Parents still have options for students

To the Editor:

Public schools in New Hampshire are poised to administer the Smarter Balanced Assessment this month. New Hampshire Law states: RSA 193C: 3 III(b) “The assessment exercises or tasks shall be valid and appropriate representations of the standards the students are expected to achieve.

And yet there has been no external validity or reliability granted. This means the test developers have no outside confirmation that the test questions measure what they claim they measure.

The U.S. Department of Education paid $175 million to the Smarter Balanced Consortium so they can develop assessments and instructional modules. However there are three federal statutes that prohibit their involvement.

A judge in Missouri recently ruled that the state’s membership in a federally funded testing consortium is illegal. The ruling also requires the state to stop paying fees to the Smarter Balanced Consortium.

Parents and teachers across the country and in New Hampshire are beginning to acknowledge the problems with the new Common Core assessment. Teachers from Nashua expressed grave concerns by reporting to a school board member:

1) “Totally grade level inappropriate and difficult even for some teachers with advanced degrees.”

2) “Seems the test was designed more as a psychological or sociological experiment, not as a measure of academic learning.”

3) “Will be a crushing emotional experience for my students”

4) “It is nothing less than child abuse for my special ed students…”

5) “I refuse to administer this test to my students.”

The Smarter Balanced Consortium set the cut scores and by design, those cut scores have been set so that 62% of the children will score below proficient. Schools are required to administer the assessment to all children, however it’s important for parents to know that they still have the right to refuse to let their children take it.

The NH DoE acknowledged, “Although RSA 193C6 requires all public school students to participate in the statewide assessment (one assessment in English language arts, mathematics and science), there are no laws…or rules..that would penalize a student for not participating in the statewide assessment. Additionally, the same is true if a parent determined that they would not allow their child to participate.”

Parents still have options even if state law requires their school district to administer assessments. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution broadly protects parental rights and have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in decisions such as (Meyer and Pierce). Our nation has consistently maintained that parents possess a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit. If parents are concerned about the warnings being issued by teachers on these new assessments, they can join the growing number of parents who have chosen not to let their children participate. They can direct their School Administrators in writing that they are refusing to allow the school to administer the Standardized Assessment to their children.

Ann Marie Banfield