Colorado education officials want until October to decide how to handle schools and districts that don’t meet the federal government’s testing participation requirements, according to Chalkbeat.
State officials have proposed to not penalize schools if more than 5% of a school’s enrollment opt out of state testing, saying that they have a “strong commitment” to parents’ opt-out rights, the article says.
Schools could risk having students count as not-proficient if they are among those above the 5% level that opt out, and that could lead to schools being considered low-performing even if they are not.
While the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) does grant states more flexibility over testing, it still requires a 95% testing participation rate. It does give states options in how to work with schools that don’t meet that participation requirement.
A report by ACT Research and Policy last year reviewed the dozens of bills introduced in states in 2015 and 2016 related to opting out of testing. The report showed that 16 bills in 13 states “generally prohibited consequences for the school” if it didn’t meet the 95% level, and said that such positions could lead to conflicts with the federal government.
ESSA plans submitted so far show variety in how states plan to handle low participation rates — from requiring districts to submit plans showing how they would increase rates to giving students a 0 if they don’t take exams.