Parents across Connecticut are joining the Parent-Teacher “Save our Schools” Alliance, which is quickly gaining traction throughout the state. In fact, earlier this week, members travelled to the state capital in order to encourage legislators to provide parents with the legal right to have their children opt-out of taking standardized testing administered by the Connecticut School Department. This movement is fueled by parents who want a greater say in the education and welfare of their children.
The Opt-Out Movement and the Exercise of Parental Rights
Opt-out parent-teacher movements have been popping up across the country. Essentially, the movement claims that the standardized testing system unfairly burdens students and teachers. In the words of Jesse Turner, the director of the Central Connecticut State University Literacy Center, the opt-out movement members “demand that parents be given the right to opt out of state testing they feel is harmful to their children.”
The opt-out movement sees a parent’s ability to determine whether their child takes standardized testing as a parental right that should be enforced as a parent sees fit. However, the legality of this assertion is up to debate. Opponents of the opt-out movement feel that state standardized testing is needed in order to measure academic achievement among both schools and students. Some proponents of the opt-out movement include teachers themselves, who often choose not to speak out against standardized testing because of fear of retribution from the school boards.
The Connecticut Department of Education Opt-Out Memo
At the end of 2013, the Connecticut Department of Education provided memo guidance for school districts with advice on how to resolve parental opt-out issues. Within the memo, there are four typical requests that parents could possibly make, along with official responses that the school district should provide in response to opt-out requests. The memo states that there are only minimal exceptions, such as medical exemptions, within which a parent can exercise the right to opt their child out of testing. According to the memo, if a parent sends a fourth request for opt-out, generally the child will not be tested, and will be counted as absent for that day for the sake of testing.
The Connecticut School Department representative Kelly Donnelly released a statement stating that the department’s guidance does not constitute a legal provision giving parents the right to opt-out their children from taking state standardized testing. Legal experts similarly have found that the law does not provide an official right for parents to opt-out their children from taking state-mandated standardized tests.
The right to opt your child out of state testing is a very important family law issue. Many members of the movement find standardized testing to be intrusive, invasive, and counter productive to broader educational goals. Family law attorneys here at Greenberg and Krieger, LLP in Fairfield County, Connecticut can answer any questions you may have about family law and parental rights in Connecticut.