On Thursday, April 19 the state Senate passed a bill that allows parents to opt their children out of statewide assessment tests, without penalty.
Demand for a law to opt-out
State law requires each school district to administer assessment tests at least once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school. These assessment tests are used to evaluate school performance.
Right now New Hampshire uses the Smarter Balanced Assessments, based on Common Core curriculum. The Smarter Balanced Assessments and Common Core both have many critics.
In past years Manchester and other school districts told parents they could opt their children out of the assessment tests. However, the state disagreed, and warned school districts that students must participate in the assessments or else risk losing federal funding.
HB 1744 clarifies that parents have the right to opt their children out of statewide assessments, without penalty. The school must provide an alternative education activity for any student who opts out.
Support, opposition to HB 1744
Supporters of HB 1744 argue that the bill reinforces parental rights and eliminates conflicting messages from school districts and the state over whether students can opt-out.
Opponents argue that statewide assessments are only a valid measurement tool if the vast majority of students participate. They also note that the state already has a pilot program, PACE, that aims to ultimately replace assessment tests with locally-developed, project-based assessments.
When we asked our community about an opt-out last year, the vast majority of commenters supported the idea.
Do you support a parental opt-out for statewide assessments? Share your opinion in the comments below.