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FW: Informing parents about opt-out rights

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  • Marilyn Langlois
    In the spirit of open dialogue, full disclosure and informed consent-- Marilyn ... On 3/6/06, George Sheridan, a 2nd grade teacher in El Dorado County, wrote:
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2006
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      In the spirit of open dialogue, full disclosure and informed consent--

      Marilyn
      ----------
      On 3/6/06, George Sheridan, a 2nd grade teacher in El Dorado County, wrote:

      In many districts, STAR testing will begin soon. And teachers will be asking
      whether they can advise parents to exempt their children from the state
      tests. Some administrators may (inaccurately) assert that teachers are
      prohibited from giving such information. The information below is from a
      letter by Alfie Kohn that I posted to the CA-Resisters list on November 7,
      2001.

      ____________________

      This is from a February 27, 2001 memo to district and county
      superintendents from Phil Spears, director of the standards and assessment
      division of the Cal. Dept. of Ed.:

      "...The Board adopted the STAR Title 5 Regulations as permanent. Major
      changes in these permanent regulations include...stating explicitly that a
      school district and its employees may discuss the Standardized Testing and
      Reporting program with parents and may inform parents of the availability of
      exemptions under Education Code Section 60615..."
      (See www.cde.ca.gov/statetests/misc/feb01.pdf.)


      Teachers who are concerned about the impact of testing ought to be reaching
      out to as many parents as possible, saying, in effect, "If you're skeptical
      about whether standardized test results offer an accurate picture of your
      child, or if you are concerned about the time (and resources) being spent in
      our school -- and across the state -- to raise test scores, then there is no
      reason for you to support the testing by allowing your child to participate
      in it. Just send a quick note to the principal saying, 'I don't want my
      child, [name], to take the SAT-9 test' and sign your name."

      Originally, the state had tried to limit the free speech rights of teachers
      as
      follows: "A parent or guardian may submit to the school a written request to
      excuse his or her child from any or all parts of any test provided pursuant
      to Education Code section 60640. The parent or guardian must initiate the
      request and the school district and its employees shall not solicit or
      encourage any written request on behalf of any child." (Title 5 Calif. Code
      of Regs., Div. 1, Chap. 2, Subchapter 3.75 ["Standardized Testing and
      Reporting Program"] at 852 (a) -- available at
      www.cde.ca.gov/statetests/star/regs/starame.html
      <http://www.cde.ca.gov/statetests/star/regs/starame.html> .)

      Notice that, even in the original form, educators were not to "solicit or
      encourage" parental opt-outs but were not prevented from *informing* parents
      of their rights. The good news, though, is that it's no longer necessary to
      cross our fingers and rely on such a legalistic distinction. From an
      article ("Calif. Settles Battle Over LEP Testing") in the Nov. 22, 2000
      issue of EDUCATION WEEK about the San Francisco school district's settlement
      of a lawsuit with the state:

      "Central to the settlement...was the state school board's willingness to
      modify a rule that restricted districts from advising students' parents of
      their option to ask for their children to be exempted from the test unless
      the parents broached the topic first. Under the agreement, a sentence that
      San Francisco officials consider crucial will be added to the existing
      regulations concerning the state's Standardized Testing and Reporting
      program: 'A school district and its employees may discuss the STAR program
      with parents and may inform parents of the availability of exemptions...'"

      _________________________

      Feel free to forward this message or to post it on relevant listservs. Even
      those who know their rights may find it useful to have the web address of
      the supporting memo cited above.

      When, in a teacher's professional judgment, participating in STAR testing
      would not be beneficial to the education of a particular student, the
      teacher has a right to speak with the parent or parents of that student, to
      explain his concern, and to inform the parent of the procedure for opting
      out of the test.


      George Sheridan
      4467 Meadowbrook Road
      Garden Valley, California 95633

      "Hope is not a calculation. It's an action. It's more verb than noun."
      Frances Moore Lappe
      Author of Diet for a Small Planet and Hope's Edge



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