Testing Notification & Opt-Out Bills Pass State Assembly

Two bills dealing with student assessments and authored by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) chair of the Assembly Education Committee were passed by the Assembly on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Assembly Bill 300 would require each school board to prepare a summary written in commonly understood language that includes all of the following:

Each examination required under state or federal law or required by the school board (excluded from this requirement are exams that counts toward a grade or score for a class or that is required for high school graduation like the Civics test) that will be administered to pupils enrolled in the school district, including:

  • The grade level to which each of these exams will be administered;
  • The expected date(s) on which each of these exams will be administered;
  • The duration of each exam;
  • The process the school board uses to determine an appropriate alternative in-school activity for pupils who have been excused from taking each of these exams;
  • The school board’s policies and procedures regarding parents or guardians opting a pupil out of any of these exams;
  • The purpose of administering each of these exams and a description of how the school board will use data derived from each of these exams;
  • The source of the requirement to administer each exam;
  • The subject areas assessed in each exam; and
  • The time and format for disseminating the results of each exam.

AB 300 would also require school boards to post this summary on the district’s website and would require that annually, before a school board administers an examination required to be included in the summary, the school board must provide the parent or guardian of each pupil enrolled in the district a copy of the summary the board prepared for that school year or instructions on how to access or obtain the summary.

These provisions would first apply to examinations administered during the 2018-19 school year.

The WASB OPPOSES this bill because it is a potentially burdensome unfunded state mandate that appears to duplicate certain existing requirements in federal law.   See our full testimony.  This bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Assembly Bill 304 would extend the state’s current opt out policy regarding state-required assessments to all tested grades regardless of whether the assessment is required by state of federal law.  Under the bill, upon request of a parent or guardian, a school board (and the governing body of an independent charter or private voucher school) must 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 by state law to be administered to pupils in that grade.

The WASB had opposed this bill in the past, but we are NEUTRAL on this version in recognition of improvements made by Rep. Thiesfeldt in consultation with the WASB and others. This bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Also approved by the Assembly:

Senate Bill 253 authored by Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) would implement in state statutes provisions in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) intended to prohibit aiding and abetting sexual abuse of children/students by school personnel.

The bill would specify in state law that it is immoral conduct for a DPI licensee (e.g., a teacher, administrator or HR director, etc.) to assist a school employee, contractor, or agent to obtain a new job in a school or school district if the licensee knows or has reason to believe that the person committed a sex offense against a student or a minor.  A violation could subject the licensee to potential loss or his or her DPI license.

SB 253 would also prohibit a school board, governing body of a private school, and operator of a charter school from assisting a school employee, contractor, or agent to obtain a new job in a school or school district if the school board, governing body, or operator knows or has reason to believe that the person committed a sex offense against a student or a minor.

The WASB SUPPORTS this bill. See our full testimony. This bill had already been approved by the Senate, so it heads to the governor for his consideration.