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NH Commissioner of Education Interferes with the Right of Parents to OPT OUT their Child from Statewide Assessment, Smarter Balanced Assessment

The Department of Education is deliberately trying to confuse parents by withholding information so districts can intimidate parents into allowing their children to take the Smarter Balanced assessments.

The NH Commissioner of Education sent out two Technical Advisories to school districts, informing them about the district's participation requirements for the statewide assessment, the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

The Commissioner incorrectly suggests that parents must meet one of these six onerous and restrictive exemptions in order to remove their child from testing:

All students in the designated grades shall participate in the assessment unless the student is exempted." 

1. Medical emergency/serious illness

2. Severe emotional distress

3. Death in the family

4. Student qualifies for the NH Alternate Assessment but enroll after the start of the assessment window

5. Student who participates in another state’s assessment system

6. Exemption from ACCESS for ELLs® for student taking the NH Alternate Assessment

That is false!  Parents can refuse to allow their children to participate.

The Commissioner continues in her explanation to districts, claiming that parents can't "opt out" of the assessments, because "standards are neither courses or materials." 

This is not accurate since assessments are, in fact, "materials" and these "assessment materials" may be objectionable to some parents; thus parents may opt out of objectionable assessment materials.

Here's the Commissioner's first Technical Advisory:



On January 13, 2015 updating her technical advisory with an ADDENDUM, the Commissioner acknowledged that there were NO laws under which the Department of Education could  PENALIZE parents or students who refused to take the statewide assessments.

The Commissioner essentially acknowledges that parents may OPT OUT their children from the Smarter Balanced assessment WITH NO PENALTY.



However, that might cause problems with, i.e. lower, participation rates if parents were allowed to pull their children.  So the Commissioner sent out a second Technical Assistance directive telling districts that "There is no "opting out" option for students in the law" --- encouraging districts to intimidate and bully students who attend schools during the assessment period --- even if their parents attempt to opt their children out. 

The Commissioner has no respect for the right of parents to direct the education of their children, including opting out their child from assessments they find objectionable. 

The right of parents supersedes any statute.  The Commissioner's legal advice to districts is inaccurate and may, in fact, result in lawsuits for district .

There is no penalty for parents who refuse to allow their children to take the Smarter Balanced assessments.  In fact, Manchester and Nashua School Districts have adopted policies that respect the right of parents to opt out their children from the Smarter Balanced assessments.

If parents want to opt out from, or refuse to allow their child to participate in, the Smarter Balanced Assessment, they may use the following REFUSAL FORM. 

No one specific form is needed (parents may simply write to their school principal), but one is included for your convenience.

Parents across the country are pulling their children from the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

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