Bills on Student Exam Notices & Opt-Outs to Have Public Hearing Next Week

Two bills dealing with pupil assessments authored by Assembly Education Committee Chair Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) have been scheduled for a public hearing next week before the Assembly Government Accountability and Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield):

Wednesday, June 7
10:01 AM
300 Northeast, State Capitol, Madison

Assembly Bill 304 – This bill requires a school board, upon request of a parent or guardian,  to excuse a pupil enrolled in any grade from 3 to 12 from taking any examination required under state or federal law, except the civics test that is a requirement for high school graduation.

Under current law, upon request from a parent or guardian, a school board must excuse a pupil in 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th grade from taking the knowledge and concepts examination adopted by the state superintendent of public instruction that is required to be administered to pupils in that grade.  This bill expands the grade levels in which pupils must be excused  to apply to grades 3, 5, 6, 7 and 12.

The bill also applies to independent charter schools, opportunity schools and private voucher schools.

The WASB is still reviewing this bill.  At present we are neutral.   While we normally support local control in decision-making, we find it hard to justify why a student should be excused from a state-required assessment but not from a federally-required assessment.  If a parent has two children–a fourth grader and a fifth grader–and requests opt outs, how does a board rationally explain to that parent why the fourth grader is automatically excused while denying the fifth grader an opt out?

Assembly Bill 300 – This bill requires, beginning in the 2017-18 school year, each school board to annually provide the parent or guardian of each pupil with a copy of or instructions on how to access a summary of the pupil examinations that the school board must administer under state and federal law and any other examinations used to assess pupil, school, or school district performance.  The bill specifies certain information that must be included in the summary and requires that the summary be written in commonly understood language.

The bill also applies to independent charter schools, opportunity schools and private voucher schools, requiring these schools to provide the same information but, in the case of voucher schools, only for students attending on a voucher.

The WASB opposes this bill as a potentially burdensome unfunded state mandate that appears to duplicate certain requirements in federal law (under the Every Student Succeeds Act).

The impacts of both of these bills will be explained in greater detail in an upcoming post.