Check out this strongly worded memo sent out by the Indiana DOE on the recent inquiries made by parents on opting out of tests. They got some nerve issuing a threat to charge parents with misdemeanors if their children are absent. It’s not that they’re absent, but those specific days they’re absent, yes? And I hardly think that the tests have ultimately been determined without a shadow of a doubt that they are “valid” measures of student progress. Well, I’d like to see them actually arrest parents.
M E M O R A N D U M
TO: Indiana Superintendents and Principals
FROM: Wes Bruce, Chief Assessment Officer
Matt Voors, General Counsel
DATE: January 25, 2011
TOPIC: Assessment Opt Out Guidance
In recent weeks, we have had several inquiries from schools and corporations about parents who have requested—or in some cases demanded—to opt out their students from participating in state assessments (ISTEP+, IMAST, IREAD-3, ECAs, LAS Links) . There are several social media sites that are promoting the idea of opting out in Indiana. These sites imply that parents may opt out their children from state testing. Indiana law has no such provision.
The following are points you may want to discuss with parents considering opting out their students:
- Test scores provide a valid measure of how well students have mastered grade level standards.
- ISTEP+ test scores allow us to estimate how much students have grown each school year by comparing the achievement patterns of students with very similar patterns of content mastery.
- At the high school level, opting out denies students the opportunities guaranteed to them by law to demonstrate the needed mastery of Algebra I and/or English 10 required to earn a high school diploma.
Below you will find our policy on the topic of opting out of state assessments, as well as important reminders for parents and for schools.
Indiana Standardized Testing Policy Regarding Opt-out and Absences
Unless a student falls within the very narrow exemptions for homebound instruction and/or medical necessity, Ind. Code 20-32-2 provides that all students enrolled in an Indiana-accredited school are required to participate in state assessments. Indiana does not have an opt-out policy. If a student is absent on the scheduled testing days but attends school on any other days in the test window, the school shall test the student as a “make up.”
Parents should be reminded of Indiana’s Compulsory School Attendance Laws, Ind. Code 20-33-2. Specifically, section 28 of the compulsory school attendance chapter provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail, neglect, or refuse to send the parent’s child to school for the full term, and section 27 of the statute provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail to ensure that his/her student attends school as required under the compulsory school attendance chapter and establishes the process of initiating an action against a parent for violation. Finally, section 44 provides that violation of the compulsory school attendance chapter is a Class B Misdemeanor. Any absence by a student on scheduled testing dates for the purpose of avoiding testing constitutes an unexcused absence and may constitute a violation of the compulsory school attendance laws.
Schools should be mindful that student participation in state assessments is part of the calculation for A-F category designations. Moreover, lack of participation by any subgroup may have particular negative consequences for accountability calculations.
For additional information, please contact the Office of Assessment at 317-232-2050.