Governor vetoes bill that would have made opting out of state tests easier

Fans of Georgia’s ESSA plan say it increases flexibility and incentives for school districts. Critics including the governor say it lacks sufficient oversight.

The governor today vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to opt out of standardized state tests.

House Bill 425 said parents can opt their children out of school testing without penalty. It also said kids can choose to take tests with paper and pencil rather than on a computer.

In a statement, Deal said:

House Bill 425 encourages the State Board of Education to implement assessment opt-out procedures and encourages the allowance of paper-and-pencil formats for such assessments. First, as I stated in my veto of SB 133 last year, local school districts currently have the flexibility to determine opt-out procedures for students who cannot, or choose not to, take these statewide assessments and I see no need to impose an additional layer of state-level procedures for these students. Additionally, encouraging the administration of assessments in paper-and-pencil format impedes the state’s priorities of returning test data to districts as quickly as possible, and reducing the opportunity for cheating. For the foregoing reasons, I hereby VETO HB 425.

Meg Norris, founder of Opt Out Georgia, said while parents have always had the right to opt out, that right is not made clear to them.

“Districts are unaware of all this ‘policy’ the Governor’s Office continues to claim. If they understood it, we wouldn’t have to keep writing bills. Instead they bully and threaten and punish and hurt children for their parents choice to not participate in an invalid test that is designed not to give teachers information, but to justify the governor’s new retirement plan, private charter schools,” she said in a statement.

“This veto also removes the right of parents to request a paper and pencil test for their child. The state ignores study after study that show paper and pencil directly linked to higher test scores. Even 10 percent higher in many cases. That’s good enough for me to risk the silly ‘cheating’ worries. This is more evidence that Deal is beholden to the testing juggernaut and doesn’t give a crap about kids or real measurement,” said Norris.

The veto won applause from the Florida-based Foundation for Excellence in Education, the advocacy group founded by former Gov. Jeb Bush, which issued this statement:

Preserving accountability for educators and families and demonstrating his commitment to improving education for all students, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal today vetoed HB 425. The proposal would have harmed students and teachers by denying access to measurements that track progress on standardized assessments.

Maintaining a transparent and accountable measurement system is critical to ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and beyond – and indicates how successful schools are in preparing students for the future. History shows that without giving teachers and schools this feedback on how students are doing, far too many students will fall through the cracks. HB 425 would have formalized the process for students to be excluded from this important tool.

Here is a link to a teacher essay maintaining that opting out creates a culture of disrespect in the classroom.

And here is a piece by psychologist Stephanie O’Leary, author of the book, “Parenting in the Real World, in defense of opting out.

Reader Comments 0

13 comments
bu22
bu22

The pen and pencil bit is really ridiculous.  Everyone should use the same method.  Now opt out is basically up to the local school district.  They can decide whether to pass the student on or not.  There doesn't seem to be any guidance that I have seen on how they make that decision.

Tom Green
Tom Green

How can paper and pencil be more prone to cheating than computer screens that are easily view by everybody with decent vision? That said, I'm against the paper and pencil tests as it adds another layer of scheduling and man-power headaches to an already maxed out testing schedule.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

Do you realize that children perform substantially better on pencil and paper tests? And these tests are used for retention in grades 3,5, and 8. Additionally, the test counts between 20% and 30% of the final grade for high school students, depending on the district. Plus, many special needs kids can't manage online testing well, and younger kids don't have appropriate keyboarding skills for testing that lasts up to twelve hours.

Tom Green
Tom Green

I recently retired from teaching after 29 years, so, yes, I realize all of that. I also realize that testing companies make a killing on computer tests.

Tom Green
Tom Green

Therein lies my issue. Nobody cared that computerized testing went from the entire school being able to test every day to testing that is limited by the number of computers available in computer labs. Paper and pencil tests have to be administered by certified personnel and the instructions have to be read to the students thus limiting the subjects that can be administered at one time. Contrary to popular belief, schools don't have extra personnel just sitting around with 2 hour blocks open to administer these tests. The only adults convenienced by computerized tests are the testing companies and maybe the testing coordinators.

Tom Green
Tom Green

Daryl Smith O'Hare Do you have a comment on testing?

Stacey Freeman Gyorgyi
Stacey Freeman Gyorgyi

Tell me how testing an 11 year old for 690 minutes is not insanity. That is how long Milestones testing was for 5th grade in one elementary school. 690 minutes. Research shows test scores are 10-15 points higher on paper and pencil tests. These children should not be on computers for that duration of time .. period.

Tom Green
Tom Green

Now that I re-read my post, I should have written I'm against "adding the paper and pencil test option to an already unwieldy testing schedule" (even though that was what the article was about). I agree that paper and pencil is the better option for students. However, the best option would be a nationally standardized test at the beginning of the year. This would provide insight into student strengths and weaknesses while the teacher still has an opportunity to address them. It would also be nice if the teachers were encouraged to view the test questions (instead of threatening them with a loss of their livelihoods), so that teachers can remediate those areas throughout the year.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

From Meg Norris: Parents have always had, and will always have the right to opt out. The Governor's veto makes that clear. What this veto does is allow the bullying of students and parents by administrators and local education boards. The GABOE has a communication problem. Districts are unaware of all this "policy" the Governor's office continues to claim. If they understood it we wouldn't have to keep writing bills. Instead they bully and threaten and punish and hurt children for their parents choice to NOT participate in an invalid test that is designed NOT to give teachers information, but to justify the Governor's new retirement plan, private charter schools. The "alignment" study done by the DOE was an insult to anyone with even a smidgen of statistical understanding. The Milestones is NOT valid. It is aligned to the worst standards in the history of education. This bill also removes the right of parents to request a paper and pencil test for their child. The state ignores study after study that show paper and pencil directly linked to higher test scores. Even 10% higher in many cases. That's good enough for me to risk the silly "cheating" worries. This is more evidence that Deal is beholden to the testing juggernaut and doesn't give a crap about kids or REAL measurement. Opt Out Georgia will be back again next year to be a voice for public schools, kids and parents. -Meg Norris, founder OOG

Christina Thompson
Christina Thompson

Parents have always had, and will always have the right to opt out. The Governor's veto makes that clear. What this veto does is allow the bullying of students and parents by administrators and local education boards. The GABOE has a communication problem. Districts are unaware of all this "policy" the Governor's office continues to claim. If they understood it we wouldn't have to keep writing bills. Instead they bully and threaten and punish and hurt children for their parents choice to NOT participate in an invalid test that is designed NOT to give teachers information, but to justify the Governor's new retirement plan, private charter schools. The "alignment" study done by the DOE was an insult to anyone with even a smidgen of statistical understanding. The Milestones is NOT valid. It is aligned to the worst standards in the history of education.
This bill also removes the right of parents to request a paper and pencil test for their child. The state ignores study after study that show paper and pencil directly linked to higher test scores. Even 10% higher in many cases. That's good enough for me to risk the silly "cheating" worries. This is more evidence that Deal is beholden to the testing juggernaut and doesn't give a crap about kids or REAL measurement.
Opt Out Georgia will be back again next year to be a voice for public schools, kids and parents.
-Meg Norris, founder OOG

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

If too many opt out the legislature and governor cannot bleat about what an awful job public schools are (supposedly) doing, justifying their efforts to give support to private schools.