The biggest fear any parent has when they opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware is that their child will be punished by school officials. They do not want their child suspended or told they won’t be able to go to the next grade or told they have to go to summer school. They don’t want their child to sit around all day when other students take the test. They don’t want to be told not to bring their child to school that day. House Bill 50 guarantees these student rights just as much as honoring the parental right to have parents make this choice.
In all the conversation about House Bill 50, and what it is about, this is what is missing from the conversation. It protects the student. I recently heard something discussed at the first Delaware PTA Town Hall from last February. A student was told to lie to other students about being opted out of Smarter Balanced. This was done so the student couldn’t encourage other students to opt out. Since when is it okay for anyone in a school to encourage a child to lie?
House Bill 50 states: “Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times” and “there shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment”.
Student rights are just as important as a parent’s right. It is a given that preventing opt-out is doomed to failure. The Governor actually understands this now, according to the infamous Washington Post editorial, as do our schools, teachers, and legislators. House Bill 50 does not allow opt-out, which has been mistakenly written in the News Journal a number of times. It honors the choice and offers protection.
I sincerely hope our legislators in the Delaware House of Representatives and Senate do not forget these very important facts and recognize those two things, choice and protection, are the most important part of their decision. Why would they not want to protect student rights and honor parental rights?