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State's Opt-Out Law Could Cost Federal Funding

State's Opt-Out Law Could Cost Federal Funding

The Department of Education has officially warned Oregon of sanctions that could include losing $140 million in annual federal funding should it pass legislation that would allow for parents to more easily exempt their children from standardized testing.

"Backers [of the legislation] want schools to inform Oregon parents twice a year of their rights to exempt children from state reading and math tests for any reason. Supporters also want schools where a lot of students go untested to be protected from the normal consequence of having the school's performance rating downgraded a notch or two," according to OregonLive.com.

This represents the current battle between state and federal government over ensuring 95% of students in the state are tested as per requirement of the No Child Left Behind Act. According to the act, if a state does not meet this threshold, the state is susceptible to sanctions including but not limited to losing federal funding.

This past school year, many states struggled to do so. In New York, after the government passed controversial legislation tying teacher evaluations to student test scores to the dismay of educators across the state, hundreds of thousands of parents exempted their students from exams in support. As of yet, there is no word if New York will face penalty.

In Oregon, however, the federal government has made it clear that penalties will await if it passes the intended legislation to formally facilitate opt-outs.

The legislation,"HB 2655, which would take effect in 2016 and run for six years, would require schools to notify parents at the outset of the school year of any standardized testing their child will face. Then 30 days before the tests, parents would be sent another round of information and told how to opt their child out if they wish," the article said.

The federal government views this move as a failure to hold schools accountable for the performance of students.

Though the legislation passed in its House to unanimous approval, many in Oregon are opposed.

"Koch, Oregon Department of Education spokeswoman, said, 'We see the opt-out bill the same way the U.S. Department of Education does. Oregon may fall below 95 percent participation rates this year, and with this bill in effect, the percentage of opts-out will grow in each ensuing year. ...We believe we are likely to see enforcement actions when that happens,'" according to the article.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/11/2015

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