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The Delaware Legislature passed a strong Opt Out bill.
The legislation — House Bill 50 — was introduced in March by state Representative John Kowalko, a Democrat, and state Senator David Lawson, a Republican.
After months of wrangling over the language and the scope of the proposal — debates that local media reports often became “a shouting match,” with the public gallery at the legislature filled to the rafters — the final compromise version of the two bills was approved by the state House of Representatives on June 23 by a vote of 31-5 and then a few days later the state senate followed suit, voting 15-6 to send the bill to the desk of Democratic Governor Jack Markell.
It now goes to the governor, Democrat Jack Markell, who opposed it, based on concerns by business leaders and civil rights groups. The legislation has strong parental support.
In Delaware, a majority of parents seem to support the bill. In fact, the state Parent Teacher Association (PTA) openly called for its passage.
PTA President Terri Hodges told DelawareOnline, “Smarter Balanced in its current form does not provide a true picture of student learning. “The results of tests are not available until the end of the year. That provides very little value to me as a parent or for a teacher.”
Here is the legislative language:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
148th GENERAL ASSEMBLY
HOUSE BILL NO. 50:
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 14 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO EDUCATION ASSESSMENT.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend § 151(k), Title 14 of the Delaware Code by making deletions as shown by strike through and insertions shown by underline as follows and redesignating accordingly:
(k)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, any parent or guardian of a student in any public school or charter school shall have the right to opt out of the statewide assessment.
(2) The parent or guardian must notify the student’s school in writing at least 2 school days prior to the scheduled exam. Schools shall honor any timely request and provide alternative educational activities during testing times.
(3) There shall be no academic or disciplinary repercussions on the student’s record for opting out of participating in the statewide assessment.
(4) The Department shall maintain a data system to track the student’s opt-out decisions.
(5) The Department shall report opt-out numbers in accountability ratings to provide context and impact on school and district ratings; however, the opt-out numbers shall not factor into the accountability ratings.
(6) The districts and charter schools shall notify all parents and guardians of this right no later than 15 days prior to the start of the assessment via its website and mailing. The Department shall also post a notification on its website no later than 15 days prior to the start of the assessment.
(7) A student having reached the age of majority shall solely possess the opt-out rights under this subsection.(l) Rules and regulations pursuant to this subchapter shall be proposed by the Secretary subject to approval by the State Board of Education.
SYNOPSIS OF THIS LEGLISATION:
This bill creates the right for the parent or guardian of a child to opt out of the annual assessment, currently the Smarter Balanced Assessment System.