State Superintendent Shares Information on Testing Refusals

The following is a statement from State Superintendent Randy Dorn on the potential fallout from spring testing "opt-outs".

OLYMPIA - April 24, 2015 - I've said many times that statewide testing is important because it helps ensure all public school students, no matter where they go to school, receive a quality education. If too many families refuse to have their children participate in the state tests, there are consequences.

  • Academic consequences: State tests are not the only measure of student learning, but by testing all students in grades 3-8 and high school with standardized tests, we are able to see where learning gaps exit and know where to target funds for additional help. If some families refuse to have students tested, the results become less reliable. It's difficult to know who is actually struggling and needs that additional help because accurate comparisons can't be made.
  • Monetary consequences: If our state does not reach a 95% participation rate on the state tests, the U.S. Department of Education could place Washington on "high-risk status" and withhold administrative funds - or even program funds - that support:
  • Title I, parts A and C (affecting highest-poverty schools, limited English proficient children, migratory children, children with disabilities, Indian children, neglected or delinquent children, young children in need of reading assistance, and K-12 students in need of additional assistance in reading, mathematics, science and in meeting graduation requirements);
  • Title II (affecting teacher and principal training and recruiting);
  • Title III (affecting language instruction for limited English proficient and immigrant students);
  • Title VI, Part B (affecting programs for students in rural schools);
  • School Improvement Grants (SIG) program (affecting schools with the greatest need and strongest commitment to use the funds to provide adequate resources in order to raise substantially the achievement of students in their lowest-performing schools); and
  • Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (affecting services to children with disabilities for early intervention, special education, and related services).

It's also important to note that 11th graders who refuse to test will miss out on the opportunity to avoid more testing in the future: Nearly 200 colleges and universities in six states have agreed to use Smarter Balanced scores to place students into credit-bearing courses, once they've been accepted.

No test is perfect. But the Smarter Balanced tests, with their emphasis on real-world skills, are better than any standardized test our state has administered before. If students don't test, it's more difficult to identify what skills they lack and how best to help them.

The decision to refuse testing doesn't just affect the individual student. It affects students across the state. If you don't like the federal law, don't refuse to have your child take the tests; call your U.S. representative and senators and tell them to change the law.

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