Every year more parents catch on that the standardized testing in New Hampshire does nothing to help their children academically. In fact, it actually takes time away from learning in the classroom.

One New Hampshire district is seeing a big increase in test refusals from parents. The Principal responded with the following e-mail but left out some critical pieces of information.  

For instance in the new FEDERAL LAW (Every Student Succeeds Act ESSA) it says:
ESSA page 144-145
‘‘(2) TESTING TRANSPARENCY.—
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—At the beginning of each school year, a local educational agency that receives funds under this part shall NOTIFY the parents of each student attending any school receiving funds under this part that the PARENTS MAY REQUEST, and the local educational agency will provide the parents on request (and in a timely manner), information regarding any State or local educational agency policy regarding student participation in any assessments mandated by section 1111(b)(2) and by the State or local educational agency, which shall include a policy, procedure, or PARENTAL RIGHT to OPT the child OUT of such assessment, where applicable.”
http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/every_student_succeeds_act_-_conference_report.pdf
Federal law supports OPT-OUT POLICIES

Jayson Seaman, PhD level educational researcher in New Hampshire who studies learning, warns against children taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment:
http://stopcommoncorenh.org/sccnh/tag/fosters-com/

Here is an example of how Manchester versus Londonderry explains a parent’s right to refuse testing: http://stopcommoncorenh.org/sccnh/2015/05/08/compare-manchester-to-litchfield-on-refusals/

Finally, parents can take a look at this post on Stop Common Core New Hampshire for more information when school administrators mislead parents on testing:
http://stopcommoncorenh.org/sccnh/2015/04/03/what-to-do-when-your-school-administrators-mislead-you/

Encourage your school administrators on a few things:
1) Teachers,  content experts, and child psychologists have been warning about the numerous problems with this kind of testing in the schools.
2) Current state and federal laws do not prohibit parents to refuse these harmful testing practices.
3) Tell your school administrators to stop worrying about their participation rates and start supporting parents and children.
4) Go to your local school board and ask them to draft a policy on test refusals.  Ask them to support a policy that prohibits punishing students for not participating in the standardized tests. 

For parents who want an accurate view of “proficiency” in math/English, please consult a home-schooling family and ask them what test they use.  Smarter Balanced collects data on your children and uses that data to grade your school.  If you want to know whether your child knows the core subject matter, look for an “achievement TEST,” not an “Assessment.” There is a difference.
Look for : Iowa Basic Skills TEST, Stanford Achievement TEST, California Achievement TEST or CLT Exam. Make sure they are NOT Common Core aligned.

Are school administrators more concerned about $$$  ?  You decide.

——– Original message ——–
From: Kimberly Bolton <[email protected]>
Date: 5/17/17 11:22 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: (REMOVED : Parent e-mail addresses)
Subject: Smarter Balanced
May 16, 2017

Hello GCS 8th grade families:

In a short period of time, we have received an inordinate amount of parent refusals for the 8th grade Smarter Balanced (SBAC) Summative Assessment. By law we are required to give this assessment. After discussion with the School Board, Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and the NH Department of Education, we believe the impact will be significant for the reasons stated below. We ask all parents to read the following information, and those who have refused participation,to please reconsider.

New Hampshire law (RSA 193-C:6) states the following: “Each year, a statewide assessment shall be administered in all school districts in the state in grades 3 through 8 and one grade in high school. All public school students in the designated grades shall participate in the assessment, unless such student is exempted…” If a student does not participate in the assessment, it will be reflected in the school and district’s participation rate that is included in the state, district and school report cards.
[https://www.education.nh.gov/standards/documents/assessment-participation.pdf]

These refusals are concerning to us for many reasons. The results are important for us as we look at how our students perform. It also gives us information about our overall curriculum and your student’s growth over time. If you do believe your student has a reason for exemption, please refer to the technical assistance link below. [https://www.education.nh.gov/standards/documents/assessment-participation.pdf]

In addition to how we use the results as a school, these scores are how Greenland Central School is perceived by the general public, and there are negative repercussions for not meeting the state requirements. “When students do not participate in the Statewide Assessments, they are given a 0 score in participation and that number is then calculated into your district’s participation rate. When we apply the accountability rules to student testing, the Federal Government requires that 95% of the students within a school district participate in the Statewide Assessments. If that 95% is not met, federal dollars could be withheld from the State.” (Julie Couch, NH DOE Assessment Administrator)

Under the law there is no option for an official opt out request. By honoring numerous parental requests, GCS will not meet the participation rate at this time. In previous years we have had approximately five families in grades 3-8 submit a refusal.

When parents refuse testing, a copy of the refusal letter or email is placed in the student’s permanent record. If you have already submitted an email or letter, Ms. von Burn may be in touch with you about more specificity needed in your letter. Due to the staffing needs to implement a standardized test, students who are not testing will be given a space in another classroom for silent reading.

We do believe our students should be taking this assessment. Yes, the test is long and it is rigorous. However, it is something our students can do. At Greenland Central School, we value perseverance and resilience which are skills applied when taking this assessment. We also believe this is good practice for other assessments which are part of life, whether a child is going on to college, the military, or straight into a 21st century job.

In light of this information, if any family whose student has not started testing, would reconsider and have their child start the Smarter Balanced Assessment tomorrow, please contact Ms. von Burn. We will make certain that a late start to testing for any student is handled discretely and with no negative impact to his/her regular program. We thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, would like more information, or would like to request that your begin testing, please email Ms. von Burn ASAP at [email protected]

Respectfully,

Peter Smith, Principal and Teegan von Burn, Assistant Principal

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Ann Marie Banfield began volunteering as Cornerstone’s Education Liaison in 2009. As an education researcher and activist she took her decade long research on education to Concord to lobby on behalf of parental rights and literacy. Working with experts in education from across the country, she offers valuable insight into problems and successes in education. She holds a B.A. in Business Management from Franklin University in Columbus Ohio. Ann Marie and her husband have three children and reside in Bedford, NH