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"Opt-Out" Movement: States Question 95% Threshold

"Opt-Out" Movement: States Question 95% Threshold

As the opt-out movement gains traction, a growing number of concerned officials have asked for clarification on federal mandates that require 95 percent of students participate in state-administered testing or else face penalties.

The opt-out movement is an increasing trend in which parents choose to exempt their children from participating in standardized testing in the public school, therefore potentially affecting the 95 percent requirement.

While the 2014-2015 state assessments have begun or have finished across the nation, "the number of media reports highlighting pockets of anti-testing advocates raises the question of whether some schools won't meet their participation threshold," according to an article on EducationWeek.com. This concern is the reason behind Colorado's attempt to alleviate its accountability for opt-outs resulting in it not testing the 95 percent.

In late March, Colorado's "Senate Education Committee gave 8-1 approval...to a bill that would codify parents’ right to opt students out of standardized testing and also forbid penalizing districts, schools, and teachers for low participation rate," according to an article on Chalkbeat Colorado.

Though senior education adviser for the Education Department, John King, said "'[w]e would enforce the federal law if a state were to fail to act,'" he's confident that opt-out cases won't result in the department needing to act on sanctions against states, the article said.

According to the article, these sanctions, outlined recently in response to a growing need for clarification by the Education Department's assistant secretary, Deborah S. Delisle, include:

A formal request that a state comply;

Increased department monitoring of a state;

Conditions on federal Title I aid provided for low-income students, or on the state's waiver from provisions of the NCLB law for the 42 states that have one.

Placing a state on "high-risk" status, although the letters did not give more specifics;

Issuing a cease-and-desist order;

Entering into a compliance agreement with a state;

Withholding all or a portion of a state's Title I administrative funds;

Suspending, and then withholding, all or a portion of a state's Title I grant.

Read the full story here and comment below. How is your district dealing with opt out requests?

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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