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Senate passes assessment opt-out

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On Thursday, April 19 the state Senate passed a bill that allows parents to opt their children out of statewide assessment tests, without penalty.

The bill, HB 1744, now heads to Gov. Chris Sununu for his signature or veto.

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.

Click here to learn more about the debate over Common Core in New Hampshire.

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.


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Any legislation that gives parents more control over the education of their children is alright with me.


I'm all for parental rights, but what happens if test participation slips below federal thresholds, and school funding is put at risk? Then the decision of some parents to exempt their kids from testing impacts all the other kids in the school, compromising funding for essential resources. There should be conditions in this law that ensure it is used when appropriate, and that the percentage of kids who aren't taking tests does not reach a level where other students might be made to suffer.

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