence, and CPS may have to be called. If Joseph does not participate in the State Assessments, the District will use other formal or informal assessments to determine his proficiency level. If Joseph participates in the State Assessments, he will of course be provided with his IEP-mandated accommodations. I hope the above has clarified any outstanding questions you have about Joseph’s obligation to participate in the State-mandated Assessments and your obligation to make him available for testing. We look forward to having Joseph participate in the State Assessments.

Because she didn’t want to have her son participate they’re threatening to sic Child Protective Services on her? Outrageous!  Unfortunately this is a prevailing view of many in the public schools and in government bureaucracy – that they know better than parents on how to educate your child (among other things).   Ms. Dougherty gave an excellent response which you can read here.

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